Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Review: Covet

Book 95 for the year was the latest JR Ward book, Covet. Its the story of a former special ops solider who is drafted to be the deciding factor in the war between Heaven's Angels and Hell's Demons and the first person he has to help in his quest to settle the score. If that makes no sense, I'm not surprised, because I was unclear on what exactly the concept meant at first too. Apparently, the prologue explains it, but me and my college education were confused anyway.

Basically, over the course of the series, Jim is supposed to come into contact with 7 people who are at a crossroads in their lives and help them make a decision, one way is the way Hell wants them to go and one way is the way Heaven wants them to go. Whichever side gets the most people to go their way is the winner and the other side has to get out of Dodge for good. Got it? Good, you're ahead of where I was halfway through the book.

Now, lets tackle that cover and in doing so, expose my biggest problem with this book. This is a romance novel. Generally, they have a male protagonist and a female protagonist and those two are the focus of the story. Ward, to be fair, has set precedent in her other series for having multiple protagonists and telling multiple stories, which is fine. However, as with Lover Enshrined, she doesn't, in my opinion, pull it off here, as the romance takes quite a backseat to the drama with Jim and his Angels and Demons issues.

The reason this is relevant to the cover is that the man on the cover is certainly intended to be Jim. Who rides a motorcycle like once in the whole book. And to me, if a character is so important to go on the cover, they ought to be the one getting a damn HEA in the book. Maybe I'm a romance novel purist, but this just didn't work for me in this book. Perhaps the problem is that this is the first book in a series and Ward had to do a lot of plot heavy lifting to establish the rules of the Demon/Angel agreement and establish Jim and what his journey is supposed to be.

I can't help but compare this book to the other first book in a series Ward wrote, Dark Lover, the first BDB book. In that book, Ward used the female protagonist's introduction to the vampire world to also introduce the reader, and it worked remarkably well. However, in Covet, Ward is introducing the world through a character outside the couple (Jim) and also trying to depict a believable romance for two people who often seem on the edges of the story due to the time she's spending on Jim. There's really just too much going on.

I know it sounds like I hated the book, but really, I enjoyed it for the most part, though certainly not as much as I have other Ward books. As usual, Ward's tone is quick and dirty and she pulls no punches, having her heroine be a prostitute and her hero (Vin, not Jim) be a businessman who is greedy and reckless with the environment. This book isn't as littered with street slang as her BDB series is and nobody has any extra H's in their names, so its got that going for it. I've kind of gotten used to the H's though, so what I do I know.

In short, it was alright, but I'll still pick up the second book when it comes out, as I find the concept interesting and hopefully, now that Ward has fleshed out the universe, the sequel will be easier to follow.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Schizo Status Update

So I promised to revive the blog, but of course, I haven't taken any pictures of what I'm currently knitting and I'm trying to finish a dang book, so I can't review it yet, so that leaves me spouting off nonsense about whatever is occupying the space between my ears this week, so here's my current hot topics, in no particular order:

Glee: My current pop culture obsession. If you haven't heard of it, please to be removing the rock from above your head. Its a show, with music numbers and a little character named Sue Sylvester, who is scary and awesome. The fall finale was this week, thanks to that damned American Idol crap, and we don't get any new episodes til April. So I'll just have to content myself with rewatching the first half of the season and dancing like an idiot to the two (yes two!) soundtracks. You can watch it on Hulu here.

Covet: The JR Ward book I'm currently reading. Its the first book in a new series about fallen angels that's set in the same universe as her vampire crack series, the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I'm halfway through, and though its honestly not her best work, I have no resistance when it comes to Ward. I'll review it when I finish, but its got a muddled plot and way too much going on. Here's hoping it gets tighter in the second half.

Themed Playlists: What I've been making with my free time not spent knitting or reading. I spent way too much time compiling all the best classic rock songs featured in Supernatural episodes. I won't tell you how much time, cause that's embarrassing, but I have to say I dig the results. AC/DC, Bad Company, ZZ Top, Metallica. Its great stuff. I made an abbreviated version of the playlist on YouTube here. Now that the SPN playlist is done, I'm working on a new Qhuinn and Blay playlist with Charlote (more JR Ward BDB crack). Expect Epicness.

LotR: What I've been watching. I got on a LotR kick over the last week and watched all three extended editions with the Cast commentary. I now need to marry one of the hobbits which isn't Sean Astin, STAT. I've also started knitting the Arwen cardigan as a KAL with my friend V, and its been consuming a lot of my time, even though I'm only a few rows in. The original construction of the pattern was very confusing (and it needn't be, IMO) so we spent some time trying to figure out modifications to make it easier. We finally found instructions from a very nice knitter who modified it into a one piece bottom up raglan, and we saw that it was good.

See, I told you it was schizo, but hey, such is the mind of Holly. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and Festivus!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: Ill Wind

I'm well past 52 books read for this year, but I just love the graphic that my friend Julie made that I'm going to keep using it. Instead of recounting every book I've read this year, I just wanted to review the ones I found to be memorable or interesting. I love romance novels as much as anyone, but some of them fade from memory as soon as I close the book.

*slight spoilers ahead*

I read Rachel Caine's Ill Wind during Thanksgiving week, while I was trying to finish up my first attempt at writing a novel. Its an interesting experience to be simultaneously trying to read a book and write one. It makes you hyper aware not only of the flaws in your writing, but also ones you might find in the published work. I found both of these things to be true while reading Ill Wind, the first in Rachel Caine's Weather Wardens series.

The basic plot involves the protagonist, Joanne, who is a Weather Warden (they work secretly to control Earth's weather) on the run from both the other wardens who think she murdered someone and a mysterious antagonist who is trying to kill her. Joanne has received a Demon Mark from another warden (who everyone thinks she murdered) and is trying to stay alive while tracking down the one person she thinks is powerful enough to help her, a rogue Weather Warden named Lewis.

One thing that I loved about this book was how clearly developed the mythology of Caine's world is. She sets very transparent rules for how the powers of the wardens work and manages to make the intricacies of meteorology interesting and fairly easy to understand, which is quite a feat. I didn't anticipate being so engrossed by how characters used weather against each other when the writer includes detailed descriptions of how its being done scientifically.

The part I didn't like about this book ventures deeply into the area of personal preference. This book is very well reviewed on Amazon and most of the reviews seem to adore the character of David and his romance with Joanne. However, for me, it fell flat. I just didn't find him interesting and couldn't make myself believe in their attraction to one another. I spent most of the book hoping that Joanne would hook up with Lewis Levander Orwell (great name!). The flashback scene where Joanne hooks up with Lewis in college had more spark than the entirety of the time she spent with David for me. And because the series seems to continue with Joanne and David as a couple, I'm not sure when or if I'll continue with it, unless someone promises me more Lewis.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blog Revival

Really, I'm gonna try to do this blogging thing on a more regular basis. Now that I've finished National Novel Writing Month, I suddenly feel like I've got more free time! I'd really like to review more books (I'm up to 90+ read for the year) and I want to do some posts on my current knitting projects.

Coming soon (if I don't flake again)!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Books 31 & 32

Book 31 was the third Black Dagger Brotherhood Book by JR Ward, Lover Awakened. This is definitely my favorite of the series; the tale of the former blood slave Zsadist and the aristocratic Bella. This story really begins in the second book of the series when the character of Bella is introduced and is immediately smitten with Zsadist, though she rebuffs her because he thinks she is only attracted to him because he's so mean and twisted. Book 2 ends with Bella kidnapped by the evil lessers, though Zsadist vows to keep looking for her until they know what happened.

At the beginning of Lover Awakened, Zsadist rescues Bella from the lessers and the plot unfolds as she clings to him following her captivity, while both Zsadist and his twin Phury fall in love with her. One of the most important plot points of the book is Zsadist's sexual abuse at the hands of the woman who enslaved him. It causes alot of pain for he and Bella as Zsadist tries to shed his fear of intimacy and sex. I find it interesting that such a thing is included because of how taboo sexual abuse still is for people to talk about and I'm glad Ward is willing to tackle such a thing.

Book 32 was A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands, the first book in her Argeneau Vampire series. I found it to be pretty generic and hard to get into for the first half, but I bought the first four in the series, so here's hoping the others are better. I found the secondary characters more interesting than the leads, so hopefully the other books are about them.

Books 28-30: The Morganville Vampires

Books 28-30 were the first three books in Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampire series. The basic plot is that 16 year old Claire moves to Morganville, Texas to attend college. When she is terrorized in the dorm, she rents a room with some locals, and then discovers that the town is run by vampires. The first three books were very engrossing, as Claire gets into one bad situation after another with the town's vampires and falls in love with roommate Shane. Eventually, Claire becomes something of a pet to the town's founding vampire, and is working to discover a cure to whatever illness is slowly killing the vampire population.

I was so engrossed that I had to make myself stop and read other things so that I could get some distance. I went a head and started the fourth book, which was pretty much necessary. Caine ends all of these books on a cliffhanger, so its near impossible to not pick up the next book and see what happens. I'll probably whine a lot when I finish the 5th and have to wait for the 6th to be released.

Books 26 & 27

Book 25 was Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris, the fifth book in the Southern Vampire series. I liked the plot of this one in which a sniper is stalking the shapeshifters around Bon Temps and Sookie is being hunted as well. However, I swear Sookie had six men panting after her and the whole romance part was just too much. It just takes it too far that this many men are obsessed with this one small town waitress. I hope the next few books stick to a love triangle or at least a quadrangle.

Book 26 was Hunted by PC and Kristin Cast, the fifth book in the Marked series. Like Dead as a Doornail, the plot of this book was really good. Zoey and her crew have escaped the House of Night following the rise of Kalona, and they're now in the tunnels under Tulsa deciding what to do about him and his children, the Raven Mockers. Again, like Doornail, the romance aspect was a bit too much for me to believe. Zoey has three guys, four if you count Kalona, pursuing her. I know its a series and they have to draw out the drama to leave the reader guessing, but the same guys constantly fighting over the same girl with the same arguments is getting old. Still, that was the only downside to this book, other than its lack of an ending. It really seems to be the setup for the next few books, where I presume there will be a showdown with Kalona and Neferet.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Books 24 & 25

Book 24 was Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris, the fourth book in her Southern Vampire series. I started this book last year, but put it down when I couldn't really get into it. I picked it back up last week and started over since I couldn't remember anything that had happened. It was like pulling teeth to get me to pick it up and read the first half of the book. Unlike a lot of fans of the series, I'm not a fan of the character of Eric. After book 3, I'm not a huge fan of Bill either, but I still like him better than Eric and Bill was only in this book for 2 scenes.

The second half of the book was much better, once all the action started and Alcide came into the plot, which is basically that some evil witches have come to town, stolen Eric's memory and are trying to take over the area. The action at the end was good, and I really got caught up in the story then. I'm excited to start book 5, since the cover art looks like Bill and Sookie, which gives me hope that Bill is in this one a lot more.

Book 25 was Lover Eternal, the second Black Dagger Brotherhood book by JR Ward. Again, Ward is an interesting author, hitting the reader over the head with how badass and cool her characters are, but Rhage and Mary's story is really sweet and it remains probably my second favorite book in the series behind the third book, Lover Awakened.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Books 20 - 23

I'm re-reading JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series in preparation for the newest in the series, Love Avenged, to come out at the end of April, so Book 20 was the first BDB book, Dark Lover. This is one of my favorites in the series, and I enjoyed re-reading it, although I've read it enough times to skim over the boring parts with the bad guys. I'm hoping Ward cuts out some of the time she spends in each book focusing on the bad guys. I kind of like to be surprised by what the baddies are planning, and Ward lets the reader in on their plans a little too much to suit me.

Books 21 - 23 were the 3 stories in LJ Smith's Night World 2 anthology: Dark Angel, The Chosen, and Soulmate. Dark Angel was fairly boring, and I never really felt connected to the heroine, Gillian, or her soulmate David. I wish the back of the book hadn't given away that Gillian's so-called "guardian angel" wasn't what he seemed and let the reader figure that out on their own.

The Chosen was better, since I was excited to see human-hating Quinn again after his appearance in a couple earlier Night World books. He's another one of Smith's ambiguous heroes, who's done bad things but in the end decides on a new path of good. Smith does this with lots of her guys (Damon, Ash, etc), and it might get old after a while, but I still liked Quinn a lot.

My fave in this anthology was Soulmate, the story of the oldest "made" vampire and his soulmate Hannah. I believe this story begins the setup for the apocolypse that seemed to be going on in the short story on Smith's website that carries on the plot of Ash Redfern and his mate, Mary-Lynette from Night World 1. I'm guessing all hell breaks loose in Night World 3! Nobody writes crazyness like LJ Smith.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Books 17 - 19

My latest reads for the 52 Book Challenge were quick, but fun books.

Book 17 was Dream Warrior by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Its technically one of her Dream Hunter novels, but its events are part of the ongoing plot of her Dream Hunter series. This book was probably the best of Kenyon's Dream Hunter books, mainly because the characters were in the real world through most of the book and not in the dream realm. It was fast-paced and mythology heavy, acting as a set up book, along with the last Dark Hunter book, One Silent Night, for the next story arc of Kenyon's Dark Hunter series. I liked the two main characters alot, the Titan Cratus and the Dream Hunter Delphine, but it was also nice to see some old favorites like Acheron, Tori, and Zarek. Overall, a fun book that left me excited to see what Kenyon has in store next.

Book 18 was Untamed, the fourth book in PC and Kristin Cast's House of Night series. I enjoyed this one much better than the last book, Chosen, mostly because I didn't spend most of the book pissed at the main character. Zoey got into lots of scrapes in the last book because of her own bad choices, and I was happy to see that she seems to have learned a few lessons because of it in this book. She is able to reunite with her friends, and though all hell breaks loose otherwise, I feel much better about the ending of this book as opposed to the last one. The newest book Hunted, comes out on March 10th, and I'm uber excited to see what happens.

Book 19 was Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris. I picked this book out a pile of books that my friend V was giving away at Christmas, mainly because the book (the first in a series) takes place in a fictional little town in Arkansas. It's a straightforward mystery, which hasn't really interested me in the past, but I found it entertaining nonetheless. The heroine, Lily Bard, is a woman just trying to get by, cleaning houses in small town, when she witnesses someone dumping a body. The plot unfolds as Lily tries to figure out who the culprit is. This one piqued my interest enough for me to probably pick up the next in the series to see what happens in Shakespeare next.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Book 16: The VD Craziness Continues

*Spoilers Ahead!*
The latest book in LJ Smith's Vampire Diaries series is Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall. Yes, that's actually the full title. Smith has decided to continue the series with a new trilogy which picks up 7 days after the older books left off, with Elena back from the dead.

This book was pure, undiluted batshit insanity. Really.

The book is confusing right off the bat for anyone who read the old series. When Elena returned from the dead at the end of Dark Reunion, she was human and seemingly had all her faculties. At the beginning of the new book, Elena is mute and childlike, having woke up that way the day after she came back from the dead. This is never explained, just that she was fine when she came back, but woke up a "spirit child" the next day.

Elena is doing the vampire version of getting it on with Stefan, despite the fact that she seems to be lacking some mental faculties, which is not very honorable of St. Stefan. She also floats around, glowing like a life-size lightning bug. Really, she even bumps into windows while she floats around. And she has powerful magical powers. And she has trouble remembering people so she gives them a big kiss (yes, girls too) to get to know them.

Suddenly, all the characters are using all this technology. They all have internet capable, video cell phones, and they know all about computers. This would make sense in the context of the current time period, but it throws the reader off since none of this technology existed in the other books, but suddenly it appears here.

The plot of the book starts when Damon is approached by a mystical fox thingymajig, who offers to get Stefan out of the way so that Damon can pursue Elena, but the fox has ulterior motives. Fox thingy gets his minions, the malach, to possess Damon. Stefan is kidnapped, with possessed Damon's help. Elena finally snaps out of her mute "spirit child" ways (but not before Stefan tows her behind his car with a clothesline). It becomes clear that something is possessing the young women of Fell's church. Much hijinx ensues while Elena tries to figure out what is wrong with Damon, and the fox and his sister (also a fox) try to destroy the town with their malach (bug like creatures who possess people). Really, there's more than that, but its all very nonsensical.

Elena and her friends, with Damon's help, eventually drive the foxes away from Fell's Church, but the foxes refuse to give them the keys to free Stefan, only giving Elena some cryptic clues about where to find the keys. The book ends with Damon, Elena, and Matt as fugitives (a pregnant Caroline has accused Matt of raping her to cover up her out of wedlock conception with the crazed werewolf Tyler from the original books) determined to figure out how to free Stefan, despite Damon still pursuing Elena to be his princess of Darkness. Really. That's how it ends.

This book was completely insane to the point that I couldn't read more than a few chapters at a time. I rationed out the Crazy over about a week. It was confusing and outrageous, but in the end that's kind of the point of reading LJ Smith. Its all about the insanity. And the mocking. Definitely the mocking.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Books 12 - 15: Vampire Diaries I-IV

I re-read all four books in LJ Smith's Vampire Diaries series in preparation for reading the new addition to the series, Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall. Does that title have enough colons for you?

Anyway, the series was just as wonderful and ridiculous as ever. Smith tells an interesting story with engaging characters, but her writing has some huge flaws. I think my biggest pet peeve is that plot points are picked up then abandoned too quickly. Elena wakes up as a vampire, but she thinks that Damon is her soulmate. Then a few pages later, instead of really delving into the implications of that, Elena suddenly remembers that she loves Stefan. Then there's something suspicious about Aunt Judith's fiance, but then he's fine and its never mentioned again.

Still, the story is engrossing, although sometimes its simply because you want to see what insane plot point Smith will introduce next. I've started reading the new one already, and its craziness, y'all, pure craziness.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Book 11: The Host

The latest book in my quest to read 52 books this year is The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Its Meyer's only non-Twilight Saga novel, an adult science fiction tale of Earth occupied by an alien race.

I first bought this book when it hit the shelves last year, but could not get into it after reading 4 or 5 chapters. I put it down and made a note to pick it up again, and this challenge seemed like a good reason. Always better for the checkbook to read something I already own.

I'm not sure what the problem was last time, perhaps I was so into the Twilightverse that I could not get into anything that was not that, but this time I had no trouble getting into the story. The basic plot is that a race of peaceful aliens has invaded Earth, implanting themselves into human bodies and supressing their "host" beings. However, a strong human who has been on the run from the aliens, Melanie Styder, refuses to be completely surpressed by the alien being in her body, Wanderer. Hijinks ensues as Wanderer gets to know and love Melanie and sets off to find those that Melanie cares about.

From a writing standpoint, The Host is a much stronger book than any of the Twilight series, with the possible exception of Breaking Dawn. The characters are all wonderfully written, with their own voices and eccentricities. The plot is more intricate and better paced, with plenty of action thrown in to temper the romance. Overall, a fun read that makes me want more. Meyer has hinted that this may turn into a trilogy, which would be wonderful.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Book 10: Chosen

Book 10 in the challenge was the third book in the House of Night series, Chosen by PC and Kristin Cast. In my experience, in a series that is supposed to be fairly lengthy, you have to have a couple of books where everything goes all to hell to keep the story going.

This was one of those 'it all went to hell' books.

Zoey continues to navigate her path as an extraordinarily powerful fledgling, dealing with the undead, an enemy that everyone believes is a good guy, and not one, but three boyfriends.

I was pretty horrified at some of the choices that Zoey makes in this one, but I also have to remember that Zoey is 17 and isn't always going to make what seems like the obvious right choice to the reader.

I was a little squicked out by the fact that an adult man sleeps with a student in this book. I'm not sure if any book with that in it should be placed in the YA section of the bookstore. The book doesn't necessarily glorify the act, and there are grave consequences, but I'm still iffy on it.

Looking forward to reading book four in the series, Untamed, before the new one, Hunted, comes out in March.

First Sweater Finished!

I finished my first sweater last night, weaving in the ends during the Super Bowl. It was part of a KAL with some Twilight knitting pals:
The pattern is the Cozy V Neck Pullover with Deep Ribbing from the book Fitted Knits by Stephanie Japel. The pattern was very simple, requiring the knitter to know how to kfb, knit in the round, and pick up stitches. I can definitely see myself making this again, perhaps a short-sleeved version, or changing up the ribbing for some variety. I'll try to get a good picture of me wearing soon!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Book 9: Vampire Academy

This book was the first one I've ever listened to completely on audiobook (I've read the actual book before), and I really enjoyed the experience. The reader had a nice voice, even if her voices for a couple characters were slightly annoying.

I found myself really engrossed in the story while listening, especially near the end. I credit some of this to the narrator, but mostly to Mead's great storytelling ability. The vampire mythology of the VA series is very well developed, and Mead writes great characters. I fell in love all over again with my favorite character in this series, Christian. He's got black hair, blue eyes, biting sarcasm, and creates fire in his hands (yeah, I had a thing for Pyro too).

Anyway, it was a great way to enjoy a book I've read before. I'm not sure how well I'll follow the story for a book I haven't read on audio, but we'll find out as I plan to start Outlander on audio next!

Book 8: I <3 Vane Kattalakis

Book 8 in my book challenge was Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Its a re-read, one of my favorites in her Dark Hunter series. This book actually features a Were-hunter, and I think her Were-hunters are the most awesome. Her other full length Were-hunter book, Unleash the Night, is another one I can read over and over again. Maybe I like the idea of a mate who is also a pet.

Anyway, a lot of Kenyon fans like this book because the heroine is a real woman. She's a size 18, she owns a small business, and she freaks out about the supernatural (which is kind of refreshing in this series where most of the women seem almost superhuman in their ability to learn all this freakish stuff and take it in stride).

I like this book because Vane Kattalakis is a complete badass. He's a sorcerer whose powers probably are trumped only by the gods and he's just hawt. He can teleport himself wherever, create clothes out of thin air and time travel. I wants one!

The plot and writing style is typical Kenyon, but that's not a knock. Her talent is obvious and she's got me completely hooked!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


In 2002, I fell in love with a politician. With his personality, with his politics, with his charisma. His name was Josiah Bartlet. The West Wing changed me forever. I went from being an apathetic who called herself a Republican to what some would call a flaming liberal.

Josiah Bartlet made me want a President who did what he thought was right, not just what he thought would score political points. He made me want a President who really was the smartest person in the room and wasn't afraid to speak to Americans as if they had real brains. He made me want a President who had everyone's interest in mind, not just the interest of those who donated enough money for him to care.

It wasn't just Josiah Bartlet I fell in love with. Sam Seaborn made me want a President who wasn't afraid to be idealistic, even if he knew we might never meet that ideal. Toby Zeigler made me want a President who wasn't afraid to speak the truth, even when people don't want to hear it. Josh Lyman made me want a President whose passion for the position made him strive to always do his best. CJ Cregg made me want a President who truly cared about people not just bills and motions.

In 2006, I started hearing rumblings on the internet about a guy named Barack Obama. I heard that he gave a great speech at the DNC that I should listen to. And so I did.

Its hokey, but I fell in love with Barack Obama just a little when I heard that speech from the 2004 DNC. At the time, Obama was the Senator from Illinois, but the rumblings had started that he might run for President.

So I started keeping an eye out for Obama on the web. I was thrilled when he announced he would run. I would watch his speeches, read articles about him, and even signed up for his campaign's email list.

Slowly, my passion for his movement deepened. During the Bush administration, I'd never gotten the impression that George W cared anything at all about me. I'm not saying that he's a bad person, but the man has lived something of a charmed life. I never felt like he was in touch with the reality of every day life. I never felt like he was a guy I could talk to if I met him, a guy who would understand or care about my issues.

I felt like Barack Obama understood the average American. He cared about the issues facing the working class. If I met him on the street, I felt like I could have had a conversation with him and he'd really listen to what I had to say.

Obama's campaign reached out to my generation in a way no other candidate ever has. I could watch his speeches online. I got frequent emails detailing his feelings on issues and what he planned to do about different problems facing this country. There were so many opportunities for his supporters to give their input, to give their opinions, to feel like they mattered.

And so I went on my own little campaign trail. I talked to my friends about Obama. I talked to my family, even my coworkers.

My coworkers thought I was a little crazy. Someone my age passionate about Presidential candidate? Surely, I was just going through a phase. They laughed at my Obama wallpaper, my Obama hoodie and my willingness to passionately debate the issues. But eventually, I think they got it. This guy inspired me.

I was ecstatic when Obama won the Democratic nomination, but when he won the election, I'm not sure that it really sunk in that all I had hoped for was coming through. I don't think it really sank in til today. Sure, I calmly watched while he was sworn in and gave his speech and I was excited, but not really emotional. I was at work, after all.

Then I came home and turned on the tv. My TiVo had taped a whole The West Wing marathon, so I flopped down on the couch and started watching. It was a series of episodes depicting the election of a Hispanic President, Matt Santos, and the death of the beloved character of Leo McGarry, Chief of Staff to President Bartlet.

Soon, I was sobbing. It finally came crashing down that Barack Obama was really President. He did it. We did it. I finally have a President who I can love as much as I love Jed Bartlet. And I finally have a President who I feel cares about me and what happens to everyday Americans.

Welcome President Obama. We need you.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Book 7: More House of Night

Betrayed is the second book in the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast. This book picks up right where Marked left off, with Zoey taking her place as the head of the Dark Daughters and struggling to figure out her confusing love life. I continued to enjoy the writers' narrative style as much as I did in the first. I think there's some concern that all the pop culture references could date the books, but at the same time, I feel like a book from a teen's perspective is being untrue to the teen lifestyle if they leave out pop culture references.

This book also really emphasized what I love and hate about series books. On one hand, reading a series is great in that you keep getting more stories about characters you love. When one book ends, you know you might get some satisfaction for that need to know what happened next. However, reading series often makes me try not to get too attached to the characters. Yes, the main character usually survives til at least the last book, but everyone else is up for grabs. They could turn out to be evil in book 7, after you've had 6 books of liking them. I felt that way in Betrayed, when a character I loved from Marked started turning out to not be the person you thought they were.

All around though, it was an enjoyable read. I'm taking a little time to read some other books, but I will definitely keep reading this series. I've already bought the rest that are published at the moment, so look for reviews of Chosen and Untamed.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bella's Hat

So here it is, my first pattern! Its a hat designed to match these beautiful mittens designed by subiminalrabbit. She modeled them after the mittens worn by Bella in the Twilight movie :-) This pattern is free for personal use only! You may not sell items made from this item for profit.


  • 100 yds bulky weight yarn (I used Lion Brand Jiffy)
  • 1 US #8 16" circular needle
  • 1 set US #8 DPNs
  • cable needle
  • stitchmarker
  • Ribbing 5 stitches / 5 rows = 1 inch
  • Horseshoe cable: cable should be 2.5 inches wide at widest point, and 1.5 inches in height for one repeat

Finished Measurements: Hat will measure about 8.5 inches from cast on edge to top.


6-st LC: 6-stitch left-leaning cable. Slip three stitches to cable needle and hold in front;
knit next three stitches; knit three stitches from cable needle.

6-st RC: 6-stitch right-leaning cable. Slip three stitches to cable needle and hold in back;
knit next three stitches; knit three stitches from cable needle.

6-st LPC: 6-stitch left-leaning cable. Slip three stitches to cable needle and hold in front;
purl next three stitches; knit three stitches from cable needle.

6-st RPC: 6-stitch right-leaning cable. Slip three stitches to cable needle and hold in back;
knit next three stitches; purl three stitches from cable needle.

k2tog: Knit two together.

ssk: Slip one stitch knit-wise, then slip the next. Insert left needle into the front loops of the
slipped stitches and knit them together from this position (through the back loops).

p2tog: Purl two together.


Cast on 80 stitches to circular needle. Place marker to denote beginning of round and join.

Ribbing: [K2, P3, K3, P2, K2, P2, K3, P3] Repeat between brackets around to marker
Repeat this row until piece measures 1.5 inches from cast on edge. If you like a longer hat, add another 1/2 inch or inch to the ribbing.

Row 1: [K2, P3, K12, P3] Repeat between brackets around to marker.
Rows 2 - 6: Repeat Row 1.
Row 7: [K2, P3, LC, RC, P3] Repeat between brackets around to marker.
Row 8: Repeat Row 1.

Repeat Rows 1 - 8 once then repeat Rows 1 - 4.

Decrease Section (switch to DPNs when stitches no longer fit on circular needle):
Row 1: [K2, P1, P2tog, K12, P2tog, P1] Repeat around. 72 stitches at end of round.
Row 2: [K2, P2, K12, P2] Repeat around.
Row 3: [K2, P2tog, LPC, RPC, P2tog] Repeat around. 64 stitches at end of round.
Row 4: [K2, P4, K6, P4] Repeat around.
Row 5: [K2, P4, ssk, K2, K2tog, P4] Repeat around. 56 stitches at end of round.
Row 6: [K2, P4, K4, P4] Repeat around.
Row 7: [K2, P4, ssk, k2tog, P4] Repeat around. 48 stitches at end of round.
Row 8: [K2, P4] Repeat around.
Row 9: [K2, P2, P2tog, K2, P2tog, P2] Repeat around. 40 stitches at end of round.
Row 10: [K2, P3] Repeat around.
Row 11: [K2, P1, P2tog, K2, P2tog, P1] Repeat around. 32 stitches at end of round.
Row 12: [K2, P2] Repeat around.
Row 13: [K2, P2tog] Repeat around. 24 stitches at the end of round.
Row 14: [K2, P1] Repeat around.
Row 15: [K2tog, P1] Repeat around. 16 stitches at the end of round.
Row 16: [K1, P1] Repeat around.
Row 17: [K2tog] Repeat around. 8 stitches at the end of round.

Cut yarn, leaving 10" tail. Thread tail through yarn needle and gather up remaining stitches, tightening to close hole and weave in yarn tail.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Booking Through Thursday on Friday

Today's question for the Booking Through Thursday meme is:
  • What songs … either specific songs, or songs in general by a specific group or writer … have words that you love?
  • Why?
  • And … do the tunes that go with the fantastic lyrics live up to them?
The first song that came to mind when I read this question was "The Beauty of Who You Are" by Marc Broussard. That link will take you to the full lyrics, but the second verse is the part that gets me every time:
There's a faith you're savin' for a rainy day
I could use right now
There's a way you move my soul to sing
Only you know how
You are a sensual salvation
You're the holiest temptation
Baby I'm never, never, never gonna be the same

There's something about this love/sex as a religious experience that speaks to me and never gets old. Any time I make a mix cd that's about love and relationships, this song goes on it. I swear, if a guy ever dedicated this song to me, I'd probably fall at his feet.

Here's a live performance of the song (it obviously doesn't hurt that the guy is Cajun and cute as hell):

Another fave song of mine with great lyrics is "On My Way" by Ingram Hill. Its my favorite breakup song ever, and I think it really captures that anger that you have at someone after a breakup, that need for them to hurt because you are:
I don't want your old letters
And I don't want to be friends
I've had enough to last a lifetime
and I don't wanna go again
I don't have to find a reason
And I don't have to answer why
It doesn't matter who is wrong here
I just wanna see you cry

And on my way I'll take the sunshine
On my way I'll take your dreams
On my way I'll say I'm sorry to no one but me

Let your family know I'm leavin
Lie to your girlfriends that you're well
Call and leave a cryin' message
I wanna know it hurts like hell

And on my way I'll take the sunshine
on my way I'll take your dreams
On my way I'll say I'm sorry to no one but me
On my way I'll be my own man
And I'll only please myself
On my way my pride's the only feeling I've got left

In the end, I think that my favorite songs have fairly simple lyrics. Nothing too deep and not necessarily all that meaningful, just people saying what they feel, in a truthful way.

Book 6: Yet Another Vampire Book

The latest book in my book challenge was Marked, the first book in the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast. According to their bios, P.C. is an accomplished author and Kristin is her teen daughter, which I thought gave the books an interesting dynamic and storytelling style. I thought the book was very well written, on top of being interesting. The writers have an almost stream of consciousness writing style. Its more organized than true stream of consciousness, but you can tell the authors are familiar with the minds of teenagers and the tangents they sometimes go on.

The mythology of the series is very interesting. The only other vampire myth I can compare it to is from Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books. Vampires are out in society in the House of Night series. Everyone knows they exist, but of course, there are groups of people, particularly conservative religious ones, who think they are the spawn of Satan. The premise of the book is that Zoey, a fairly normal teenage girl, is Marked as a vampire and then leaves home to go live at a school for other fledgling vamps, where, of course, hijinks ensue.

Overall, I thought it was excellent, and I look forward to checking out the next book in the series. Lucky for me, I still have a gift card from Christmas.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coming Soon!

In the next couple of days, I'll be posting my very first pattern here! I'm having a few people look over it first to look for errors. Yay for writing patterns!

Friday, January 9, 2009

In Which I Practice My Spinning

So my friend Inoxia got me a spindle for Christmas and gave me and the girls some spinning lessons. Its slow going so far, but here's what I've got:
Its not pretty, and I probably won't be able to do anything with it, but its all part of learning the craft. I'll practice, and practice some more, and eventually, it will look somewhat like yarn :-D

Book 5: Wow, there's no Blood Whore in this one

Book 5 was the last in LJ Smith's Night World No. 1 volume, Spellbinder. Its the story of two witch cousins, Thea and Blaise, who briefly appeared in Secret Vampire and are cousins to the vampire siblings in Daughters of Darkness.

It was probably my least favorite of the books in the series so far. The main character Thea was interesting, but her love interest, Eric, felt one-dimensional to me. Also, the Thea-Eric-Blaise love triangle was never that believable since Smith emphasized the soulmate bond between Thea and Eric. I was always certain that Eric would resist Blaise, which made the book a little less exciting.

The character of Blaise is an interesting one. She's pretty much a female version of Damon from the Vampire Diaries. She uses her powers however she feels, even when it hurts people, and looks at humans as "vermin." I very much struggled to like her at all after seeing how uncaring she seemed to be that she literally made a boy go crazy from not having her. However, I think Smith wants us to hang in there and believe that there might be something good under Blaise's surface. I'm not sure if she will appear in future books, so I guess we'll see if Smith expands any more on this character.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Book 4: Another Blood Whore...No Really

The second book in Night World No. 1 is Daughters of Darkness. This is sort of a continuation of Secret Vampire as the character of Ash who appeared in that book fulfills Poppy's prediction that someday he'd meet someone he cared about and it would hurt.

Ash's three sisters move to a little town in Oregon to live with their Aunt Opal to escape the repression of the all vampire island they grew up on. However, they arrive in town only to find their aunt dead, as well as a human girl, Mary-Lynette and her brother Mark, who find out too much, and hijinks ensue. Of course, Mary-Lynette (really, she couldn't have picked a better name?) and Ash are soulmates, but after they solve the mystery of the menace that killed Aunt Opal and stalked them, Mary-Lynette decides that she doesn't want to become a vampire, and the story basically ends with Ash going off to placate his family so the sisters don't have to go back and he and Mary-Lynette pretty much have no idea how they'll figure out their relationship. To say the least, the ending was unsatisfactory. I'm holding out hope that one of the other books will deal with them again so I can find out what happens.

This book was definitely not as good as Secret Vampire. The first half dragged, but got better in the second half. Still pretty good though.

Starbucks and Socks

I'm learning to knit socks two at a time on one long circular needle! The technique comes from the book 2 At a Time Socks. Its going well so far. I successfully did the cast on and I'm almost done with the cuffs. Basically, its the magic loop technique with a twist to get two socks on the needle.

Here's what it looks like:
This will be a pair of toddler socks when they are done. After I finish these, I'll attempt a pair of plain adult socks using this technique. I placed a huge order to Knitpicks yesterday to get appropriate needles for sock yarn and some interchangeable circular needles to knitting mitts and things using magic loop. I'm very excited to get the package in!

Today's random observation: Starbucks rocks at naming things. I ordered a drink this morning called a London Fog Tea Latte. Now really, its just Earl Grey tea with milk in it. But they call it something fancy and charge $4. I'm sure if I went to London and ordered Earl Grey with milk, they certainly wouldn't call it a latte!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Book 3: LJ Smith really loves blood whores

My third book for the challenge was Secret Vampire, the first book in the Night World No. 1 volume by LJ Smith. I'm counting the volume as 3 books, since Smith intended each one to be a book and each one is about 200 pages long.

I think this story has the good things about Smith's Vampire Diaries series and is missing some of VD's flaws. I love Vampire Diaries and I'm not saying this book was better, but it was definitely better written. In VD, Smith was not as adept at explaining the vampire mythology she was employing. At the end of the fourth book, I was still confused about how one became a vampire and what life as a vampire was like. In Secret Vampire, the reader isn't left wondering any of that. Smith's plot was just as solid as her characters in this one.

Smith's ability to write great characters seems to be her strong point, but her heroes and heroines are a little too similar. Secret Vampire's Poppy is very similar to VD's Elena, right down to being a trampy blood whore (for you, Lew). The hero, James, is mysterious and sexy, just like Stefan. And the paradoxical bad boy Ash reminds me greatly of Damon, VD's resident mystery man. I'm not really complaining, because Smith still makes the characters interesting, but I wonder if it will get old after reading several more Smith books.

Just like VD, this book left me wanting more. Smith has a habit of not giving the reader enough closure at the end. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I'm an adult reading a YA novel. In adult romances, the books usually end with the couple getting married or at least having sex. Since this is a YA book, there was none of that, although perhaps there might be in later books. Anyway, so the couple rides off into the sunset without even a real kiss on the lips, and I am left feeling a little bereft.

But I am looking forward to the next book in the volume, Daughters of Darkness. I'm not sure all the books have overlapping characters, but they are all set in the same universe, so hopefully they'll be equally entertaining.

Knitting Noble-y

While in Michigan visiting my Twilight Ravelry girls, I finished A Noble Cowl. I've been wanting one for a while, so Shelby got me the yarn for it for Christmas. I also have enough yarn to make some mitts and a hat to match, once I pick out patterns (which is giving me fits!).

I like how it turned out, but I'm struggling with perhaps blocking it. Blocking would make the lace pattern stand out, but it would also make the cowl wider and taller, which I'm not sure I want.

Check out the project on Ravelry.

Beginning the 52 Book Challenge

I made myself sit down last night in front of the bookshelf and make a list of all the books that I've bought in the last year and haven't read in hopes that this book challenge would prompt me to read them. I might not get to all of them if I get sidetracked with re-reading others or buying new ones, but these should give me a good few months of material:

  • Succubus Dreams - Richelle Mead
  • Secret Circle: The Initiation and the Captive Pt. 1 - LJ Smith (2 books)
  • Marked - PC and Kristin Cast
  • The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
  • Night World No. 1 - LJ Smith (3 books)
  • Night World No. 2 - LJ Smith (3 books)
  • Dark Curse - Christine Feehan
  • Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
  • Dead to the World - Charlaine Harris
  • Dark Fever - Karen Marie Moning
  • Stardust - Neil Gaiman
  • The Host - Stephenie Meyer
  • Merlin's Legacy - Quinn Taylor Evans
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
  • American Gods - Neil Gaiman
  • Murder Game - Christine Feehan
  • Shakespeare's Landlord - Charlaine Harris
  • The E Myth Revisited - Michael Gerber
  • The Audacity of Hope - Barack Obama

Monday, January 5, 2009

Book 2: Mythology Gone Wild

Book 2 in the 52 Book Challenge is The Darkest Kiss by Gena Showalter. Its the second in Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series. The premise of the series is that a group of warriors were angered by the gods' decision to entrust Pandora with the box of demons and opened the box. Pandora was killed and the warriors were cursed to share bodies with the demons that they released.

The second book is about Lucien, the keeper of Death. I find Lucien to be interesting and I thought the mythology of the series is quite engrossing. However, the heroine of the book, Anya, goddess of Anarchy, was pretty unlikeable to me. She was bitchy, mean, and too needy for me to really get invested in whether or not she got a happy ending. That's the kiss of death for a romance novel. The reader must want to see the couple happy.

Another thing that bothers me is Showalters writing style during explicit scenes. Her characters start taking their clothes off and suddenly they become idiots and say crap that real people don't say. It really bugs me for some reason. If it hadn't been for the book challenge, I might not have even finished this one. I'm still deciding if I'll pick up the next book.

Book 1: Vampires and Supes on Parade

The first book I read for this year's 52 book challenge was Dead After Dark, a compilation of short supernatural romance stories. The first story, "Shadow of the Moon", is the latest in Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series, so its the reason I picked it up. The story was written in typical Kenyon style, with witty banter and hot sex. I enjoyed it alot, although I've been a fan of the hero, Fury, for a while, and would have liked a full book devoted to his story. The length of the story kind of forced the plot to go from 'I hate you for betraying me' to 'I forgive you, lets get mated for life' too quickly.

The second part, "The Story of Son" by JR Ward, was quite bizarre. I'm a pretty big Ward fan, but this one was a little out there. Again, perhaps I'm just not a huge fan of these short stories simply because it forces the writer to make people fall in love in so short a timespan. Also, I was very confused by the mythology of the vampire in this story, especially since I couldn't tell if he was the same kind of vampires that inhabit Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood books.

The third story, "Seize the Night" by Susan Squires, was not bad, but kind of boring. In this one, the characters were given a longer timeline to fall in love, but I didn't find the plot of the vampire hiding out in an old house with the human exciting.

The final story, "Midnight Kiss Goodbye" by Dianna Love, was probably the best story besides Kenyon's. The characters were former lovers, which helped with that whole rushing into love problem. This story seems to be written in a universe that Love might deal with in other books, so I might have to check that out.

Next book: The Darkest Kiss by Gena Showalter

I Suck

Okay, so I'm apparently really bad at this blogging thing, since I keep saying I'm going to use it and don't. Let's give it one more try.

For 2009, I'm going to try to read 52 books. To help keep track and remember what I read, I'm going to post reviews (even if they're short) here!