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!