Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review - Cross Fire, by James Patterson

Cross Fire (Alex Cross #17), James Patterson, 12.26.2010, * * * *

I generally enjoy James Patterson's novels for several different reasons.  Patterson seems to have become the master of the short chapter, sometimes just one or two pages, which seems to increase the pace and makes the novel a faster read.  His stories are enjoyable, light, easy to read, and quick to get into and out of.

Cross Fire is no different and fits the mold perfectly.  I have read several of the Alex Cross novels, but not the entire series and I somehow keep reading them out of order.  Someday I would like to start at the beginning and work my way through them consecutively, but again the nice thing about the series and Patterson in general is that I don't feel like I need to read the whole series in order to enjoy this particular book.

Alex and Bree are planning their wedding and are quite busy being happy and content with their lives and children when a series of brutal assassinations of high-profile people rocks Washington DC.  The sharp shooter is good, and leaves no clues to his identity, and the scramble to find the killer pulls Alex away from the family and wedding planning as he desperately tries to stop the killer before anyone else is killed.  He also gets pulled into an investigation of the murders of several homeless people with strange numbers and math equations carved into their skin.  And if all that wasn't enough to keep him busy, his nemesis, Kyle Craig, has returned to taunt and torment Alex as only a psychopath can.  With multiple bad guys to catch, Alex definitely has his plate full in this novel!

Overall this was an enjoyable read, perfect for the Christmas break.  The short chapters make it easy to pick it up and read for five minutes and put it down again if needed, without having to wade through dozens of pages to find a "good stopping place."

Although the short chapters can also have the opposite affect  - luring you into reading just one more, and just one more, and just one more!  (But that's OK, right?!)

Let me know if you've read any of this series and what you think about it, OK?! 
Until next time, Happy New Year, Party hardy, Don't drink and drive, and have a great holiday weekend!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review - Here Abide Monsters

Here Abide Monster, Andre Norton, 12.19.2010 * * *

Andre Norton is a master.  Everyone knows it.  That is the reason that I decided to read this very short novel when I stumbled across it in a bag of used books.  Unfortunately, I didn't really care for it much at all.

The basic premise is quite interesting - exploring the mystery surrounding various spots in the world where people disappear and are never heard from again.  The Bermuda Triangle, fairy mounds in England, and in many other places, there are hundreds of stories of people vanishing and never returning; or sometimes returning years later - but where did they go?  Norton explores that question by following two young people who vanish while driving down a road one sunny afternoon, when they suddenly find that they have somehow moved out of their world and into a world physically very similar to earth.  But they soon find that this "other" world is also very different, and is the places where the legends and myths of unicorns, dragons, the fairy folk, and many others all come from.  The world is dangerous, with aliens in flying saucers flying around capturing humans, and mysterious cities surrounded by invisible force fields, random monsters and creatures roaming the landscape and threatening the lives of anyone they come across.

As Nick and Linda explore their surroundings they quickly realize that there is no returning back the way they came.  They eventually meet up with a small group of survivors who have been living in this nightmare realm for years, and begin to learn about the world and the forces that control it.  Nick is presented with a choice at one point - to become one with the land and join with the "Heralds", the inhabitants of the miraculous towering cities which are safe from the attacks of the alien ship, or to reject the land and try to survive on their own.  The group is against accepting the Heralds offer, as they believe the changes it involves are somehow evil, but Nick isn't so sure.  And when some members of the group learn how to use the powers of illusion they are developing, Nick and Linda decide to try to rescue some members of their party who have been kidnapped by the aliens and hope to find a way home.

Unfortunately the story drags through much of the book, information is doled out so slowly that the pace becomes unbearable.  Character development is kept a minimum, although Nick fairs a little better than most in this respect since his is the main viewpoint of the story.  Linda remains forever the vapid girl with her yappy dog, and the others in the group are generally even less recognizable. Then after what seems like hours of slogging through uninteresting and unimportant events and conversations, the ending is rushed through in just a few pages, but with absolutely no resolution.  Nick and Linda don't find a way home, and we're left with the impression that they are planning to accept the Heralds offer and change, but the book ends before that happens so we don't even get to see what this supposedly horrible and evil change is, or if they even actually go through with it.

Another thing I didn't like is that the cover illustration shows something happening that actually never happened in the book - which is always frustrating for me personally.  If the motorcycle doesn't drive up to the city in the story, then don't show it happening on the cover!

Overall I was a little disappointed, but I'm giving it three stars because the idea was good, and I liked Norton's interpretation of where our own myths and legends come from.

Have you read this book, or anything else by Andre Norton?  What'd you think?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

That's it - Just hoping that all my little addicts have the most wonderful Christmas ever, and that y'all got lots and lots of fantastic books to read!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Christmas, y'all!!

Oh my gosh you guys!  It's almost Christmas already, and I haven't posted a single thing about it. 

Something that I have found very interesting this month is that some bloggers have participated in Advent Calendars, or Tours, which I think is really kool idea!  I may have to think about doing something like that next year...

But today I am going to talk to you about Christmas Music.  Do you like Christmas Music?  Do you LOOOOOVE Christmas Music?

I do.  Totally, like, a lot.

I usually drag out the Christmas Music in early November, sometimes before the Halloween candy is even gone.  Nowadays, that doesn't involve pulling a big box of albums, cassette tapes and CD's out of the back of the closet like it used to, and eagerly sorting through the colorful covers to decide what to listen to first.  Now, it's simply a matter of pulling up the playlist on the ol' iPod - but as my taste does change slightly each year, there is always some rearranging that must be done, especially if I've discovered some new Christmas Music to add to my list!

This year I hit the jackpot!  I discovered new Christmas Music that was actually released last year by David Archuleta (you know, that guy from that Idol show!) but also - TA DA! - Glee released a whole Christmas album!  Score for me!

So here is my current top 10 list of Christmas Music from my iPod.  I never get much beyond that, as I keep going back to the beginning and starting over!

Sunny's Top 10 Christmas Music List:
1. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day - Casting Crowns.
2. Pat-A-Pan - David Archuleta
3. Riu Riu Chiu - David Archuleta
4. Baby, It's Cold Outside - Glee Cast
5. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Glee Cast
6. O Holy Night - Glee Cast
7. Silent Night - David Archuleta
8. The 12 Days of Christmas (Live) - Straight No Chaser
9. Three Kings - Eclipse
10. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - 98 Degrees

(Yes, I know that one is on there twice - but I love it!  And it's my list, so whatever!)

So this is what I am currently obsessively listening to.  What are you guys listening to?  What is your favorite Christmas Music?  Do you start listening early, or wait until Christmas Eve?  Leave a comment below and tell me all about it!

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

The Tease:
"But there was no wound and the man cowered back, with a crowing sound, his knife forgotten, his hands before his eyes, huddling in upon himself, while the serpent woman coiled and reared - until the monk lashed out with his pole and she vanished utterly.  That was only the beginning of the siege."  - Here Abide Monsters, by Andre Norton.

So....What's your Tease?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review - The Dying Earth

The Dying Earth, by Jack Vance, 12.13.2010, * *

I couldn't find a picture of the cover for the book that I read - Sorry!

The Dying Earth is a collection of short stories written about some of the inhabitants of an Earth that is thousands of years in our future - maybe even millions.  The sun is dying, no longer yellow, but red and dim, and most humans have left the planet, but some remain, inhabiting the ruins of hundreds of long dead civilizations. Technology seems sparse, but magic has been discovered, although over time much has been lost and what were once the thousand spells has dwindled to barely one hundred.  A couple of  the stories overlap slightly as far as the characters involved.

I have heard about this book and the sequels for years, but never felt compelled to read it.  But it arrived in a bag of used books that my mom brought to me recently and I thought, why not?  People love this book.  People RAVE about the author and his mad skills and how wonderful and ingenious this series is.  So I gave it a try.

I didn't care for it, at all.

Maybe it's just that I don't really like short stories - I want some meat on my books!  My boyfriend says that if it can't be said in less than 300 pages it's not worth reading.  I'm the opposite - as far as I'm concerned 300 pages is just a good start!  So I have never really cared for short stories because I don't feel that they give me enough "story."  But sometimes a collection of short stories will satisfy like a novel, if they all move towards a common goal or have a similar theme.

But the stories in The Dying Earth don't seem to have any commonality that I could find.  Individuals travel the country looking for magical artifacts and some find them and some don't.  A magician learns how to create women.  A women tricks a magician in order to save the man who created her.  Everyone is either amoral or downright evil - cursing their lovers or friends at whim.  Sometimes there are consequences.  It was all just a jumble of weirdness that didn't make much sense and didn't have any cohesion, so I was unable to enjoy it.  Character development was non-existent, because none of the characters stuck around long enough for the reader to actually get to know them, and certainly not long enough for any of them to change or grow.  I do have to give credit to the author, though, for having a wickedly amazing imagination!

The series seems to be so universally loved though, that I wonder if I am missing something?  Have you read The Dying Earth?  Did you like it?  If so, leave a comment and tell me why I'm wrong!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

The Tease:
"The red sun, drifting across the universe like an old man creeping to his death-bed, hung low to the horizon when Liane breasted Prophiron  Scar, looked across white-walled Kaiin and the blue bay of Sanreale beyond. Directly below was the market-place, a medley of stalls selling fruits, slabs of pale meat, molluscs from the slime banks, dull flagons of wine." -The Dying Earth, by Jack Vance.

So....What's your Tease?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Review - Blameless: The Parasol Protectorate: Book the Third

The Parasol Protectorate, by Gail Carriger
1. Soulless, 10.19.2010, * * * *
2. Changeless, 11.02.2010, * * * *
3. Blameless, 11.22.2010, * * * *

Warning! - It is impossible to comment on Blameless without minor and major spoilage occurring for the previous books in the series!  If you have not read Soulless and Changeless, stop reading this, go buy the books, and read them IMMEDIATELY!!!
(Don't forget to come back here when you are done!!)

From the Back:

Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon is the scandal of the London season.  Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town.  To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.  While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templar's.  Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse that the vampires - AND they're armed with pesto.

My Thoughts:
So, after the revelations that occur at the end of Changeless, Alexia wastes no time leaving Castle Woolsey.  Unfortunately she has nowhere to go except home.  Things are all right at first - other than having to deal with her wretched half-sisters, of course - but somehow the news of her inconvenient condition leaks to the society pages, and suddenly her life is even more of a scandal than it already was!  After the attack by the previously mentioned mechanical ladybugs with their poison-tipped antenna, Professor Lyall and Madame Lefoux urge her to leave town.  Alexia does one better, and leaves England altogether in search of answers.
First stop, Paris, where she is almost immediately attacked by vampires at the home of Madame Lefoux's inventor friend, and the trio (you didn't think Floote would let her go traipsing off across Europe without him, did you?) barely escape by fleeing to the roof and flying away in their host's Ornithopter.
From there they head to the coast and stop briefly in Nice to consult with a member of the Order of the Brass Octopus who may know something that will help explain Alexia's condition and why the vampires are so desperate to kill her, but before they can learn anything they are forced to flee again, over the mountains and into Italy, and straight into the welcoming arms of the Templar's, who wage an eternal war against the supernatural vampires and werewolves.  Alexia and gang find themselves comfortably (if closely) held at the Templar HQ, and Alexia discovers the joys of pesto sauce.  But she begins to suspect that not all is as it seems, and goes digging for more information, discovering much more about her heritage and how the Templar's have used her kind in the past.  Deciding at last to flee the Templar's the Trio find themselves trapped, and Alexia must use all her skill and wits to remain safe - and in one piece.  If only Lord Maccon would leave off the formaldehyde and make himself useful!

This was probably the most enjoyable of the three novels to date - a light quick fun read, with just enough suspense and danger to keep things interesting.  The little reveals about the Templars view of the supernatural set and their many abuses of the preternaturals were interesting - Carriger has obviously spent a lot of time with her world-building and following the effects of supernatural entities out to their logical conclusions - including the invention of pesto sauce!  I give Blameless 4 out of 5 stars, highly recommend it to anyone, and anxiously await Heartless: Book the Fourth, which will be released in July 2011.

Have you read Blameless?  Leave a comment and tell me what you thought!!  Or if you haven't, tell me what you are reading now - Curious minds want to know!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

The Tease:
"There were tears in Aviendha's eyes.  There was no shame at crying over this tragedy.  She had feared the truth, and she could no longer deny it." - Towers of Midnight, by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

OK, so I'm STILL reading the same book for over a month now, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it, and I'm almost to the end.  Each one of the Wheel of Time novels have been so good that I really never want them to end anyway!

So....What's your Tease?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

So now that NaNoWriMo is over, I'm able to do a Teaser Tuesday again!  Hooray!
This week the Teaser is from Towers of Midnight (again - sorry!  I haven't been able to read much!).  However, I'm going to cheat a little bit - this is not a random quote.  It's also a little longer than two sentences.  But I came across it and thought it was great, so I'm going to use it for the Teaser this week!

The Tease:
""But son," Bryne said, leaning forward. "A man is more than one drive, one goal.  No woman wants that in a man.  It seems to me that men who spend time making something of themselves - rather than professing their devotion - are the ones who get somewhere.  Both with women, and with life itself."  Bryne rubbed his chin.  "So, if I have advice for you, it's this: Find out who you would be without Egwene, and then figure out how to fit her into that.""  - Towers of Midnight, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.

What's your Tease?

Friday, November 26, 2010

My NaNoWriMo Word Cloud

November is almost over, people!  And I'm so far behind on my novel, it's not even funny.  But I hope to get caught up this weekend!

In the meantime, I found this kool website,, where you can paste in a chunk of text and it creates a "word cloud" from the most common words.  So of course I had to play with it!  Here's my word cloud, based on the first 31,000 words of my NaNoWriMo novel:
Pretty kool, eh?!

Ok, so back to writing - I'll be back soon with a review of Blameless, by Gail Carriger, and some thoughts on Towers of Midnight, by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson.

19,000 more words to go - Wish me luck!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kids Need To Read

One of my favorite actors, Nathan Fillion, (Firefly, Serenity, Castle) is co-founder (with author PJ Haarsma) of Kids Need To Read, a charitable non-profit foundation which was founded in 2008.

According to their mission statement: 
"Kids Need to Read works to create a culture of reading for children by providing inspiring books to underfunded schools, libraries, and literacy programs across the United States, especially those serving disadvantaged children."

There are several ways to help this worthy cause:
1. You can make a donation directly to the organization.
2. You can also purchase merchandise from their store!  They have some great merchandise, and if given as gifts, helps to spread the word!
3. John Ottinger III (from Grasping for the Wind) is even going to donate the proceeds from his ads and Amazon affiliate links!  Way to go, John!

 So please check out the Kids Need to Read website, and if you can help, great!  If you can't help them with a donation or a purchase, I promise NOT to look at you with my judging eyes, but only if you help spread the word about this totally awesome charity!

Also check out Grasping for the Wind (which is where I found out about Kids Need to Read) - It's a pretty awesome blog, full of all kinds of book-tastic deliciousness!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bits 'n Pieces

So, I've been crazy busy the last few weeks and haven't had time to post much. Sorry, y'all!  I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year, and then was sick for the first six days of the month and didn't do any writing at all - So now I'm totally behind on my word count.  But I'm slllloooowwwwlllyyyyy catching up.  Yay, me!

I'm sure everyone has already seen this, because it seems to be everywhere online today, but Entertainment Weekly is doing an "Exclusive First Look" including 10 photos of various characters, of HBO's Game of Thrones, (based on George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series), which is currently filming in Europe, and will air sometime in 2011!!  The sets and costumes look amazing, so check them out.

Ryan Britt posted an article on, about the new BBC Sherlock Holmes mini-series (currently running on PBS Masterpiece Mystery), and discusses why he considers it science fiction.  I've been watching the series (Thank goodness for Tivo!) and have thoroughly enjoyed seeing Holmes and Watson enter the 21st century and perform their special brand of sleuthing in a modern setting.

I'm also trying to read Towers of Midnight, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson when I can, interspersed with small portions of Blameless, by Gail Carriger.  Totally enjoying both, but need more time!!

What's keeping you busy?  Leave a comment and let me know what you've been up to!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Towers of Midnight

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

The Tease:
"Even something the Creator had designed to be eternal could be unraveled using the Dark One's energies.  It bespoke an eternal truth - something as close to being sacred as Graendal was willing to accept.  Whatever the Creator could build, the Dark One could destroy." - Towers of Midnight, by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson.

What's your Tease?

Review - Changeless: The Parasol Protectorate: Book the Second

The Parasol Protectorate, by Gail Carriger
1. Soulless, 10.19.2010, * * * *
2. Changeless, 11.02.2010, * * * *
3. Blameless

Alexia Tarabotti, now Lady Alexia Maccon, is busy getting on with her new life as a happily married woman, and her new job as the muhjah, the third member of the Queen's top secret Shadow Council.  But when the Queen's armies, who have been recalled from India, arrive in London, Alexia inherits two new problems: a regiment of supernatural werewolf soldiers camping on her lawn, and a mysterious "ailment" that humanizes all vampires and werewolves in London, and exorcises all ghosts from their homes.  When her husband suddenly announces that he must leave at once for his native Scotland, (and refuses to tell her why), Alexia is concerned, but when the area of the "affliction" leaves London and begins traveling northward as well, Alexia decides she must do something at once!

Floating aboard a dirigible has always been one of her fondest wishes, but the reality is not quite up to her standards - bad food, poisoners, and secret attacks threaten her life and those of her traveling companions.  But upon arriving at Kingair Castle in Scotland she realizes that things are not likely to get better.  The "affliction" has arrived, no one knows why, what, or where it is, the pack can't change into their wolf forms and haven't been able to for months, and there's a whole leadership issue to be resolved - not to mention, who keeps searching Alexia's room and shooting at her?  Of course, Alexia considers all this to be merely par for the course, and she'll get around to solving everything after she has a decent tea - if she feels like it, that is!

Again, another smashing success, full of surprises and mysteries, and even a reappearance of those darn brass octopuses - what could they mean?!  4 out of 5 stars, and I can't wait to get started on Blameless: Book the Third!

But it will have to wait, as I'm currently reading Towers of Midnight, which may take me awhile!  Until then, why don't you leave a comment below and tell my what you are reading this week?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review - Soulless: The Parasol Protectorate: Book the First

The Parasol Protectorate, by Gail Carriger
1. Soulless, 10.19.2010, * * * *
2. Changeless
3. Blameless

Alexia Tarabotti is one of the most fascinating characters that I have come across since first discovering Amelia Peabody several years ago.  She's a straight to the point, no-nonsense kind of girl.  This may have something to do with the fact that she's a spinster, far too old to be good marriage material.  Add to that, her father was Italian.  Oh, and plus that, she a preternatural - meaning she has no soul.

Set in an alternate earth where vampires and werewolves are an accepted part of London's high society, Alexia is a true oddity.  Very few know about her unique abilities, and her intense interests in science and technology are frowned upon by her family as being unladylike.  When a vampire attacks her at a private ball, she is both shocked and outraged at his behavior, which goes against all common decency and social etiquette.  Somehow he doesn't seem to know the rules, and she accidentally kills him.  Lord Maccon, from the Bureau of Unnatural Registry, arrives to investigate, and suddenly Alexia finds herself involved in the investigation.  Someone is making vampires and werewolves disappear, new vampires keep appearing with no one to claim them, and Alexia and her trusted parasol must get to the bottom of the mystery before time runs out for both her, and the werewolf who loves her.

I adore the slightly steampunk-ish setting of this novel, and Alexia herself is a riot.  Opinionated and not afraid to speak her mind or get her hands dirty, she's always right in the thick of things.  The romance part of the story was ok, but the best part was the mystery itself.  I give Soulless 4 stars, and would definitely recommend it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Changeless

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

The Tease:
"Resisting the terrible pushing sensation, Lady Maccon strode into the room and picked up a piece of the mummy's discarded bandage, pointing to the image depicted on it.  An ankh, broken in half." -- Changeless, Book 2 of The Parasol Protectorate, by Gail Carriger.

What's your Tease?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bits 'n Pieces

Just a few little things:

Towers of Midnight will be released November 2nd, 2010 - That's tomorrow, people!!  Hooray!!  I am so looking forward to this book - I can't even tell you!

If you haven't seen the book trailer, go check it out, it's awesome!!

I decided last week that I wanted to participate in National Novel Writing Month.  This will possibly cut into my reading and posting time a little, but hopefully not too much.  Wish me luck!
Also, AMC's The Walking Dead premiered last night, and it was freaking awesome! Did anyone else watch it?  I totally loved it, and the first episode ended with such an amazing cliffhanger, I don't know how I'll make it until next Sunday night.  I think it's great that it's not really a Zombie show, but instead a show about people who just happen to be trying to survive in a world filled with Zombies.  Ultimately, it's all about the characters, and the people, their choices, and what they are willing to do to survive in this new world they've been thrust into.
What did you think?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween! - "Not So Scary" Movies

Someone asked me today, after reading yesterday's post about "Scary" movies, if I had any favorite Halloween movies or TV shows that weren't necessarily scary, but that were infused with the Spirit of Halloween.

(Ha!  Spirit - get it?  Muahaha!)

Anyway, the answer is - of course I do!!  These aren't in any specific order but I can honestly say I love to watch:

Hocus Pocus (1993) is fabulous - Why?  Because it's chock full o' Bette Midler, that's why!  If you haven't seen it (where've you been hiding?) it's about these three witches in Salem, MA who were sentenced to die 300 years ago, and have arrived in the present day to find that Halloween is drastically different from what it used to be!

Of course Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."  It is a must see every year, no matter what.

Obviously, no Halloween list would be complete without the Roseanne Halloween Episodes!  Those were the best!!  Roseanne wasn't the only TV show to do Halloween episodes though - I didn't realize there were so many!!

Also (and these are probably my favorite) several of the Harry Potter movies show Halloween celebrations at Hogwarts, but even the movies that don't deal directly with the holiday are still fun to watch if you need some help getting into the Spirit of the Holiday!  (See!  I did it again - Spirit!  Muahaha!)

What is your favorite non-scary Halloween Movie or TV show?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween! - Scary Movies

Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of traditional "horror" movies.  I love suspense and terror, but I seem to be one of few people in the world who don't equate "horror" with "blood & guts & disgusting grossness."

This does not in any way indicate that I don't love to be scared witless - because I definitely do like scary movies - just not gross ones!  And since Halloween weekend is fast approaching, I thought that I would put together a list of some of my favorite "scary" movies.

1. Scream (1996) - Offhand, I don't think that there is anything that I don't love about this movie.  True, it has it's share of blood and guts, but what I mainly love about Scream is (a) the characters, their stories, and how they evolve during the course of the movie, and (b) I loved the way it sort of "re-invented" the scary movie, by turning the genre on its' head and poking fun of the more traditional blood-guts-screaming-girl-with-big-boobs and in the process made an intelligent yet frightening movie.  And the most horrific part was the killer's motivations!  Neve Campbell's character was strong when she needed to be and kicked ass at just the right time!  Scream 2 (1997) and Scream 3 (2000) were also highly enjoyable, each building upon the events and back stories of the first, but ultimately were not quite as good.  And even with the gore, it isn't truly Halloween unless I watch Scream.

2. Resident Evil (2002) - Resident Evil is another movie that defies my gore-free-zone!  Resident Evil is sick, disgusting, blood everywhere, gore & guts nastiness and I frakkin' LOVE IT!  It scares the crap out of me every time I watch it, but I love the characters, and when those characters are played by Milla Jovovich, Eric Mabius, and Michelle Rodriguez, I simply cannot pass it by if I stumble upon it while flipping through channels.  This movie mainly scares me because I sort of believe that this type of scenario could very easily happen - not the zombie part, but the "evil corporation accidentally causing loads of deaths and covering it up by killing everyone" part.  Again, the sequels aren't quite as scary, and seem to get progressively grosser and more gory, but I love them and can't "not" watch.

3. & 4. Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986) - I still remember when my older sister taped Alien from the television, and I watched it the next day - only the suspense was so bad that I only watched about 10 minutes at a time and then I would have to pause the tape and go do something else for a little while!!  What a wuss!  Now that I'm grown up I can watch the whole thing in one sitting, but the suspense is still deliciously terrifying!!  Oddly enough the sequel broke the suck rule and was as good - if not better than - the first one, but after that the series sort of went downhill, for me at least.

5. 28 Days Later (2002) - This one also got a little gross at times, but what made this movie so scary for me was the humans.  Yeah, it was suspenseful, and terrifying, and there were zombies everywhere, but what was so eerie was the scenery of empty city streets and houses, the shocking silence of a world where so few are left alive, and the horrific things that the survivors find themselves capable of doing to each other.  Some of the survivors were as monstrous as the zombies, who at least have no choice in the matter.

So there you have it!  My top 5 scary movies - do you agree?  What scary movies are on your list?  Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Soulless

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

The Tease:
"Miss Tarabotti, with nothing but her own thoughts for company, was left alone in the dark.  She was particularly annoyed with herself; she had meant to ask about the brass octopuses appearing everywhere." - Soulless, by Gail Garriger.

What's your Tease?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sci-Fi & Tears

Today over on, Jo Walton has written a very interesting article about Classic Science Fiction Tearjerkers - authors who may or may not have deliberately tried to cause their readers to feel strong emotions through their writing - and she poses the question of whether or not it is a rare occurrence, or if there are loads of attempts but few that succeed.

In her article she is mainly referring to "Classic" Sci-Fi authors - Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, etc - but in reading through the comments, a lot of people were also referring to more recent authors and novels, which I found interesting.

Anyone who knows me knows that I cry at the drop of a hat.  I've been known to tear up during long distance telephone commercials, (thank goodness they don't have those much anymore), and also during every frakkin' episode of Grey's Anatomy I've ever watched (Curse you, ABC!  Curse you!!)  I've cried while reading many other genres of books - Fantasy novels, Biographies, the occasional Thriller/Mystery - But the only time I remember tearing up during a Sci-Fi novel is when I read the third installment of The Star of the Gaurdians: King's Sacrifice.

The series is really more of a Space Opera than hard Sci-Fi, but the first time I read King's Sacrifice, I sobbed for an hour after finishing the final piece of Lord Sagan and Lady Maigrey's saga.  I've re-read the series several times since then, and while the scene doesn't affect me nearly as strongly now as it did then, I'd be lying if I said that my vision doesn't get a tad blurry when I reach that portion of the story.

Have you ever been brought to tears by a Sci-Fi novel?  It's not generally a genre that encourages sadness or tears, so I'm curious if any of you are willing to admit to crying (or even just a minor blurred vision!) during a Science Fiction story.  Anyone??

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review - Vieux Carre Voodoo

Scotty Bradley Mysteries       
1. Bourban Street Blues, 05.20.2005 * * * *
2. Jackson Square Jazz, 05.21.2005 * * * *
3. Mardi Gras Mambo, 03.26.2006 * * * *
4. Vieux Carre Voodoo, 10.19.2010 * * * *

"Former go-go boy turned detective Scotty Bradley is back!
When an old family friend apparently commits suicide from his French Quarter balcony, Scotty’s life accelerates from boring to exciting again in a nanosecond. Why would anyone want the old man dead, and what were they looking for in his ransacked apartment?  It’s up to Scotty, Frank, his crazy family, and friends to get to the bottom of this bizarre mystery—and when an old, all-too-familiar face turns up, it’s not just Scotty’s life that’s in danger, but his heart."

I love Scotty Bradley! This series is quirky and funny, with just a touch of romance thrown in, (really, it's barely there).  Scotty is an ex-go go boy who has become a private investigator and started his own business with his partner/lover Frank (an ex-FBI agent).  Together they solve mysteries and try to keep each other from getting killed by the bad guys.  Scotty's family is an eclectic bunch of well-meaning, warm-hearted souls, who help and/or hinder often.  Scotty uses his considerable assets to solve the case, including his well toned body, stunning good looks, a small amount of psychic ability, and occasionally a pack of tarot cards.  It all comes together in a fantastic smash-up of fun and mystery, with highly memorable characters.  Technically this most recent installment could be a stand alone, but I would still recommend reading them in order.  I give them 4 stars each for being enjoyable, fun, light reading that you won't soon forget.

So, what's your opinion?  Leave a comment and tell me about it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Vieux Carre Voodoo

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

The Tease:
"The sun was coming up in the east, and the gloom of the night was burning off.  There was a man lying in the middle of my balcony, face down. 
He wasn't moving."  
--Vieux Carre Voodoo - A Scotty Bradley Mystery, by Greg Herren.

What's your Teaser?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review - The Moses Stone

The Chris Bronson Series, by James Becker:
1. The First Apostle, (TBR)
2. The Moses Stone, 10.12.2010 * * *
3. The Messiah Secret, (NYP)

From The Back:
"In Morocco, an English couple discovers a clay tablet covered in ancient writing.  One day later, they are dead.  And the hunt for a priceless relic is on...
Called to North Africa to investigate, Detective Chris Bronson follows a trail of clues that leads him from the hustle of a Moroccan market to the deserted caves of Qumran; from the sinister echoes of a water-filled tunnel under the city of Jerusalem to a windswept fortress whose name spells death.  Threatened on every side by ruthless men with their own agendas, Bronson is plunged into a mystery that has gone unsolved since biblical times. For the stone he must find is older and far more dangerous than he could ever have imagined."

My Thoughts:
This was a good fun read, y'all!  Light, fairly fast-paced, and fun.  Chris is a British detective, and his ex-wife Angela works for a museum, so when he begins to suspect that this clay tablet has something to do with the murders he pulls her onto the case.  The two have some nice chemistry as a divorced couple who are still friends, and slowly working on getting back together.  The action moves from Morocco to London and then to several locations in Israel.  Chris & Angela are trying to find some ancient artifacts described on the clay tablet, before several groups of unscrupulous bad guys find them, who want to either sell them on the black market, or alternately destroy them so that the world doesn't find out about them.

Overall the story was a little predictable at times, but was fun enough that I didn't mind too much.  The one problem I had with the story was one point where a character describes the Book of Revelations as being part of the Old Testament of the Bible, when it is quite obviously NOT in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament.  Blame my early religious upbringing, but it just seemed like a sloppy detail for an editor or researcher to miss.  Also there was one character whose name seemed to alternate between Decker and Dexter, but he was a minor bad guy, so I didn't really care.  Overall, though, I basically enjoyed it enough to look for the first book in the series.  I've given this one a rating of 3 stars - entertaining, fun, and quick to read.

Have you read any part of this series?  What did you think?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - The Moses Stone

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

Now that I have finally finished the Millennium Trilogy, this week you get to have a Teaser from an all new book!  This week, that would be The Moses Stone by James Becker.  This is actually book two in a series, but I  picked it up on impulse without realizing it was part of a series and haven't been able to find book 1 yet.  However I haven't felt like I was missing anything or walking in right in the middle of the story by starting with book two, so I think they must be somewhat independent.  The story is about a British investigator, Chris Bronson, who gets called to Morocco to look into the seemingly accidental fatal car crash of a middle-aged couple on vacation.  But when the dead couples' daughter and son-in-law are also attacked, Bronson begins to suspect foul play!

Here's the Tease:
"The sound of the shot was thunderously loud in the confined space, and Bronson had no time to check if Angela had been hit: he was already moving, fast.  He pushed himself off the wall of the cave and barreled straight across the rocky floor, smashing into the man's stomach with shoulder."  The Moses Stone, by James Becker.

I've almost finished the book, so hopefully I'll have a review up soon!  Meanwhile, leave a comment and tell me what you think!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review: The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, by Stieg Larsson

The Millennium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson:
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 09.07.2010 ****
2. The Girl who Played with Fire, 09.23.2010 ***
3. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, 10.06.2010 ****

(Warning - Minor spoilers ahead!)
The third and final installment of the Millennium Trilogy begins (with a bang!) with Salander arriving at the hospital shortly after the conclusion of Book 2.  We find out through flashbacks how she got there, and then the story rockets off through her surgery and recovery.  Unfortunately, Zalachenko was also rescued and is recovering in a hospital room two doors down from Salander, and both of them are determined to kill the other as a preemptive strike.  Zalachenko is spinning a web of lies to the police, of course, and no one believes anything Salander has to say.  But apparently, The Section has become tired of cleaning up Zalachenko's messes and decides to cover their tracks - they simply have to strong-arm Zalachenko into following the party line.  But Zalachenko has never been particularly good at following directions...

Meanwhile, the police have decided to charge Salander with attempting to murder Zalachenko, even as they grudgingly admit that she had nothing to do with the original three murders in Stockholm.  At the point the story slows down.  Way down.  Mikael hires his sister to be Salander's lawyer, the police are looking for Neiderman (Salander's half-brother), the police are investigating The Section, The Section is investigating everyone else.  Berger leaves Millennium Magazine to work at a large daily newspaper and immediately comes under attack from a stalker.  Numerous superfluous characters are introduced that have little to do with the main story, but finally, at long last, the day of the trial arrives!

Mikael has been running around investigating like crazy, helping Salander and his sister plan their defense, and working with the police to take down The Section.  On the day of the trial, he releases a book and a special issue of the magazine devoted to the truth about The Section, Zalachenko, and Salander; as well as releasing the original sex-trade scandal book that prompted The Section to get involved in the first place.  At the trial, Dr. Teleborian, Salander's old doctor from when The Section had her committed as a teenager, postures and poses on the witness stand about the lies that he and The Section have decided to tell about Salander, until Salander's lawyer finally rips him and his testimony to shreds on the stand, leaves him speechless and confused, and then allows the police to haul him away to face charges of his own!  This was the single most satisfying moment of the novel, among many.

I won't spoil any more of the story - there's lots of detail and tons of things happen, including the ultimate showdown re-match for Salander and Neiderman - but suffice it to say that this is by far the best of the three novels.

What I did find interesting was that, once again, this novel is all about the parallels, it seems.  It continues the theme from the previous two books of the dangers of social indifference to violence against women and how laws don't work if they aren't enforced (at least that's what I got out of it).  But in this one I noticed a much stronger reference to what I see as the nature vs. nurture argument.  The parallels between Salander and
Neiderman I found fascinating - She's tiny, rational, and fearless, he's monstrously huge and terrified of the delusions produced by his irrational mind.  He also has a genetic physical condition that causes him to feel no pain at all. 

Salander, on the other hand, feels pain, but has been conditioned by the way society treats her to be completely emotionless, feeling neither love nor hate.  But wait, you say, she clearly hated Bjurman & Teleborian, Zalachenko & Neiderman, for what they had done to her and her family.  And that's true, but even her hatred of them is not so much emotional as based on principle - "you're a bastard jerk and must be punished."  Her motives are very much based on her own morals and perspectives of right and wrong. (It's wrong for men to treat women like trash, but she sees nothing wrong with stealing from them or committing other crimes against them- in her mind it is a just punishment for what they have done - they were wrong first, etc.).

Throughout this 3rd novel we see Salander struggling, not against the men who want to lock her up and silence her - she seems to see the trial as a mere inconvenience to be swatted away. Her struggle is all internal. She seems to begin to realize how the events of her life have affected her socially, and struggles with the idea and process of letting someone into her life, of trusting other people (especially men), and most of all what it means to be a friend and to have friends.  Unlike Neiderman, who overcomes nothing and will never feel anything, she grows, and towards the end of the story we see a hint that she might be making progress towards that goal.

All in all, this was a good series, serious at times, and exciting also.  The social commentary never got too heavy.  This is not a series that I would probably ever re-read, but I'm glad that my friend "T" loaned me the books and convinced me to read them. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am curious to see how the film versions will turn out - although they could never be "quite" as good as the books.

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Booking Through Thursday

The Question:

When you travel, how many books do you bring with you?
Has this changed since the arrival of ebooks?

The Answer:

I nearly always have whatever book I'm currently reading with me at all times.  Usually in my backpack, which travels back and forth with me to work, etc.  When we travel though, I usually only take one book with me, and it must be a new book, usually purchased in advance for the trip - even if I'm currently in the middle of reading something else, I still make sure I have a brand new book for the trip, and I cannot start reading it before we leave. 

This doesn't stop me from picking up more books while on the trip, though!  Oh, no, sir!  Browsing the bookstore at the airport is a great way to pass the time, even though I have a brand new unread book in my bag.  And if I happen to find something great while shopping, there's no law that says I can't come home from vacation with more books than I left with!

One of my favorite books, The Stand by Stephen King, was purchased while on vacation in Portland years before I moved here.  I wandered into a Tower Books to kill some time and stumbled across it, read the back and decided I couldn't live without it.  Best decision ever!!

The arrival of ebooks has had no effect on me, as at this point I have not been brave enough to buy one.  I keep weighing the pro's and con's, and then run screaming back to my delicious paperbacks!  But I am slowly being won over, and think it might be a good idea to take the plunge...someday.  Just not  yet.

What about you?  Do you travel with books?  And what's your opinion of the various e-readers out there?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

"Judge Iversen was suddenly very alert.  In a most unorthodox way, Giannini had launched a serious attack on a witness, and she had already made mincemeat of an important part of his testimony. And she claims that she can document everything she says." - The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, by Stieg Larsson.

Monday, October 4, 2010

News - Towers of Midnight

In case you've missed it and are unaware, "Towers of Midnight," the 13th installment of the epic fantasy Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson will be released on November 2nd, 2010.

That's less than a month away, people!!  OMG!

Granted, not everyone may be as excited as I am about this, but I have to say that after last years "A Gathering Storm" I am once again excited about this series.  Sanderson managed to breathe new life into the story while still remaining true to Jordan's vision and wishes.

I started reading this series back in the mid-1990's.  The first book, "Eye of the World" was published in 1990, but I did not discover the series until around '94 or '95, (I don't remember exactly and I wasn't keeping a reading list back then!), so I was able to read the first 3 or 4 books all in a row.  Since then, however, it's been a long slow process of waiting for each new book to come out with waits of several years in-between.  By the time the final volume is published (expected in late 2011) the series will span almost 22 years.

And I have to say that it's totally been worth it.  This is without a doubt the best fantasy series I've ever read in my life, and I'm fairly sure that it will be the series that all future series will be compared to.

Now, the whole point of that was to share a link with you guys.  This idea of "book trailers" is new to me, but I totally dig it.  So go watch the book trailer for Towers of Midnight at, because it is freaking awesome!  (Be warned, there are spoilers).

Leave a comment and tell me what you think of the book trailer, or the series in general if you've read any of it!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Star Wars - Third time's a charm?

So, by now I am guessing that everyone has heard about Lucasfilm's announcement regarding their intention to re-re-release all 6 Star Wars movies in 3D, starting with Episode 1 The Phantom Menace in 2012.

On the surface this sounds really frakkin' awesome!  I mean really - what could possibly be better than 3D Star Wars?  Imagine the light saber duels!  Picture the Death Star exploding!!  Blaster bolts zooming all around the theater!  Pretty cool, right?

Possibly.  Or maybe not.  As we all know, movies that were filmed in the new RealD 3D technology look AMAZING!  But we also know that movies which were not filmed in 3D, but later converted to 3D, don't look nearly as nice.  And while I'm sure that it would be carefully and lovingly converted, the fact remains that it is still a conversion.

For myself, this announcement sort of makes me feel that Lucas has run out of steam.  Apparently they have no more good ideas, and so they just want to trot out the same movies again.  And again.  And again.

What would be really awesome would be if they would move the story forward into the future.  There have been some really amazing novels written in the Star Wars Universe that take place after the Emperor and Darth Vader are destroyed.  There's a whole galaxy that had to be put back together, ya' know?  Why not take "The Thrawn Trilogy" by Timothy Zahn, and make movies of those novels?
  1. Heir to the Empire, 1991
  2. Dark Force Rising, 1992
  3. The Last Command, 1993
Or if they don't want to have to deal with existing stories in existing novels due to copyright issues, etc, well there are still plenty of gaps in the storyline.  Create something new - tell us a new story, something we haven't imagined yet!

But please don't just re-hash the same movies over and over and expect us all to cheerfully pay extra for the "privilege" of watching the same story - again - in 3D.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and let me hear your opinion!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

I finally finished The Girl who Played with Fire, so this week you get to have a teaser from a new book!!  WhooHoo!!

"As the situation developed, the futility of attempting suicide in the middle of a hospital became apparent.  Gullberg was transported at top speed to the hospital's trauma unit, where Dr. Jonasson received him and immediately initiated a battery of measures to maintain his vital functions." - The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, by Stieg Larsson.

What's your teaser?

Friday, September 24, 2010

TV - 2010 Fall Premieres

Thursday Night:

The Big Bang Theory (CBS) - The gang is back!  Wolowitz built a robot arm for the space station.  Sheldon has a date!?!  And apparently Penny has had too many...

$#*! my Dad Says (CBS) - A guy visits his dad to ask for money, but doesn't know how to do it.  Ends up wanting to build a relationship with dad.  Dad says crazy and (sorta) funny things.  We'll see how long this lasts.

The Vampire Diaries (CW) - This actually premiered several weeks ago, but I LOVE this show!  Elena & Stephan are great, Stephan is mentoring Caroline in how to not kill people, and convinces Bonnie to make her a Daywalking Ring so she doesn't have to stay inside all day.  Poor thing.  Alaric is back (YAY!), and he and Damon and Elena go to Isobel's old office to search for clues about the Lockwood family.  The little research assistant tries to kill Elena, thinking that she's Katherine, but Damon jumps in front of the arrow/stake to save Elena.  He's trying really hard to play nice and win her friendship back, but she's having none of it.  And Caroline, possibly for the first time ever, does a really selfless thing.  Awwww!

Wednesday Night Leftovers:

Hell's Kitchen (FOX) - Once again aspiring chefs from all over the country come to LA to get yelled at by Chef Ramsey when they screw up.  But maybe they won't screw up, you say?  Oh yes - yes they most certainly will!!  JP is replaced by some not-as-cute guy with a not-as-cute accent, and we decided that Raj (the only character whose name I remember) is not really a person, but a giant, insane Muppet.  Oh, and someone else went to the hospital and someone else went home.  Whatever...

Recorded but not yet watched: Bones, Fringe, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Nikita.

Are you watching too much TV, too?  Leave a comment and tell me about what shows you liked and didn't like!

Review - The Girl who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson

"Fire" starts approximately a little over a year after "Dragon" ended. Salander has broken all contact with Mikael and is travelling the world with her new-found riches - basically avoiding Stockholm and anywhere Mikael might be.  After experiencing a hurricane in the Caribbean and saving a woman from her abusive husband she decides to go home, where she does a lot of shopping - new clothes, new apartment, new furniture, etc.  Somewhere along the way she seems to realize that she has no one in her life, and tries to make amends with a few of her friends and re-connect, in her own awkward way, but still avoiding Mikael.

Meanwhile, Mikael and the Millennium magazine are working on a huge story about human trafficking and the sex trade.  When the story intersects with Salander's life in a major way she becomes the prime suspect in a major murder investigation, and even though Mikael knows that she is innocent, he can't prove it without her help, and she's not the least bit interested in helping, or explaining her side of the story to the police.

Once again the story starts out extremely slow, crawling along, full of events and scenes that to me didn't seem to advance the story in any way, for about the first half of the book.  Then suddenly, everything happens at once...

The ending is remarkable, almost unbelievable, and amazingly awesome all at the same time.  You can't believe what you're reading but you also can't stop, and suddenly you turn the page and  - the end?  WTF?  But the story isn't done yet!  Is everyone OK?!  OMG - what happens next?!  Make sure you have book 3 close by so you can immediately start reading it, as it picks up about 5 minutes after this one ends.

"Fire" is more concise thematically, I think, and more focused.  The main issue here is the sex trade, and how women - girls, really - are treated in the industry.  But the theme also transfers into Salander's life, as her mother was also horribly mistreated and abused by a viciously evil man - an event that sent Salander spiraling into her aggressively anti-social behavior, and triggered a massive government cover-up.  The parallel of the government actively hiding the abuse in Salander's case, and their willful ignorance of the abusive sex trade in general was highlighted well.  Laws are worthless if the authorities don't enforce them, or if they look the other way when their own members break them.

I gave "Dragon" 4 stars, but I'm only giving "Fire" 3 stars, not because it's bad in any way - I quite enjoyed the story myself - but only because it started so slowly.

Have you read this series?  What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

TV - 2010 Fall Premieres

Wednesday Night:
Survivor (CBS) - This time the Survivors are stranded on the beaches of Nicaragua.  The teams are divided by age - 30 and younger on one side, 40 and older on the other.  Tribal council is in the ruins of an old Spanish mission, which is awesome, though not quite as awesome as the tree house they had last time.  But most important, they've moved it to Wednesday!  WTF?  Last week the younger team won, and the older team had to send the crazy lady packing.  This week the older team used their heads and played their advantage medallion thingy, and the younger team lost.  And immediately fell apart!  The bickering and bitching that went on at Tribal Council surprised even Jeff, and he's seen everything!  Now that no one trusts anyone, it should be interesting to see how they get along when they get back to camp!

ANTM (CW) - This season, ANTM has come back to California.  The girls live in a cute little modern house right on the beach, and participate in the usual challenges while participating in the usual bitch-fights!  Bring on the drama!!  This group is so bland and boring that I haven't figured out any one's name - except Ann, who looks like she's from another planet.  But in a good way.  The prize for winning has been upgraded this season - instead of the winner appearing on the cover of Vogue, they will appear on the cover of Italian Vogue - 'cuz this time it's all about the "high fashion."

Hellcats (CW) - This is an entertaining show about Marti, a female gymnast/street dancer law student who joins the Hellcats to maintain her scholarship. But even though she's always made fun of the cheer team, she discovers that they aren't all ditsy blond dummies, but real people with like, feelings and stuff.  Throw in some mom troubles, performance anxiety, and (oh yeah!) homework, and you have a fun little show.  I don't know if it will last, but I'm enjoying it for now. Ashley Tisdale (of Disney fame) does fairly well as one of the team members, an intensely serious yet peppy girl who's been home schooled and transferred to the secular Lancer College(much to the dismay of her family) from a nearby christian college. Last night she had her first date with a real boy - OMG!  Also, her sister is on a rival cheer team - oh! the drama!!

Recorded but not yet watched: Undercovers (with sexpionage!), & The Real World: New Orleans Reunion.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TV - 2010 Fall Premieres

Tuesday Night:
Glee (Fox) - AWESOME!!  The gang is back with new songs, new potential glee club members, and Will & Sue have a new nemesis that may cause them to join forces this season.  Question:  Why does Rachel know where to find a crack house?

Raising Hope (Fox) - Okay, I watched this because I like Cloris Leachman, Martha Plimpton, and Garret Dillahunt.  The show was ok - hysterically funny at times, really stupid at other times.  I'll give it another chance or maybe two before I make up my mind if I like it.

Monday Night Leftovers:
Castle (ABC) - Castle returns from his summer in the Hamptons but doesn't call Beckett because he isn't sure if she'll still want him around.  But then Beckett finds him at the scene of a murder and promptly arrests him as a suspect.  Of course he didn't do it, and then a bet is made about who can solve the multiple crimes first, with Castle's ability to remain part of the team as the stakes.  Funny, fun, and touching, all in all a great return of one of my favorite shows!

Gossip Girl (CW) - Actually this is week two, but oh well.  C isn't dead and doesn't have amnesia, but looks really cute in his French peasant clothes.  B sees him in the street and drives on by.  S can't choose between D & N, but at the last moment her choice is taken away from her.  Oops!  And while it's totally obvious that D isn't the father, the question remains - Who is the Baby Daddy?

Recorded Parenthood - haven't watched it yet but trust me, it'll be good!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

TV - 2010 Fall Premieres

(Beware of the Spoiler Monster - I won't warn you again!)

Sunday Night:
Well, "The Gates" (ABC) wrapped up quite nicely, yet still managed to leave a few dangling leads.  Hopefully ABC will choose to bring this show back next summer.  I thoroughly enjoyed it during this past summer season!

Monday Night:
"Chuck" (NBC) - Hooray for the return of Chuck!  This was a great premiere episode, reminding us of why we love Chuck as he runs around the world searching for his mother.  Sarah is off being a spy, the CIA rebuilds the Buy More to use as a new undercover base and to entice Chuck to return to the game.  Suddenly Sarah's mission and Chuck's search cross paths and all hell breaks loose!  And apparently Ellie has a surprise...

The Event (NBC) - Intriguing new show about the event.  Or something.  We don't yet know what that means.  But I loves me some Jason Ritter, even with the scrappy-looking-beard-wannabe-thing!  The mixed-up order was a little confusing at first, but helped build the suspense. But the last few minutes were bang-up spectacular!!  Can't wait to see/learn more about this "Event" thing!

Recorded, but not yet watched - Castle, Gossip Girl (premiered last week).  This are both returning shows which I love, so I'm sure they'll be great.

Teaser Tuesday - The Girl who Played with Fire

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

I've been so busy reading (and a few other things) that I haven't had much time to post updates, but I didn't want to miss out on TT! I've almost finished The Girl who Played with Fire, so my teaser comes from it again:

"During the journey the giant had handled her as if she weighed nothing at all. He ripped the tape off her mouth when the van stopped. He lifted her and carried her inside without the least effort and dumped her on the cement floor, paying no heed to her protests. When he looked at her his eyes were ice cold." -The Girl who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Booking Through Thursday (1)

Today’s question is suggested by Mae.
“I couldn’t sleep a wink, so I just read and read, day and night … it was there I began to divide books into day books and night books,” she went on. “Really, there are books meant for daytime reading and books that can be read only at night.”
- ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera, p. 103.
Do you divide your books into day and night reads? How do you decide?

In truth, I had never thought of doing this before. And in reading through the responses I was fascinated that there were actually people who this!  I will sometimes be in the middle of multiple books at the same time and read whichever one happens to be closest to me at the time, but I had never considered having specific books for nighttime and daytime.

Although I do have very specific opinions about what music and songs are OK to listen to in the winter, and which ones are suitable for summer.  ;o)

What about you?  Do you divide your books into "read by day" and "read by night"?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - The Girl Who Played With Fire

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's mine:
"Reluctantly she came to the conclusion that it was no surprise he kept the drawer locked.  She did not like the situation, but she could not think of any immediate pretext for waking him and scaring the shit out of him." -The Girl who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Millennium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson, Translated from Swedish to English by Reg Keeland
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 09.09.10 * * * *

As I've said before, I was not looking forward to reading this series.  I've heard the hype, everybody loves it, yada yada best book ever blah blah. But it just didn't sound like it was up my alley, so to speak, so I never picked it or borrowed it from the Library.  I just didn't care, and I didn't think I would enjoy it.

Boy, was I wrong!

This is a fascinating, complex, and extremely well written novel, filled with interesting and vibrant characters that you want to know more about.  It starts out slow - almost glacially slow - but that doesn't last long, thank goodness!

It starts with financial journalist and co-owner of the Millennium Magazine, Mikael Blomkvist, watching his career crumble to dust after losing a libel lawsuit.  When a stranger approaches with a job offer that may help clear his name and credibility, he reluctantly agrees to research a decades-old mystery - the disappearance of a young teen-age girl - under the guise of writing a biography of a prominent industrial family.  Mikael begins, not expecting to find anything that wasn't caught in the original investigation, but with the help of Lisbeth Salander he realizes that not everything is as it appears. She's a strange girl with tattoos, piercings, and a ton of issues - but she's also a genius, has a photographic memory, and is one of the best computer hackers alive.  Together they stumble on several clues that were never recognized as such at the time of the disappearance, and eventually their probings and questions start hitting too close to home and their own lives become endangered.

Larsson writes beautifully, (although I'm not sure how much of the flow is due to the original author and how much is due to the translator), and even the slow parts flow rather nicely.  There were several scenes that I wasn't really sure why they were included - hearing the details of Mikael's endless walks around the island and his shopping trips in the village weren't really strictly necessary, but I suppose they did contribute something to the general pacing of the novel.  Mikael spends months researching but not really learning anything, and wondering if he should just give up, and you do sort of feel his lethargy.  Once the pace of the story picks up though, it grabs you by the back of the neck and compels you to follow at breakneck speed, scrambling to keep up.  I stayed up far too late, too many nights in a row simply because I couldn't put the damn book down!

Larrson's writing skills are also evident in his creation of Lisbeth, a girl with so many contradictions, flaws, and annoying habits that one doesn't expect to like her at all.  She's ruthless and uncaring, and doesn't let anyone close to her.  Her sections of the story tend to be written in tense, short, machine-gun burst  sentences that I think give the reader a feeling of what it's like to be in her head.  Oddly, I came to love her part of the story the most.

Basically this was an amazing story where nothing is what is seems, everything and everyone are suspect, appearances are deceiving, and perspectives are vital to understanding.  What seems like a threat may just be a kindness, or the kind act a threat.  The novel explores themes of sexuality, crime, mental illness, friendship, and the damaging effects of neglect and violence against women.  It's not an easy read, and makes you really think about the story and the themes it represents.  This is not the type of book that I would typically re-read, which is why it only gets 4 stars, but this is definitely a story that should not be missed!

If you've read this book, please leave a comment below and tell me what you thought!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Currently Reading: that "Dragon" book.

If you're keeping track, then you know that I'm currently reading "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson.  I should finish it tonight and will be able to talk more about it after I'm done.  But, just a couple of side notes:

First, the majority of the story takes place on a fictional island (Hedeby Island), next to a fictional city (Hedestad) in Sweden, several hours north of Stockholm.  Much reference is made to various points on the island, and the small bridge to the mainland plays a pivotal role in the story.  Plus there's lots of discussion about what family member lives in which house on the island, which house has what views, and who lives next door to whom.  It would have been really nice if there had been a map of some sort to help keep it all organized. 
But wait!  In the original version, there WAS a map of both Hedestad, and Hedeby Island, but for some reason they were not included in the English translation of the novel.  However, the person who did the translation was kind enough to provide English versions of the maps online, and you can find out more about that and the maps over at, which is a fun website devoted to the Millennium trilogy in general and Lisbeth Salander specifically.

Second, I am so glad that Sony Pictures cast Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomkvist in the english language version of the movie, due out in late 2011.  I loves me some Daniel Craig!!

And third - I don't know how the hell they made this into a movie!  There's so much going on, that is seems like it would take hours to get it all in!  I think I may need to watch the foreign film before the American film is released, just to see how it turned out, and so I'll be able to compare the two films.

Have you read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" or seen the Swedish film?  What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's mine:
"Now we come to the real reason I want to hire you.  I want you to find out who in the family murdered Harriet, and who since then has spent almost forty years trying to drive me insane."
--The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Mirror and the Mask: A Jane Lawless Mystery

The Jane Lawless Mystery Series, by Ellen Hart
1. Hallowed Murder 02.13.06
2. Vital Lies (TBR)
3. Stage Fright 02.17.06
4. A Killing Cure 02.28.06
5. A Small Sacrifice 02.28.06
6. Faint Praise 08.19.10 * * * *
7. Robber’s Wine 03.02.06
8. Wicked Games (TBR)
9. Hunting the Witch 03.03.06
10. The Merchant of Venus 03.06.06
11. Immaculate Midnight 03.07.06
12. An Intimate Ghost 03.08.06
13. The Iron Girl 03.17.06
14. Night Vision 02.13.07
15. The Mortal Groove 05.20.08
16. Sweet Poison 08.25.10 * * * *
17. The Mirror and the Mask 08.31.10 * * * *
18. The Cruel Ever After (TBR - Release Date 12.07.10)
(TBR = To Be Read)

The Mirror and the Mask begins on a cold February day, with Jane minding her own business.  Literally, she's at work, dealing with a busted water pipe in one of her restaurants, when a young woman comes in asking for a job.  Annie Archer is in town temporarily looking for her father who disappeared immediately after her mother's death years before.  Jane agrees to give her some temp work, and starts poking into Annie's past to see if she can find the missing father.

Cordelia turns out to be the lucky one who finds him, however.  Turns out Annie's father is a very wealthy business owner in the construction industry, married with two children, and a well-known philanthropist named Jack Bowman.  But something about the whole story feels off to Jane, and when Jack's second wife Susan is found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their home, Jane starts poking a little deeper to see if she can get to the truth.  There is the beginnings of an attraction between Jane and Annie, but Jane is still a little fragile in regards to relationships, and she isn't sure if she can trust Annie with her heart when Annie seems to be less than truthful with several points in her story.

In fact, it turns out that everyone is lying about something, whether it's an affair, an alibi, or their own name.  Both Annie and Jane are searching for answers, but to very different questions.  Who killed Susan?  Did Susan's son Curt finally snap and succeed in killing her (he may have tried once before!) Why did Jack abandon his first family and change his name?

As always, Author Ellen Hart provides plenty of questions, intrigue, and mystery for Jane and the gang to sort out.  This story was a little quieter and not quite as fast-paced as some in the series, and tended to focus more on Annie than on Jane, but all-in-all, a good read.  I gave it 4 stars.  Jane and the gang will be back in the 18th installment of the series titled "The Cruel Ever After" which will be released in just a few months in December 2010.

Next up - I've finally started "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."  People keep telling me that I'll like it, but for some reason I'm feeling some resistance to reading it - I've been avoiding picking it up for days.  But, I've started it, and I'll keep you posted.