Saturday, February 27, 2010

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

When people hear that I like Neil Gaiman's work they inevitably ask me if I've seen "Coraline." That always bugs me, shouldn't they be asking me if I've READ "Coraline" and THEN ask if I've seen the movie made from the book? I guess I'm a purist. If the book came before the movie than the book should always come first in my eyes. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the current answer is yes, I've read "Coraline," and no, I have not seen the movie. I'd like to see the movie though! It's now officially been added to my list of things to see at some point.

"Coraline" is the story of a young girl who's family moves into a new flat, and in the process, she discovers she has some um, rather strange neighbors. First of all, she has to deal with everyone trying to call her "Caroline," which is annoying, but I suspect she's dealt with that particular nuisance most of her life. Her downstairs neighbors are couple of spinsters and their dog, and her upstairs neighbor is an old man and his rats that he claims to be training. While they each have their quirks, these are not the strangest neighbors of all.

No, the weirdest neighbors are the one's she discovers when she opens the door in between her flat and the vacant flat that's on the same level as her flat. That's when she meets her alternate family. They look almost exactly like her parents, except they have button eyes, and they don't act the same as her parents.

Coraline soon discovers that these alternate parents are far more sinister than they initially appeared. It's up to her, with a little help from the cat she's befriended, to save her parents, and to rescue the souls of other children these wicked people have lured in. It's a bit of a harrowing story, but fascinating at the same time!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Precious Little Girl

I wish I had a picture to show you so you could see for yourself just how adorable my precious little niece is! My brother was going to take a picture of the two of us yesterday, but the lighting was bad and we were trying to let her sleep, and the only other pictures I have of her are old.

I should back up and explain briefly that little Alex is my niece by choice and love, not by blood. Her Daddy (John) and I have been best friends for a decade, and we decided a long time ago that we might as well be brother and sister, because we're close enough :)

So why am I talking about my precious niece this morning? I spent most of yesterday at the hospital with little Alex, John, and Becca (her Mommy). Alex was running a high fever, not eating, not drinking, and really lethargic. So night before last they took her into ER, and the hospital admitted her to get her re-hydrated and run a bunch of tests.

When I got to see her, yesterday, she was already doing some better. She still looked so sick though! It was heart breaking. She was pale, barely eating, and you could tell she was miserable. Her poor Mommy and Daddy were exhausted too. I put a mask on and held her for awhile to give Mommy a break. The two of us sat and talked for a long time, and that was good for both of us.

They ran a million tests on Alex, the poor thing, they even did a spinal tap! They told me that when she came out from under the anethesia she put her hand in front of her and said "whoa," like she was totally tripping. The good news is that all the tests came back negative, so "all" she had was a really nasty virus. They pumped her full of antibiotics anyway, just to be careful, and sent everyone home so baby and parents could rest.

It's so hard seeing someone so small and tiny looking so miserable! And John, Becca, and I have all agreed that we've spent way too much time in hospitals lately. First Becca's Mom went into the hospital, then my Granny got sick, then her Mom died, then my Granny died, then John's Dad was hospitalized for a night, and now little Alex! We're all very ready for it to be done. Of course, having said that, Becca is having twins in May, so no matter what they will be back there before too long! At least that's happier circumstances :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Writing ADD #7

It's been awhile since I've done a writing ADD post - and with good reason. I just haven't had the energy to put into writing anything good as we've been dealing with my Granny dying. Both because of the emotions and because of my body reacting to the stress by giving me lots of migraines and things! I did manage to get a few book reviews written this last week, but I'm waaaay behind on my "to review" pile! I tend to hide in books when I'm emotional.... I'd like to get back to more "normal" writing this week, but I think I need to tackle that pile too. So my goals for this next week are to write and publish the next segment of Aria's Quest...and catch up on my reviews a wee bit :)

On a positive note, even though writing hasn't gone as well as I'd like it to this year because my personal life has (rightly) gotten in the way, I did finally break the 10,000 word mark this last week! Now most of that has been book reviews (I've written 21 so far this year), but at least that's something!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Time Much Needed

I got to spend several hours with Mom today - and it was SO needed! We have always been really close, and these last few months we haven't had much time to spend together, and what time we have spent together has been rather intense because of all of the family stuff that's been going on.

Today we got to mostly just BE together. Oh we still had stuff we were doing, and we are still both processing through the grief of losing Granny, but it was much more relaxed than any time we've spent in a long time! She drove me to a doc appointment, we went to a craft store, and we did a bunch of crafty stuff together. It was really nice. I think we both feel a lot better having spent that time together!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Dreaming Place by Charles De Lint

Charles De Lint is one of my favorite authors. His work is almost entirely modern fantasy, but even with in that realm, he covers a wonderfully huge scope of stories! "The Dreaming Place" is one of his stories written for young adults. In the back of the book he tells us that he had always been a bit leery about writing for a teen audience, until he realized the biggest difference is that your writing with teen characters and using them in your stories!

"The Dreaming Place," tells the story of two girls, teenage cousins who live together and share a room. Ash has been fascinated with magic since her parents death, so when Nina starts to have strange dreams, she assumes that Ash has cursed her, she's never really trusted Ash anyway. The two girls are as different as night and day!

Nina's dreams begin to scare her more and more, even as she begins to learn to adjust to them. In her dreams she finds herself in the body of an animal and struggles to function in the world around her. The frightening part is that she often finds herself prey to predators she can't escape because of her poor control over her unfamiliar body.

Meanwhile Ash learns that one of her friends has a closer tie to magic than Ash was ever aware of, and this friend actually takes Ash into Magical Realms. There Ash learns what's really happening to Nina, and what must be done to protect her. Now the question is, what is she going to do? Will Ash save the cousin who's she's always resented for her invasion into her life?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Agents of Chaos: 1 Hero's Trial by James Luceno

I was talking about this story arch in the Star Wars pantheon recently with one of my close friends. Neither of us is thinks its the best story arch, and she's read the entire arch whereas I'm just getting started, but I at least liked this book a lot more than the last two! I think the difference is that the last two books focused a little too much on the Yuuzhan Vong and exploring their culture. The Yuuzhan Vong are very focused on pain, both inflicting it and enduring it themselves, so the last two books were rather dark and depressing.

This book, while it continues the story of the Yuuzhan Vong and their invasion, focuses more on the story of Han beginning to recover from Chewbacca's death. After Chewie's death Han spiraled into a deep depression and doused his sorrows with vats worth of alcohol. In this book Han finds a reason to begin to crawl out of that hole when he's approached by an old friend to pursue a smuggler who's now working for the Yuuzhan Vong.

Having a purpose, something he could actively do, helps Han a lot, but he still has a long way to go. Leia spends most of the book worried about Han, especially because he refuses to tell her what he's doing, but she realizes she needs to let him go and do his own thing. Letting him go doesn't work 100% though, because they end up in the same place!

This book was high on action, and I loved reading more about Han! Despite his abnormal amount of luck, I always love reading stories about him, especially when I need to just relax and not think too hard about what I'm reading. I'm looking forward to the next book in the story arch because it's also written by the author that wrote this book!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mixed Bag

Oh my - lots on my mind today! I couldn't think of any appropriate title other than "Mixed Bag," because none of it is very related except for by the fact that all of it has to do with my life, and I'm pretty positive I've used the title "Life" one to many times...

If you've noticed that I've been missing from the blog world the last few days it's because we took a trip up north for my Granny's funeral. Peter, Mo, and I traveled together and shared a hotel room to save money. Mom paid for the hotel room, but we were still trying to be smart :P

It was an emotional weekend. We got through it, I'm glad I was there, but it was hard. Now comes the process of moving forward. Moving forward is different from moving on. Moving on implies your leaving someone behind, and it's often a negative connotation. Moving forward...moving forward means taking everything that's come before, acknowledging and incorporating it where appropriate, and then taking the next steps in your life. At least that's what it means to me.

It still hurts.

I'm starting to slowly work towards my usual routine, and feeling more like myself. The last two months have been really hard (it was all so fast!) and I know there will still be hard days to come, but there is a feeling of closure in having the funeral over, and I'm trying to be disciplined about getting done what needs to be done.

My dear hubby installed windows 7 on my laptop (his name is Jack) today. I haven't gotten to play around with it as much as I'd like yet, but so far I like it. Mo says Jack will run faster with 7 than he did on Vista, so that alone makes me happy! I also like the changes I've noticed so far.

Random note: My hubby says my brains wouldn't be good to eat because they are probably tough and stringy since I use them so much. Isn't that sweet of him?

I've been experimenting with cooking more (I can't remember if I've mentioned that or not) and I'm having fun! I've made a stew from scratch, baked my first whole chicken (well, in like 10 years), and tomorrow night I'm going to branch out from cooking salmon when we have fish to cooking Dover Sole this time. I know, doesn't sound like a lot, but it's one of those little victories for me because it's been really hard to cook with all my health problems! I'm slowly getting stronger, and we're going to eat better because of it :)

Have you been watching the Olympics? Nothing has really stood out at me yet, but yesterday was the first chance I had to watch any, and I fell asleep with a migraine around 5. I have a feeling the stuff I wanted to see (figure skating) was on while I was asleep...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Can a man be a witch? Can a woman be a wizard? Where are the boundary lines drawn? What defines what? What is simply tradition and what is a hard in stone rule? Most would tell you that only women can be witches, only men can be wizards, and that these are hard and fast rules. Until a dying wizard accidentally passes his powers (and staff) onto the baby that he thinks is the eight son of an eight son. Only the baby is a girl.

"Equal Rites" is about that baby girl, Esk, and her attempt to fumble her way through her magical legacy. Fortunately she's not entirely on her own, Granny Weatherwax, a local witch, takes on the task of watching over Esk and trying to direct her magic. She trains Esk up as a witch, a lot of it is just headology anyway, but the magic has other ideas.

Eventually it becomes obvious that the magic Esk inherited is not simply content to let her be a witch. No one knows what to do with a woman wizard, but everyone figures that the only one's who will be able to figure it out are the wizards of the Unseen University.

Getting to the University is going to be quite the journey though, and once Esk gets there she faces a bunch of men who are VERY set in there ways.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

I'm not sure how I first stumbled upon "A Great and Terrible Beauty" by Libba Bray, but I'm glad I did! It's a different approach to the realm of magic and the fantastic than I often read, but it was a very interesting approach. I look forward to exploring what else this author has written.

In "A Great and Terrible Beauty" we meet Gemma Doyle. She isn't like the rest of the girls at Spence Academy. For one, she's spent most of her life in India, and this is her first time in the "mother country." So for her, many of the things the other girls take for granted are new and strange. On top of that, Gemma has just endured witnessing her mother's murder, which for societal reasons she's supposed to say is death by cholera.

As Gemma slowly begins to make a place for herself at Spence, she also begins to attract supernatural forces. She is lead to a mysterious diary, one that tells of girls not unlike her and her friends, who once wielded great power. There is also a mysterious young man who warns her not to use her new found powers lest all be ruined.

Gemma is young though, and power is attractive, how can she not resist playing with what she has discovered? Especially when she discovers that it allows her to communicate with her dead mother? Her mysterious young man is right though, and danger soon haunts Gemma and her friends. Will they manage to overcome? You'll have to read the book to find out!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Letters from Atlantis by Robert Silverberg

"Letters from Atlantis" is part of the "Dragonflight" series of novels. Each of these novels is dedicated to a different major theme in fantasy, in this case (obviously), Atlantis. Many different story tellers have ventured into the realm of Atlantis over the years, but I think in this volume you'll find a fresh look at the old tales.

The story is written as a series of letters from a man named Roy. Roy is a time traveler of sorts. His people have learned to travel through time, but only in a non corporeal fashion, ie, they have to reside in another persons body when they change time frames. Roy is currently in the body of the Prince of Atlantis, silently observing, hoping to learn about what Atlantis was really like, and what caused its destruction.

Even though Roy is mostly a silent observer, he is able to take control of the Princes body while the Prince is asleep at night, and that's when he writes his letters, which he's sending to his true love who has also traveled in time and is currently observing the world from a Governors body. The only problems this causes is that the Prince wakes up with writers cramp in his arm, and of course he freaks out the one time he wakes up and sees himself having written a page of writing in a language he's never seen.

Eventually the Prince realizes that a "demon" must be inhabiting his body, and he confronts Roy mentally! Roy is left with a choice. Try to hide himself even more completely until his extraction time, or reveal himself to the Prince. Since he's been struggling with the isolation and the ethically of borrowing another man's body, he chooses to reveal himself. In the end the two of them become friends, and they have many long discussions. Roy learns many things about the wonders of Atlantis because of his new friendship, including the origins of the people of Atlantis, and what causes it's impending doom.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A New Week Begins...

First of all, thank you everyone for all your kind words and encouragement this last week. I'm not quite back to "normal" after receiving the news of my Granny's passing, but then again, when am I ever normal? I guess what I mean by that is I'm starting to get back to doing my usual things again. Starting to create things, got my inbox cleaned out of all new e-mails, actually cooking instead of doing cereal, things like that :P

The funeral is going to be on Saturday. We're still working on details about going up.

I found out some frustrating news medically today. I found out a few weeks ago that my neurologist was leaving the Vancouver Clinic (long story) and I've been a little upset about that because he's one of my favorite doctors and we're still trying to get to the bottom of what's behind my migraine. it turns out that not only is he leaving, they shut down the entire department! So I don't know where I'm going to go for my migraine care. Trying not to panic about all this, but I'm not exactly at my strongest emotionally right now anyway, so adding this on doesn't help.

Friday, February 5, 2010


We lost my Granny this morning. We'll miss her, but at least she's no longer in pain.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

"Blue Bloods" is a young adult fiction about vampires, and one that takes a different approach than most. In this book there are only a finite number of vampires ever to exist, and they can choose to "die" and be "reincarnated" in new bodies. This gives them virtual immortality.

What many of the students at the highly exclusive New York school Duchesne don't realize is that many of their class mates are these reincarnated vampires. In fact, the vampires them selves don't necessarily know. They don't remember their past lives or begin to transform into their powers until they reach 16. At that point they are invited to join an exclusive "club" in the school, which in reality is a support group to help them through the transition.

Schuyler has always been an outcast at Duchesne. She doesn't dress to impress, and she's never moved in the "right circles." Yet she finds herself going through the transformation into a vampire, and getting pulled into a world she never knew existed.

Even with her transformation, though, Schuyler remains an outsider. She's different from the others, and she's not willing to blindly accept what she's told by the elders. Which means that she doesn't blindly accept their explanations of the strange deaths of several of her peers, and begins to investigate. Who hunts vampires? Especially young vampires?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

January - Looking Back

January was another crazy and difficult month - but I got through it and I'm ready to face February! I think... LOL Here's a recap of what I've posted....

Personal Posts


Book Reviews:

All in all, while it was a rough month, and I didn't come anywhere near CLOSE to meeting my writing goals, I think I did pretty good overall! Why? Because I put up a whole lot more of my own writing (non book reviews) than I have in months! I'm very happy about that. Here's to a better month this month!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Writing ADD #6

Not much writing again this week. Too many migraines and a bad asthma flair up. I did get a few book reviews written up though :) We'll see if this week is any better!