Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dead Body Language by Penny Warner

"Dead Body Language" is the first book in the Connor Westphal Mysteries. I found this book as a result of one of the many book blogs I read, and I wish I remember which one recommended it so I could link back to it! Oh well, it was a good recommendation.

Mystery you say? Yes mystery, I know most of my reviews tend to be about fantasy or sci-fi, but I read other genres as well! I love a good mystery, but I tend not to read them as often because there are way to many poorly written mysteries out there, formulaic and way to easy to solve ahead of time!

This was one of the good ones. It has a twist in that the main character, Connor Westphal, is mostly deaf. This leads to all sorts of interesting complications that most people don't face. I've always been fascinated by the deaf community, so I loved that particular twist!

Connor is not actually a detective, she's a newspaper owner, but her keen investigative mind leads her to conclusions that the local police sometimes miss. In this book she's investigating the death of a woman who had put a mysterious ad in her paper, and then died the next day. Before long we have more dead bodies, missing jewelry, and Connors managed to get her self in a world of trouble! How does it all work out? You'll have to read the book to find out!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Baby Filled Afternoon!

So yesterday I got to visit my friend John, his wife Becca, and their baby Alexandra. They are family to me, family of the heart. And isn't that the best kind? We took baby Alex to the Water Reclamation Center. Hey, it got us out of the house :P The top pic is a Sturgeon sculpture they have hanging from the ceiling.

Gordon (my brother) loves babies - can you tell? It was so fun to watch him playing around with her!

John and Bec - They were wearing these 3D glasses that went with one of the exhibits. I remember saying, "See Alex? The aliens are kissing!" That kid is going to be so warped with me as an Auntie...

And of course I have to show a picture of me and Alex :) I made this my profile pic on Facebook :) Want to see the rest of my pictures from the afternoon? Go here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"The Lies of Saints" by Sigmund Brouwer

"The Lies of Saints" is book three in the Nick Barrett Mystery series. I actually own the first two books, and have really enjoyed reading both of them. In fact, I've really enjoyed reading this author since I was much younger. He's actually written quite a few more children's books than he has adult books.

When I spotted this book on the shelves at the library I figured it was probably a "slam dunk." In other words, I figured it was a pretty safe bet that I would love reading it! Well, I did enjoy it, I got caught up in the suspense and found myself very curious about how it was all going to work out. However, I also found myself really disappointed. Yes, it kept me interested, but I think there were a lot of things that he didn't wrap up well or that seemed a little inconsistent to me.

The book follow Nick Barrett as he works to unravel a murder, that leads to more murders, spanning a full century! Set in South, this book is full of tradition, and convoluted clues. One thing I love about it is the characters are well developed and entertaining.

Bottom Line: Interesting - but not as well-written as it could have been.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dragonworld by Priess and Reaves

Many of the books I review on this blog are books that I've read because I already know the author, or because a friend had recommended it. That's not the only way I find books though! In fact, I found this one in a more random method than normal... I was at the library, chatting with my brother and looking for a book, and the words "Dragonworld" caught my eye. I just had to snatch it up! Anything with dragons after all has to be given a chance.

I'm so glad I picked it up! "Dragonworld" is written by Byron Preiss and J. Michael Reaves and it was illustrated by Joseph Zucker. As the book opens we meet a young boy from the kingdom of Fandora. His people are simple folks, the cities of the nation mostly being self governing, but they are about to face a major challenge! They go to war. The why's I'll let you find out for yourself, but soon the people are heading out to war with the neighboring kingdom of Simbala, a kingdom they know very little about.

As we meet the people of Simbala we find out that they have a beautiful culture, beautiful, but full of political intrigue. The book progresses with many misunderstandings, both accidentally and manipulated, and you will find yourself caught up in the twists and turns! I didn't want to put the book down. It's simply written, but the story was compelling.

Oh yes, and there ARE dragons, and coldrakes, and lots of fantasy to feast your heart on!

I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the illustrations in this book. They are all through out, and it's obvious that the illustrator worked closely with the authors. The story doesn't need them, but it's definitely enhanced by them!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I love it when a book I read leaves me thinking afterwards. "Spirits in the Wires" by Charles de Lint, that I wrote about recently, stayed in my mind for a long time after I read it. I actually read the book over a week ago, and usually my mind has moved on to new things within a day or two, especially when I'm reading other books, but not this time!

I keep coming back to the concept of IDENTITY. Who we are, how we define ourselves, how others define us, mistaken concepts, my own journey...

One of the main forms of identifying ourselves, or others, is the use of labels. It's only natural afterall, the sense of self is a esoteric concept that can't easily be defined, so we start putting lables on it to make it a more tangible concept that we can grasp. The problem with that is that those labels will change over time, and if we've come to find our personal self-worth in them, that can be a painful experience.

I think of myself at 21, and the labels I had attached to myself back then...the list included:

Room mate
Swing Dancer

I look at those labels, and out of all of them, the only ones that still apply are daughter and friend! I'm sure if I thought long enough I could come up with more labels, but my life has changed a lot in the last 5 years. Some of those labels I gave up easily, and some of them were quite painful to let go of.

Most recently I had to give up my identity as a college student. It wasn't something I gave up easily, or without good reason, but it was something that had to be done. It was one of the most painful decisions I've made in a long time!

I realized, after the fact, that a part of my struggle in letting go of college was that I had wrapped up a large part of my identity in that label, in being a college student. I had good reason to, I love to learn, and I had worked very hard to get to where I was! But it was still a mistake.

Since then I've realized I should have based that portion of my identity on my love of learning, not the outcome of it, my status as a college student. I do love to learn! That's something that will never change, wether I'm a student, or a business woman, or a wife, or wherever I go.

How do you define you identity? To you focus it on what you do? Or the reasons behind what you do? Do you focus in on what you value, or you think others value?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Journey to The Dark Side

Yesterday my dear hubby and I went and picked up my very own CPAP machine. If you haven't been following my journey dealing with sleep apnea go here and here to read my first posts and get more info about apnea and the CPAP machine :)

I've been calling it my "Darth Vader mask" and the jokes have been FLYING about me joining the dark side! In reality, it's super quiet, none of the classic Vader breathing. Having the mask over my face makes me feel like I'm a cyborg or something though.

My dear hubby is being incredibly supportive. He knows how emotionally draining this adjustment is for me, and he kept telling me his sexy-cyborg last night :D Gosh I'm lucky to have a hubby like him!

Even though I was really tired last night (I'd been having asthma problems) it still took me about 2 1/2 hrs to fall asleep last night. Then I woke up a good hour and a half earlier than I usually do. Can you say - tired? I did manage to take a nap this morning, but I was a good girl and used the machine, and so I woke up yawning.

I could easily go to sleep right now, but I don't want to mess up my night sleep schedule and make things even harder tonight, so I'm sticking it out :)

The lady who set us up with the machine said that the average person takes 3 months to adjust to their cpap machine. I can believe it! The closest analogy I can come up with is that it's like wearing a brace, cast, or head gear. You've got a foreign object on your body, so even though you sleep, you may not feel super rested when you get up. I'm sure that it's better for my lungs, so I'm determined to make it work, but the next few weeks/months might be hard. I'll keep you updated!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Landmark Moments :)

I had a lot of fun yesterday! It was an awesome landmark moment for me, but for you to understand what I'm talking about, I'm going to have to back up and explain a little bit.

Last September my asthma grew to be so severe that my husband, my family, and I made a difficult decision, we decided that we weren't ever going to leave me alone. I know that sounds a bit extreme, but at the time I was having at least one life threatening asthma attack a week, if not more. So, to make sure I was safe, I was always with my hubby or one of my other family members!

It was a HARD adjustment to make. Necessary (the doctors thought so too) but hard. I lost my independence. The only time I was "alone" was if my hubby happened to be asleep when I was awake, but even then I wasn't truly alone, obviously. Very restricting.

Well, with lots of doctors visits and time, I've been slowly getting better. Last month we braved leaving me home alone for an hour or two at a time, but just a few random times. Then, last week, when the hubby started back to school, we started letting me stay home alone more often! My family was "on call," so if I started having asthma problems one of them could come over, but I was alone! It was such a freeing experience :)

Then yesterday... *drum roll please* ...

I went out to coffee with a friend, and I left the hubby at home! It's the first time I've gone anywhere by myself since the beginning of September, and let me tell you, that was an adrenaline rush! I drove across town to meet up with one of my friends at Starbucks and we got to chat for about an hour and a half!

It was good to catch up, it's been hard to reconnect with my friends since moving back to my home town because I've just been too sick. I'm finally getting strong enough to do more, and so I'm finally seeing people! Between me being sick - and her busy schedule - I've been trying for a month now to get together with this particular friend.

Not to mention I had the rare treat of a Starbucks coffee!!! With our limited budget I don't do that very often :D

***Click here to go to the listing for the ring pictured above :) ***

Monday, January 19, 2009

Spirits in the Wires by Charles De Lint

The good writers are able to take old concepts, and find new ways to apply them, or adapt and twist them to fit into today's world. Charles De Lint, one of my favorite authors, does a good job of that on a regular basis, and I think he's out done himself on this book! In "Spirits in the Wires" De Lint addresses the concept of the fairy world becoming integrated with our modern technological age. This isn't the first time De Lint has explored this concept, but out of his books I've read, this is definitely the most focused on technology so far.

What happens when a major internet site develops it's own consciousness? Taking that a step farther, what happens when that site gets infected with a virus? Chaos is what happens! Now we find some familiar characters from Newford struggling to pick up the pieces, and find a way to "heal" the spirits of the internet.

While exploring the fantasy world's place in today's technology, De Lint also has his characters wrestling with the concept of identity. After all, are you a real person if you were "born" on the internet? What makes a person a person? How do we find our importance and worth? I really enjoyed watching some of these characters explore their own personalities!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cheerful Morbidity

Grape Skull Button by Goobetsa

I've had a rather eventful life, at times too much so! Sometimes I've wished for a boring life, but the upside of having such a randomly crazy life is that I have a LOT of stories! I was thinking of some of those stories last night...and one of these days I need to write up some of them...but for now my mind is headed down a different track. Yes, a cheerfully morbid track!

Of the many stories I could tell you there are quite a few that involve flirting with death, and then running away laughing! In fact, my brother and I have often joked that just about the only major "form" of death I haven't faced laughing has been death by fire. I realized last night that we were totally wrong on that one!

The quick run down of ways I HAVE knocked on death's door:
~ Severe asthma attacks
~ Intestinal parasite that nearly shut down my body.
~ Major car accident
~ Near drowning

Honestly - that list doesn't seem as long as it used to - especially when I thought last night of all the different ways I've never faced death!

Such as:
~ Lethal injection (Hey - never done anything worthy of Death Row!)
~ Falling from a great height (although I think my 6ft fall with no injuries at 2 years old is impressive)
~ Being run over.
~ Being shot.
~ Being poisoned (I don't think accidentally eating something that included ingredients I'm massively allergic too counts...)
~ Being stabbed.
~ Being assassinated (yes, it would probably involve one of those other methods, but there's just something special about having some one actually pay money to have you killed!)
~ Eaten by a Bear or other land animal.
~ Eaten by a shark (although I did meet a guy once who'd lost part of his leg to a shark!)
~ Old Age (Although I think I'll face that one some day :P)

Disclaimer: I solemnly swear that I'm not taking this list as a personal challenge. Cross my heart, hope to die!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Making Money by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is another of my favorite authors because of his wit and exquisite sense of the absurd! You'll find, if you follow my book reviews, that some of the books I read can be really deep and take a lot of thought, others are simply plain fun. I tend to run the entire spectrum! And if your looking for plain fun you can't do much better than reading Terry Pratchett!

The majority of Pratchett's books take place on Discworld, an interesting world full of magic, mythical creatures, and the unexpected. In "Making Money,"one of his more recent books, we find ourselves back in the infamous city of Ankh-Morpork, and this time we get to explore the world of money and banking.

With tongue held firmly in cheek we find ourselves examining the gold standard, is it really practical? Wouldn't it be easier to use paper money, and if so, why bother using gold as a standard at all? These are the questions Moist von Lipwig finds himself asking as he's prodded firmly along by the ever cunning Lord Vetinari.

Of course, if gold is no longer the standard, what will be? The answer to that will leave you in stitches, just like the rest of this wonderful book!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Introducing....the Darth Vader Mask!

Remember how I told you about my first sleep study? Well, the results were that I do have moderate sleep apnea, and apparently that means I'm not really getting that much rest at night! So we scheduled a second sleep study for last night, and they tried a "darth vader mask" on me.

Ok, so that's not really what it's called. It's called a CPAP Machine, which is short for continuous positive airway pressure. Basically, when a person experiences sleep apnea (stopping breathing in their sleep) it's because their body relaxes so much while their asleep that their airway starts to collapse. The CPAP machine provides positive air flow that apparently acts like a splint in your throat, so you don't stop breathing!

Well, getting a good nights sleep sounds great, but it's going to be HARD to do with that mask on! Fortunately it's not really as loud as Darth Vaders breathing, but that's what it reminds me of anyway. It was pretty uncomfortable - and I woke up with a really dry throat and a face. The nurse said they could adjust the humidty levels in the air flow and that would help, so I'm trying to think positively.

I'll be hearing back from the sleep doctors office again soon and I'll go into to get my own machine to take home and try to get used to - I'll keep you updated!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Project Wonderful on This Blog!!!

Do you use Project Wonderful? I love it! Ok, honestly, I don't love it anywhere near as much as I love entrecard, but it is a useful tool to have in your blogging arsenal. So what is it?

Project Wonderful is an advertising system that you control. You can choose to sign up simply as an advertiser or as an advertiser and publisher. If you are interested in publishing ads they have a list of requirements that need to be met, including 30 blog posts, which would be why this is just now appearing on this blog. To find out exactly what their requirements are go here.

As an advertiser you get to upload the ad of your choice (there are different size options available), and deposit some money, and then get started! You don't have to put much money into it, and you can chose to advertise for pennies at a time. I put in $20 when I first started and I've never added anything! Granted, I'm a publisher, so I do earn back what I spend, but don't get too excited, unless your blogs super popular you'll probably just earn enough to pay for your advertising.

Sound interesting? Go to the site to learn more!

Want to advertise on this blog? Just click on the advertisement to the left! Spots are REALLY cheap right now :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

27 Dresses

What little girl hasn't played dress up and dreamed of wearing beautiful dresses? Who hasn't dreamed about being in the perfect wedding? Well, Jane lives out the fantasy's of little girls everywhere as she's in wedding after wedding afte wedding! Why? Well apparently she has a lot of friends...and theirs a scene at the beginning of the movie where we see a young Jane have an epiphany as she realizes how much she just LOVES to save the day and help people have their perfect wedding.

I watched this movie for the first time the other night with one of my dear friends. Let me just say, yes, it's a chick flick and a half! If your not in the mood for a gooey romance, don't bother with it, but if your in the mood to sit back, laugh, eat some chocolate, and feel totally girly, it's perfect!

Getting to see the many, many dresses in this movie was a ton of fun for me. I may have grown up a tom-boy, but I can be as girly as the next girl when the mood strikes! One of my favorite memories is of an afternoon spent trying on one of my friends dresses. We were roughly the same size, and she had a bunch of fun things for us to try on! I felt like a Princess. The only thing that bugged me about this movie was the classic theme of "meet boy, fall for boy, boy hurts girl badly, girl forgives boy, happily ever after." Maybe I'm just cynical, but why does the girl always seem to forgive the boy for being a total idiot? It happens in chick flick after chick flick. Oh well, I suppose they have to put something in to create conflict...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Mer-Cycle" by Piers Anthony

In "Mer-Cycle" by Piers Anthony we find ourselves on Earth, in a world strangely familiar, and yet utterly alien. We join five adventurers as they follow an other-world guided quest deep under the seas of Earth. I found the book to be a little slow at the beginning, but I was soon sucked in by the character development and relationships that were developing.

I enjoy reading Piers Anthony because of his character development. He does a good job of putting his characters in bizarre situations, and walking us through their thought processes as they wrestle through them. While he does a good job of that in this book, I don't think this is one of his best books over all.

One thing that I think can be a draw back to reading Piers Anthony's books is that he often feels the need to go in depth in his explinations of how things work. Granted, some readers may appreciate this, but for me it slows a story down and is often way more than I wanted to know! This particular book is chock full of those slow points.

Having said that, he does present many interesting concepts and, if your willing to brave the explinations (I skimmed them) it's worth reading. If you've never read anything by Anthony though I would start with his series "Incarnations of Immortality." Much easier reads (less slow points) and hysterical as well!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Blogger on Blogging

I mentioned in an earlier post that one of my goals for this year is to make money with this blog. This brought the question from from one of my readers, "How do you make money with a blog?" I think that's an excellent question, and to be honest, one that I'm still exploring myself! I was already considering sharing my journey with you guys, and this question has made my decision for me! So, as I work on bringing traffic into my blog, and earning money from it, I will be sharing with you what I learn! And, when possible, I'll be giving the credit to those that I've learned from, because I'm certainly not doing this entirely on my own!

One of the first things I'm doing to build traffic to my blog is signing up for Entrecard. Entrecard is a social networking site designed to take the old concept of passing out business cards, and bringing it into the internet world. Now don't get me wrong, I still consider business cards valuable, I just consider this a valuable option as well

Entrecard enables your blog to be found by a world of other blogs, and it also allows you to advertise your blog through a system of "points." These points are not something you have to pay for, it's something you earn as you "drop" by other blogs and as other blogs advertise on your blog! That's right folks, free advertising. How great is that?

I've been using entrecard on my other blog for some time, and I just finally got a chance to sign up for it on this blog! As I've used it through my jewelry blog I've met quite a few new people, new friends, and I've learned a lot through the blogs I've visited! I'm hoping to continue that process through this blog. Be on the look out for the avatar on the left if your interested in advertising on this blog through EC!

The biggest disadvantage I see for Entrecard (EC) is that it can be time consuming if you don't have a really good internet connection. When I first started using EC it took me a lot less time to go through visiting all the blogs I wanted to visit each day. Of course, I also had a much faster internet connection at the time! Now, with a slower internet connection, it takes some dedication to get a large number of drops. It's something I'm committed to, but I have the time right now too.

Entrecard has a limit of 300 "drops" (and therefore credits) you can make a day, I usually reach 200 on my Jewelry blog and my current goal is 50 drops for this blog. Don't be intimidated though, it took me a long time to reach the 200 drops on my Jewelry blog and, in reality, the number of drops isn't really the most important thing. Consistancy is the key. Try to visit the same blogs (especially the one's who drop in on you) on a daily basis. Comment when you can and build relationships.

When using Entrecard I recommend browsing the blogs through Firefox. It is much more secure from viruses than Internet Explorer, but don't count on that alone to protect you. Having a good virus protection system on your computer is still important because any time your spending that much time browsing the computer you can be opening yourself up to viruses!

Another advantage that Firefox has over other internet browsers is that it allows you to utilize the Entrecard toolbar. This enables you to easily mark your favorite blogs, see how many credits you have, and "buy" advertising on other blogs. I know using this tool has greatly assisted my success in using Entrecard!

Good luck :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Goal For It

A friend of mine introduced me to the site Goal For It when she wrote about it in her blog. Since I've been thinking about my goals recently (see my last post) I jumped at the chance to look at this site! Goal For It is a site designed to help you set out, track, and find the motivation to reach your goals.

I found this site really easy to use. The sign up process is quick and painless, and they don't ask for too much information. Once your signed up - it's quick and easy to set up your goals! One of the things I really liked with the way you set up your goals is that it has you set your goals under different categories. Mine currently fall under Arts and Entertainment, Career and Employment: Small Business, and Home.

The biggest draw back I saw was that you can't really write goals and sub-goals. You write the main goal, and then go in and fill out your steps to achieve those goals. That works great, but if you have sub-levels to those steps you can't really fill them in with out getting creative.

Some other great features are; that you can pick a deadline for your goal, it gives you the option to be sent reminders (and the frequency of those), the option of who your goals are visible too, and you get to check off each step as it's done!

I plan on utilizing this site as I set out up my to-do lists for the week. I have a notebook that I use to track my to-do lists, and I'd been toying with the idea of sitting down once a week to do the initial set-up for each week. Well, this kind of gives me the motivation to do so! I'll sit down with my goals open on-line in front of me and figure out how I can work them into my week.

Want to see my profile and goals? You can search for me under roseworksjewelry or simply follow this link. If you sign up for the web-site, feel free to add me as a friend!

I'll update you in a month on how I'm doing :)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Resolutions vs Goals

Do you make resolutions...or goals? In the past I've tried both, and I've come to the conclusion that resolutions just don't cut it for me, but goals do.

A quick look at shows us the differences between the two terms.

Resolution: the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.

Goal: The purpose toward which an endeavor is directed; an objective.

Well, honestly, their not that different. The two words share a close relationship with resolution being more of a decision to do something, and goals being what your resolving to do! In my mind, though, they are worlds apart.

I look at resolutions and I think of the millions of people who set out on New Years Day with a list of things they plan to accomplish that year. Some of them will reach their goals, but many more will find themselves falling way short, some of them within the first days of the new year. I know I have often been one of those people.

I look at goals and I see myself setting out with a much more structured plan.  When I was in management training we learned to us the SMART acronym to help us set our goals, and then achieve them. I also see goals as something that can be adjusted as you go along to come closer to meeting with what's truly realistic.

This year, instead of setting resolutions, I'm setting goals. What's more, I'm only setting them for the next three months, and then I plan to review them and set new goals! Why? Well, a year is just way to long. So many things can happen in a year, and it's hard to set good goals for that period of time.

Before I tell you what my goals are, here's a brief overview of the SMART acronym I mentioned earlier, more information can be found here.

Timely (or Time Bound)

My goals:

In my personal life:
~ Finish unpacking and organizing the apartment. (I know this might seem a little silly, but believe me, it can be a challenge with my health problems!)

In my Jewelry business:
~ Open shop in two new on-line venues.
~ Make at least $100 a month.
~ Set up two consignment deals.
(note: I have much more detailed plans with each of these...)

In my Blogging world:
~ Begin making money off of this blog.
~ Start and maintain a serial fiction story (I have big plans for this)
~ Improve my writing skills through consistent practice, both with fiction writing and non-fiction writing.

What are your goals for the next few months or the next year?