Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Black Order by James Rollins

I had a conversation the other day with my Mom about books, sparked by seeing "The Da Vinci Code" in a check out line. One of the things I told her about was the "Sigma Force" novels which I described to her as similar to "The Da Vinci Code" except with out all the controversy surrounding them!

"Black Order" continues the "Sigma Force" series by James Rollins. This time we find ourselves caught up in a sweeping story that has its roots in Nazi Germany, and that extends to mountains of Nepal. There are three main story lines running through the story, and it took me quite awhile to figure out how they all connected. I appreciate that in a story, I like being stumped!

The "Black Order" is the name given to a series of horrendous experiments that the Nazi's had been conducting in an attempt to create the perfect soldier. Only the experiments didn't end when the Nazi's fell. Now the results of these experiments are leading to death and destruction, and it's up to the Sigma Force to unravel this mystery.

On a side note, I read this book as my brother was on his way home from two years in Nepal. Entirely coincidental, but a lot of fun. This story takes place up in the high mountains though, and he really didn't get up there much.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Writing ADD #24

Well, I had a another week of fighting through migraines, and again I didn't meet all my goals, but I still got lots of done so I'm happy about that! I also got a lot more blogging done than I did the week before, so over all, it's a win! I seem to be doing a little bit better physically so far this week, but who knows what that will mean for my writing :P Here's the review:

Week's Total:
Book Reviews: 4
Movie Reviews: 3
Dalia's Story: In progress
Total Words: 3219

~ Book Reviews
~ Dalia's Story
~ Finish "A Disturbing Group"
~ Write another "Striking Thoughts" piece.

As you can see, I only got my top two goals accomplished (and the others will be moved forward to this week), but I also wrote up a couple movie reviews that were unplanned. So I guess that balance things out a bit eh? I had a movie day with my brother and so I wrote up reviews on all three movies we watched. I haven't posted any of them yet but I should get at least one, maybe two, posted up this week. 

I didn't get as much done on Dalia's Story as I would have liked, but I'm glad I at least got something done. I think this was just one of those weeks where doing original writing was a bit harder than doing things like reviews. So the result? 7 reviews of different kinds and only a few hundred words on my story. Oh well. 

I won't bother to post this week's goals, because they are exactly the same as last weeks! Well, some of that's to be expected since they are things I try to get done every week, and the other's, well, if I didn't get them done this week they get to be moved forward! 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Shine on Daizy Star by Cathy Cassidy

"Shine on Daizy Star" came across my reading list because I won it in a blog contest from one of my dear bloggy friends, Jessica, of Nayu's Reading Corner. It's a cute book with a bright color and great illustrations. I love the stars all over the cover of the book!

Daizy Star is age 10 3/4's and the book opens with her giving a pictorial introduction to the people in her life. We also learn that her Dad, who's always been pretty cool, has recently lost his mind! Or at least that's how it seems to Daizy and the rest of the family. He's taking a sabbatical from work and has decided to construct a boat that the family will then sail all over the world in. Nobody in the family really likes the idea, and Daizy is so upset by it she refuses to tell any one what's going on.

Have you ever told one little lie that grew and grew until it consumed your life? That's what happens to poor Daizy as she first tries to cover up her Dad's new obsession, and then finds herself trying to keep more and more lies straight, including the lie that she's learned to swim.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lirael by Garth Nix

"Lirael" is the sequel to "Sabriel" by Garth Nix. As we start this book Sabriel and Touchstone are married, and have been ruling in the Old Kingdom. Well, Touchstone rules, and Sabriel defends the kingdom from the dead and those who would seek to raise the dead. She is the Abhorsen, the one Necromancer pledged to stand against all others.

This book centers around two characters, Lirael and Sameth. Sameth, better known as Sam, is the younger child of Sabriel and Touchstone, and the one destined to follow in Sabriel's footsteps. In his last year at school over in Ancelestierre, he's at the top of his game, and on top of the world. Until, that is, his team is way laid and attacked near the wall by a bunch of undead. Trying to defend his friends, Sam enters into death to attack the Necromancer responsible for the attack, and finds himself over powered and nearly killed. This scares Sam so badly that he can't even look at the tools of the Abhorsen with out getting ill. Neither can he find the courage to tell his mother.

Lirael is a daughter of the Clayr, although she's never felt much like one, because she doesn't have the "sight" that the Clayr are known for. Each year that passes without her gaining the sight finds her sinking deeper into depression. That is, until one day when she comes to the attention of some of the older Clayr, who realize she needs a purpose to fill her days.

They put Lirael to work in the Library, a job that she finds fascinating and distracting. She still mourns her lack of sight, but it helps that she now has access to all this learning! Lirael has a talent for charter magic, and she quickly is learning things and accessing areas far beyond what she is supposed to. She even makes herself a construct of a friend, well she tries at least, the result (The Disreputable Dog) is a little beyond what she had originally intended.

Once again a great evil is attacking the Old Kingdom. Sabriel and Touchstone have gone to Ancelestierre to try and stop the flood of immigrants that are unwittingly being sent to their deaths (and subsequent enslavement). When Sam hears that his friend is trying to come visit him, in dubious company, he sets out across the land to try and save Nick. Around the same time the Clayr finally have a vision with Lirael in it, and she's sent off to find Nick as well, although they don't know each other. Eventually she will meet up with Sam and it will be up to the two of them to save the kingdom!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Robin McKinley has very quickly won her way into a spot among my favorite authors. I love the fantasy/fairy tale stories that I've read by her so far, and I was fascinated by her branching out and writing a book about dragons in a modern society similar to ours (Dragonhaven). When I first picked up "Sunshine" I had no idea what to expect. For one, the name and the cover seemed extremely at odds. "Sunshine" would normally imply things that are full of light right? Well, the book cover is dark, done in dark reds and blacks, and has a gothic feel.

Then I noticed that there was a quote from Neil Gaiman on the back. "Sunshine is a gripping, funny, page turning, pretty much perfect work of magical literature that exists more or less at the unlikely crossroads of Chocolat, Interview with a Vampire, Misery, and the tale of Beauty and the Beast."

This intrigued me on many levels. First of all because Neil Gaiman is famous for his dark and haunting fiction, which is nothing like any of McKinley's books that I had read thus far. I was also fascinated by the different references he'd made. I've never read Chocolat, but I love the movie, I've read Interview with a Vampire, never heard of Misery, and of course I'm familiar with Beauty and the Beast. I couldn't figure out how the three I knew could possibly work together to fuse into a new and exciting tale!

Then I started reading.

"Sunshine" is the tale of a young woman in a modern world where magic and monsters that go bump in the night are very real. The world has been decimated by Magic Wars, but she's mostly managed to stay unaffected by that. She lives a busy but quiet life working as a baker in her families Cafe and Bakery. She has a passion for all things made with flour, and believe me, you'll be drooling through out the entire book!

One day Sunshine (that's her nick-name) heads out to her families old cabin by the lake. A place no one really went to any more, but that should of been safe. It wasn't. Instead she finds herself kidnapped by vampires, and chained to a wall as a meal for their "guest" vampire. One thing is very strange though. The vampire seems to have no desire to eat her!

Sunshine and her fellow captive form an unlikely alliance that extends far beyond their escape. Her entire world has been turned upside down, and there's nothing she can do about it, and she's not always sure she wants too. Her friends do what they can to help, but there's only so much can do when Sunshine can't possibly tell them about her new vampire friend.

I love vampire books, and I especially love vampire books that don't fit the usual models. This one definitely breaks the molds and was a great, page turning, read! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What I'm Watching: So You Think You Can Dance?

I started watching "So You Think You Can Dance" when it first came out back in 2005. That season I didn't get to watch every episode, but I was pretty close! I was working in a day care at the time and my coworker and I would come in to work the day after and talk about the performances, and our crush. We both had a massive crush on Artem, who unfortunately, did not win.

When it was time for Season 2 I was excited! I think I watch every episode that season. The things I remember best? Dmitry starting a trend of wowing the ladies by losing the buttons on his shirt, Mia Michael's routine "Calling You" (aka "The Park Bench") performed by Travis Wall and Heidi Groskreutz, and that I predicted the winner! Ok, so maybe I didn't predict it as much as I really wanted it... Benji Schwimmer, Season 2's winner, was a swing dancer, and thus my top choice to win. I think Season 2 is the only time I participated in the voting for the show, and every week I voted for Benji!

I was able to catch most of Season 3, but it doesn't stand out in my mind as much as the first two years did. I just think I never connected to any of the performers the way I had before. Season 4 had a lot of memorable performers, but the two that I remember the most are Twitch Boss and Courtney Galiano. Twitch, because he is just an incredible character, and Courtney because she was just so cute! 

Seasons 5 and 6 I missed. It's been awhile since I had good tv reception and it took a long time for Fox to decide to put the episodes on the internet like so many other shows these days. I missed it, but my hubby didn't mind not having my crazy, obsessive, dance show around.

Now we're up to Season 7 and I'm loving it! They are finally airing it on-line at both and and I eagerly await each episode. They've mixed things up this season by bringing back some of the allstars (including Twitch and Courtney) to perform with this seasons contestants. We've seen contestants perform with allstars, with each other, and by themselves. 

It's been a heavily male dominated season. We started out with 6 out of the 5 contestants being guys, and we've now lost all but one of the girls as we reach the top 4. Unfortunately, two of the contestants who've had to leave did so because of injuries. So we're down to four, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out! I can't decide who I want to win.

As for performances - there have been some incredible routines this season. They've really broken out of some of the molds they had established in the early seasons, and the show is still fresh and moving. I don't love every routine, but I am impressed by quite a few of them, and I even cried over one of them two weeks ago. But don't blame me, so did almost everyone on screen. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Baby Brother is Engaged!

You read that right - Peter is engaged! Her name is Tanya, and she's really sweet. They have a lot in common and the more I get to know her, the more excited I am that he's found her. It's wonderful to see my little brother so happy and animated (he tends to be very reserved).

Tanya is Russian and comes from a huge family. We're getting together with her family for dinner in a couple of weeks, and it should be interesting! Coming from a Cuban background I'm used to large families, but I don't deal with crowds as well as I used to because of my migraines. The mix of cultures should be really interesting too. Mom and Dad had dinner with her parents the other day and got a good taste of Russian food. So when they all come over Mom's going to make some good, traditional, Cuban food!

The wedding is going to be December 18th and I know they are trying not to let the wedding get to big, which might be a bit challenging. It will be 3 days after my 3rd anniversary. I think that's pretty funny. We keep joking that now all we need to do is have Gordon find a girl and get married in December as well!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Writing ADD #23

Well, I definitely didn't meet my goals from last week, but I'm trying to be positive about it. My goals were reasonable if I had a good week. I did not have a good week. Therefore I'm content with what I did accomplish and I'm moving the unaccomplished goals forward to this week!

Week's Total:
Book Reviews: 6
TV Review: 1
Movie Review: 1
Dalia's Story: In progress
Total Words: 3515

The one goal I did meet for last week was I managed to get 6 book reviews written! Woohoo! I still have a pile left, but hey, that's the way it tends to go around here. Especially when I've been living in migraine city and thus spending lots and lots of time reading.

TV Review and Movie Review: I haven't gotten either of these posted yet. I was a bad blogger last week. (I think I only posted one blog other than my Writing ADD post). I had planned on writing either of these last week, it just happened. So they kinda took place of what I was planning. Oopsie. Wait, is that really an oopsie? It's still writing after all!

Dalia's Story: I really need to get cracking and write more on this story or I'm going to miss the dead-line. BUT I didn't give myself a word goal for it last week so, since I did get some done on it, this is another goal achieved!

The two goals I didn't meet were to finish the "A Disturbing Group" piece and write another "Striking Thoughts" piece. So guess what's on my list for this week?

~ Book Reviews
~ Dalia's Story
~ Finish "A Disturbing Group"
~ Write another "Striking Thoughts" piece.

Gee - this list looks rather familiar...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I'd heard of "The Phantom Tollbooth" before, but I really didn't know anything about the book. So when I saw another book (that I loved!) being compared to "The Phantom Tollbooth" I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. I'm glad I did.

Norton Juster creates a realm in which improbably things happen, and in many ways the style reminds me of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. Both authors draw on things that we see in the every day world, and turn them into fantastic lands and creatures. Despite their similarities, Juster definitely has his own style, and you'll enjoy the read!

"The Phantom Tollbooth" tells the story of a boy named Milo, who really had no purpose to his days. He would hurry through school, hurry to get home, get up to his room, and sit there with no direction. It wasn't that he had no toys, he just had no inspiration or desire to do anything. One day he hurries home from school (he doesn't know why he hurries, he just always does) and discovers a package in his room.

The package turns out to be a miniature toll booth. Milo thinks this is silly at first, but since he doesn't have anything else to do, he decides to drive through it in the miniature car he has. This sets him off on a journey that will completely change his out look on life!

Milo will meet many strange and fantastic people on his journey. Faintly Macabre, the not so wicked Which, Tock (who ticks), the people of the lands of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis, and even the sisters Rhyme and Reason. It's a fantastic read no matter what age you are!