Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Books Read in January and a quick personal update...

January was a great month for me with books (my salvation). I wish I had time to talk about them. All I can say is every last one is worth owning. They're books you can pick up and reread - books you'll want on your shelves. Without further ado, here's the list of 10 books:

Stray by Rachel Vincent - 5 Stars
Rogue by Rachel Vincent - 5 Stars
Pride by Rachel Vincent - 5 Stars
Prey by Rachel Vincent - 6 Stars (the max, people!)
Shift by Rachel Vincent - 6 Stars
Alpha by Rachel Vincent - 5 Stars
Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep - 4 Stars
Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep - 4 Stars
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones - 5 Stars
Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones - 5 Stars

Darynda Jones, btw, is an author you should absolutely keep your eyes on. Her writing is nothing short of amazing!

Now, on to personal matters....Kiddo had another breakdown (I say that calmly, while I am anything but calm). We're currently in the process of medically withdrawing him from college and dealing with the crisis. I don't know what that means for my reading, blogging or anything else. I can barely think right now. My posts may be few and far between for a little bit. Hopefully, things will settle down quickly, but I think this may turn into a major crisis based on past experience. It's...not good. 

I'll try to post when I can. That's all.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Having a Little Geek Girl Moment

So, as a certified geek (I'm not ashamed or embarrassed by it - I'd rather be a geek than an asshat) I'm  having a geek girl squee moment. Why? Well, if you don't know, I also use twitter under the name UnseelieMe. I follow a few authors, the bloggess, my son (who NEVER tweets), and a few other people. I also have 16 followers. (Okay, I know its weird to be proud of that - but as a SAHM of a teenager, who hasn't held a job in 18 years, its the closest thing I have to friends). No violins, please. I'm quite okay with it most of the time.

Aaanyway, my most recent follower is @CleverIsCool - Bullying Bullying. That alone makes me proud because I feel like part of the reason I'm here on this earth is to let people know that bullying people because they're different than you is NOT acceptable. But that's not even the coolest part. See, I decided to check & find out who this tweeterer is ... and his name is Edson Hendricks. I guarantee you don't know who he is but I do. See, I have an aspie computer geek son (who is absolutely going to flip when I tell him who's following me). Edson is the person who developed the software that created the internet!! Holy f-ing shit! It's like being followed by God or something. Well, the god of computer lovers everywhere.

I can't wait for the kid to get home.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Mortal Bone by Marjorie M. Liu

I think in order to talk about this book, I have to talk about the series. There's really no other series out there like it that I know of. And I think that people probably either love it (like me) or get a little squeeged out by it. All I can say is Marjorie M. Liu is a freaking genius with words.

The story revolves around Maxine Kiss, a demon hunter. Maxine is covered with tattoos, but they're not ordinary tattoos - they're demons that are bound to Maxine during the day. At night, they peel away from her skin and help her hunt. Maxine calls them her boys - and they're really the only friends she has, at least in the beginning of the series. But that's not even touching the intricate way that she's joined with them, or what they mean to her. And what she means to them.

In the first book, Maxine meets Grant - a former priest who has used his family's wealth to create a homeless shelter where he tries to heal demons with music. This goes against everything that Maxine knows. Yet they connect as kindred spirits, accepting each other's oddness. That turns into something so much deeper and more powerful, which will either save them or destroy them.

This series is dark. It's poetic. It's filled with choices and chances and mistakes and loss. The way it's written is almost painfully beautiful. I know that sounds nuts, but its the truth. Its one of those books where I find myself forgetting to breathe. I have to put it down to absorb passages and will go back to read them again - not because I didn't understand them, but because they make me feel what the characters are feeling deeply. God, I love that.

If you like books full of darkness, death, frightening visuals, beauty, hope, love and overwhelming sadness, this book - well, this entire series - is one you'll want to own. You'll be haunted by Maxine, Grant, Zee and the rest of the boys. Make sure to block out time because you're not going to want to separate from them.

Plus the cover art is amazing. :D Now, please excuse me while I go back and read the last chapter again. (6 soul stealing, life affirming, emotionally draining stars)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Buying & Reading Binges

Is it wrong that I want to lock myself in a room and read?

I've been a busy girl this month, which is why my posts are few and far between. My kid & I are busy organizing my craft room.The goal is to get it completely organized and labeled so that I can find anything I need so that I can start selling on Etsy. He (the kiddo) has decided not to pursue computer programming & instead is pursuing an art degree, so he has an ulterior motive in helping me. O-o

He's a creative kid and wants to make sculptures - metal, stone and or clay. I'm floored and impressed.

Oh, and he made the Dean's List. I'll be attending an award banquet for first year students who made the list in February. It's kind of a big deal. And I'm super proud. (From a tenth grade drop out to a 3.75 GPA Freshman in less than a year...) And he wasn't taking easy courses. O-O

I've also been running about shopping for new furniture. Both of my couches are stabbing our asses (broken springs), the fabric is literally falling apart .... not to mention they smell like dog. :p

And I've been reading like a fiend. I finished Rachel Vincent's Stray series, which I absolutely loved! Overall, it gets 5 stars - with Prey and Shift getting 6 stars for their angst deliciousness. The characters are fantastic - I loved every last one of them. The world is amazingly well-thought-out. Each book builds on the last and leads to the end game in the final book, which is both nerve-wracking and intensely satisfying. Awesome. :D

Now, I'm thoroughly engrossed in Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep. Another excellent book. (But, of course it is, because its Jennifer Estep!) I love that it feels like a modern teenager talking. And I can't wait to see where it goes, cause spartans and gods and shit? Its not the same old-same old, you know? :)

In addition, I went on a major shopping spree on bookcloseouts.ca ($1.49 books...hello?!?), and took kiddo in to Boston to Brattle Book Store - which is massively awesomely cool. I bought a copy of Shakespeare from the 1870s, a copy of french poetry by Victor Hugo from 1841, and two children's books from the 50's - gifts for my sisters. Kid bought a 10 book library of Tennyson (he spent $100 of his birthday money on it!) and some Japanese books. He's loving them!

So...that's all, I guess. Hubs is almost done with dinner. (He's the cook in the house.) Update completed. Now back to reading until I get to eat. (Flank steak ... yum.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stealing, Censorship, SOPA: What It Means to Me

Anyone who spends time on the internet knows that today websites everywhere are making a stand against SOPA, the current bill to stop online privacy. I think we can all agree that piracy of any kind isn't a good thing. Ask musicians. Ask authors. Ask artists. They pour their souls into creating something uniquely their own - be it a song, a book, an idea, or a piece of art. Just because they're giving it to the rest of us to enjoy does NOT mean they don't deserve the credit or the profit from their work of art. Theft of an idea or creation is still theft.

So, you would think that I would be in favor of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. You would be horribly wrong. SOPA, as it reads right now, is nothing more than a cleverly disguised attempt by government to have the authoritarian right to rob us all of our rights on the internet. I don't know if they planned it that way - I suspect that someone in Washington understands the implications of it as it reads now. But I would like to believe that the majority of our congress has no idea of the consequences if SOPA actually passes.

Can anyone say government censorship? How about police state?

And who will actually be monitoring sites? Who gets to determine what is acceptable content and what is not?

Look at your own blog. Do you have links to other sites? Do you quote anything? Do you have any images you've uploaded? Do you have background music? Sprites? Artwork? Do you discuss things that require you to reference ideas, books, works of art, music? Well, if the people behind SOPA have their way, they could shut your site down for any one of those things. At will - without explanation or ramifications!

SOPA is a good premise made into a bad document. Yes, we need some way to stop online piracy. Punishments should exist for people who steal other people's ideas to profit from them. No one has the right to strip an artist of their work. But if we, as a free nation, allow this document to pass, we're saying its okay for the government to spy on us, to shut us down if they don't like our opinions, to suppress our right to free speech. We're opening the door for Big Brother to not only get in but to take over. And that cannot be allowed to happen.

Speak up against SOPA. Tell your congress person that the way it reads is not only unacceptable, its reprehensible. Demand a real Act to stop piracy - one written by the very people it's meant to protect. They should be working with authors, musicians, artists, publishing houses, studios, etc. to create a bill that makes sense - not this scam of an Act that we'll all live to regret if it goes through.

SOPA needs to go along with online piracy.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

ACK .... I have a really good reason for not posting...

I'm sure you're dying to know why, right? heh

I was reading!!

Actually, I'm still reading because I'm completely absorbed in Rachel Vincent's Shifter series. I've cranked through Stray, Rogue, Pride, Prey and I'm currently on Shift. If you haven't read this series, I HIGHLY recommend it. I'm madly in love with it, in fact. Scream-at-the-characters in love. Have-to-put-the-book-down-because-I'm-freaking-out-over-the-plot-twists in love. Squeeing fan girl in love.

Now, I'm not going to give any important parts away, but I'll give you a little brief on what the story is about. Faythe is a cat shifter. She's independent, strong, but prone to making mistakes. The series starts out with her in college - her father's head enforcer, Marc (and Faythe's ex), shows up to take her home against her wishes. The world that Rachel Vincent creates is incredible - shifters are mostly male, so female shifters are basically prized possessions - for breeding. Only Faythe wants no part of that life. That's all I'm giving you except to say this - Prey was so intense I actually had to put the book down numerous times! Thank God I got this series as a whole before I started reading it. If I hadn't been able to start Shift immediately, I would need therapy. Holy hell.

In fact, if I had to rate the series I would give every last one of these books 5 stars - except Prey - which would get the coveted 6 stars. And, I haven't reached Alpha yet, so who knows what that will get. Considering how consistently well-written and riveting these books are, I'm giving it at least 5 stars in advance. (Hey, I can do that. It's my blog.)

Now, I have more reading to do, so....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Books and Nooks and Crooks oh my!

Uh oh. I'm about to go off on Barnes and Noble again.

As Christmas approached this year, my sisters and I debated what to get my father for a gift. He's in his 70's and loves to read. But his eyesight isn't as good as it used to be. And he lives in a rural area with only grocery store racks to buy books from since Borders closed. We decided it was time to bring him into the modern book age.

We were torn between a Kindle and a Nook, and we weighed the pros and cons of both. The Kindle was cheaper and had a better, less expensive book selection. There's a B&N about an hour drive from his house should he have a problem with the Nook. Plus, he refuses to use his credit card online, so he was going to need to be able to find gift cards. Amazon cards are harder to find near him. Still, we were leaning toward the Kindle when I received an email from Barnes & Noble offering a free $25 gift card with the purchase of a Nook if I used my Mastercard. I called my sisters, we talked it over, and I clicked the link and made the purchase.

The email promised two things - a free $25 gift card (which would surely get dear old dad to actually use the Nook), and delivery by Christmas. There were no disclaimers that I could find.

Well ... the Nook arrived on the 21st, in time for Christmas. Yay! Only there was no gift card enclosed. Boo! So I emailed customer service....and received no reply. Christmas celebration at my parents was the 23rd, so I had to make a decision. I rushed out and bought a $25 gift card. Without that, I knew the gift would bomb.

I emailed again from my parent's house ... and again ... and FINALLY got a reply saying that the gift 'certificate' would be issued to people's accounts (in other words my account) by Dec. 29th. So I waited.

And waited.

The 29th came and went.

I waited.

On the 2nd, I emailed B&N again and asked where my $25 gift credit was since it was 4 days past the date promised. Today I finally got a reply. Not from the original customer service rep, but from a different rep who told me to contact Mastercard since it sounded like it was their problem. What?!? The promo wasn't from Mastercard (at least not according to the email or fine print). It was from B&N. And besides the original rep said the money would be applied to my account. SHE obviously knew what promo I was talking about.

As I sit here now, I've emailed B&N again. I was far less polite this time (but not rude). I mean, come on - if you promise something, you ought to deliver. They promised a Nook & a $25 gift card for the cost of a Nook, delivered by Christmas. I didn't get that. And now they're telling me to complain to Mastercard? Hunh? How about I call Mastercard and demand that they get $25 of my charge back? Believe me, if I don't get that card its what I'm going to do.

Here's what I think. They ripped me off. I think they knew this was a big year for e-readers and they knew Kindle was going to sell better than Nook, so they were trying to offer a deal that would get people to go with their product. And it worked. Am I happy about my purchase? Yes and no. My father likes it. He can make the print big enough that he can read more easily. And he likes that there's actually a store he can take it to if he has problems (not that I expect him to get helpful service based on my experiences with them). So that makes me happy that he's happy. (He doesn't know what he's missing with the Kindle and Amazon.)

But I am not happy that B&N reneged on their promotion. And worse, I'm not surprised based on the way they deal with customers.

Do I think I'll see that $25? No, I honestly don't. I think they'll give me the run around until I give up. Frankly, I'm annoyed enough to just chalk it up to lesson learned and give up now. We paid $45 more for my father's gift than planned, but I alone ate $25 of that (because I was told they would credit my account that $25).

So I'm boycotting B&N and buying from Amazon from now on. I haven't shopped there for myself except in several extreme circumstances because of the way their staff treats people. I guess that if I want to go to a bookstore, I'll go to New England Mobile Bookfair or the new indie store Book Shack that just opened where Borders used to be in Plymouth. Between them, I should be able to get my book loving needs met.

And once again, even though I'm a regular Barnes & Noble customer, I hate them with a passion. They've shown me once again how much they suck.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead

So....I just finished Shadow Heir, which is the final book in Eugenie's trilogy. I'm going to talk spoilers in a minute, but before I do that I'll let you know that I give this book (and this series) 3+ stars. I'm throwing the  + in there because I can't bring myself to give it 4 stars, but I don't think its completely 3 stars either. If you've already read this series, by all means go on and learn why I rate it this way (remember, spoilers). For those of you who haven't read it I'll say this - I love Richelle Mead's writing. I think her Succubus series with Georgina Kincaid is one of the best UF series out there. It gets my ultimate 6 star rating. I also think Vampire Academy is one of the best YA vampire series on the market. I love the world and the characters. I don't think Richelle could write a bad series if she tried.

So....with that being said....


I want to be clear, some people aren't going to like what I say about this series. I can only say that its ME. I don't have a lot of patience for characters like Eugenie. I'm sure a lot of people love her. I don't.

I wanted to like the Thorn Queen series more than I did like it. I can say I loved the worlds that Richelle created. The fae world is clever and definitely based on research. The storyline of a woman discovering that she's not who she thinks she is - and the disasters that ensue - is good. But here's my problem... Eugenie is apathetic. She's weak minded, easily used, runs away from her problems, and in general doesn't seem to be able to manage any real emotion. Harsh, hunh? But here's this woman who's a shaman. She banishes ghosts and monsters and fae. And then she discovers that she's half-fae herself and her father was a great and evil fae king. She's the heir to his throne, and destined to fulfill a prophecy of giving birth to the next Storm King who will destroy the worlds.

Then there's Kiyo, her human/kitsune boyfriend. He's a total douche. Oh, he claims to love her, but he spends more time with his fae queen/mother of his daughter/Maiwenn than Eugenie. And he acts like she should be happy with that. You know what? If I found out a guy I was dating was hiding all that from me and then he expected me to just go along with it? Screw him. He'd be in my rearview mirror AFTER I told him what a loser he was. And then when she gets raped, he doesn't do anything?? Bullshit. Then THEN she discovers she's pregnant with his kids and he tries to kill her and still she deals with him. Soooo. Not. Happening! But through it all she's like 'oh Kiyo loves me, but Kiyo has responsibilities to Maiwenn, and I love Kiyo even if he didn't protect me and tried to kill me and oh dear how am I supposed to feel about all this? Someone tell me.' Um, Eugenie, grow some balls and punch the dickhead in the nose. Then Kick. Him. To. The. Curb!!!

Now, as to Roland, her stepfather. Again, she accepts that he wants nothing to do with her because she's discovered her true heritage and is pretty much forced to accept it. If he loved her, like he claims, wouldn't he stand by her and guide her through it all? Nope. And still, there she is - 'oh Roland doesn't love me anymore, but that's okay because I'm not worthy of love. Somebody tell me how I should feel about his betrayal.' And he seems to be angry with her for getting raped? What? I'd tell him to go F-k himself. What kind of father is that?

And where the hell is Eugenie's mother in all this?? Hunh? Well, we know where Eugenie got her inability to feel ANYTHING. That woman is as wishy washy useless as they come.

And then there's Dorian. Honestly, he's the only reason I kept reading this series. But here's Eugenie again - Dorian loves her. But oh dear, he's gentry (fae). She can't love a fae. Why not Eugenie? Because Roland told you that you couldn't? Cause I don't see any reason why you can't love him. He's good to you. He takes care of you. Oh, but he must want something because he's fae. Um, maybe he just wants you to love him back??!? If I was Dorian, I think I would have just run her through with a sword and be done with her. Jeez.

So, this book was annoying to me. I kept hoping Eugenie would DO something. That she would FEEL something. ANYTHING.

At the beginning, Eugenie is pregnant with a boy and girl. She knows there's something wrong in the fae world, but ignores their efforts to reach out to her for help because she doesn't want to deal with it. Then she gives birth prematurely in the human world and then just abandons her kids. I think I was supposed to feel emotion about that - but I felt nothing. Just like Eugenie. She's just like 'oh dear - I'll just leave my kids here with strangers (where the hell is her MOTHER?) and go off to save the world because everyone says I have to'. Hunh? Wait. Boo hoo? *in an apathetic emotionless tone*. So off she goes and saves her world (after ignoring it was in trouble because she was apathetic about that, too, until someone came along and told her she shouldn't be) with the help of Kiyo (Hello? The minute I saw him I would have cut his balls off and fed them to him! Does that make me bloodthirsty?) But when it's done, does she go back to her kids? No. She goes to her kingdoms and hangs out communing with the land. Didn't she say her sister could do that for short periods of time? Wouldn't she want to go check on her KIDS? Not Eugenie. She doesn't even think about going to see them. Oh, her excuse is that it wouldn't be safe. But hello? I just don't buy that. She didn't have an attachment to them from the start.

Eventually Eugenie does go to see her kids because she can't avoid it anymore, I think (that's not what she says, but I know the truth. She loves them about as much as she'd love a tomato). And she's all 'what do I do with them now'?

But wait. Then comes Pagiel and the discovery that (gasp - not) he's the Storm King prophecy. Did I see that one coming? Yup. From a mile away. It kind of pissed me off that everyone else missed it. So, blah blah, everything gets solved. Kiyo and Maiwenn take care of Pagiel. Kiyo tells Eugenie that he had a vasectomy and can't be their father. Eugenie realizes that Dorian is the father. Did I see that coming? YES. And it pissed me off - not because Kiyo wasn't the father, but because Eugenie was too stupid to figure it out. And there's Eugenie - she's all 'well, I guess that makes it sort of okay that Kiyo tried to kill them.' What?!?

Then..THEN...she decides to LEAVE the kids with the couple who's been caring for them because 'gee its safer because Kiyo still wants to kill them' and NOT tell Dorian that he's the father because he'd want to love and protect them too much?!? What?!? WHAT?!? Then she goes back to Dorian and lies to him and that's how the book ends. Its crap. And it pissed me off!

Here's how Eugenie's story should end in my mind. (A) Her mother suffers a stroke and dies - because she's a useless character anyway (B) Roland attempts to banish something too strong for him and dies - because he's an asshole (C) Maiwenn and Kiyo end up together and at their wedding ceremony an assassin from a neighboring kingdom shoots them with poison arrows (Maiwenn with iron, Kiyo with something that will kill an elephant) and they DIE - because they don't deserve to live (D) Dorian realizes the kids are his (maybe he's at the ceremony with Eugenie and with Kiyo's last breath he tells Dorian) and he DUMPS Eugenie, overruns her kingdoms in an all-out violent and bloody war, goes and retrieves HIS kids (E) Eugenie, realizing she's a useless excuse for a gentry, shaman and human being in general finally overcomes her complete apathy toward everything and banishes herself (F) Volusian is waiting for her and she becomes HIS pet in a world where she wishes she was still apathetic (G) Dorian raises HIS kids and they take over Eugenie's kingdoms (H) Eugenie's son goes on to marry Kiyo and Maiwenn's daughter (I) Dorian is the most powerful king in all the lands and he meets a beautiful queen from another kingdom who has some personality. HEA achieved.

There. I think that satisfies me. I'm done with my rant.

Seriously, it is me.