Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pride & Prejudice & katanas

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever AfterPride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This isn't really a review, since I didn't finish the book. I'm a fan of Hockensmith, but I think I'll stick to his more original work. This is something written in a world created by Jane Austen (original source material, which I love) and Seth Grahame-Smith (P & P & Zombies). I'm not a zombie genre fan, so that doesn't help. I also find the choice of Eastern martial arts as the "go-to ultimate fighting styles" a bit annoying. Since I haven't read P & P & Zombies I don't know why this choice was made, but there it is. I just find it really, really out of place in Austen's universe, and I see no logical reason why Western martial arts couldn't be used just as effectively against the typical shambling zombies.

I made it to chapter two and no further. Hockensmith writes charmingly as usual, but the subject matter bores me, and I'm a huge Jane Austen fan. Shinto shrines at Pemberly? Bouncing ninjas accompanying Lady Catherine DeBurg? I'll go elsewhere to read further in the P & P universe.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Quiet evening

The spouse is out with "the boys" hanging out with other "boys", so it's a nice quiet afternoon. The kitten just woke up from her post tea nap, and I gave her to Eric the Red for a bath and a cuddle. It's dang chilly outside, but G brought in plenty of firewood before he left, so between a ticking stove and a few strategic candles for visual warmth, we're all cozy. I love this time of year. With a new audio book on the machine in the kitchen, I'm ready to put a couple of salmon slabs in the oven and maybe wrap some presents to stick under the tree.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book blurb: The Slayer

The Slayer (The Legend Chronicles, #2)The Slayer by Theresa Meyers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An adventurous romp that starts in Bodie, CA, crosses the continent, the Atlantic, and Europe. A reluctant "Slayer" of supernatural threats must team up with a beautiful member of Vampire nobility to deal with a threat to both humanity and Vampires alike.

I'm not a big romance novel fan, but this kept me engaged because I wanted to find out how they were going to solve a variety of problems. Lots of smouldering looks between the principals. Cool weapons and gadgets and vehicles. Some decent suspense, especially in the last third of the book when the poop really starts to hit the fan. Don't go in expecting Jane Austen with gadgets or Jules Verne with women. Do go in expecting a nice, light supernatural Romance.

Noteworthy: a strong female character who isn't a Harpy with multiple personality disorder!

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Friday, October 05, 2012


Heartbreak is caused by many things. Lost love, rejection, failure, disappointment... I've had my heart broken many times by circumstances and people. Today I'm having a hard time dealing with the fact that my youngest cat, Gimli, is very probably lost to us and I'll never see him again this side of Heaven. On the 13th he will have been missing for two months. I check the Humane Society pet line every day, as well as their web site and others. I have lovely posters up all over the area, and notices online. A few kind souls have contacted me with possible sightings, but these have proved to be of other cats or of spurious reliability.

The first few weeks of this ordeal were tortuous. I haven't cried that much in many years, and never so often, day in and day out. I pray for God to bless our search every day, and for His care of Gimli if he's roaming somewhere, and to send him home soon if he's still alive. I pray for peace and for trust in God's promise to "ask and ye shall receive", and most of the time I'm on an even keel. Sometimes the grief sneaks up on me, though, and I'm a wreck all over again. I still trust God and His promises. I believe in miracles, and I believe I could see Gimli crash through the cat door any time, but I'm fallible and foolish and sometimes I feel like I'm just suppressing the grief instead of giving it to God.

Tonight it welled up and choked me when I was showing our new rescue cat, Sam, how to play with a paper bag. I miss my baby boy. I haven't had such a close relationship with a cat since my first; a Siamese named Isis who went everywhere with me when I was in my late teens and early twenties.

Some of you will roll your eyes and wish folks like me wouldn't be such idiots about mere "animals", some of you will be sympathetic, and some of you will feel the pain because you've been there and you understand.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Don't let the chaotic evil win!

I just heard about the Colorado movie theater massacre (and I think it's a true massacre), and I'm shocked and saddened on several levels. I'm shocked because this kind of thing really doesn't happen on a regular basis in this country, no matter what some folks, including the mass media, would like us to believe. I'm saddened for those injured and those who lost friends and loved ones, and I'm saddened because this will be another rallying point for those who would like to see law-abiding citizens stripped of their right to defend themselves in appropriate ways from those who would victimize or oppress them (think: 95 lb. woman dropping a would-be 200 lb. attacker in a deserted parking lot). Stand by for the usual "ban (whatever the kid was carrying) immediately or this will happen again!) arguments.

No, I don't support people who like to go on shooting sprees against innocent non-combatants/assailants. This kid in no way represents the mentally stable, law-abiding average gun owner, several million of whom did NOT murder anybody this week, so let's just get some perspective. A few days ago I shared a link to the recent incident in a Florida internet cafe where two nutjob crooks burst in with intent to rob and potentially wound/kill with a blunt instrument and a (probably stolen) gun, and were summarily winged and routed by a gentleman with a concealed carry permit and a legally owned firearm. I choose to focus on that much happier and more representative story, because I think it more accurately illustrates the status of gun ownership in the United States.

It's really too bad that there wasn't somebody like that gentleman from the Florida incident in that movie house. It's terrible that a mentally disturbed person like that was able to get his hands on a firearm and that nobody noticed him until it was too late. As the details of this story are uncovered I will not be surprised to hear that this kid's social situation does not represent that of the typical legal gun-owner in this country. We already have quite thorough background checks and other red-tape in place when it comes to buying/selling firearms. Guns used in crimes can't really be controlled by making more laws, because they are usually not obtained through legal means. At this point I'm blathering, so I'll stop.

We live in a fallen, flawed world populated by fallible people. Nasty things like this are going to happen. It's natural to want to create order out of chaos, but the chaotic folks are the least likely to be affected by these attempts. I think it's better for the moral, non-chaotic people to develop the tool kit, psychological and material, to deal with threats like this instead. This kept our ancestors alive and the bad guys, whether it's a cave lion or a thug, at bay.

Bonus thought: How would this scenario have played out in Switzerland?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The God of the Hive

The God of the Hive (Mary Russell, #10)The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If I was a bit lacking in my praise of the preceding novel in this series, I'll make up for it here. This is a lovely, nuanced, action-packed, stirring tale. Murder-mystery, political intrigue, and more. The setting, England not long after the Great War, lends itself to some very touching moments with memorable characters. Hard to put down!

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Language of Bees (Mary Russell, #9)The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I almost gave it only four stars due to the slower-paced (than usual) opening chapters, then I came to my senses and gave it what it deserves. Ms. King's world and characters are so well-developed and authentically real to the Holmes universe that it truly reads like a real memoir. This novel delves in to the creepy world of religious cults led by sociopaths (are there any other kind?) and the stakes are, as expected, high. It doesn't end on a cliff-hanger, but it is definitely a two-parter, and I'm looking forward to diving in to "The God of the Hive" asap.

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Three Days to NeverThree Days to Never by Tim Powers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating of spy thriller where the political history is laced with metaphysical, supernatural, cosmological elements that don't allow for skimming. I was a bit confused at times, but that's on me as I'm a bit distracted at the moment. Powers has done his research into Jewish history, the kabbalah, Newtonian physics, cosmology, and general occult studies with a vengeance. I didn't give full marks only because it's not amongst my favorite of his novels. It's still time well-spent, and I needed his writing style and skill with character development to clear my head after reading "The Iron Duke".

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

I just picked up a Nook Color and am obsessed with making it neo-Victorian/Steampunk-esque. Anybody who wants to beta test this wallpaper can ping me and I'll shoot you the .jpeg to try on your device.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Good Reads: Our Husband

Our HusbandOur Husband by Stephanie Bond
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Light but entertaining. Most of the characters irritated me to some degree, so it wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been. Still, I'd read something by Bond again as light entertainment. CJ Crit is an excellent reader, so that makes up for a lot. I just prefer murder mysteries that are more "police procedurals" or "sleuth" type stories, and the leads in this novel are a bit passive for my taste.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Iron Duke

It's a romance novel, can you tell?
I read a book, and here's my "review". It's in quotes, because it's kind of ranty. This is my first actual "Steampunk" novel, and, well, you can read the review here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lip color with sunscreen on the cheap!

I just spotted this new spf 15 lip color from Wet n Wild at the drug store yesterday and bought one even though Paula Begoun hasn't reviewed it yet. It actually has real SPF ingredients (oxybenzone and octynoxate) so I'm guessing it really will protect your pout. There's a good amount of pigment for the price, but it's super greasy and will need to be re-applied throughout your day. I'm fine with that, because it's Wet n Wild, folks: $3. Tip: use lip liner before applying. This not a barely-tinted gloss, but a decent lipstick; the lip liner will help keep the color from bleeding into any lines around your mouth. I'm trying "Bare-ly Legal" (sigh...the names they give these things) and it's a nice muted earthy warm color that looks good for day time...which is when you need a lip color with sunscreen. The only really negative thing about this product that I can see so far is the packaging: why the packing-tape-esque sticker sealing this thing? Once removed, it leaves the expected gooey mess. I can clean it off with WD40, but why should I have to do that?! Oh well. Again: $3.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Good Books: Good Omens

Good OmensGood Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A delightful romp through the apocalypse! OK, not really, more of a bouncy trip through the intersecting lives of natural and supernatural beings as the Last Days head for the inevitable clash of Armageddon...or is it more ineffable than inevitable? Only the Anti-Christ knows for sure, and he's got other things on his mind. Needless to say, this is yet another lovely, fantastical bit of storytelling set in a dualistic universe, and not a font of theological orthodoxy. I found the characters engaging and the situations, even when utterly absurd and improbably, believable within the confines of the world of the book. Some of the characters and situations remind me of my favorite James Blaylock writing, and therefore I did a lot of giggling, especially toward the end. Nothing like brilliantly written hapless heroes in hopeless situations to make me smile.

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Good Books: American Gods

American GodsAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd been wanting to read this for some time, so I was happy to find it at my local library. A bit melancholy but often wry and sometimes whimsical, it poses an interesting view of a world full of very fallible, contentious, and conflicted gods operating behind the scenes of our human lives. The protagonist stoically endures the attentions of a pantheon of lesser and greater deities and associated humans while traversing the more odd elements of the American landscape. I enjoy Gaiman's lyrical writing style, and really appreciate his ability to paint scenes of terrible majesty and fearsome loss with sensitivity instead of ponderous gloom. Don't pick this up looking for conventional theology of any kind, just ride the wave of storytelling.

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Good Books: Next

NextNext by Michael Crichton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is what I would call a hybrid fiction/non-fiction novel, and as such is not a great piece of fiction, but more of a well-written piece of fiction that carries a well-researched message of caution regarding genetic manipulation, gene therapy, cloning, and genetically modified plants and animals. I listened to a recording, and even without the printed page in front of me I found it easy enough to follow the science. I would recommend it to fans of Crichton, Azimov, Clarke, and other writers who have something intelligent to say about the course of scientific innovation.

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Monday, April 02, 2012

The big valley

A couple of times a year I dream about driving east of Seattle, up toward the Cascade Mountains. At some point I arrive at or pass through a wide, grassy valley. On the gentle slopes are several large structures, a few miles apart, on either side of the valley. One is a huge beehive-shaped wooden building. Whether it's a barn or a house, I don't know. On the eastern side, I think, is a grey stone "castle", probably 19th century or early 20th century, with squared-off battlements and paned windows, like an English country house made to look Medieval-esque. There's a crossroads down by the narrow river, and at one juncture, on the West side, there's a small farm and nursery where I sometimes stop to look at unique plants. They also have chickens for sale, pullets and hens of unusual colors and shapes. Some are breathtaking tropical colors. One breed is white with china blue accents on the neck, tail and wingtips.

I'm always happy to drive through this area. It feels like a place from my childhood, and I always feel happy anticipation of an exciting road trip when I visit there. Driving north along the west side there's a large cemetery and war memorial with amazing statues and a museum of some kind. It's high on the slope and overlooks the valley. Sometimes this cemetery/monument is located on the road up in the mountains to the east, or along the gorge of a river that looks like the Columbia, but that runs more NE to SW than East to West.

Last night I dreamed about this valley, and it's been on my mind all day. The sense of it is so strong that I'm having a hard time visualizing the real topography of the Sammamish Valley or Snoqualmie River area, which is what I'm sure my subconscious has cobbled it together from. The valley in my subconscious is at least twice as wide as the Samammish Valley, less developed, and dotted with more grandiose structures. I'm going to have to start mapping it. The next time I dream about it, I'll try to sketch it out upon waking. I've been dreaming about it for at least twenty-five years, along with other places that exist only in my subconscious. There are whole worlds in there that I keep re-visiting, along with a few people and plot lines. It's all very surreal and only seems logical when I'm in there. Sometimes I'm aware that I'm re-visiting, sometimes I'm lucid, and sometimes I think I'm really there in waking life and then it's "At last, I'm finally here!" Then I wake up. Usually when I awaken I'm just disappointed that it was only a dream. Today, however, that place was so strongly imposed on my consciousness that I could only see it instead of the real topography East of Seattle. I find this very interesting.

Wranglers of horses

Here's a little April fools thingy that Gordon and  I worked on a month or so ago for Zombie (ha) Orpheus Entertainment. It's a faux movie trailer for the upcoming (not) zombie western: "Wranglers of Death!" Enjoy!