Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book 11: Eureka Subsitution Method (book 1)

Eureka: Subsitution Method was a great fun find at Barnes and Noble. I should have known that there would be some Eureka books around since all my favorite Sci-fi shows tend to have some book tie-ins. It was a joy to read since it was like having an episode of Eureka in book form.

          I found this book almost on accident. I was intending to buy a Star Trek book on that trip to Barnes and Noble. But other then a book I’ve already purchase, there wasn’t really a Star Trek book calling to me. As I as giving up and stood up to leave the section,  I saw Colin Ferguson’s face and smiled instantly. Being a huge Eureka fan, I knew that I should give the book a shot. Traditionally TV tie-in books can go one of two ways: it’s wonderful or awful but my gut was telling me that this book was going to be one of the wonderful ones.

          As soon as I read the first chapter, I was in love. It had everything I loved about Eureka the TV show. It’s got science to it but extrapolated out to a foreseeable degree and great humor. There were times I was just laughing and smiling. I loved so much of the dialog. One of my favorite exchanges between Carter and Henry follows:
                “No, but I’ll bet my fire engine still is.”
                “Your what?” Carter shook his head. “You were going to take that thing?”
                “Sure, why not? It’s an official Eureka vehicle.”
                “Henry, it’s a fire engine!”
                “Is that a problem?”
                “Yes, it’s a problem.” Carter ticked off reasons on one hand, keeping the other on the wheel. “First off, it looks ridiculous. Second, its top speed is what, forty? Third, where would you put people if you had to drive them back? On the ladder? Fourth it looks ridiculous.”
                “You said that already.”
                “Well, it’s worth repeating! Seriously, you can’t take that. Not if you want anyone to listen to you at all.”
                “All right, fine.” Henry harrumphed and crossed his arms. “Swing back by my place, then. I’ll take my car.”
                “Do you even have a car?”
                “Of course I have a car!” Henry looked slightly insulted. “I just don’t drive it much. I like the fire engine better.”
                “What are you, five?”
                “Easy for you to say,” his friend pointed out. “You drive a police car.”
                Carter started to reply to that, stopped, started again, and stopped again. “Jeep,” he corrected finally, though it was almost under his breath. “It’s a police Jeep. And I almost never get to run the lights.”
                “Whatever you say Jack.”
          I love this dialogue since it would happen on the show. You get to see both the wit, the teasing nature and how they are just friends.  Plus it made me giggle thinking of little kids and their love of the emergency vehicles and how that love doesn’t always leave just because you grew up.
          But the best thing about the book, the characters spoke to me as being real.  In my head, I had every bit of dialogue and characterizations really hit the mark. They were accurate. The only weak spot was in the first introduction of Zane but that was quickly sorted and he too was perfectly written. There wasn’t really a point where something spoke to me as wrong and taking me out of the story.
          This book has made me want to watch the entire third season of Eureka (well more the whole series all over from the start). I love how Cris Ramsay incorporated a lot of characters from the various episodes, not just the big characters, and hinted to which episode it was. I was a little thrown off on the timing of things since this happens before the fourth season and the alternate timeline that is the new official timeline thing. It was like when I read a Star Trek book that took place before Destiny after reading all of those. Not bad thing but you have to remember where you were in the timeline.
          I simply enjoyed this book. It was great fun. It was exactly like a Eureka episode which is what you want from a tie-in. Something that fits perfectly and uses the characters without cheapening anything.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book 10: Playing the Game

Playing the Game by Belle de Jour is the novelization of her life. After reading the actually diary Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Confessions of a Working Girl, I felt that this book was the biggest disappointment in this genre. It wasn’t bad but I just didn’t fully get sucked in.
This book is one of other books written by Belle De Jour. I was looking forward to reading this book since I enjoyed the other book by Belle so much. It was so much and entertaining. So I had really high hopes for this book. Maybe my hopes were too high.
The book read a lot like the secret diary. So it made me wonder where the novelization was occurring and where it ended. But it failed to have the more fun aspects of her personality. It was a duller form of Belle. I would have loved a bit more tips and more lists (not the top ten lists at the end of each month/chapter). The book took on the pitfall of many of my stories, putting too much of myself into the main character and thus making it harder for others to truly connect since it doesn’t feel like fiction nor does it feel like true diary.
I had issues with the formatting. It was as if she was trying too hard to do two things at the same time: keep the diary formatting and push along the plot. There were several times where events that normally would have happened in one day were split up into two or there especially the over analysis of fairly trivial things that you would only think for a day, not multiple days. Then as the book went on, there were more and more typos which really didn’t help things.
But in the end the book didn’t hit my sweet spots. Watching her go from escorting to the civilian world wasn’t exciting. You saw her go from carefree to paranoid to sullen and then almost unwilling to become a courtesan. Which made no sense, why was she so skeptical of the idea? It was never clear. It was almost as if she was trying to live up to the rouse that she should be careful and skeptical rather then wanting to go for the sex with money with a guy she was into and lacking the pitfalls of a relationship (after months of failing to find a real beau again).
So yeah, I was disappointed with Playing the Game. It was just an okay book. But after reading other goodies from the same author, I was hoping for more of the same but when put into a fictional world. I judge fiction harsher then non-fiction. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book 9: The Total Money Makeover

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey is not the most interesting book I’ve read lately but it’s definitely the most practical. Basically it’s a book about reinforcing the good habits that people need to have in order to be financially fit. I loved that part but I did not love this book. There were too many testimonials and advertising for his other books/programs that it felt like I was getting an infomercial form of the money makeover.

            So I’m not always into financial books but I’m always looking for ways to improve my living circumstances. I do things to help myself: use coupons, do things on Swagbucks (which is a great site where you can earn giftcards just by taking polls, watch video clips, and even play games-so I highly recommend joining this site), and work two jobs so I don’t rack up massive debt. I am known to stay in a lot.  In all honesty, it’s probably good thing that R. sent me this book as a Christmas gift since I don’t always read a lot of financial books even though I read the different blogs and the subject interests me.  Cause if I have a few dollars (or lately an Amazon giftcard), I tend to choose books that fall into my pet genres (memoirs, history from the 1700s to now, and a lot of occult/fantasy/sci-fi).

            Dave Ramsey doesn’t preach a lot of hard facts or new ideas for the most part. It’s more about living within your means, giving up the credit cards all together, paying off debt, and then starting to enjoy the future. It’s just sound economically theory.  The biggest things that I’m unsure about: is giving up credit cards all together. I get perks for using the credit cards especially my Target card-the key is paying off the cards each and every month. I still have to live in my budget and make sure when I’m in Target or any other store, I’m sticking to my budget.  The other thing I’m not sure about although I can understand where he’s coming from, is to pay only the minimum on some credit cards as you put all extra income into the lowest balance so you get rid of that debt first. I just hate the idea of paying the minimum on credit cards since that doesn’t help tackle the interest too much at all. But if you are paying off all your cards in turn and finding ways to generate extra income, then you will be tackling the interest soon enough on the cards.

            But I hate how this book just felt like an advertising program. It was like reading an infomercial on why the Total Money Makeover is great and why you should also think about the Financial Peace University books.  Sorry but this detracts from the book big time. In many cases you hear about the baby steps in the testimonials before actually hearing about the baby steps in the book itself. It’s as if he’s trying to prove too hard that he has a good idea rather then letting it speak for itself first and then letting the testimonials back up the facts.

            Another thing I disliked was how he repeated himself a lot. I know he’s a radio guy so you have to reiterate yourself in case a listener didn’t catch the first part of the show. But this is a book. We don’t need to be seeing an inset about the dangers of leasing cars in the chapter talking about student loans. Just like the shocking stats about the high level of college students applying for bankruptcy in the chapter about building wealth.  Bring those inserts in the correct chapter or in the concluding chapter.

            In the end, I do feel motivated by The Total Money Makeover and I will use modified forms from the book as a way to keep myself on track. But I hate how the book felt like a giant advertising platform for his other books and radio show rather than really focusing on the Money Makeover.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Book 8: Rise Like Lions (Star Trek: Mirror Universe)

          Rise Like Lions by David Mack is the latest Star Trek book for me.  This book reminded me of the play I recently saw (Through the Night) wonderfully acted but the writing was lacking. The book tried to do so much it filled in all the broad strokes and the characters seemed good but it was lacking those tiny details that really make a story.  

          The Mirror universe is a series I tend to neglect. While I loved the mirror universe episodes, there was something about that alternate timeline that seemed hard to translate into a book. It’s like reading about super heroes prose, there is usually something that is lacking so instead of being disappointed it’s just easier to stick what is done right-graphic forms. Although I will admit that I did enjoy a Mirror universe story in Seven Deadly Sins. But aside from that story and watching the ds9 episodes back in the day, reading this book was like Alice falling into the rabbit hole. This book takes place several years after the DS9 episodes and tries to include the Voyager crew and Capt Mac M’k'n’zy Calhoun


          One of my biggest problems is that this book didn’t feel like mirror universe and had some real gaps in continuity. I never got how Kes and Nelix made it from the Delta Quadrant. But all in all it failed to have that real gritty feel to the whole book. It definitely felt like an alternate universe but more like an alternate universe that is a half step between mirror and the normal Trek universe. It’s like the Star Trek movie for the continuity.

Then there were just gaps in general in the timeline. This book tried to do soo much. Unify all the different Trek people still alive together in one book. Get the politics to a better spot. No mention on how Duras made it to challenge to rule all the Empire except he was there.

This review is sounding really negative. But I did enjoy the book. It was fun to see Kes alive and interacting with Tuvok, Smiley and Picard. It was one of the few times you could see all that happen. Plus I like the broad strokes to the book. It was a great way to let the Terran Rebellion to triumph over the Alliance.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book 6 and 7: Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Guilty Pleasures Vol 1 and 2

Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Guilty Pleasures Volume one and two by Laurell K. Hamilton and adaptation from Stacie Ritchie (issues 1-5 and 7-12), Jess Ruffner-Booth (issue 6) illustrated by Ron Lim and Brett Booth. It was a great series that lived up to the name and the idea that it would make for a perfect gift. It was a guilty pleasure that had amazing art and plot.

These two books were a Christmas gift from Miriam. She’s one of the few people who know how much I love graphic novels, books in general, and stories about vampires/vampire hunters. We indulge in the same guilty pleasures so when she saw these two books, it instantly became my Christmas gift for the year. Which I’m super grateful for. So a huge thank you to Miriam first and foremost.

Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Guilty Pleasures is taken from the Laurell K. Hamilton series with the same name (although I do believe the twelve part series was actually drawn from one book). Anita Blake is both an animator (someone who can reanimate the dead) and a legalized vampire killer. She gets her arm twisted to help the local vampire population who were being mysteriously killed off.  Along the way she takes on the first mark from Jean-Claude, a master vampire. He gives her many gifts that she doesn’t fully understand. Along the way there even more twists and turns.

I really liked this series. It was great.  The art to it was amazing. It was realistic (so much so that there were-rats actually intruded upon my dreams). Plus there are just fun little touches to the art like in the variant to the first chapter or the way she sleeps. It adds so much depth to the story.  When it comes to graphic novels, the artwork is so important and this hit the mark perfectly.

I really enjoyed these two books. I really liked this series. It made me not only want to read the original book, I want to read more of the graphic novels. It was just a ton of fun. It was the perfect guilty pleasure from me.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book 5: Confessions of a Working Girl

Confessions of a Working Girl by Miss S was a very interesting read although at times a wee bit off putting. Like the Secret Diary of a Call Girl it’s a memoir from an English sex worker. I learned a lot from the book.

Confessions of a Working Girl was a book that came up on my amazon recommendations when I picked up one of Belle Du Jour’s books using up an gift card from there. I will say this was an excellent read and I’m glad it was my add-on to that purchase.

Miss S was a student in need of some extra cash and decided that the brothel down the road from her was a good way to earn it.  The book goes through her first year as a working girl at the massage house.

The book is not for the timid reader and can be vastly educational. I learned more things then I would have ever imagined. Now some of the anecdotes and stories, I didn’t really need to know about in a way other then it just showed how some sexual acts are just plain disgusting or just not my thing.  But most of the anecdotes/stories relayed really did show how people have many different ways to get aroused.

I will note that this is the second book that talked about the sex industry in Britian and how both of the girls were very educated. It wasn’t the stereotypical hooker story where they are on drugs. Instead again it was an articulate story about how the money was good and they enjoyed having sex.  Plus they were very safe about it. Well as safe as you can be by always using a condom and getting regular doctors visits.

I will say I think part of me enjoyed Confessions of a Working Girl then the Secret Diary of a Call Girl since I learned more about the actual acts of sex and she talked about her johns a little bit more even though I find myself relating more to Belle du Jour. But I’m glad that Amazon tricked me into getting this book.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book 4: Lila the Werewolf

Lila The Werewolf by Peter S. Beagle is a perfect example as to why I love werewolf stories and fantasy in general.  I had really high expectations for this book and I’m glad to say this book surpassed those expectations.

I first heard about Lila the Werewolf thanks to Carrie Vaughn’s blog. She shared her favorite werewolf stories/novels back in September. Within minutes of reading that blog, I went to amazon,  added the book to the wish list and gave the book highest priority.

It’s not just Carrie Vaughn recommended the book, I happen to adore Peter S. Beagle. He’s been a very sentimental author in my book for years. Peter S. Beagle is best known for The Last Unicorn. This was my favorite movie when I was a wee little thing. Because I adored the movie, it was my first adult fantasy book that I ever read.  Over the years, I’ve collected a couple of his books and I’m always looking to see if a book store carries any other of his books besides The Last Unicorn.  Plus I was even more endeared to him after meeting him and listening to the commentary of The Last Unicorn at Otakon a few years back.  He has this amazing story telling  that just captures my interest and it’s always character driven but usually in an unexpected way.

So needless to say, I expected great things.  I’m glad to say that it for the most part it met all of them and exceeded them.

The only downfall to this book is that I wasn’t expecting it to be a short book. It’s only 43 pages long. So it made for a skinny little Christmas gift under the tree this year.  Neither of us (my mom and I) really expected it to be such a thin book.  In all honesty after reading it, I thought the length was perfect for the story itself. It gave the reader enough meat to really gnaw on but at the same time didn’t leave you wanting more. It just was that perfect balance.

This book is character driven. It’s from Farrell’s point of view about how he started to date Lila and quickly discovered that she was a werewolf. It’s a funny little tale about how he dealt with it all and how he knew he had to end the relationship sooner or later.

I loved Lila. She’s a werewolf. It’s just uncommon to see a female werewolf. Plus I liked how she was a werewolf more from heredity then from being attacked. It’s something that is a bit on the rare side.

One of the things I wasn’t expecting was the names Ben and Farrell together in the story. This is important to me since Ben Farrell is one of the main characters from the Kitty Norville series (the Carrie Vaughn series I adore).  It shows me how she pulled from this story not just in the idea of a female werewolf but in subtle ways that could just be coincidental.

I adore this little story. It’s a quick read but I found it rich and fun.

*Sorry that this is a little bit more of an obvious link up to Amazon, for whatever reason, I couldn't just access only an image.

Book 3: Vampires The Recent Undead

Vampires the Recent Undead edited by Paula Guran was an interesting mix of vampire stories that tried to present the different varieties of vampires and how things have evolved in the recent areas. There were some great contributions from authors which allowed for a good review of the book but at the same time, there were some authors that I never really could connect with.

This anthology had an ambitious goal. Show how the conception of vampires in the modern age is rather varied and possibly show how the genre will grow in the next decade. It really pulled from the current state of the genre: a vampire could be traditional, moody, kind of soft and squishy, or a monster.

The collection of authors are rather amazing. In the high notes, there is Carrie Vaughn, Tanya Huff, Kelley Armstrong, and Charles De Lint. These are my favorite authors in the genre aside from Patricia Briggs. Well Charles De Lint is more of an urban fantasy author but he crafts wonderful stories. Those writers and I knew and just loved. I read the story by Carrie Vaughn before but it’s the start of Rick. It’s a solid vampire story. I ended up really falling in love with “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” by Holly Black and Tanith Lee’s “La Vampiresse”. Both of those stories surprised me and I really enjoyed.

But the biggest problem with this anthology was that when there are that many high notes, you want every story to be amazing and great.  Unfortunately, there were several stories that were only eh to meh to downright bad. The book should end with a great story but “The Wide, Carnivorous Sky” by John Langan was one of my least favorite tales of all. It was cold and devoid of a lot of emotional connection which made it tough to read. When a story fell flat, it was usually of feeling cold and I didn’t care about the characters.

In the end, I do plan to share this book with a few of my friends do the quality of half of the book but I won’t call it an amazing read. It was an okay read that had high points and some duds.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book 2: Star Trek the Next Generation Losing the Peace

   Star Trek: The Next Generation: Losing the Peace by William Leisner was the other book I was reading during a day of being lazy and indulging pleasures while in the company of old friends. It is one of the books that remind me of episodes like “The Quickening” from DS9. It shows some of the aftermath of a war, it’s slow moving but it also shows off the character strengths and weaknesses.
          Losing the Peace takes place after the Destiny Series and before the Typhon Pact books. It was one of the books that are a bit slow moving that is both important to the series progression and a stand-alone book.  The book uses a couple threads. First there is Crusher and Kadohata go to Pacifica to help report on the conditions on the refugees. Second is how Worf wants to help his partner Choudhury get over her grief about losing her parents and the lost of all Deneva. Third is how Picard kidnapped two officials and brought them to Pacifica so they could see the conditions of the refugees first hand after they voiced more selfish concerns after the Borg.
          I love character books/episodes especially if it’s a character that I like. I’m a huge fan of Beverly Crusher so I love how this book used her. It showed her compassion to medicine and even her fragility after Jack’s passing that nearly took her away from that career that helped her to resonate with refugees on Pacifica.  The book also talked about Miranda Kadohata in the same thread and how hard it is on families when one parent has to leave to enter the course of duty.  I also loved how Picard was used. He was back to normal Picard who was brazen at times. Plus loved how he used a quote from the Generations movie.  And I loved Worf. He was back to being both a protective mate yet at the same time he was trying to be sensitive and not treading on her toes too much.  It was the Worf I loved over the years on DS9.  The one character that I hated was Trys Chen. She seemed like an immature and extremely narrow minded which really felt wrong since she’s a First Contact specialist.
          I actually thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was so deep and well done. It wasn’t forced. It also felt like it parallels to the world right now without being preachy. I liked it a lot.

Book 1: Cry Wolf

            A new year and new set of books to read. So New Years Day it was a lot of fun to spend a quiet day with an old friend and yet I could really dive into a couple books while he played video games.  The first book was the last seventy pages of last years book: Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs.
I’m slowly working through the book pile from Miriam while also starting to dive into my Christmas books. I picked up Cry Wolf for more light reading. I enjoyed the two Mercy Thompson books from Patricia Briggs so the Alpha and Omega series sounded like fun.
The Alpha and Omega series launches off from the Mercy Thompson book. It uses the Montana werewolves and Samuel’s brother Charles. He brings his new mate and an Omega wolf (a wolf who isn’t submissive or dominate but rather a wolf who can produce a calming effect) into town. Before they could really get settled down they have to deal with a rogue wolf in the forest. In the process they learn the problem is a bit more complicated then an out of control werewolf that could blow the plans to slowly release the existence of werewolves to the world, they would have to deal with a very powerful witch.
I really enjoyed this book.  But I’m not sure I like the heroine. She’s a bit of a mix bag for me. I would like to see her develop in the future Alpha and Omega series. But I loved the development of Bran (the Marrok and the father of Samuel & Charles) and the other boys.  It felt so rich to see some of their history come out.  I also really loved the side character Sage. She just seemed sweet and could be a good companion to Anna.
I liked this book. I will admit I disappointed myself when I didn’t finish this book last year. But it seems right that I will begin my year with one of the year with a guilty pleasure book involving either Carrie Vaughn or Patricia Briggs.


So in the past year, I got pretty careless about the product side of my blog. I was doing it, I swear. But either between only having a sample size of a product and couldn’t form a real feel of a product, corporate limitations, and just sheer couldn’t remember if I put it up. So I’m going to do a quick summary or at least list several of the products I did try in the course of the year.
·         Soma Vanishing Edge Panties
·         Soma Velvet Hand Crème
·         Goody Betsy Bobby Slides: a good way to pin back my hair without using anything too damaging.  Something that’s fun without the being a cliché bobby pin.
·         Avon Natural Body Wash: a pretty good body wash. Loved the way it smelled but with as much added fragrance as it had, it should have been wonderfully smelling. I will have to applaud how it didn’t smell synthetic.
·         Carmex Lip Balm: A good lip balm. In fact one of my favorites after Yube.
·         Smart Ones Steamfresh meals: The first one was the most satisfying (chicken alfredo) but only okay. Not a great instant meal
·         Burberry Body: Love love this fragrance. It’s wonderful. So light and sheer with just a hint of the classic Burberry woodiness. Something you can wear everyday or for more fancy occasions.
·         Burberry Brit Sheer: A wonderful light spray. Perfer it over the regular brit since it has a light lemon smell underneath.
·         Ulta Anti-bacterial Simply Clean Hand Sanitizer: A good deep cleansing gel. Something I like in those quick fixes to clean the hands