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Wherein you will find posts with humor, photos, reviews, occasional rants and journalistic entries of interest to me alone but that I hope will touch you, the reader, in some way. I remain sincerely yours,
A Work in Progress

Friday, December 31, 2010

Another Year Passes

"Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past even while we attempt to define it, and, like the flash of lightning, at once exists and expires." ~Charles Caleb Colton

A look back on the year shows it's ups and downs, thrills and defeats, sadness and joy as it does in every year. Overwhelmingly, the good outweighs the bad and the joys overcome the sorrows and I don't imagine we can hope for better than that.  Here, in random order and free flowing thought processes, is my retrospective.

It is the year in which our eldest turned 14, began high school and dyed streaks of her hair teal.  The year she spent ridiculous amounts of downtime on Facebook, learned how to make do bead cane-work by herself, and forgot her chores as many times as she did them without being nagged.  The year her health is finally on the upward swing at last though her headaches continue.  She is kind, cheery, fearless and funny, fiercely loyal and so very helpful to me every day.  I wouldn't get through half my days as well without her.

This was the year our little one turned 10. Caught between childhood and not, careening like a pinball back and forth and rarely settling on either for any length of time.  Funny as all get out, her "Jennaisms" often have us laughing and/or shaking our heads.  She is generous and kind to others while being too hard on herself in most things. Impatient with herself,  she has infinite patience with others.  School still comes easy to her, save math where geometry is like breathing but long division is somehow agony.  The year in which she became a Dollar Tree fanatic, carefully making lists on the website before going with her friend Miss Pam to the actual store.  Her frugality knows no bounds and we are proud of her.  


A year in which we prayed like mad when Becky was diagnosed with cancer and God answered every prayer.  Her last scan showed her cancer free and it is absolutely nothing less than a miracle.  Luke got a new scar but came through to be around to make us all laugh for a good long time to come.
One in which everyone's health was pretty good and surgeries and injuries and illnesses were healed and mended and in every case could have been so much worse and thank God, wasn't.  Only 1 ER trip with the kids and, for a change, it was Jenny.  Face plant onto the deck, no lasting injuries.  Dad took an awful spill quite recently and while he was pretty well banged up, there were no permanent injuries.   In which I would have preferred to loose weight but didn't.  Maybe this year.
 
A year that God continued to demonstrate that His provision is perfect and His love and mercy is boundless.  Where Mike continued to have work and ministries and sometimes one was the same as the other.  Our house refinance finally went through after over a year of paperwork and problems.  We were able to continue homeschooling and were blessed with the loan of a microscope and other supplies for high school biology and the ancient laptop that was also a gift continues to work.  I made money here and there with computer work and photography which always helps just when we need it.  God had my carpets cleaned out of the blue and bought Mike a truck he promptly named Ebeneezer.

It was, as always, a year filled with family and friends, birthdays, anniversaries, time spent together and memories made. Mike and I celebrated our 18th anniversary this year, we even actually went out to dinner and a movie and we both turned 45.  (Prince of Persia sucks FYI.)  Wherein Mom turned 70 and I learned how to paint on cakes and Ruth and Tom came to celebrate with us.  Dad and Tommy celebrated their birthdays together as we so often have at Mom's house. 
A year where we reunited with an old friend and the girls made new friends.  One of my dearest high school chums and I hooked up on Facebook and she came to visit with her kids and is coming back again this year.
I can't wait to see her again.  Best of all, her daughter and son and our girls are now fast friends.  How perfectly lovely for it all to come around and back.

 A year in which we took an amazing 3 day art class and my brother in law got a big promotion.  The year my mother in law retired from Nichols College and I got a Nook.  A time where I actually took the kids for a weekly get together with our homeschool group in spite of my antipathy towards leaving the house and the resulting friendships for us all have been a blessing beyond compare.   This was the year true friendships shone through while false friends wreaked havoc and heartache.  The year in which I gained a wagon train of friends I will treasure forever and small kindnesses both given and got made so much difference in a day.  

 A year we joined 4H and worked the Barnstable County Fair together, had a booth at the Woods Hole Mayfair doing face painting and balloons and Rowan joined the Kidz Klub cast.  This was the year Jenna took swim lessons, Rowan did drama for VBS and we did our last Civil War day with the Matsons.

The year I discovered the wonders of the Life Application Bible, went to Forestdale Baptist for a ladies Bible study and went away with my peeps to a Beth Moore Conference.  In which I couldn't go to an Esther study but my friend Aimee brought me the dvd every Monday afternoon and Rowan and I watched it.  The year we joined our Forestdale peeps at their harvest fest they joined us at our Family Fall Fun festival.  How blessed we are to have extended our circle of friends with these, so very special, folks.

A year in which the dog was aggravating and expensive but still my loyal pal.  Where the kitten made me laugh at least once every day.  During which we lost Sir Much the Guinea Pig and Blue the Betta and actually did not replace either. 

 

This was a year that went all too quickly.  I found myself utterly unready for the holidays and I am absolutely not ready to get back in the swing of our school routine again.  Yet, it is that time almost.

I look back with gratitude and forward with joy because I am blessed beyond reason in all things. 
Welcome 2011.

"How rapidly time urges his flight; sometimes as a relentless, unsparing destroyer; but oftener as a swift-winged and beautiful angel; changing, yet not taking away this world's blessings: making our past sorrows look dim in the distance; opening many flowers of pleasure on our way, and gradually ripening our souls for the great eternity."
WILLIAM CHAMBERS

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 Fantasy Reading Challenge

My absolute favorite genre,  can't resist this one!
I am going with the "Obsessed" level 20+ books in the genre.

Challenge Completed May 30th 2011 , still adding books as I read them.
No surprise, I had a blast with this challenge.  
Fantasy has been my favorite genre since I was 13, got my first job and signed up for the Science Fiction Book Club.  When that first box arrived, you know the one, buy 7 for $1.99 and 2 more for half off?, I was hooked.  Piers Anthony's Blue Adept series,  Anne McCaffrey's, Dragonriders of Pern,  Roger Zelanzy's, Amber,  Marion Zimmer Bradley's, Darkover were all in that box.  And I was swept away to other places and times that enthralled me, exited me and transported me.
During this challenge I was thrilled again with some new friends and new places and reminded of why I loved some old ones.
It is only May 30th and I will be reading many more books throughout the year.  Below are some comments on the ones I read for this challenge.
Thanks and see you next year!

Read Brandon Mull's, A World Without Heroes, Beyonder's #1.  I enjoyed it but I am not invested as yet. I loved Fablehaven once I got past the first one, so I will reserve judgement and wait for the next in the series. There was a lot to like, it just never really picked up for me as yet.
Enjoyed Across the Universe , by Beth Revis.  It was a strange book, kind of like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest meets 1984 but with a young adult slant.  I think, oddly, it may yet be a sci fi classic in it's own right.

Read through the first three of the  Iron Druid Chronicles and loved them.  I was looking for some humorous fantasy and saw this recommended on MobileReads. Love my Kindle for immediate gratification.  Atticus is an ancient druid, the last of his kind and he hangs with an Irish Wolfhound that goes by the name of Oberon. He looks twenty-something and owns a book/herbal shop. With an enchanting cast of characters (sometimes literally) Hounded was a pleasure from start to finish.  Hard to write a review without spoilers but these are funny and fun, a good romp and I recommend them

I read the first 4 books in the Sookie Stackhouse series. By book 4, this was the review I wrote on GoodReads. "Still not a fan. I like so much about these, especially her supporting characters. (Bubba), but they are getting more R rated in each book and that doesn't work for me. And they still just don't have that, "I'm hooked" factor.  Think it is time to move on."
Read:
Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris
Living Dead in Dallas, Charlaine Harris
Club Dead, Charlaine Harris
Dead to the World, Charlaine Harris
(can I mention here how pissed I am at Blogger's upgrade and the loss of my Amazon widget?)
Maximum Ride, The Angel Experiment, James Patterson 
Maximum Ride, School's Out - Forever, James Patterson 


Maximum Ride, Max, James Patterson

Maximum Ride, Fang, James Patterson

Maximum Ride, Angel, James Patterson

The Mercy Thompson series were recommended by a friend who is also a Dresden Files fan.   While technically in the same genre and quite enjoyable so far, they are no Dresden Files.  On their own merit though, Mercedes is a highly likable character with a great supporting cast.  Interestingly, the fae have "come out" to some extent in these books and the consequences are only just beginning to reverberate through as the werewolves also reveal themselves.
I am now in the third book and will happily continue the series, they are a nice addition to the paranormal genre. I also very much appreciate that the content, so far, is 'PG". I like to share good stories with my teenager but a lot of paranormal crosses a line I am not ready for her to cross as yet.
I plowed through these and loved them and went right into Brigg's Alpha and Omega series when I was done.  Mercy is a fabulous character and I can't get enough of these.  While they don't have all the humor of the Dresden Files, these are stand out books, especially as you keep reading.  Great fun, highly recommended.
Bone Crossed
Silver Borne


River Marked

From Patricia Brigg's website, the seventh and last in the series is due out Spring 2013

Alpha and Omega series

Cry Wolf

Hunting Ground

Due out  January 2012,  Fair Game
After the 2nd one, I couldn't put these down.
FableHaven 

Rise of the Evening Star

Grip of the Shadow Plague 

Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary  

 Keys to the Demon Prison.  
Brandon Mull is a masterful storyteller with great characters, he has a real gift for making his supporting cast memorable.  He  also excels at the plot twist and the bad guy twists.  Also it seems satyrs are always funny.
.


Just started this series and so far I am a fan. Indiana Jones, Laura Croft, Daniel Jackson and Amelia Peabody rolled into one exciting character. A little history, a little paranormal, a little action adventure and you have a winning combination. Can't wait to read the next in the series. I gave it 3 stars because it takes me a little while sometimes to fall in love with a series but I did enjoy it very much.

I re-read Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire Book 1 as the 5th book is coming out at long last and HBO is about to launch a new series based on the books on April 17th. It has been forever since I read them and now seems a good time to do so. I'd forgotten how good they were. Epic fantasy in the classic style of all good epic fantasy. Did I mention Sean Bean is in the series? Be still my heart.

A Clash of Kings, Book 2, A Song of Ice and Fire - George RR Martin
This is book two of the epic fantasy series and I read them years ago.  It is worth the re-read even though they average about 700 pages.  These are fantasy at it's finest.  The first book came out in 1991 and here at last, the 5th, A Dance with Dragons is finally available for pre-order on Amazon with a July publication date.  I have just done a little research on the series and am almost wishing now that I had waited to read these again.  With a track record of 6 years between books these days, George R.R. Martin plans to have this series go to 7 books all told.  I hope it doesn't end up being another Wheel of Time. 
*this is not kids reading, lots of adult themes

City of Bones, Mortal Instruments Book 1, Cassandra Clare
 City of Ashes, Mortal Instruments Book 2, Cassandra Clare
City of Glass, Mortal Instruments Book 3, Cassandra Clare
 City of Fallen Angels, Mortal Instruments Book 4, Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Angel , Infernal Devices Book 1 (prequel series)
I really enjoyed Cassandra Clare's world.  I grew more and more engaged with the characters as they developed more fully.  I quite liked the new twist on the very popular faery, lycanthrope, vampire, and angel fiction that is so very prevalent these days.  In a time where it has begun to be, done to death, so to speak, her work is original and satisfying.  Definitely a fan of this series.
Holly Black, a favorite of mine, said it better than I could,
"Cassie's writing makes my toes curl with envy. She is the rare writer who can write fast-paced dramatic fantasy with gorgeous language and memorable characters that you grow to love and worry about, as well as really funny bits that will make you honestly laugh and remember them and repeat them to your friends. It is rare to find someone who can do any one of those things well; to find someone who can do them all is just dangerous."
- Holly Black, author of Tithe and Valiant


 A friend of mine recommended The Dresden Files series and handed me a bag full of them last week.  I spent a day in the ER and read all day and then didn't stop until I'd read them all.
I am hooked on these.  Harry Dresden is one of my new very favorite characters of all time.  Mixing the Nevernever, paranormal, present day, action, adventure and humor I am plowing through these with abandon.  Harry is one of a kind with his haunted past,  his sense of humor and his oddball bunch of friends.  These  include  Mister, his Garfield-sized cat, Bob, his research helper spirit who lives in a human skull, Murphy the adorable (but don't tell her) hard-bitten Special Investigations officer, and Susan, sexy, loyal companion and syndicated writer for the Arcane.  Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, gangs, and writing reminiscent of my favorite sleuth's creator, Robert Parker make these a hit with me.  Each book has gotten better and better and I couldn't wait to grab the next as I finished each one.

 Butcher is a genius. Action, adventure, characters familiar and fun, humor, sarcasm. loyalty, friendship, pets, these books are some of the most rip roaring fun I have had reading in a long time.  It is Dresden himself that drives the action, these are written in the first person from Harry's point of view.  Reminiscent in flavor of the classic gunslinger spaghetti westerns, at no point do these become predictable. 


And now I am sad, the next book, Ghost Story, won't be out until July.  I will be missing Harry until them. 



Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey Series.
I almost didn't read them when I saw "Harlequin Teen".  I hate Harlequin books, I despise the entire Romance genre.  I don't object to romance in general, but I want it to stem from a great plot line and story, not BE the plot line and story.  
In any case, I couldn't resist these due to their premise.  King Oberon had a half fey daughter who discovers who she is on her 16th birthday when her 4 year old half brother is exchanged for a changeling.
An avid Shakespeare lover, who could resist delving into a world with Oberon, Titania, Queen Mab and the irrepressible Robin Goodfellow?  
Add into the Nevernever a plot twist stemming from technology and gadgets in our world and you get a whole new world of faery.  Julie Kagawa did an amazing job putting together a highly engaging story and I look forward to reading more of her work.
The Iron King,  Julie Kagawa
 The Iron Daughter, Julie Kagawa

The Wish List, Eoin Colfer
 Because I really enjoyed the Artemis Fowl books I have read so far and because I can't resist the description," Eoin Colfer’s Wish List reads like a head-on collision between Dawson’s Creek and Touched by an Angel."

 Game of Thrones,  Book 1, A Song of Ice and Fire - George RR Martin
 A Clash of Kings, Book 2, A Song of Ice and Fire - Gerge RR Martin
 A Storm of Swords, Book 3, A Song of Ice and Fire - Gerge RR Martin
 A Feast for Crows, Book 4, A Song of Ice and Fire - Gerge RR Martin
Because I own them and either have never read them or can't remember ever reading them

Alanna, The First Adventure, Song of the Lioness Book 1,
In the Hand of the Goddess, Song of the Lioness Book 2,
The Woman who Rides Like a Man,  Song of the Lioness Book 3,
Lioness Rampant, Song of the Lioness Book 4,
These had great reviews and I enjoyed them but would have enjoyed them much more around the age of, oh early teens, I think.  These were old school fantasy.

As I read the above I longed to head back to Privet Drive, where I first met Harry and so I re-read the series.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
As Stephen King so aptly put it, "No ending can be right, because it shouldn’t be over at all. The magic is not supposed to go away." 







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