Saturday, August 31, 2013

July Book Club: Happy Birthday, Harry!

Since our book club meeting was fairly close to Harry Potter's birthday we decided to dress up, bring some magical food, and dip into a little Hogwarts fan-fiction for July.

This is going to be a little different from our normal book club posts so get ready for some pictures!

But first things first - The book we chose was James Potter and the Hall of Elders Crossing by G. Norman Lippert. This is the first in a 4 book (so far) series of fan-fiction about Harry's oldest son. We all agreed that it was well-written and evoked that wonderful sense of the magical world that we'd been missing since the last Harry Potter book was released. And this is no short story fan-fiction either. We're talking 400 wonderful pages of Hogwarts, James, his friends, and enemies. And, the best part is they're free.
If you want to read it yourself check out the James Potter Series Website. Oh - and in case you're wondering? He actually got permission from J.K. Rowling to distribute these. True story.

James Potter is off to his first year at Hogwarts and the thing he's most worried about is living up to his famous father's reputation. What if he's not a Gryffindor? What if he doesn't make the Quidditch team? What if he can't handle the class work? But as the school year begins James discovers he has much larger problems to deal with. First there's the new group of people who don't believe Harry was as big a hero as everyone has claimed and that he's in league with the Ministry to cover up the truth about who Voldemort really was. Then there are the visiting teachers from the American school of magic. While it might be exciting to meet Benjamin Franklyn, a few of the teachers seem to be hiding something - and it doesn't look good. James and his two best friends find themselves tangled up in all of the intrigue and James has to figure out how to forge his own path - and still manage to pass his classes.

So go download, read, enjoy!

Now for the pictures! Yeah!

Butterbeer! Grammy T found
the recipe HERE
There are a ton of butterbeer recipes
out there, but this one
was the easiest we found.
And scrumptious too.
Jenn N enjoying some Butterbeer

Rebecca T made pumpkin pasties
(btw it's pronounced with a short a - rhyming with "last")
The recipe can be found HERE
This wasn't directly Harry Potter
related, but we forgave Eileen
because chocolate and strawberries

Rebecca T, Jenn N, NaomiRuth, Grammy T, Eileen
You know, just chilling out :D
 It's so much fun being book friends!

And for August we decided to dive into City of Bones by Cassandra Clare because the movie came out in August too. See you soon with our August book club reviews!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why am I reading comics?

Lately I've been a bit obsessed with graphica, graphic novels, comics, manga, stories told through images - whatever you want to call it. I thought it was a recent obsession until I started thinking back to my childhood.

When I was younger I read voraciously, but I spent hours reading my Dad's old Peanuts comic books. I collected funnies from the newspaper and even saved the daily calendar comics from my Dad's Far Side calendars (I have a binder full of them to this day). We had one Uncle Scrooge comic book that I read and reread until it was falling apart. I stumbled across it the other day and felt that thrill of happiness as I gingerly handled its crumbling corners. But somewhere around the age of 12 or 13 I sort of put them behind me - not from any feeling of shame or childishness, but they just weren't a big part of our lives. I read the weekly funnies, read and collected Calvin & Hobbes books, but other than that my reading became more "serious."

Then, when I became a Lostie and got involved in an online discussion group, Brian K. Vaughn's Y: The Last Man series was highly recommended by one of the members. I was able to borrow books from Borders as part of their employee benefits program so I blew through the series in about two weeks. There was way more profanity and sex than I liked, but the story line and the medium fascinated me. Next I checked out The Walking Dead, which I loved even more. Jeff Smith's Bone series was amazing and I recommend it to people all the time. After that I felt a bit lost at sea. I read a couple of Alice in Wonderland manga, but they mostly confused me, and I was way too intimidated by the vast amounts of superhero storylines to even start. So I sort of phased out of them again for a year or two.

This past year I started picking them up again. I read Buffy Season 8, Maus, and anything else that caught my interest at my local library. I took a class on Young Adult Resources in pursuing my Masters in Library and Information Science and the discussion on Graphica reinspired me. I also read Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics which blew my mind and opened up the world of comics in a way I had never considered. (I seriously recommend this book to anyone who loves comics, wonders what comics are all about, or isn't sold on the whole graphic narrative thing.)

So over the last few months most of what I've been reading are graphic novels - from the Amelia Rules! series by Jimmy Gownley - one of the best Middle School series I can recommend - Amulet, Peanut - a fantastic YA novel, etc., etc., etc.

And now I've taken the plunge into Manga. Maybe it's because I've been immersing myself in the world of the graphic novel, or maybe it's just that I found the right ones, but I adore them. XXX-holic will probably get its own review from me after I've read a few more, Neon Genesis Evangelion, though I've only read the first installment, has captured my attention, and Juliet W was pretty interesting too.

So why do I read comics? Because they're literature. Because they are creative. Because they present stories in unique, thought-provoking ways. Because I'm a visual person and I love seeing the story unfold and the interplay between text and images. Because they are complex and delightful and painful and everything that a story should be. Are there bad comics? Of course - just like there are bad books. But I think they are incredibly underrated. Am I leaving "regular" books behind? Absolutely not. But now I have a whole additional list of books I've added to my TBR and my to own list.

Are you a comic book reader? Have a passion for manga? Never tried any of them? I'd love recommendations or discussion as to why comics aren't for you!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Laydown Lowdown

There are plenty of new reads this week to keep you busy during these last few wonderful weeks of summer. 

If you love sleuthing, check out the latest in Mystery/Thriller such as "Dark Waters," by Robin Blake, "Holy Orders," by Benjamin Black, "A Spider in the Cup," by Barbara Cleverly, "After Her," by Joyce Maynard, and "Devil's Night," by Todd Ritter.

If you love love, how about a new romance.  "The Girl You Left Behind," by Jojo Moyles, "He Claims Me," by Cynthia Sax, and "The Mighty Storm," by Samantha Towle.

If Science Fiction/Fantasy is more your territory, you'll want to pick up "Omens," the latest from best-selling author Kelley Armstrong plus "The Third Kingdom," by Terry Goodkind, "The Lost Prince," by Edward Lazellari, and "The Bone Season," by Samantha Shannon.

Young Adults or those young at heart should check out "Flicker and Burn," by T.M. Goeglein or "Asylum," by Madeline Roux.

Will any of these new books make your to-read list?  Remember to support your local bookstore whenever possible.  Happy Reading. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sundays with Neubie the Truebie (Episode 69, "Life Matters")

It's finally here!  The Season 6 finale airs in just a few hours.  Where did these past 10 weeks go?  Last week's episode was action packed and in my option one of the best in some time.

The episode opened where the previous week's left off.  Bill and Sookie arrived in Faery and found Benlow drained and looking near death.  Bill was angry as he wanted Benlows blood to take back to save the vampires at Vamp Camp from meeting the sun.  Sookie meanwhile was just concerned for Ben's welfare and tried to feed him by gnawing at her own wrist.  Bill didn't help her and they fought.  She ended up using her faerie light on him to shoot him out of Faery and told him to chase after Eric and use him to feed the vampires.  Ben started to recover and reminded Sookie that she pledged to be his.  She said she'd be his after she made an appearance at Terry's funeral.  Ben reluctantly let her go as she beamed on down for the service.

All of Bon Temps had turned out for the service including Tara's mother who is now the pastor's wife.  This answered my burning question from the other as to what exactly happened to Tara's mom after she sobered up.  Terry was eulogized by Andy, Portia, Sookie, and Arlene through touching flashbacks.  Mrs. Fortenberry told Sookie that Hoyt is doing well in Alaska and has a girlfriend, who is ugly but thankfully not a red-headed vampire whore.  She's sweet, isn't she.  Alcide got all dressed up and showed up to comfort Sookie.  He offered to sit with her but she was holding out hope that Jason would show up.

Jason of course was otherwise occupied with everyone else at Vamp Camp.  Eric arrived at Vamp Camp and killed everyone in his path.  He released the males in general population and they ran wild through the facility enacted revenge on their captors.  Sarah probably regretted her decision to wear a white suit that day and hid under the bodies of her deceased colleagues.  Eric then freed the ladies in general population and came across a very weak Jason.  Eric gave him some of his blood to speed the healing and told him to "think of nice things" when Jason dreamed of him.  Jason then helped Eric find the room where the vampires were to meet the sun.  They raced off to rescue Pam, Tara, Jessica and the others as Sarah climbed the outside of the room to open the vent that would allow the sun in.  Jason, Eric, and especially Sarah were stunned to see that the vampires were feeding off of a very weakened Bill.  The vampires all took a moment to appreciate their freedom and the sun.  Jessica and James tended to Bill who had a vision of Lilith and her lackeys informing him that he could remain on earth no more.  However, Jessica and James were able to bring him back to consciousness and they left the circular room together where the other vampires continued to frolic in the sun and smash up the containers of tainted Tru Blood.  Jason went to take on Sarah but at the last minute he let her escape as he refused to play God like she had.  Hopefully he won't come to regret his change of heart.  Pam and Eric gave each other a significant look just before he flew off for who knows where while Pam remained on the ground and begged him not to leave just yet.

Where did Eric go?  I guess we'll find out tonight.  Perhaps he went to try and stop the deliveries of the tainted Tru Blood? Maybe he went to finish off Benlow to prevent him from turning Sookie?  Perhaps Niall will be able to free himself from the faerie hell dimension?  Will Bill continue to cheat the true death and fend off Lilith?  Tonight will certainly be quite the finale.  What do you hope to see tonight?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Laydown Lowdown

It's a dreary, rainy day over here.  It's the perfect day to stay in with a good book such as one of today's new reads.

March on over to Mystery and you'll discover "The Gifted," by Gail Bowen, "Let Me Go," by Chelsea Cain, "Compound," by Bill Crider, "Elysian Fields," by Suzanne Johnson, and "Murder, She Rode," by Holly Menino.

Slide by Science-Fiction/Fantasy for the third "Witches of East End" novel, "Winds of Salem," by Melissa de la Cruz.  Fans of the series will also want to look out for the television series based on the novel which will debut on Lifetime this fall.  Other new releases in the genre include "Flesh," by Philip Jose Farmer, "Blood of Tryants," by Naomi Novik, "Assault of Sunrise," by Michael Shea, and "A Clockwork Heart," by Liesel Schwarz.

Run past the Romance section and grab "Skies of Gold," by Zoe Archer, "Renegade," by Lora Leigh, "Rose Harbor in Bloom,'' by Debbie Macomber, "Crave: A Billionaire Bachelor Club Novel" by Monica Murphy, and "The Last Kiss Goodbye," by Karen Robards.

You can then stop by Young Adult for "The Deepest Night," by Shana Abe, "Where Beauty Lies," by Elle Fowler, "Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy," by Elizabeth Kiem, "False Sight," b Dan Krokos, and "Hover," by Melissa West.

Will any of these new books make your "to-read" list?  Share with us and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sundays with Neubie the Truebie (Episode 68, "Dead Meat")

Happy Truebie Sunday everyone!!! There is just one episode left before this season's big finale.  We saw and heard a lot crazy things this season, especially last week.

I don't know about you but for me the craziest thing this season has to be the relationship between Sam, Nicole, and the Shreveport pack.  After kidnapping Nicole and her mother, Riki challenged Alcide for the packmaster position and two other scary wolf chicks backed her up.  Alcide beat Rikki up but holding on to the little piece of human gentleman that remained in him, he stopped himself short of killing her and decided to leave the pack altogether.  He then somehow freed Nicole and her mom from the crazy wolf pack clutches and took them to Sam's trailer.  After he cleaned out Terry's cubby at Merlotte's, Sam was delighted to see his new insta-girlfriend (he sure got over Luna quickly, huh) and her mother.  While the ladies rested up, Sam and Alcide shared some drinks at the bar.  Apparently Alcide's threat to kill Sam was forgotten over some shots.  Later, Nicole and her mom joined Sam for a bite at Merlotte's and Nicole's mom voiced her displeasure over there relationship as Nicole and Sam confessed their love for each other.  The fact that they've know each other less than a week apparently didn't faze them.  Fortunately or unfortunately for Sam, their discussion was broken up by Sookie who wanted to talk to Sam not about her job but about her crazy personal life.

Earlier, Sookie returned to Faery to ask for Ben's help in Bill's quest to save the vampire race.  Ben wanted little to do with it but after Sookie begged him and explained how he'd be helping not just Bill but her old friend Tara, he agreed but only under the condition that Bill wouldn't kill and him and that Sookie would agree to be his bride and become a vampire.  He also went on about how he'd loved her for 6000 years which makes no sense since Sookie is approximately 26 years old.  I really don't trust Benlow, not only is he smarmy but his romantic monologues make no sense.  Sookie told him she'd think about and returned home.  Bill however was losing patience and wasn't sympathetic at all when Sookie explained her dilemma in accepting Ben's proposal.  If it were me, I'd make promise to marry Benlow, get him to donate his blood and then let Bill finish him off once it's been synthesized.  However, Sookie apparently had more than Benlow lust on her mind or confused feelings for Bill as she then went to Merlotte's and interrupted Sam's conversation with Nicole and Nicole's mom.

Sam was just as stunned as I was when she confessed to Sam that she was reluctant to help the vampires and Benlow and thought about just letting her faery light go, effectively draining her of remaining a vampire magnet.  Sookie went on to tell Sam that she always thought they'd end up together?!!  Now - spoiler alert, book readers - in the final Sookie Stackhouse novel, Sookie and Sam do start a relationship.  However, they fell together naturally after Eric betrayed her.  I found it out of character for her to confess her so called buried feelings about him at this particular moment.  Sam basically told Sookie that it was too late as not only was he with Nicole but Nicole was pregnant?!!! SAY WHAT?!!! He's known Nicole for just a week and they're now an insta-couple with a baby on the way?  Apparently Nicole doesn't know she is with child yet, Sam's shifter sense can just smell it.  Ick, what does that smell like?  Baby powder? Diapers?  Ick!!!  Sookie left, dejected.

Meanwhile, back at Vamp Camp, poor Jason was subjected to Violet's thirst and general craziness.  Pam succeeded at getting into general population after an "oozey but productive" encounter with Dr. Finn.  Jessica and Tara urged Pam to try to talk to Violet about the Jason situation but Violet wasn't having it.  Sarah discovered that some of the vampires such as Jessica, Tara etc. weren't drinking the True Blood.  She suspected her ex had knowledge of why and tortured him into confessing that he and several of the vampires knew that the True Blood was tainted with Hep.  V.   Sarah then sent all the vampires who refused to drink the True Blood into the circular room as seen in Bill's vision where they will presumably meet the sun.  Ms. Suzuki, the True Blood, spokeswoman also showed up at Vamp Camp demanding to see Sen. Burrell.  Of course, we all know he lost his head the week before.  Sarah tried to hold her off but Ms. Suzuki infiltrated the compound and discovered that the product was being tainted.  Sarah and Ms. Suzuki fought and Sarah ultimately killed her with her high heel and the male vamps had her remains for a snack.  More Ick!!

Back at Casa Bellefleur, the family continued to mourn Terry's passing and Lafayette told Arlene about the insurance policy thus indicating to Arlene that Terry planned his death.  Arlene thought about how Adilyn and Andy's fae daugther's tormented Terry and blamed them.  Adilyn was listening in with her telepathy power and got upset and ran to her room.  The girl should be upset, her and her sisters were quite mean to Terry.  Granted, Terry's PTSD issues ran deeper than the taunts of teen girls but it still didn't help.  Holly's boys then showed up and encouraged Adilyn to sneak out with them.  She did and they hung out in the cemetery, drank and made out (how romantic).  Eric interrupted this little interlude, glamoured the boys into not remembering they were there and chased Adilyn down for her blood. Andy then found an alive but distressed Adilyn in the road, hugged her and escorted her to the safety of the squad car.  He figured she'd been through too much to lecture her but really this girl needs to be lectured about a heck of a lot.

Sookie continued her out of character craziness cursed out her parents in front of their graves, stating how she'd rather be a corpse on earth than spend eternity laying next to them.  I really hate how the show has characterized the Michelle and Corbett.  In the books, they were just nice folks who got murdered by some crazy fae relatives.  Perhaps, it will turn out to the be the same here as I don't trust Benlow at all but we'll see.  Anyway, she then told Bill she would agree to Warlow's pact and got all gussied up in her finest sexy black dress, sans pantyhose, (FYI getting dressed up and foregoing pantyhose is a HUGE pet peeve of mine.  She then met Bill and the two beamed up to fae.  However, they discovered that someone had already feasted off Benlow - Eric!  Apparently sampling Adilyn's blood was enough to get him access to Faery.

What do you guys think will happen over the next two weeks?  What would you like to see happen? Share with me!!

Friday, August 9, 2013

2030 by Albert Brooks

Comedian/Actor/Writer (and who knows what else) Albert Brooks has been making people laugh for years. Now, with his new novel, 2030, he's making us think.

Twenty Thirty, The real story of what happens to America, shows us a very convincing picture of what can and may happen in the U.S. as the baby boomers (myself included) continue to get older and older. Thanks to advances in medical research, including finally a cure for cancer, Americans are increasingly looking at their eighties and nineties in their rearview mirrors.

Surely curing cancer is a wonderful achievement, right? After all, is there anyone reading this blog that doesn't know at least one person who has battled cancer?

So, Americans are living longer, but they still need medical care, right? And they still are entitled to benefits like social security, etc., right? There's just one big problem. The US is trillions of dollars in debt, and younger citizens are now struggling under the financial burden of caring for the "olds." Some individuals are even gathering supporters, in an effort to bring about change.

At a time when the US economy is already at the breaking point, "the big one" finally happens. A major earthquake levels Los Angeles, leaving literally millions of people homeless and penniless. Insurance companies go bankrupt, and relocation centers are hastily erected all along the west coast.

The president of the United States is faced with the harsh reality that America simply cannot afford to rebuild Los Angeles. Projected costs run in excess of 20 trillion dollars, and we don't have it. The only alternative is to go to their principle lender, China, and ask to borrow more money.

China values the United States as a business partner because America is the biggest consumer of Chinese goods. But can they afford to extend even a portion of such a vast amount to the US? Do they even want to? Or is there another alternative?

Brooks's prose is very to the point, and non-judgemental. He doesn't go to any great lengths to point fingers at any one particular ideology or political agenda. He builds this scenario of the too-near future very logically. He uses a wide range of characters, and all of them are treated with empathy. I highly recommend 2030 to anyone interested in a very thought-provoking look at where we are now, and where we may go.

Alan Andrews

(originally posted at Basso for Hire)  2030 by Albert Brooks - Book Review at Basso for Hire

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Laydown Lowdown

Happy August everyone! Summer may be winding down but there is still plenty of time to hit the beach and relax with a great book.

Romance lovers should delight in discovering new releases from best-selling authors today.  "Burn," by Maya Banks, "Hotshot," by Julie Garwood, and "Less Than A Gentleman," by Kerrelyn Sparks arrive today along with "Animal Attraction," by Shayla Blank and "Biting Bad," by Chole Neill.

Over in Mystery/Thriller you can uncover "A Place of Confinement," by Anna Dean, "Kind of Cruel," by Sophie Hannah, "The Beast," by Faye Kellerman, and "The Last Witness," by W.E.B. Griffin.

Skoot by Science Fiction/Fantasy for "The Omega Project," by Steve Alten, "Box Office Poison," by Phillipa Borikova, "Undead and Unsure," by Mary Janice Davidson, and "The Companions: The Sundering: Book 1," by R.A. Salvatore.

Maya McEntire's "Hourglass," trilogy comes to close with "Infinityglass," available in Young Adult today with "Maybe Tonight?" by Bridie Clark, "Gated," by Amy Christine Parker, and "Out of Play," by Jolene Perry.

Will any of these new books make your to-read list?  Share with us and Happy Reading! Remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sundays with Neubie the Truebie (Episode 67, "In the Evening")

Happy Truebie Sunday everyone! Last week was another wild and heart-breaking episode.

Bill made his way back home after taking out most of the vamp camp security and was surprised to see Eric show up at his door.  Eric and Nora were successful in escaping vamp camp with Willa's help.  Eric begged Bill to help save Nora by feeding her the  blood of Lilith.  Nora refused and said she'd rather die than drink her blood again.  Sara was horrified to find Senator Burrell's de-capitated head and briefly mourned his passing before anointing herself the new leader of the anti-vampire crusade.

Meanwhile back inside vamp camp, Willa stayed behind and warned Jessica and Tara not to drink the True Blood as it had been tainted with Hep-V.  Jason successfully infiltrated the vamp camp guard and met up with Jessica.  He told her was attempting to rescue her.  She told him that she didn't want to be rescued, not because she had what Jason referred to as "stockholder's syndrome," (lol) but because she felt so awful for killing Andy's fae children and her other mis-deeds.  Jason reminded her of the goodness in her and offered to help her in anyway possible.  She asked him to get James so she could thank him in person for backing out of the copulation study.  Jason complied and arranged a meeting for them.  Jessica warned James of the tainted True Blood and after James told her how he believed vampires could make choices to do good, Jessica asked him to make love to her, while poor Jason waited outside.  Unfortunately for Jason this wasn't the worst of his problems as now with Senator Burrell out of the picture and Sara in control, she called him out on his undercover operation and threw him into the ladies general population unit for the women to feed on.  Gen pop is a happening place as Pam used the psychiatrist's attraction to her to secure her a spot there too.  She obviously has an escape plan in mind.

While enjoying the sun in Faery with Ben, Sookie heard Arlene crying in the cemetery below and returned to comfort her.  She took Arlene back to the Bellefleur residence and was surprised as was everyone there when Bill day walked in and offered his condolences to Arlene and Andy as well as telling Andy how sorry he was for the loss of his daughters.  Sookie and Lafayette then headed off to the bank to see what Terry left in the safety deposit box and they discovered a life insurance policy worth a million dollars.  They decided to keep it quiet for a few days until Arlene was a little more coherent.

Back over at the Compton residence, Nora continued to get sicker and sicker.  Erica and Nora reminisced over when they first met and became "family," as she she fell into a comatose state.  Bill returned and gave her some of his blood but unfortunately, it wasn't enough to save her as she later turned into a literal puddle of vampire goo.

Sam learned of Terry's passing and decided to return home despite Alcide's threats.   He told Nicole to return home to her mother and after some shower sex, they parted ways.  Unfortunately, Rikki was hot on their trail and she kidnapped Nicole and her mother.  I still don't understand why.  I think wolves are just crazy.

What are you thoughts on last week's episode?  How do you think Bil and Eric will rescue their progeny and the other vampires at vamp camp?  There is only 3 episodes left this season, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out and there are rumors that even more beloved characters won't survive 'till Season 7.