Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nintendo 3DS

I couldn't wait to get my hands on the Nintendo 3DS. I'm not sure how in love I am with the 3D thing, although I love that I don't have to wear goofy glasses to see it. However, it is going to take some getting used to to hold it in the right spot. The perfect viewing angle is very small. If you hold it too close, things get all blurry or doubled, which leads quickly to headaches. If you hold the thing far enough away though, it does look pretty cool. It's also possible to turn the 3D effect off completely.

I do like some of the other updates they made to the DS though. I like the addition of Miis. I like the addition of the pedometer, and I think some of the ways developers will use that will be really fun. I have tried out the Mii Plaza and found some Miis when I was at the mall the other day. Adding new Miis allows you to get new puzzle pieces and play the Find Mii mini game.

I have played Rayman 3D, which is an ok platformer. I have also played with Nintendogs 3D, which is fun. You can take your dog for a walk by putting the 3DS in sleep mode and letting it count your steps. The more steps you walk, the more presents your puppy picks up.  If only you could find fun presents whenever you went for a walk in real life.

I have played with the camera. The 3D pictures are fun, although at the moment there isn't really a good way for me to share them with anyone who can't look at my 3DS screen.

Overall, as an upgraded DS I am impressed and like the changes. I haven't made up my mind yet about the 3D. My two school age boys love it though.

Have you tried it out yet? What did you think?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

I did decide to take a short break from Jasper Fforde, and instead read Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells. I have read a couple of her other books and had enjoyed them. Garden Spells was no exception. It was a quick read, I could hardly put it down in fact. 
Garden Spells is a story about sisters Claire and Sydney. Their family has long been considered strange in their small hometown in North Carolina. Claire stayed in their hometown, happy to put down roots. She learned how to care for the family’s magical garden and incorporate the flowers and plants into food. Sydney couldn’t wait to get away from their little town and spent a wild decade traveling around the country, until becoming involved with an abusive man. Sydney was going to leave, but then discovered she was pregnant. Eventually, Sydney decided she needed to get herself and her daughter away from her abusive boyfriend, and they head back to North Carolina. 
Claire and Sydney have to learn to be sisters again, they were never very close as children. Garden Spells is a love story, and it really is fairly predictable, but an enjoyable journey. I really like the supernatural elements in Allen’s writing. They are not overt vampire, werewolf and witch things, but kind of the everyday magic that one can chalk up to good luck or even destiny. 
Garden Spells was a perfect break from Jasper Fforde, of course her books are always enjoyable. Allen writes very happy hopeful books and really manages to transport you to the setting. She describes sights, sounds, and even smells. Her description of a calming place tends to have a calming effect on the reader also. The characters in Garden Spells are interesting and well-developed. 
I’m going to give Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, 1 bookmark.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde

Thursday Next is pregnant, and her husband is missing. Sometimes she cannot remember either of those things. Her mind has been invaded by Aornis Hades, little sister of Archeron Hades. Aornis is a little upset at Thursday for killing her brother. She sent a mindworm into Thursday’s mind, and is systematically erasing memories. Unfortunately, one of her first targets are Thursday’s memories of her husband, Landen. That might not normally be a big problem, but Landen was eradicated by a crooked chronoguard agent. It’s a long story....the bottom line is that Thursday’s husband actually died when he was two years old, she’s the only one who remembered that he didn’t. She is pregnant, she thinks it might be Landen’s, it was before he was eradicated. It all makes sense when you read it, really!
Given Thursday’s delicate condition, she has taken refuge in Bookworld until her baby is born, and old enough for her to go back to the realworld, or Outland as fictioneers call it, and get her husband back. She was hoping for a chance to relax and plan her next move, but she didn’t count on all the drama that can be generated in Bookworld. First, she discovers the book she is living in is in danger of being destroyed. Thursday is getting to know the inhabitants of the book she is living in and would like to come up with a way to save them. The nursery rhyme characters have gone on strike, causing parents everywhere to forget how their children’s favorite nursery rhymes go. Someone is also gunning for Jurisfiction agents, and Thursday has just finished her apprenticeship. She needs to find out who is killing these agents before she becomes the next casualty. 
The Well of Lost Plots is the place in Bookworld where stories are cobbled together, and it is where books that haven’t yet been published are kept. Thursday Next has been living in an unpublished novel, she has two generics as housemates. Generics are characters that go to school to get their personality, and get sorted based on what type of character they will be. A-1’s are main characters in a novel, and they go down from there. Granny Next also shows up to stay with Thursday. Thursday can’t quite figure out how Granny Next even got into Bookworld, but Granny insists she’s there to help Thursday remember her husband. Granny is helping Thursday to deal with Aornis’ mindworm. 
The Well of Lost Plots, the book, has a lot going on. It sometimes feels like it just crams too much into it. But, the world that Jasper Fforde has created is an amazing place. I wish books were really created that way. It is kind of fun to think of favorite fictional characters living in their books, wandering around the well, visiting friends in other books. I would totally work for Jurisfiction, giving anger management counseling to the characters from Wuthering Heights, fixing plot holes, and chasing page runners.  
I did like this book a lot, but I think it was a little less compelling than the previous two books. of course, it may also be a consequence of reading three Thursday Next books in less than a week. I am thinking I might read something else before tackling book four. I have also added to my must read list after reading this book. I've added Wuthering Heights, as well as Great Expectations

I also want to say that I think Jasper Fforde’s books really need to be read. I can’t imagine it as an audio book. Some of the humor is very visual, and I don’t think it would translate well when spoken. I have not heard the audio book though, so this is purely speculation. 
I am going to give The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde, 2 bookmarks

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair is a gentle introduction to the world of Thursday Next. In Lost in a Good Book, the story really takes off. As weird as Thursday’s world seemed before, with dodoes, airships, and time travel, it gets even weirder. 
Thursday made it out of Jane Eyre just in time to get married at the end of the first book. She was settling into married life, and recuperating from her bullet wound. However, Thursday became concerned when she started hearing a voice in her head. The voice kept talking about a criminal case that she shouldn’t discuss with anyone. Not that she was getting to talk much with anyone about her Jane Eyre adventures, in spite of the fact that she had been on a whirlwind PR tour. She wasn’t allowed to discuss Archeron Hades, , or Goliath Corporation. Her interviews mostly focused on her pet dodo, Pickwick. 
Thursday has someone trying to kill her with coincidences, she gets roped into helping her rogue time cop dad save the world, and the Goliath Corporation really would like their employee back. Thursday doesn’t have time to take a breath. Then, the Goliath Corporation has Thursday’s husband eradicated, and she’s the only one who remembers him, or that she was married. In order to get her husband back, she will have to find a way to get the Goliath Employee out of the copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s "The Raven." She travels to Osaka, Japan, to find the woman who had helped her enter Jane Eyre as a child. What she finds will send her down the path on another adventure entirely. 
Thursday discovers that she is meant to join Jurisfiction. Jurisfiction is hard to explain. It’s basically literature police, and the policemen are mostly made up of fictional characters. They protect written works from various threats, from grammacites to Bowlderizers. They operate out of a huge library, and the head librarian is the Cheshire Cat. 
Lost in a Good Book is where I really start to feel like I haven’t read enough. Thursday is apprenticed to Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. She is also subjected to a trial that takes place inside Franz Kafka’s The Trial. I haven’t read either of those, but I was able to follow the gist. I know how great the conversation was between Thursday and the Cheshire Cat, and I assume the other characters are captured just as well. 
I am amazed at how much happens in just one book. I really do feel like I fell into Thursday’s world for a visit. I think it is definitely worth re-reading this series before reading the latest book. This series really is worth reading more than once. As I read more of the referenced books, I’m sure re-reading will be even more fun. As I said before, books that inspire you to read others are some of the best. 
I can’t wait to dive into The Well of Lost Plots! I’m going to give Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde, 1 bookmark.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Which book would you visit?

If you could visit any book as a tourist, like in The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, which book would you visit? As a side note, are there any real life trips you would like to take that are inspired by a book you read? 
As far as visiting an actual book, I think Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series would be high on my list. Also Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I would love to meet the characters from both series. I also wouldn’t mind visiting one of Jane Austen’s stories. I would like to visit a Steampunk universe as well, like Gail Carriger’s Soulless series, or Katie MacAlister’s Steamed. I really like the steampunk vibe. 
For real life trips I would like to take that are inspired by books, a visit to Prince Edward Island is high on my list. Ever since I read and saw the mini series for Anne of Green Gables, it is a place I would love to see. Also, a trip to the Scottish Highlands, inspired by the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I am amazed that she wrote at least the first book in that series without ever having visited Scotland herself. 
I think a trip like Elizabeth Gilbert took in Eat, Pray, Love would be amazing. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to take on a trip where I just live in a country that is so different from my own. The idea of it appeals to me though. 
What about you? Which book would you visit? What real life locations do you want to visit? 


Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I really think that Jasper Fforde has forgotten more about English language and literature than most of us will ever know. The humor and wit in his books is awesome. I would love to do a Being John Malkovich in his brain, I can only imagine what goes on in there. Ok, enough of my fangirl gushing, but really, read something of his already!
I had previously read The Eyre Affair, and indeed  the whole Thursday Next series, except the most recent release. I am re-reading the series to get a refresher before I dive into the latest book. 
I believe that any book that makes you want to learn more, and can make you laugh out loud, is pretty much perfection. I just finished a re-read of Jane Eyre before starting into Thursday Next, and I am glad I did. Having those passages from Jane Eyre fresh in my mind and seeing how it is completely conceivable that Thursday Next could have been hiding out backstage, so to speak, was a lot of fun. 
The Eyre Affair takes place in England in the 1980’s, but not our 1980’s. Thursday Next lives in an alternate version of history. The Crimean War is still going on, airships are the travel of choice, and cloned dodos are popular pets. Thursday works for the Special Operations unit in SO-27. In this alternate England, people take literature very seriously. Acolytes of poets Milton and Byron get into fights in the streets, and there are some serious debates about who actually wrote Shakespeare’s plays. 
Thursday gets called upon by a higher level Spec Ops unit to help them capture a most wanted criminal. Normally, Thursday is a desk jockey, but she is an ex-policewoman and a veteran of the Crimean War. She is also the only person they know of who has seen and can ID the man they are looking for. The operation goes very poorly, Thursday ends up taking a job back in her hometown of Swindon. 
Thursday’s determination to track down the villain, Archeron Hades, leads her into the pages of Jane Eyre. Along the way we meet many characters, some of whom I think were named to facilitate a one-line joke at some point in the book. Thursday’s Dad is a time cop, who has apparently gone rogue and pops in from time to time to say hi, and check changes in the timeline. Thursday’s uncle is an absent-minded scientist, and her aunt becomes trapped in a poem. Thursday is also dealing with intrusions by the corporation, Goliath, they seem to control everything in England as a result of financing the rebuild after WWII. 
The Eyre Affair is a wild ride, and the beginning of a series that only gets better. I will be the first to admit that sometimes I don’t feel smart enough, or well-read enough to get all the humor, but one of the beautiful things about these books is that it doesn’t matter. This story is great on multiple levels, it is a fun alternate history story, and I think the more of an Anglophile, or just lover of literature that you are, the more you get out of these books. If you’re nervous about jumping into Thursday Next, I would recommend starting with Jasper Fforde’s Nursery Crimes series: The Big Over Easy, and The Fourth Bear. Jack Spratt’s adventures have all the humor and wit, with more the more accessible references to nursery rhymes. Jasper Fforde also has a one-off book called Shades of Grey, which has an even stranger setting than Thursday Next, but not exactly alternate history. 
I’ve already started on the second Thursday Next book, Lost in a Good Book. I’m going to give The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, 1 bookmark.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's Never Too Early To Learn The Superiority of Books

My 7 year old son recently watched James and the Giant Peach. He saw it on Netflix and got very excited because his teacher has read the book to his class and he enjoyed it. He did enjoy the movie, but he was a little confused by the differences between the movie and the book. It was a great opportunity to talk about why they have to leave things out of the movie version, and why sometimes they make changes. It was also a good opportunity to point out that the book is almost always better than the movie.

I have more or less come to terms with the fact that the movie version will never be as good. I have mostly learned to judge a movie or television version based on it's own merit and remind myself that the visual is usually inspired by the written, more than a faithful retelling.

As a rabid Charlaine Harris fan, I was so excited for True Blood on HBO. The first season I spent a lot of time obsessing over the differences. I had to watch each episode twice, once to obsess, the second time to just enjoy. Now, at the end of season three, I have learned to enjoy the show on its own merits and spend less time obsessing over the differences.

Usually I prefer to read the book before I see the movie. Occasionally, I do it the other way around. Especially if I saw a book-based movie and it didn't make much sense, or you can feel the gaping holes, I will read the book to try to fill it in.

Of course, one series that I think was equally bad in book and movie form was the Twilight series. I really tried to see what the fuss was about. I did not like the first book, but thought it must get better. It didn't. I can't believe I read all four books. I watched the first movie, I didn't like it either. I haven't seen the subsequent Twilight flicks.

Anyway, I was very excited that my son was learning that books are often superior to movies. He's not a very avid reader yet, but I am hoping to convert him!
I read about this topic on Dorian's World blog and couldn't resist putting in my two cents!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

  I remember Jane Eyre as one of my favorite of the books I had to read in high school AP English. With the release of Jasper Fforde’s new book, One of Our Thursdays is Missing, I decided it was time to revisit Jane Eyre. There is also a new movie version of Jane Eyre being released this month. I started to read Jane Eyre and was amazed that it was so good. I remembered enjoying the story when I read it in my sophomore year, but it really is an amazing book. If it’s possible to spoil a book this old, there are spoilers ahead in this review.  
Jane is a remarkable heroine, an orphan who was raised by an aunt by marriage for the first ten years of her life, she received little love or kindness. She was sent to a school for other unfortunate girls. There she finally saw some kindness and learned valuable life lessons. Jane then decided to seek employment outside of Lowood Institution. After running an advertisement for employment. Jane accepted employment at Thornfield Hall as governess to Adele, Edward Rochester’s ward. 
Jane got settled in at Thornfield with Adele and the housekeeper, and was quite enjoying her peaceful life. Then, one evening, Jane went for a walk and while sitting on a fence stile, she meets her employer, Edward Rochester. From that point on, the book is a love story. Up to this point, Jane had been learning to grab any little bits of peace and happiness she could find, and endure the bad times with stoicism. 
Jane finally begins to come out of her shell and be herself around Rochester. For the first time she harbors a dreamy vision of what her future could be like. No matter how hard she tries to talk sense into herself, Jane persists in holding on to that nugget of hope. However, even while Jane is at her highest point, there are clues that she may not be destined for a happy ending. The destruction by lightning of the horse chestnut tree she sat under with Rochester, for example. Other elements that really add to the gothic feel of this novel, like the middle of the night fire in Rochester’s bedroom, the strange laughter, and finally the appearance of a strange woman in Jane’s bedroom shortly before her wedding. 
One of the big themes in Jane Eyre is family. In a way, it has a message that still applies, that there are many types of families. Some we are born into, some we choose for ourselves, but always, they have struggles. Jane’s time with her aunt, Mrs. Reed, definitely had little happiness. Jane was somewhat happier, at least in the close associations she made with some of the women at Lowood Institution, but those were destined to be transitory. Finally, at Thornfield, Jane saw the chance at a real family with whom she would be happy, with Edward, and Adele, and even the staff at the large house, Jane would have been very happy. Unfortunately, that was not to be either. Ultimately though, Jane does find a family, both family that she would choose for herself, and by a happy coincidence she is also a blood relation. 
Jane leaves Thornfield and is taken in by the Rivers family. St. John is a pastor, and his two sisters are governesses. Jane is immediately taken by the family, especially the two women, with whom she has much in common. She takes the position as the village school mistress, for the girl’s school. Eventually Jane learns that the Rivers’ are actually her cousins, and that she is the recipient of an inheritance from her father’s brother.
I think Jane is able to finally seek out Rochester after her interlude with the Rivers’, because she knows she has a home, come what may. I was so glad that Jane was able to stay strong enough to turn down St. John Rivers’ proposal. I think Jane could have found a certain satisfaction from missionary work, but it is much happier that she found passion and true companionship. It also helped that Jane returned to Rochester in a position of strength that enabled her to be sure that she was his equal. Jane had an independent living, and Rochester’s injuries rendered him in need of assistance for very basic things. 
Bottom line, if you have never read Jane Eyre, you should give it a try. I think I like it better than Jane Austen. If you haven’t read Charlotte Bronte’s work since high school, the time is perfect to revisit it. The novel took me a little longer to get through than most books of similar length. That was partly due to phrases and passages that were in French and not translated in the edition I had. I ended up finding a free iPad app that would allow me to translate the French into English, and it made the book much more enjoyable. I also needed a dictionary of some type handy to look up some of those archaic words that are rarely seen. I didn’t find having to look up either words or French phrases a detraction from how good the novel was. 
I’m going to give Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, 1 bookmark. 
I’m currently reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, and will be going through the rest of the Thursday Next series in order. 


Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

A Duty to the Dead is a Bess Crawford mystery. The author, Charles Todd, is a mother and son writing team who have also written the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries. This is the first novel I have read by Charles Todd. 
I really liked this mystery. It’s a historical, and it takes place during WWI. Bess Crawford is a nurse, serving on the Britannic. Before reading this book I had not really heard of the Britannic. If you also haven’t, it is the sister ship of the Titanic. It was still being built when Titanic sank, and they were able to make some improvements that were supposed to prevent Britannic from sinking. 
Part of the impetus of the book is the sinking of the Britannic. The first-hand telling by Bess Crawford is riveting. It did make me wonder how historically accurate the account was. It turns out that it was very accurate. By chance I saw a documentary on the History Channel about the Britannic a few days ago. Their account of the sinking was essentially the same as A Duty to the Dead’s. One interesting point from the documentary pointed out that the Britannic actually sank faster than Titanic, in spite of the improvements. 
I digress from the story at hand, however. Bess had made a promise to a dying patient that she would carry a message to his brother. She had put off this duty once already, but after needing to spend time in England to recuperate from her injuries sustained in the sinking of the Britannic, she decides to discharge this duty and visit her patient’s family. 
Bess passes along her message, but something about the way it was received did not sit right with her. She decides she must dig a little deeper into the meaning of the message to ensure that it is going to be carried out. Bess also meets several people in the little village, the new doctor is one of her greatest allies in her sleuthing. 
This book definitely digs up some family skeletons, and a well-plotted mystery. It also was a vivid vision of life in England during WWI. Bess is a very likable character. I really enjoy her and her voice and am looking forward to reading the next book in this series. I’m going to give A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd, 1 bookmark

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Murder of a Bookstore Babe by Denise Swanson

Skye Denison is back in her latest mystery. A new bookstore is opening in Scumble River, and not everyone is happy about it. Surprisingly, one of the biggest opponents is the high school English teacher. Skye is also growing tired of fending off her ex-boyfriend, Simon’s attempts to win her back. Skye is currently engaged to police chief Wally Boyd, and he doesn’t appreciate Simon’s advances toward Skye either. 
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Scumble River mystery without a murder to solve. Not surprisingly, a female that works at the bookstore is murdered, and our heroine is the one who discovers the body. Now that Skye is officially a contract employee with the police force, she has some authority to be involved in the sleuthing this murder requires. 
Nothing in Scumble River is ever as straightforward as it seems, and everyone has skeletons in the closet. As usual, shaking out the murderer will uncover some of those skeletons. Luckily, things aren’t all dark and dreary in Scumble River. Many of our favorite characters put in an appearance, including much of Skye’s immediate and extended family, which is about half the town. 
I really enjoy the Scumble River series and Murder of a Bookstore Babe is no exception. This book moves along at a nice pace and progresses Skye’s personal story nicely, along with solving the murder and a couple other mysteries. I’m going to give Murder of a Bookstore Babe by Denise Swanson, 2 bookmarks.
I look forward to the next book in the series, Murder of a Creped Suzette in October, 2011.

Next on my reading list is Jane Eyre, followed by the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Bite me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore

Bite Me is the continuing story of vampires Jody and Tommy. This story picks up where You Suck left off.  Our undead heroes were last seen bronzed in the pose of Rodin's The Kiss.  Abby Normal and her boyfriend/mad scientist Foo are living on stolen money in Jody and Tommy's apartment. 
There are several reasons that I love Moore's vampire trilogy. First, the voices the story are told in are fabulous. The writing is generally fast paced and funny. The language is blunt and I suppose may be mildly offensive. I also love the vampire mythology in this series.  The vampires drink blood, get killed by daylight, and are dead during the day. They can also turn to mist and heal super fast. Lastly, the characters are so fun. Do I really need to say more than Chet, the huge shaved vampire cat?
This book is a nice wrap up to the trilogy, it left characters in a good place, but not necessarily the predictable place. This vampire series has definitely made me anxious to read some of Moore's other, non-vampire books. If you're curious, the first book in this series is Bloodsucking Fiends.
I'm going to give Bite Me by Christopher Moore, 2 bookmarks.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Tempest's Legacy by Nicole Peeler

What happens when a half-selkie goes on a road trip/ vengence quest? We find out in Nicole Peeler’s latest Tempest novel, Tempest’s Legacy. Jane True is the daughter of a selkie and a human. She doesn’t transform into a seal like mom, but she does have that little something extra, and an affinity for water. 
Jane has had a chance to rest back home and work on improving her magical and fighting skills. Of course, a girl’s work is never done. Word reaches Jane that halfling women are being murdered in evil labs around the country. Jane decided that she is not going to let the men folk leave her home. So, Jane sets off with her friend, Anyan, the barghest, and her recent ex-boyfriend, Ryu, the vampire. Neither of them are  happy that Jane is coming along. Jane sticks up for herself in every way in this book. 
I was glad to see Jane really coming into her own in this book. It makes me excited for where the series is going to go. According to Ms. Peeler’s website, there are at least 2 more books in the works. I personally can’t wait. I think this series just gets better and better as we get deeper into Jane’s new world. 
I’m going to give Tempest’s Legacy by Nicole Peeler, 2 bookmarks.

Friday, March 04, 2011

My First Three Certified Dives, There be Mantas Here!

Hubby and I got certified on a Tuesday, and on Thursday, we did our first dives as certified divers. We went out in the late afternoon on a boat with 3 of our friends who have been certified for over a decade. Normally dives are two tanks, you do one dive, come back up for an hour or so and then go down with a fresh tank. For this dive we were doing 3 tanks. We again went out with Jack’s Diving Locker, the finale of this dive trip was going to be the Manta Ray night dive. 
We had gone back and forth during the week about whether or not to do the night dive, but after discussing it with our instructor, Sven, we decided to go for it. This night dive is kind of unique to the big island of Hawaii, and some people come specifically for this dive. Who knows if we’ll ever get back to Hawaii, especially to the Kona area.
Our first stop was at a site called Carpenter’s House. This area had lava tubes and a canyon of sorts. It was really fun to swim through there. There were a lot of little puffer fish, so cute! We went down to 50 feet on this dive and were underwater for about 43 minutes. Water temp was about 75 F and visibility was very good. We got a nice snack of crackers and cheese on the boat after the dive. 
The second stop was at a spot called Pyramid Pinnacle. There were large pinnacles covered with coral that were amazing to circle around and look at all the different life living there. On this dive we saw a scorpion fish, a large moray eel in its hidey-hole, and we saw a small moray eel out hunting. It was approaching dusk as we finished this dive and I started feeling cold in the water toward the end of the dive. We only went to 40 feet on this dive and stayed down for about 45 minutes, visibility was very good and water temp was still 75 F. We had sandwiches after this dive, and they were very yummy. Jack’s gets large sandwiches that they slice up. 
Our final dive of the night, which was my seventh dive total in Hawaii, was at Garden Eel Cove. This was the night dive. Our friends that were with us had all done dive before. One couple had done it about 14 years ago and had a good experience. Our other friend had done the dive twice and never seen mantas. We hoped that he wasn’t going to jinx us on this dive. When we arrived at the spot, there were already snorkelers in the water, and we could already see mantas under the water. We couldn’t wait to get in the water!
It was really cold, and I was not looking forward to putting on that soaked wetsuit again. But, once we got geared up and got in the water it felt a little better. We descended to about 25 feet and found a seat in the rubble and settled in for the show. There were at least eight mantas swimming around, our dive master, Jeff, thought there was probably closer to 15 mantas. They are so big! and yet they look so graceful swooping around to feed on the plankton. All of the divers and snorkelers had lights to attract plankton, then the mantas come in to feed. We watched the mantas for 20 minutes or so. But a few of us, um especially me, were having trouble staying planted. I was getting knocked all over the place.So, the five of us and our dive master went on a bit of a walkabout to get a bit of a more traditional night dive. We saw a good size moray eel out hunting, we watched him for several minutes and eventually saw him catch and eat a fish. We were hoping he would have to “knot” the fish to eat it, our dive master, Jeff, had told us about this phenomenon, and the fish the eel caught was pretty large, but he just wolfed it down. I was hoping to spot an octopus, but no dice. However, I did spot two small squid, unfortunately, I was unable to get anyone else’s attention, so no one else saw them. 
One member of our group seeing things seemed to be a theme. One of our friends had seen a sting ray, which are very rare to see in and around Hawaii, they dive masters on our boat thought it must have been a different kind of ray, like an eagle ray, but my friend had video. After some teasing, she showed the video and was vindicated. Luckily, people believed I had seen the squid because I didn’t have photographic evidence. 
Overall, our first certified dives were great. I am glad we were part of a small group, and the manta rays were amazing. I think they were the highlight of our trip. So, a thanks and shout out to Jack’s Diving Locker in Kona, Hawaii and to our scuba diving friends who finally talked us into getting certified!

Manta Ray Dive check out the video! This is not our actual dive, but gives an example.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

I’ve now finished the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson. I can definitely see what all the fuss is about. I will admit, I haven’t read very many Scandinavian mysteries, I know that in general they are supposed to be good. I think I may have to try some others if any are as good as Larsson’s.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest picks up where The Girl Who Played with Fire left off. Salander was recovering in the hospital. Blomkvist is working to do everything he can to make sure Salander doesn’t disappear into the system and have her civil liberties trampled again.

Of the three books in the series, I think The Girl Who Played with Fire had the fastest pace and the least educational-type information. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had a lot of information about financial reporting, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, had a lot of information about Swedish politics, and especially different political scandals.

All of Larsson’s books have had a lot going on. Erika Berger had a significant side story in this last book. Overall, I am very impressed with Larsson’s focus on characters, and making even many of the peripheral characters very real.

I think I am most disappointed that Larsson has passed away and we won’t have more of Salander’s and Blomkvist’s adventures. I believe that even though Salander’s life has been sorted out, more or less, that Larsson had more planned for his dynamic duo.

I had to put this aside for a few days, when I hit the middle of the book, and study for scuba class. I picked it back up and slogged through the rest of the slower middle part. Once the book hit the climax, I couldn’t put it down. I was up until 3:15 AM reading through the final lead up and Salander’s trial. Once it hit what I considered the Epilogue, I had to turn in. But, I think the book was worth only getting 4 hours of sleep.

Bottom line then, I really liked the Millennium series as a whole, and I think it’s well worth reading. For The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest specifically, I’m going to give it 2 bookmarks.