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Transplanted to Miami, FL, from Iowa City, IA. Trying to find a balance between reading, knitting, playing mom taxi, and enjoying the sun and sand in Miami.

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Girlie Weekend




As the mom of two school age boys, especially ones who think girls, and anything girlie is icky, I don’t get to do a lot of girlie things. I was very excited to get to do just that last weekend. I went to the Tonner Doll 20th Anniversary Convention in Chicago, IL. I have been a doll collector since I was a teenager. I had pretty much stuck with Barbie up until the last year or so. I had looked at the Tonner dolls off and on a lot over the last couple of years, in the last year I had finally jumped in and bought my first Tonner dolls. 
This Tonner convention was my first doll convention. It was amazing! I met some really great people, and the events and dolls were amazing. I like how the Tonner company feels like a family. It’s not a huge company and it seemed like everyone there really pulls together to make the conventions special. 
The special convention dolls were amazing. The centerpieces at the meal events were so cool, I wish I had space to bring them all home. I am amazed at the repaints and custom clothing that people make over their dolls with. I am not a crafty person, but I wish I were, especially after seeing the competition dolls. 
I attended the convention by myself, but there was never a shortage of people to talk with. The biggest problem was that it totally feeds into my collection addiction. I love to collect things. It becomes a terrible habit though, you always feel like you need to complete a collection. Some types of collections, like dolls are not easily completed. 
I had been postponing unpacking my Barbie collection after we moved to Iowa a few years ago. The convention helped to get me in gear and I have gotten all my boxes unpacked. Now I just need to find room for them all, and for my new editions from the convention!


 
Centerpiece from first Night of Convention

Convention exclusive Evangeline Ghastly. Gorgeous!

 
Convention Exclusive Ellowynne Wilde "Dark Shadows"

 
Centerpiece at Masquerade Gala, Winkin' Blinkin' and Nod

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Miranda's Big Mistake by Jill Mansell

Miranda’s Big Mistake is the second book I’ve read by Jill Mansell. Her books are light, great summer  beach reading. It was easy to read through this book quickly. There was some great humor in it. I liked Miranda, the main character a lot, and her landlady Florence, and Chloe. 
However, this book had one of the worst cliched selfish males I have ever read in a book. The males in this book in general were pretty weak characters. A couple of the women, like Bev, are caricatures. There was a lot of frustration with the charcters not talking to each other. It bothers me that romantic comedies always go to the silliness that could be avoided with a little bit of mature communication, instead of acting like a teenager and turning everything into a big drama. I also didn't think it was necessary to wrap up the love lives of all the characters in the book. It was a really predictable plot, and almost all the plot points are predictable.
I guess this is kind of a mixed review. This book was a light, fun read, but there were definitely things about it that annoyed me. I think I will wait awhile before reading another of Jill Mansell’s books, but I probably would read another one. 
I’m going to give Miranda’s Big Mistake by Jill Mansell, 3 bookmarks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I am still fairly new to the world of the faeries. I really enjoyed The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. Meghan Chase is the daughter of the mythical king of the faeries. She is turning 16, and instead of going to get her learner’s permit for her birthday, she is fighting off creatures she thought were just fairy tales trying to save her young brother. 
Meghan is accompanied on her journey by her friend Puck (yes, that Puck), Grim the cat, and a faerie prince from the winter court, Ash. Whether Meghan can actually trust any of them, is another story. 
This is a young adult title, well, a teen title. It has some mild adult language, adult themes, and mild romantic heat. I thought the book moved at a nice pace and the characters were likable and were well-developed. 
I would recommend this book for fans of the paranormal and urban fantasy genre. There are two more books in the Iron Fey series out now. I will be reading the next one in the series for sure. 
I’m going to give The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, 2 bookmarks

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Booky Wook by Russell Brand

I have to say that I like Russell Brand, I think he’s very funny. I had been wanting to read My Booky Wook for awhile. I don’t have personal experience with addiction, but Brand’s account seemed very honest. He didn’t go to the extreme of all drugs are bad. He really conveys that addiction is a day at a time recovery. At times he seemed nostalgic for the feeling that he would get on heroine. 
Brand’s story is definitely good material for a memoir. Reading his accounts of his time at school, and being thrown out of various schools, made me feel for his mum. I can only imagine how hard it would be to have a boy that difficult. of course, this book might not be as fun to read if Brand’s personal life wasn’t turning out so well. He got some good people behind him who helped him not become another tragic young hollywood death. 
I would recommend My Booky Wook, if you’re a fan of Russell Brand, or some insight into addiction and recovery. 
I’m going to give My Booky Wook by Russell Brand, 2 bookmarks.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I think we're creating a monster

Our seven year old son was finally convinced to try steak for the first time this past week. Now, whenever we ask what he wants for dinner, he says, "steak!" We've been trying to explain that steak isn't something you can eat every day, but it is nice for him to eat some real food.

Besides having a newfound love of steak, he is also addicted to Doctor Who. We are currently watching season five of the current series. The one with Matt Smith as the Doctor. My husband and I had watched the first season when it premiered on Sy-fy channel, but when they changed the Doctor to David Tennant at the end of that season, I was grumpy and we stopped watching. Of course, after watching all the David Tennant episodes, he really kind of grew on me.

For Mother's Day, my boys both drew pictures of daleks and Doctor Who.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I just finished Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. I felt like the ending was perfect. I kept wondering how it was going to end, and I wasn’t disappointed in the ending.Because I’m trying to keep these reviews spoiler free, I can’t such much about the plot. Especially if you haven’t read the first two books.
I couldn’t help but compare this series to Lord of the Rings. Maybe because it just has the mark of a perfect trilogy, like LOTR. The first book, The Hunger Games,  started Katniss on her journey, with most heroines it would have been a coming of age story and in a way this was. However, Katniss did not start from the same innocent place that most coming of age stories start. Keeping with my LOTR comparison, Katniss is kind of like Aragon. 
The second book, Catching Fire, continued Katniss’ journey, and helped her find allies for the final battle. Mockingjay, much like Return of the King in LOTR, is a huge battle. It’s been building for the three books, and I love that until the book ended, I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. I wasn’t sure how I wanted it to turn out, and in the end, it is amazing when you find a good book and a good author. I am sure that Ms. Collins had fans that were vocal about how they wanted the series to end. I have been on Charlaine Harris’ message boards and know how vocal and adamant fans can be that their vision is the only way the series can end. One reason that books like the Sookie Stackhouse series and the Hunger Games series draw us in though is that the authors are very talented and have a story to tell. We need to just trust that the author knows what she’s (or he) is doing. They created these characters, and I think the story is better when we just leave our expectations outside the book and go with the flow of the story, it’s rare that an author you already love will steer you wrong. It may not be the ending you were hoping for, but I think if we take a step back, it’s the ending we need.
I loved the Hunger Games series, and if the first part of Mockingjay was the weakest point in the series, it more than made up for it at the end. 
I am going to give Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, 1 bookmark.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I think it is a good indicator of how good I think this series is that I finished book two late last night and am chomping at the bit to start book three. Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. This time we follow Katniss as she returns home and has to deal with the fallout, both good and bad (really downright scary) of The Hunger Games. 
I really hate to give spoilers, so I’m not going to say much about the plot here. I will say that I love Katniss as a character. She’s flawed, and she feels real. She has amazing determination, but she is realistic as a teenager. She’s not a hero, she’s just a girl who has done everything to try to just survive and take care of her family, but she’s gotten pulled into the center of something bigger than herself. Bigger really, than she can even comprehend. 
I absolutely couldn’t put this book down, and it made me cry. I’ve gotten so invested in this character and really bought into her life. I’m not the type to cry at commercials and whatnot, I have to be really invested in the characters and the story for it to push me that far. I can’t wait to get this posted so I can start book 3!
I am going to give Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, 1 bookmark.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I know I kicked myself for falling for the Twilight hype, but with the movie version of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins filming, or getting ready to film, I decided to try this series. Normally the whole apocalypse/dystopian thing is not really my cup of tea, but sometimes popular books are good. I am really glad I gave it a shot! I really liked this book. I had a hard time putting it down. There weren’t a lot of surpirses for me, when you go in knowing it’s a trilogy, you kind of have a clue about how book one is probably going to turn out. That being said, it was absolutely compelling. 
Of course the whole forcing various people to compete to the death is not a new idea, it really existed in ancient history and still lives on in science fiction and fantasy, especially the apocalypse/dystopian stuff. One of the differences here is that it’s teenagers being forced to fight, and the amount of manipulating done behind the scenes is kind of crazy. 
If you haven’t read the book yourself yet, what are you waiting for? And, I will try to avoid spoilers. I didn’t know too much about the story going into it, mostly just the names of some of the main characters. Basically, every year the twelve districts in the country of Panem must submit a teenage boy and teenage girl to the Hunger Games. The teens must battle to the last one standing, and it is all televised live for the entertainment of the people in the Capitol and the horror of all the loved ones back in the twelve districts. 
The main character, Katniss, is a sixteen year old girl, and she’s been the sole supporter of her mother, younger sister, and herself since her father was killed. There are two boys in her life, Gale, her hunting partner, and Peeta, the boy with the bread. 
I highly recommend this book, it wasn’t exactly a light read, but it was really good. I am already moving on to book two in the series, Catching Fire
I’m going to give The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 1 bookmark


Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons by Katie MacAlister

I am a huge fan of Katie MacAlister’s dragon series. Serieses? I normally am a huge fan of vampire books, but when it comes to Katie Mac, her dragon books are my favorite. For anyone who hasn’t read one of the dragon paranormal romance books, and Katie’s aren’t the only ones out there, the dragons spend most of their time in man form. They can shift to dragon form when called for. The first book featuring the dragons is You Slay Me, and it deals with the green dragons and the main character is Aisling Grey, who is a Guardian. There are four Aisling Grey books, then the series shifts to the Silver Dragons with Playing with Fire and May as the main character. The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons is the second book in the Light Dragons portion of the series and features Ysolde and her mate, Baltic. 
Katie writes some of the best alpha male characters I have ever read. She is also great at writing the women they love, who love to drive them crazy. Her love scenes pack some serious heat. While there is a kind of formula to the characters, they are different enough, and engaging enough that I don’t get tired of them. 
Unbearable Lightness  is the Empire Strikes Back of this series. I felt like I stumbled on the middle of the story, and not a whole lot got resolved by the end. But, like Empire Strikes Back, I definitely enjoyed the ride. I probably should have done some re-reading before I dove into this one, but I was excited to get to it. 
I love Ysolde, she is has a great balance of stubborn and practical. As for Baltic, holy cow! or maybe holy dragon! Maybe one of my favorite male characters ever. I will definitely be there when the next dragon novel comes out.
I’m going to give The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons: A Novel of the Light Dragons by Katie MacAlister, 1 bookmark.


Check out the Katie MacAlister page on my Amazon astore! I have read all of the books listed there, and I loved them all, there are some great summer beach reads there.

Friday, May 06, 2011

A Taste of Magic by Tracy Madison

Take the owner of a small bakery, add a bit of inherited gypsy magic, and you have A Taste of Magic by Tracy Madison. Elizabeth Stevens is still recovering from a divorce, and making her ex-husband’s wedding cake isn’t helping. It’s also her thirty-fifth birthday. Luckily, Liz’s grandmother gives her a special gift for her birthday. A legacy of magic passed down by the women of her family for several generations. The magic manifests a little differently according to each woman’s talent. 
This book was pretty much a straightforward romance novel. It used the magic realism like books by Sarah Addison Allen. However, I wasn’t as invested in this as I usually am in Allen’s books. I wasn’t that invested in the characters, and the magic element felt like it was thrown in because that’s what’s hot right now. 
Madison does pretty well with the comedy, and the love scenes were good. Overall it was a light read, and it is the first book in a series. I don’t think I will read the rest of this series though, I wasn’t invested enough to see what happens with the next characters. The series is one of those where it follows different members of the family in each book. 
I’m going to give A Taste of Magic by Tracy Madison, 4 bookmarks.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Great Site for Fellow Kindlers!

I am a huge fan of the Kindle and do most of my reading on it these days. I have found this site Pixel of Ink, it is amazing. It lists Free books available on Kindle. I don't know how she manages to compile her list, but it's amazing.

Pixel of Ink also lists highly ranked books under $1 and other good deals available on Kindle.

So what are you waiting for? You can subscribe to Pixel of Ink's email, or like the page on Facebook and start learning about all those free Kindle books you've been missing. They aren't all classics and romance novels.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Millie's Fling by Jill Mansell

This is the first novel I have read by Jill Mansell. I really enjoyed it! The chapters are short, but it’s hard to just read one. Probably just because it’s also by a British author, but Millie’s Fling reminds me of Bridget Jones, except Millie is more likable than Bridget. This book definitely has some screwball comedy elements to it. It also reminds me of Katie MacAlister’s contemporary romances. 
Millie is up at lover’s leap with her boyfriend, he’s trying to ask her something important, but Millie is distracted by the woman wandering close to the cliff’s edge. The woman turns out to be famous author Orla Hart. Millie talks her away from the edge of the cliff, and her life is never the same. Millie loses her job, but finds another as a roller skating gorilla singing telegram girl. Millie meets Hugh, the gorgeous young widower. Orla decides her next book is going to be based on Millie’s life, but since Millie doesn’t have much of a life, Orla tries to play fairy godmother. 
I love Millie, she has an optimistic outlook on life, and the supporting characters are fantastic! The book is told from an omniscient point of view, which is fun. I have read a lot of first person stuff lately. It is kind of fun to know what almost all of the characters are thinking. 
I thought this book was entertaining and enjoyable. It was a quick read, and I am going to read more of Jill Mansell’s books. I did take a break from this book to read the new Sookie, but that is just about the only thing that could have torn me away from this book before I finished it. 
I’m going to give Millie’s Fling by Jill Mansell, 2 bookmarks.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hooray for Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris!

I just finished my first read of Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris. I am going to try to avoid big spoilers, but if you don’t want to know anything about the book until you read it for yourself, you might want to skip this post. 
I loved Dead Reckoning! Much like Dead in the Family, I felt like if I had written a checklist of what I would like to see in the latest Sookie Stackhouse adventure, it would have been pretty much completely checked. Of course, there was also plenty in this book that I couldn’t have predicted. I love that about Ms. Harris’ writing. 
Dead Reckoning has a lot of action. I think my favorite thing about the Sookie series is how Sookie grows and changes as a person, and how she sometimes agonizes over those changes. A lot of loose ends ends get tied up in this installment, but of course, since there are at least two more books in the series, there are still problems to solve. 
I am a huge fan of the Sookie series, and a huge fan of True Blood on HBO as well. Season 3 of True Blood comes out on DVD a the end of this month, and the new season starts June 26th on HBO. 
I don’t think it’s a surprise that I’m going to give Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris, 
1 bookmark.  I bought the book at 9 this morning when Barnes and Noble opened, and was finished by 5 PM, I think it’s safe to say I could hardly put it down!