Sunday, October 30, 2011

Daily Cemetery Photo - Huldah Randall, Maine

Skulls, or skulls with wings, are common on older stones (late 1700s), and I found a number of them when I took a trip to Maine a few years ago.

Huldah Randall

Daily Cemetery Photo - Forest Home, Milwaukee


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bookie Brunch -- we have a winner!!!!

Thanks very much to everyone who not only attended Brunch, but who left great comments!  Very fun!  And congrats go out to Commenter #14, Pabkins at Mission to Read!    An email has been sent, and the package will be on your way shortly!!

Thanks again -- it was a great Brunch to host, and I really did appreciate everyone stopping by!!!!
the winner gets a crown!  and maybe a carrot.
The winner was chosen via Randomizer (see below):
 I have yet to figure out how to get the widget to look right, or if I get it on my blog, to then generate a number.   So, I went, generated, and copied this part:
True Random Number Generator 14 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Daily Cemetery Photo - Kneeling Angel

Maine, kneeling angel with sword

Friday, October 28, 2011

Could be the last Hop .....

 Friday means it's time for another Book Blogger Hop, although our host, Jen, has indicated that after this weekend's Hop, it's on hiatus (could be permanent).   So, before I answer this week's question, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Jen for putting in the hard work for the Hop every week.  She's got a blog that's chock-full of cool things, and while the Hop was the reason I found her, and why I started visiting her blog every week, I found other things on her blog to enjoy, as well.    I also discovered a lot of nice bloggers and great blogs through the Hop -- so thanks for that, as well.!!

This week's question is: “What is your favorite Halloween costume?Even if you don’t celebrate, what kinds of costumes do you like?”

When I was a kid, my costumes were more or less determined by my Mom.  When I was really little, I was a tiger for a few Halloweens (in a costume passed down from my siblings).  But, even when I got older, it seemed Mom had the final say -- going as a "gypsy" was something that happened more than once because it was really easy to grab old clothes and throw them on.  

Once I was in my 20s, and had the opportunity to go clubbing in Chicago around Halloween, there was a lot more freedom.  I think the easiest, and most fun costume I came up with was Death (from Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels).    A black wig, some face paint and an ankh and I was all set!   I haven't dressed up for a long time, although the last time I did, I did a variation on this.

I do get a kick out of seeing little kids dressed up, and how creative their costumes can be.  There was a little Halloween trick-or-treat parade in our library yesterday, and they all looked so cute!!  Babies dressed as bumblebees are one of my favorites!!!

Happy Hopping, everyone!!!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):   This is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss. The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming. . . .
This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.

And here's what I thought:  I had been waiting for this book ever since I first heard about it, and thus had set myself up to expect a really great read.  And that's what I got: a really great read ... that broke my heart at the end.   I don't want to spoil anything for you, but what I will say is this:  this book is one of the best stories I have read this year.  Maybe in the last few years.  It's not very long, but I found myself thinking a lot about it once I would close the pages for the night (I read this before bed over a few nights).   Conor's an interesting character: he's funny, and he's frustrating, and he's real.   There were moments in this story when I would think, okay, it's all going to turn out just fine, don't worry ....  and then I would keep worrying.

That's not to say that this is an awful, sad book.  It is sad, but it has thoughtful moments, and bits of light that shine through. 

Patrick Ness (The Knife of Never Letting Go, etc) wrote this book based on a story by Siobhan Dowd.  He also wrote a lovely introduction to the book, where he tells us a bit about her, and why he wrote the book.   I almost felt like this introduction was a story unto itself, and I re-read it more than once.

And let me say a bit about the illustrations that appear throughout this story --- they are awesome.  Definitely evocative and emotional, they make this book -- without it, it would be a good story, and a good book; with them, it becomes something awesome.

First sentences:  The monster showed up just after midnight.  As they do.  Conor was awake when it came.  He'd had a nightmare.  Well, not a nightmare.  The nightmare.  The one he'd been having a lot lately.  The one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming.

Thoughts on the cover:  Perfectly suits the story.  'Nuff said.

Daily Cemetery Photo - angel in crystal ball

This was a photo I manipulated in Flickr - cropping, and then using the crystal ball effect.

Angel, Crystal Ball effect

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Luminist by David Rocklin

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): Photography comprises the bright, tensile thread in the sweep of The Luminist, drawing tight a narrative that shifts between the prejudices and passions of Victorian England and those of colonial Ceylon. It binds the destinies of Catherine Colebrook, the proper wife of a fading diplomat, who rebels against every convention to chase the romance of science through her lens, and Eligius, an Indian teenager thrust into servitude after his father is killed demanding native rights. The Luminist is a weave of legend and history, science and art, politics and domesticity that are symphonic themes in the main title, the story of an enduring and forbidden friendship. Catherine and Eligius must each struggle with internal forces that inspire them and societal pressures that command them. Rocklin’s is a bold landscape, against which an intimate drama is poignantly played out. Just in this way, our minds recall in every detail the photo snapped at the moment of pain, while all the lovely scenes seem to run together.

And here's what I thought:   Okay.  I am going to start right here by saying that my review is going to be nowhere as well written as the review I saw yesterday.  So, if you would like to read an elegantly written, beautifully done-up review of this book, please click on over to What She Read.    

But here's what I thought:   Reading this book was like reading pure poetry.  It also was like going to a museum and seeing an intricate painting, full of fine detailing and shading.  Does that make sense?

This isn't a quick read.  Instead, this is a book meant to be read slowly, lingered over and digested.  I will admit, it didn't quite capture me right away, although the more I read, the more I found myself caught up in the story.   The author does require some devotion -- you can't skim anything here, or you'll become quite lost.   At times, I felt like I wasn't quite understanding what was happening, but then it would all start to come back together.   This book is beautifully written, and the story is compelling --- but I would make sure you have some time set aside once you decide to read it.    I will say that although the characters didn't always make me love them, I still found them very interesting.    Definitely not a book that I might have grabbed for myself based on the description, but I'm really glad that I read it.   I'll be interested to see if this will come out in audiobook at some point --- having the right person read this one would be quite the experience.   

Thanks very much to Tracee at Pump up Your Book for contacting me about this one !!  

First sentences:  The noises outside her window were of wind and the near sea, of clay chimes kilned to crystalline tones.  Natives not opposed to Britishers had strung them at off heights from the thatching of her bungalow roof to ward off demons during her pregnancy.  Their sound filled her sleep and informed her dreams.

Thoughts on the cover: A photograph taken by Julia Margaret Cameron, it's arresting -- I kept coming back to the cover while I was reading the book, and studying the details of this woman's face. 

Daily Cemetery Photo - Forest Home, Milwaukee

Standing angel with scroll-Forest Home

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Library Lagniappe -- special Halloween version

Zombie librarian
A friend of mine suggested that I do a "scary librarian" post for October, which I thought sounded like a good idea --- but then, I realized I could do a "scary patron" post much more easily.   So, here's a Library Lagniappe about some of the top kinds of scary patrons:

 1)  The drinker.   Once in a while, I have someone come up to the desk who has had a bit too much before they walked in the library (their fumes usually precede them).  I try not to think about how they arrived (because the thought that they drove here is pretty awful).    These patrons tend to ask somewhat odd questions, or completely garble their question, making it a bit tricky to help them find what they need.  On occasion, they can become a bit testy, making things tricky for staff.  Luckily, I've never had someone become violent.  

2) The stinker.  'Nuff said, I think --- I know that some people can't help it, so I'm not hard on these people.  However, whether it's too much perfume, heavy nicotine smell, or just plain old b.o., I'm glad we have a small fan at the desk (we don't have great air circulation in our library, so this little fan comes in handy).

3) The "charmer."   While this kind of male patron can be somewhat amusing, he can be pretty annoying.  The Charmer likes nothing more than to ask a question that involves going down into the stacks, where he can then chat you up (and ask you out) while you're trying to find what he's looking for.   His other tactic is to come up to the desk and take something off of it (like your pen) while trying to come off as cute and funny.  Uh, yeah.  No.

4) The Interrupter.  Many people are in a hurry when they need something, which I understand.  However, it's difficult to help someone when they keep talking over you and interrupting you when you are trying to determine what they need.  These patrons will start off by asking if we have something, and then, as I'm trying to tell them, keep talking over me.  I always stop, because I feel that it's easier to let them talk.  Also, they might be saying something that will help me locate what they want.  However, it's frustrating when you're trying to explain that yes, we have it, or no, we don't, but we can get it ..... and they just don't let you finish a sentence.    We have a few patrons who are constantly doing this, and after a while, you just dread it when they call.

5)  The Nothing-Makes-Me-Happy Complainer.  I understand that it's frustrating when you go to the library and they don't have what you want.  However, it's kinda not cool to start complaining, and then be unhappy no matter what the solution is.   Example: Person comes in, needs a book for a class, and we don't have it.   They're not happy that we don't have it (which I understand).  Then, they're not happy that it will take 5-7 days to interlibrary loan it.  But, they're also not happy to learn that it's at a library about 20 minutes from us, where they could pick it up (why should they have to drive?).  Then, they're not happy that we just don't have every textbook for every school here.   This is the kind of person who is just determined to be unhappy, no matter what.  This person also usually starts to broaden their complaints to other things, like the fact that we only have one entrance, that they don't understand why we don't have more movies, etc etc etc.   We do what we can, but unfortunately, I can't wave my magic wand and make everything better.  

6)  The "Aren't You the Meanest Librarian" Glarer:  This is the person who doesn't like it when staff politely ask them to: please take their cell phone call away from the computer area (because there are signs clearly stating we don't allow calls in that area), or to please turn down their headphones (because if I can hear what you're listening to where I sit, which is about 20 feet from the computers, it's too loud).   They feel that someone like me must be the meanest, most awfulest librarian ever --- at least, that's what they like to convey with their glares.   Yeah, sorry about that.  I suppose I'm just so mean because I politely ask you to do something that either is bothering everyone else, or just isn't allowed (and this is the only area that we don't allow calls in the entire library).  Yes, wouldn't it be just so nice if I'd leave them alone?  Actually, yes, for me and for the person.  However, my boss expects me to do my job.  Which is being a Mean Librarian.  Yep!  That's me!

7) Lastly, the Non-Thanker.   I don't know of a really good word for this kind of patron, so I made that up.   It's always kind of a downer when you spend time helping someone and they don't even say thanks.  I don't need praises, or roses, or chocolates, but a small thank-you always makes me feel absolutely great.   Not that it's all about making me feel good, mind you, but this is something that if you help several people like this in a row, you need to take a break and go have a piece of chocolate to feel better about things.

This post has been brought to you courtesy of all of those bad patrons --- and is something I'm including in the Bookie Brunch Trick or Treat Hop.   Please follow the link to learn all about it and to see who else is participating (lots and lots of fun things!)

Wordless Wednesday & Daily Cemetery Photo

Cemetery Cat 2

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1) by Marissa Meyer

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

And here's what I thought:   I enjoyed this book.  I thought the author did a really neat trick with the story, using some of the elements of the traditional Cinderella story, and then turning things around and giving them a futuristic, sci-fi setting and main character.   It makes for an interesting book --- just when you think you might know where the story is going, or what's going to happen next, there's a twist.   I felt that Cinder Linh, our main character, was realistically written (personality-wise, although the cyborg elements also were well-written and made sense), and the story progressed along with an even pace.   She's not the only well-written character, however --- even the supporting characters, like Prince Kai and Cinder's sisters, are well-rounded.  

If you're not someone who reads a lot of science fiction, don't let that scare you away from this book.   The science fiction elements of it are just part of the story, and while they do drive the story, and some of the decisions that Cinder makes, there's a lot to enjoy in this story: adventure, a bit of romance, a bit of mystery --- and an overall good story. 

First sentences:  The screw through Cinder's ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.  Her knuckles ached from forcing the screwdriver into the joint as she struggled to loosen the screw one gritting twist after another.  By the time it was extracted far enough for her to wrench free with her prosthetic steel hand, the hairline threads had been stripped clean.

Thoughts on the cover:   Perfect!  Eye-catching, and gets across the cyborg/mechanical aspect of the story.  And I love the font of the title -- very cool!

Please note:  I read an ARC of this book, so any quotes/page numbers may differ upon final publication -- which is set for January, 2012.

Daily Cemetery Photo -- B Schaetzke

Gibson girl Schartzke

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bookie Brunch!

 Bookie Brunch was dreamed up by Sasha Soren, the author of Random Magic, and it's a lovely opportunity for bloggers to gather on a Sunday and have a bit of discussion.
Bookie Brunch is a weekly meet-up, held every Sunday, where book
bloggers can have a cup of tea (or other beverage of choice)  and chat about a particular bookie question of interest. The discussion is open from Sunday through Wednesday, and you’re welcome to drop by any time to add your opinion or read what other people have to say. This discussion is open as well to general readers or bloggers in a different field, authors, publishers and publicists.

Courtesy guidelines: Thank you for coming! All thoughtful comments
will be considered and probably get a response from fellow bloggers.
In fact, you’re encouraged to talk about it and share viewpoints or include links to relevant materials. We’d like everyone to have a nice time. Differing viewpoints are just fine, even if strongly expressed, but inflammatory or off-topic comments will be removed.

This week, I would like to welcome Amanda, Ashley, Jenni Elyse, Pabkins, Jenny Q and Jools!  

This Brunch's discussion question is: Since we’re close to Halloween, I’m curious --- if you could be any magical creature for three days (three’s a good number, since it lets you have a fair run at it), what would you be?  Of course, you’d be able to turn back to yourself after 3 days, so no worries about getting stuck!

Emo Fairy courtesy of DeviantArt
Today, I'm choosing a nice cup of coffee for my beverage (I'm working today, so that bit of caffeine will come in handy in a bit).   I wouldn't mind being a fairy for a few days.  Not a Tinkerbell kind of fairy, but something dark, that lives in the woods.  I've always been a walk-in-the-woods kind of person, and I think being able to move through the forest at night, with fairy senses, would be pretty cool.   I'd probably be one of those bad fairies that likes to pull tricks on people.....  just because.   So, a dark fairy it would be for me!! 

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Next up: Amanda! 
courtesy of DeviantArt

I went back and forth when I began thinking about this question. My first thought was a centaur, then I spoke to a friend who said they'd be a werewolf, and finally I decided there was really only one choice for me. Vampire. My attraction to vampires is a selfish one. I suffer from several chronic illnesses--could I really pass up being immortal, strong, and without disease? Of course, there would be sacrifices but in this case I'd only be a vampire for three days. Also, I'd like to be the Anne Rice variety. No sparkly vampire here, though I might have a conscience, I would be a monster.      

You may discover more about Amanda on her sites here and here, and she also has an Etsy shop.
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Jenni Elyse had this to say: 
I'd like to be a witch. I'd love to be able to do my own magic. And, the idea of being a part of the Harry Potter world. I think it would be great fun!
Jenni's got a great quote from Dumbledore on her blog:  "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
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courtesy of DeviantArt
Pabkins chose a different route to go (sipping on Starbucks Iced green tea-unsweetened):  If I could be a magical creature for three days - I would be Falcor from The Never-Ending Story - so a luck dragon - I would fly all over the world spreading luck to all sort of people and of course terrorizing plenty of people too because I'm just that kind of trouble maker.    I know its simple but that's just awesome - plus I'd be lucky for three days so maybe I'd win lots of books - so partly selfish too! 

Pabkins' blog may be found at Mission to Read , along with some cool reviews!

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Jenny Q's, chiming in, sipping on some Hazelnut coffee with Bailey's Almond Toffee creamer--have you tried their new creamers? So good!
Thank you for having me today! I am very excited to join the Bookie Brunch discussion! And what a tough question for my debut!

courtesy of DeviantArt
Hmmm . . . I wouldn't want to be a vampire, since I'm really not keen on blood drinking and I adore the sun. And though I love werewolves, I don't think I have the stomach for the raw animal diet. I thought about faeries--it would be cool to be achingly beautiful and irresistable to mortal men. But faeries have all kinds of pesky rules. You have to be really careful how you talk to faeries or you could end up stuck in a ridiculous contract binding you until death. And that whole, "If someone knows your true name they have power over you," thing is kind of dangerous, too. So that leaves witches. The possibilities for witches are endless, aren't they? They've got spells for just about anything a girl could need these days. Revenge on a bitchy coworker? A charm to make my love handles disappear? A spell to make my house clean itself? I bet I could even finagle a casting to get free Starbucks for life. Oh, and a coven of sisters to have my back...I think I could get used to being a witch!

(P.S. - Don't believe the people who will tell you I already am one. They don't mean it in that sense of the word :)
 If you'd like to know more about Jenny Q, please visit her at Let Them Read Books

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 Jools had this to say, indulging in black coffee with a bit of honey:  The first creature that springs to mind is a fairy, I was obsessed with the Flower Fairies when I was about seven. I'd love to be the Wild Cherry Blossom Fairy (see, I still remember the name!), she was my favourite. On second thought though, to satisfy my wanderlust, I think a dragon would be great because I'd be able to cover huge distances in a short amount of time. I'd also be able to look after myself if any Uncle Vernon types came along, whereas a fairy might get squished. Dragons, depending on the mythology you follow, have some very useful and enviable abilities. The only downside, of course, is that most people would be absolutely terrified of me and run away. Actually, that could be quite nice, three quiet days spent anywhere I fancy in the world.    

 You may find Jools over at Inky Pages !
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Please feel free to join in the discussion!    And, if you are interested in being a guest, or a host, or would like to see the schedule, please visit StoryWings

And, an added little something for everyone:  a giveaway!!!!  I have a lovely new copy of Gene Wolfe's The Evil Guest, a spanking fresh copy of Paul is Undead by Alan Goldsher, and a beautiful blank book (for writing poems, spells, whatever you like).  The rules are simple: please leave a thoughtful comment, perhaps your own answer to this week's question, or a thought or two on someone else's answer.   And please leave your email so I may notify the winner.   Giveaway is also open to Brunch guests, so feel free to comment, as well!

Giveaway is open until Midnight on Friday, October 28th.   Winner will be chosen by randomizer via

Trick or Treat Blog Hop --- it's all about the candy (?)

Welcome to Bookie Brunch: Trick or Treat 

Bookie Brunch is a weekly book chat for book lovers. A new Bookie Brunch posts every Sunday, and you're welcome to join any ongoing discussion .

In the meantime, let's have some treats for Halloween. Just click on the badges at the end of the post, for a new treat!

Here's a treat from me at FluidityofTime:

To celebrate the first day of the Trick or Treat Blog Hop, I thought I'd focus on candy.  Halloween candy, of course!!    When I was a kid, I always sorted my candy at the end of Halloween night into the "good" pile and the "yuck" pile.  The "yuck" pile was always good for trading stuff with my best friend, or leaving for my parents to nibble on (yes, Mom would sequester the candy after Halloween and dole it out in my lunch, a piece at a time).   So, in honor of that, I present:   The Top Five Good kinds of Halloween candy ..... and the Top Five "Yuck" kinds of candy!

Top Five Good kinds of Halloween candy:

1)  The trinity of awesomeness:  Milky Way, Snickers, and 3 Musketeers.   Any of these were a winner.  Extra happy bonus points if a house happened to be giving away full-size bars.  This almost never happened, but my friends and I would always hoped to come across one of these houses (this kind of Halloween candy-giver was almost an urban legend, but I did know kids who were lucky enough to get full-size bars on occasion).
2)  Mounds bars.   I love dark chocolate -- and while the somewhat odd texture of coconut would occasionally get to me, I always loved these.  Almond Joys?  Not the same.
3) M&Ms.  Plain or peanut -- you could never go wrong with a bag of these, especially since you could spend time once you had opened the bag, sorting them by color.
4) Starburst.  Like M&Ms, these could be sorted by color and eaten accordingly.  Chewy, but not in a teeth-sticking way, eating a handful of these could always be counted on to provide a great sugar rush.
5)  Candy Corn.   Small, but filled with sugar.  Like Starburst, these would also give you a sugar rush if you ate a bunch (and face it: who can eat just one of these little guys?)

Top "Yuck" candy:

1)  Those hard, icky pieces of strange peanut butter taffy.  They were always wrapped in either orange or black waxed paper, and every time I found them in my bag, I wanted to just toss them.  No real flavor, and if you ever did try to get them soft enough to eat, the taffy stuck to your teeth, threatening to pull out a filling!
2)  Good-n-Plenty.  Slick lozenges of too-sweet-on-the-outside and weird on the inside pieces of black licorice.   As an adult, I like black licorice, but as a kid?  Yuck!
3)  Whoppers.  They had a strange, gritty texture and they were milk chocolate (I have always loved dark chocolate). 
4) Sixlets.  Do you remember those?  They were weird, waxy little chocolate balls that looked a bit like a round M&M and tasted totally gross.
5) Milk Duds.  Hated those, and Sugar Daddies, too.  I am not a fan of hard caramels that stick to my teeth.  I always had pretty good check-ups as a kid, but I lived in fear of having to go to the dentist for a filling.   

6) Just because I couldn't leave these off the list:  Dum-Dum lollipops.  Maybe it was just the name, or the fact that all of the flavors had a weird chemical aftertaste to me, but I never liked these.  Tootsie Pops were way more fun, especially since they had that blob of stuff in the middle of them.   Oddly enough, I didn't like Charm Pops either -- the gum was always gritty and too-sweet (and an odd size).
7) JuJuBees and Chuckles.   The former had the texture of pencil erasers, and had no flavor.  The latter were strange: squishy and gritty -- never a good combination.  Both of these were teeth-stickers, too!

Please feel free to weigh in with your feelings on candy, and share your likes and dislikes!    

Bookie Brunch *Every Sunday*Founder: Sasha Soren (Random Magic).   I have been both a host and a guest, and it's great!  See all discussions here
This Halloween, my favorite Halloween candy [or treat] is

Take Five
because it's crunch (pretzel and peanuts), gooey (caramel), salty (pretzel) and sweet (caramel and chocolate).
What's yours? Tell us!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Beginning this Sunday ---- Trick or Treat Blog Hop!

Sasha Soren, the author of Random Magic, always comes up with such fun ideas!  You might already be familiar with the Bookie Brunch that happens on Sundays, but now, for Halloween, she came up with something special:  The Bookie Brunch Trick or Treat Blog Hop!

So, keep your eye out for plenty of cool posts, lovely photos, fun vlogs, and more -- from October 23rd to October 31st!

Friday = Hoppin' time!

I might need a nudge to Hop.....
Friday again already?  My week was crazy --- and somehow, I've arrived at another Friday without knowing where the other days went!    But, now that we're here, I suppose I can do a bit of hopping .....  Book Blogger Hopping, that is!   Jen over at Crazy for Books always hosts the Hop, allowing all of us to visit each other, discover new blogs, and have a lot of fun!   I'm working both Saturday and Sunday, so I'm not sure how much hopping I'll be able to do .....    but in the meantime, here's today's question:

"What is your favorite type of candy?"

I'm going to interpret this as "Halloween candy" and answer with: Take Five bars.    

When I get Halloween candy to give away, I always choose stuff I don't like, like Milk Duds or lollipops.  One year, I chose Take Five bars --- I thought they sounded gross: peanut butter and caramel on pretzel, covered in chocolate --- gross, right?

Um, no.  I tried one .... had another ....   and then my husband and I went through the bag over a few days.  Somehow, the crunchy texture and the mix of salty and sweet is just .... so good.

I'm looking forward to seeing what other people have to say!  Happy Hopping!!!

Daily Cemetery Photo -- cat

Cemetery Cat 1

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Daily Cemetery photo -- and Wordless Wednesday (two for today!)

I think I accidentally posted the same photo twice yesterday .....  serves me right for being in a hurry to make up for lost time, huh?   So, here's two photos --- 

The first, from San Michele cemetery in Venice (modified a bit using Picnik) and the second, of the German Protestant Cemetery in Maine.

Venice, San Michele cemetery marble face

Maine, German cemetery

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Daily Cemetery Photo - 2nd for today

San Michele, Venice-weeping angel

Daily Cemetery Photo

I took off a few days, so here's today's photo, and I'll be posting a few more to make up for the missed days.  :)

I took this one in Venice, on "cemetery island".   
San Michele, Venice-weeping angel

Friday, October 14, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

 Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.   In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.   And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

And here's what I thought:   You've probably seen loads of review of this book around the blogosphere, like this one at Fiction Folio, Starmetal Oak, and even Entertainment Weekly.    So, I'm not going to write a long review of this book.   However, what I will say is this:

Fantastical and disturbing.  Wonderful and awful.  Heart-breaking.   Stunning.  Beautiful. 

I fell in love with this book as soon as I started the first page, right before the real first page, which reads "Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.  It did not end well."     Laini Taylor weaves us into a world filled with wonderful things and awful things, sometimes all in the same place.   Karou is a beguiling character; we learn bits about her as she learns about herself, so we're taken through the story as she is.   I found myself wandering wide-eyed through this book, savoring all the imaginative detail (and wanting to re-read it as soon as I had finished it).   I also found I wanted to book a trip to Prague (but that might not be the reaction everyone has).   The fact that this book contains one of my favorite words, and things: chimarae; so extra, extra bonus points there.   Teeth and tattoos get more points.

That's all I'm going to say.  Other people have penned reviews, and I don't think I can do better.  What I will tell you is this:  I've already added this to my Christmas list and I'll get it for myself, if necessary, just to have a copy of my own.     If you get a chance, check out the author's blog, where you can learn about her, and her stories.

First sentences: Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.  It seemed like just another Monday, innocent but for its essential Mondayness, not to mention its Januaryness.  It was cold, and it was dark - in the dead of winter the sun didn't rise until eight - but it was also lovely.  The falling snow and the early hour conspired to paint Prague ghostly, like a tintype photograph, all silver and haze.

Thoughts on the cover:   Definitely makes you want to pick up the book -- I like that it captures the mystery of the story, as well.   

Venice, San Michele -- the kiss

Venice, San Martino cemetery marble detail of kiss

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Switched by Amanda Hocking (Trylle, book 1)

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads) :  When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy finds out her mother might've been telling the truth. With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - and it's one she's not sure if she wants to be a part of.

And here's what I thought:   Wow, it all sounds so simple from that summary, right?  Um.... not quite.  And that's a good thing.  

So, we start with Wendy, who seems mostly normal (except for how she doesn't really seem to fit in with everyone around her.  And she doesn't like to wear shoes.  And there's that thing she can do with her mind to influence people......), but who definitely has more to her than meets the eye.   As you can see from the summary, she doesn't have the best relationship with her mother.   She also doesn't have the best time at school, at least, not until she meets Finn Holmes.    This is a really tricky review to write, because I don't want to give away any spoilers.  However, suffice to say:  this is a story where there are some good twists and turns --- just when you think you might know what's going on, the author will throw you a curveball.  I can say this: Wendy's not of our world.  She might look like one of us, more or less, but she's not.    Finn's also not quite what he appears to be, either.

This story has a really quick pace, and I liked that the author took the changeling idea and twisted it around a bit.   I also liked that she didn't give me a main character that I completely loved; sometimes, I just wanted to pinch Wendy.   However, I think she's written as being true to her character.  She's spent her life up until now feeling like she doesn't fit in, and once Finn takes her to Trylle, even though it's where she's supposed to belong, she still chafes a bit at times.  It's understandable, given her life, and her personality, and I appreciated that the author didn't turn her into someone she clearly isn't supposed to be.    I like this message: Just because you finally get to a place where you're supposed to fit in doesn't mean that everything's going to be easy.

I'm already looking forward to seeking out the next book in this trilogy, not just because I liked this book, but because the author left us with a cliffhanger ending!

The one thing I wasn't wild about in this book was: it's another Finn.   I didn't realize this was such a popular name, but it seems I've been seeing a lot of Finns show up in books lately.  Sigh.

This author's name may or may not be familiar to you, but she's gotten a lot of press lately -- she was a self-published author for some time, and then, St. Martin Press snapped up this trilogy (which has already been optioned for movies).   I'd encourage you to visit her blog, if you'd like to know more. 

Please note: I received an ARC of this book, so any quotes/page numbers may differ upon final publication.

First sentences: A couple things made that day stand out more than any other; it was my sixth birthday, and my mother was wielding a knife.  Not a tiny steak knife, but some kind of massive butcher knife glinting in the light like a bad horror movie.  She definitely wanted to kill me.

Thoughts on the cover:  I like how the red sky gives a real sense of foreboding to the cover, along with the dark castle in the background and the pensive look on the girl's face.  I also really like how the title is done -- this kind of thing always catches my eye in a good way.
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