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Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tales
My current book review policy is behind the LJ cut. Click to read it.Collapse )

(Art by hamburger.)

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Ebon Moon by Dennis McDonald
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

The best thing by far about this book was the cover.

The story opened with a stereotypical/cliche horror scene: A couple is making out in a pickup truck in the woods. Woman hears a noise. Man is all "It's nothing, baby, show me those tits of yours." Woman repeats that she heard something, but lifts her shirt for him anyway. Werewolf attacks and kills them both.

And that was the last we saw of the werewolves. Book went on and on about a woman who had been abused and escaped her husband. I was feeling no connection with the characters or the story, so checked Amazon reviews, and others said how the characters weren't developed and it was hard to care about them, so I gave up on the book. (Didn't reach the 50% point, so doesn't count towards the year's total.)

The Three Feathers by Stefan Bolz
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

This was a weird story. I said that over and over as I was reading it. Not weird in a bad way, but just very strange and felt "off" and disturbingly familiar but I couldn't put my finger on how/why.

It's a "talking animal" story, and perhaps the most realistic, believable animal characters I've ever read in one, and yet I stopped reading at the 35% point.

The story opened with a rooster. A perfectly normal, plain rooster. Yet he had a dream about three feathers (which gave him the strongest feeling of happiness/love), and that started him on a quest to find them. (Again, he was just a plain rooster, nothing special or more intelligent about him, yet the idea of him going on a quest worked.) Along the way, he picked up a wolf companion (seems a wacky idea, but through a stretch I could go along with believing it could happen). Then the two picked up an old warhorse companion.

All along the story that far, I had the strong, strong feeling the story was supposed to be a metaphor or allegory or something like that. Some religious, perhaps non-Christian/non-western religion idea? I couldn't put my finger on it, and it was driving me crazy.

Then I remembered there was a German story, Town Musicians of Bremen. From wiki: "In the story a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster (or hen), all past their prime years in life and usefulness on their respective farms, were soon to be discarded or mistreated by their masters. One by one they leave their homes and set out together." So it sort of fit that, if you drop the cat and make the donkey into a horse.

As their quest continued, they freed a pegasus who had been trapped as a statue, and she told the horse that no creature is born a pegasus, but all horses could become one if they learned to let go of the boundaries they believed they have. (Which again pinged me as maybe being some theme from some religion? Or something? Arg!)

Unfortunately the book's pacing was really, really bad, so slow that even with the well-written animal characters, I was too bored to continue it.

Edit: AH HA! The author wrote another book, The Dawning of the True Self: The Spiritual Journey in The Three Feathers. I was right, it was supposed to be some religious thing. It's based on A Course in Miracles, which looks like some mishmash of New Age stuff, and the author states that Jesus guided her writing of it.

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Current Mood: okay okay

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For some reason, I like to keep my book review posts on their own, so there will be another post sometime later today with a couple of reviews.

First off, exciting times! While this DOES NOT COUNT, as tomorrow is my official weighing day, I couldn't help but take a picture anyway. The first time I've been under 200 since I went away to college (multiple decades ago).

Now I just have to eat really, really good today so it doesn't go up for my official weighing tomorrow. :D (And yes, I'm bad, I can't help but weigh myself every single day. Yes, it makes me crazy. But I also think it makes me more accountable for my day-to-day eating.)

For a couple reasons, I think I'm going to move to Kaiser insurance when we're able to switch. Money is part of it (they're the cheapest plan by far), but also gonzostar posted some information on coverage of skin removal, and it seems like it will be a much easier process there. I'm not 100% sure I want to have it done (surgery, eek!), but my surgeon said I have about 15 pounds of stomach skin (can you imagine?), and getting my breasts done would be another big chunk, so I almost want to have it done for "easy" loss off ~25 pounds.


Stardew Valley people: I found an easy way to get a screenshot of your whole farm. Go to http://upload.farm, upload your save file (open Windows Explorer, enter %appdata%, and you can find it from there), and you get a page like mine, scroll down to the bottom for the map. You can see my farm and all my game stats there.

orangerful had said I had a had a good farm, which started my quest to make that screenshot. As you can see, my farm SUCKS. I hadn't even realized how bad it was until I saw that overhead shot. So much wasted space! I think I'm going to scrap the whole thing and start over.


I'm spinning my wheels right now on so much stuff. My vacation is coming up in less than a month, and there's so much I have to do/plan, I'm so nervous about so much. (I really hate my brain sometimes.) Even though I'm planning on leaving my apartment four hours before my flight (leaving two hours for what should be just over a 30 minute drive, but it'll be rush hour, and two hours for security and such), I'm so worried something will happen and I'll miss it.

Also, I had thought I wouldn't have to check my bag, but it's a couple inches too big, so I guess I'll have to. That's not such a big deal on the outgoing leg, but onto the returning home leg, I have a 45 minute layover (shorter than I'd like), so I have no idea if I or my bag will make it... Plus there's always the worry that someone might steal your bag during luggage claim.


Though it's still early, I'm plotting and planning things for my move. I'd like to be rid of my sofa, but I had no idea how hard of a task that is. If I have someone come in to haul it away, it will be a minimum of $150! It's way too big for me to get out of my apartment myself, otherwise I could sneak it into the apartment complex trash (not supposed to dump furniture there, but people do).

I'm semi-considering buying a saw and, assuming it's made of wood inside, breaking it down into smaller pieces that I can take out during the night myself (putting a sheet down to contain any mess). However, I have no idea of a number of things: How expensive a saw is. What I would do with the saw after. If it's made of wood inside or if there are metal bars. How big of a job it would be to saw a sofa into pieces myself.

I will NOT be buying a new sofa to replace it. :P

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Current Mood: rushed rushed

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Love: The Lion by Frederic Brremaud
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Book received free for review from Diamond Book Distributors.

This is the third book in the Love series, after Fox and Tiger. Previous reviews: Love: Fox, Love: Tiger. While the artwork was very pretty in this book, I enjoyed it the least of the three.

Told without any text at all, the story was about a male lion, from cubhood to his death. Like the other Love books, there were plenty of 'side stories' to show us other animals of the area.

Unfortunately, because we were dealing with lions (tawny) in a dry African plain, the colors tended to be dull. Lots of dark yellows. It's pretty telling that my favorite images (behind the cut, click below) were ones with color.

Five images back here.Collapse )

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Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

I've caught glimpses of the owl before, but never as close/well as this!

Also: I HATE wine day. It may be good money, but ugh. So much clicking! I have about 175 kegs, and 40 of the kind for veggies, which keeps me from having to sell my produce "raw", but man. I dread having to deal with all that wine!

Related to owls and things that come in the night: The witch finally* visited me, so I got a void egg! Now I have chickens again, cause black ones are fun. (She actually came my second or third day of playing, but of course I had no chicken coop then...)

While I don't have fun in the dungeon anymore, I made another trip today to try to get the second prism shard I need. I was out of bombs, out of food, so on my final floor, and was just clearing all the rocks since I had the energy to do so. I got one from a rock! YAY!

I don't think that's the end of my dungeon trips though. I need 12 more items for my museum, and I think some of them come from the mines. (I had thought I only needed two more items, but then I discovered there's a mini-room in the museum. Sigh!)

[Spoiler for Spring of your third year event.]I passed it on my first try, which I was confident wouldn't happen. I think the wiki's numbers must be way off. I thought I would have to finish my bundles and do lots of friendship work to get for candles lit, but I got all four on day one... Guess they nerfed it at some point. I was kind of sad about that, because I would have liked more to do in game.

So the last things I have left to do in game:
Catch one fish (summer, it's spring now). Not even a rare one, just common one I had missed.
Finish the museum? I guess that's reason to keep going, even if it seems like it'll be a pain.

In the 1.1 update, Shane is going to be able to be married, and there's no word of divorces, so I might be starting a second farm. I really cannot recommend Sebastian as a husband. He wants to lay around at home all day and read comic books. GET A JOB, YOU BUM

Current Mood: tired tired

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I had a nightmare last night, one that doesn't seem like it would be a nightmare, and less than two years ago wouldn't have been one -- it would have been a good dream.

I dreamed that my sister brought home four big grocery bags full of donut holes. All different flavors, glazed, some jelly filled. And because I'm me, I couldn't not have one -- not when they were all right in front of me, free for the taking. And because I'm me, I couldn't eat just one or two -- even knowing sugar would now make me sick, I couldn't stop eating them. I ate probably two dozen. Like in waking life, they weren't even that good, I just ate them because they were there and free and I wanted to make sure I got my share of them. Even knowing it would make me sick, I couldn't stop myself from eating them.

In the show West Wing, the character Leo is an alcoholic. In one episode, he described what it's like:

"I'm an alcoholic, I don't have one drink. I don't understand people who have one drink. I don't understand people who leave half a glass of wine on the table. I don't understand people who say they've had enough. How can you have enough of feeling like this? How can you not want to feel like this longer? My brain works differently."

I've never had something in a TV show resonate so strongly with me. That's exactly how I feel about food. Junk food tastes good, how can anyone stop with just one cookie? Just a bite of a slice of cake? One piece of fried chicken? How can anyone not sit down with a fork and just eat an entire cake? How can someone go to a buffet and stop with one or two plates of food?

Knowing that about my brain, I do my best to avoid situations like that instead of having to try to resist them. The nightmare really scared me though, the powerlessness I had over the situation.

All that being said, I don't know if I believe that food addiction is a real thing or not, but it doesn't matter. I don't need a name for this issue of mine, I just need to know it exists so I can avoid situations that I wouldn't be able to control.

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Current Mood: tired tired

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Horses of the Dawn by Kathryn Lasky
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

When I saw this book was by the author of Guardians of Ga'Hoole, I figured it would be good. I hadn't read Guardians, but I thought I had heard good things about it, and it had had a movie made of it (which I also hadn't seen), so I had hopes that Horses of the Dawn would be good.

Oh how wrong I was.

I love talking animal stories, but the biggest sin one can make while writing them is to make the animals be nothing but humans in animal shape. This book could not have done that more if it had set out to do that. (WHY, author? Why would you do that? Why write about animals, then make them not animals?)

Nothing in this book made sense:
- The horses had never been on a ship before, but they knew technical names for items on it and the ship itself.
- The horses were kept in slings, their hooves barely touching the ground. One horse gave birth, and they took the foal away immediately, before it could nurse even once, and put it into a sling. They kept it there for the first month+ of its life, taking it down only once or twice a day to hold it up while it nursed.
- The horses were thrown overboard. The foal who had never once even stood up under her own power swam a league (3.4 miles) to get to an island. (Yes, swimming would be easier than standing, but still. She wouldn't have developed the muscles to be able to swim far! Plus when they got to the island, she had no problem at all walking, running, and keeping up with the other horses.)
- While the horses were swimming, a shark attacked them. A single shark. It killed and ate the foal's mother. No other sharks showed up.
- Once they reached the land, a jaguar attacked the horses. It pounced on one, hard enough to knock it down, and was biting it... until a pair of parrots drove it off, leaving the horse with nothing but the shallowest of cuts from where one of the claws caught her skin...

There were more minor annoying things too, like even in the blurb of the book, the author kept calling a group of horses a 'pack'. "All but one -- the ghost horse, the leader of the pack."

I really should have given up on this book immediately instead of pushing myself to hit the 50% mark so I could count it. It was just bad, bad, bad. I'd rate it lower than 'hated' if I could.

Currently reading: Ebon Moon by Dennis McDonald. A story about werewolves (supposedly).

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Spoilers for tonight's episode. Brief. Annoyed.

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Mumble grumble.

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Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky (AKA Less Wrong)
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

A few years back, I had to decide about including fanfics in my count towards my 50 book per year goal. I decided that if I finished the story 100% (no "if I reach the 50% point I can count it" rule like books), and the fic was at least as long as multiple books, I could include it.

I never thought I'd have to decide about rereading a fic that qualified.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is longer than the first four Harry Potter books combined. While I first read it and reviewed it in December, just four months ago, I loved it so much I started reading it again soon after finishing it.

And now I want to read it yet again.

You can click the link to my first review to read a longer version of it, but in this review I'll just say how very intelligent the story is. I love this AU version of Harry Potter, but it's the other main character, the defense professor, who I really love the most. The fact that, even though by the end you feel like you should have known all along that he was good or bad, through the whole story you just don't know (or don't want to believe).

A story by a very intelligent author about very intelligent characters is just so enjoyable to read!

I think the only question left is how long I'll be able to wait before I start reading it again. :P

Currently reading: Same book as last post, Horses of the Dawn by Kathryn Lasky. If I make it even one percent beyond the 50% point, I will fall out of my chair in surprise.

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Dragon Legends (Return of the Darkening Book 2) by Ava Richardson
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

It shouldn't surprise me how easy it is to tell how much work and time an author put into a book. The first book in this series felt like she took a lot of time with it, carefully considered all the sentences and wording, had multiple people editing (beta reading) it for her. This book felt nothing like that. Often times the wording was redundant (not an actual quote, but like "Happily she went to do it happily") and there was actual editing left in the text (quote: "We headed to the circle of command tents, to find servants and a few riders were wearily dragging camp chairs out to a cleared area/an area they were clearing.").

But I could have stuck with the book through that, if the story and characters had been as good as the first book. Instead of feeling like real people as they had in the first book, in this one they felt like just their main trait -- the girl was driven to the point of being obsessed, the boy was in love with her and would go along with whatever stupid schemes she came up with. There was nothing else to them.

While that was bad, it wasn't the final straw that made me drop this book before finishing it. As often happens in YA books, there was a "Snape" character -- a teacher who was "mean" to all the kids (hard on them), no kids like, probably evil, etc. We got to learn more of his background (he had been a dragon rider when he was younger, but his dragon died, he got badly hurt in the same event, and then his partner dragon rider killed himself over it). Is that reason to be hard onto kids? It could be, sure, maybe he didn't want the same thing to happen to them. Does it make him understandably bitter? Especially when he's working around dragons and people who can ride? Yes. The obsessed main character girl was certain this teacher was the bad guy, and it just depressed me too much. It wasn't fair to him! (Yeah, it's understandable the girl could have been wrong (or right), but I just did not want to read about it.)

I did something I have never ever done before -- I skipped to the end of the book to try to discover if the teacher was or wasn't the bad guy. It was really a lose-lose situation for me, neither outcome would have made me happy. I skimmed through the last couple chapters, but couldn't find the answer, and eventually decided I just didn't care enough to continue to try to find out.

I do still recommend the first book (especially at 99 cents), but I can't the second, and I won't be picking up the third.

Currently reading: Horses of the Dawn by Kathryn Lasky. A book with a great cover, but animal characters that know just way too much and aren't very animal-ish. (The horses, who had never been on a ship before, knew more technical terms for parts of the ship than I myself did!)

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