Sunday, May 31, 2015

NQAC: Biweekly Update #11: Here Kitty, Kitty, and the Summer of Reading for Relaxation

Important News: I have a cat, if you haven't seen Saturday's post yet.

Mini Confession That's 'Not Quite' a Full One: I've hit a reading slump due to all the pressure I put on myself (perfectionist problems) to meet the goal of 111 books to read this year. Therefore, this summer, I'm taking it easy reading-wise. I now have a new cat, a garden to tend, an RV to refurbish, and I recently found out my mom has a health condition with symptoms that basically match some of my own symptoms (muscle pain, trouble doing physical activities). This didn't shock me, as weird diseases/syndromes run rampant through my DNA.

Reading is still one of my favorite activities, but I kept checking the dang Goodreads 'reading challenge' daily, watching the 'You are on schedule' change to 'You are X books behind schedule'. I basically hated looking at it do that, and was disappointed to see I haven't been reading as chunky of books as I did last year. I was basically choosing short books so I could keep up. That isn't relaxing. That's manufacturing. Reading isn't supposed to be a challenge.

Recent Acquisitions (or the Piling of the-Piles):

The good news is I haven't bought anything other than The Hedge Knight graphic novels. I paid more for them than I'd usually spend on graphic novels (because I haven't found my genre of them, really), but because they were initially written by George R.R. Martin, I knew they wouldn't disappoint. I was right.


And I was lucky enough to get approved for the final two volumes of the Crown & Key series: Undying Legion and Conquering Dark!

Currently Reading:

Undying Legion (as shown above Crown & Key #2) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
I'm really enjoying the series so far- it may be because of all the quirky characters. I also like the somewhat ghoulish/ghastly atmosphere juxtaposed by the different kinds of magic (alchemy, scribing).

Peony in Love by Lisa See
I bought this on my first Montana Book Roundup (basically binge-buying books from MT, because they're cheaper and have more selection than Idaho), and since Travel the World in Books map is mostly bare in China, I've been reading all the Lisa See books I can find.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
So I wanted to read a 'time travel' book for my S & S bingo card, and the only one I have on hand is The Eyre Affair, which is an homage to Jane Eyre, which is a classic I haven't read yet. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself more engaged in reading it than I ever was reading Wuthering Heights by Charlotte's sister Emily. I only reached the halfway point on Wuthering Heights, so hopefully I'll have better luck with Jane Eyre.

History of the Rain by Niall Williams
The part I'm stuck at now is very introspective. I'm not sure if this is going to be one of those books I like until the plot stalls. I'm pretty certain that with the average rating on Goodreads being high, it will pick up pretty soon.

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards #1) by Scott Lynch
Since Kritika at Snowflakes and Spider Silk is hosting a readalong of this book, I decided I'd join in. I've been meaning to reread it and see if I could actually finish it, as I read halfway through it and then couldn't go further (this seems to be a pattern...).

Put Aside for Now:

The Crystal Shard (Forgotten Realms) by R.A. Salvatore
I was unaware how similar some of this book's 'things' would be to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. There is a castle name that's basically an homage/copy of Minas Tirith. I even Googled 'Tirith' to make sure it wasn't a Greek root or a legend of some kind. And, no female characters that I read of yet, except for 'wenches' (used in a derogatory manner, like where are the sluts?). My eyes kind of bled when I read that. Maybe I'll come back to it later. Maybe.

Finished These Books:

The Lady and the Panda by Vicki Constantine Croke
Surprisingly, this has a lot of Chinese history in it, and takes place mostly in China, qualifying it for my Travel the World in Books Challenge. I have a feeling this will be an Out of Orbit Critique soon.

In the Blogosphere:

I've been paying more attention to furiously Googling every aspect of cat ownership I may or may not have forgotten about during the past couple years rather than keeping up with the book blogging world. I'll be catching up on blog reading sometime soon.

In My Life:

Is it summer already? It seems just yesterday it was pouring rain and fifty degrees Fahrenheit outside. Now all my windows are open, and I'm considering hauling the window air conditioning units to their respective places. I have a feeling that much of our house's cooling/heating issues for the upstairs have to do with the house's mansard roof, that I didn't realize was a mansard roof until one year into living in it. I transplanted my tomatoes, but they're rather sad looking in this hot weather after just being planted outside, so no pictures yet.

George the cat surprised my largest dog Torrie (who is too fascinated by him- follows him everywhere) by rubbing up against her nose twice in the past few days. Torrie is also the one who antagonizes him by acting like he's here for her entertainment and trying to play with him like he's a dog, so most cats would be giving her a swat on the nose by now. Since he's about a year old, I guess he has enough energy to be tolerant of her lapses in manners, and also he may be more tolerant of my barbarian dogs because this is the third home he's been adopted out to. Either way, he has no behavior issues now that he's in a house where he's the only cat.

I've also constructed a cardboard box playground (tunnel, tiny house) for George to sneak around in, but he also is liking his new convertible bed/den I bought him today. As you may notice, he's only a tad bit spoiled.

What's your reading plans for the summer? 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

In Other News... (Non-Bookish Post)

On Wednesday, my mom stopped by the animal shelter to renew our dog licenses. Our little city recently moved its shelter into a brand-new facility, so naturally my mom had to check it out. She saw a few kitties she liked the look of (calicoes), and a volunteer mentioned the cats were available for an uber-low price, with all the fixings (spay/neuter, microchip, all the necessary vaccinations, tags and collar, plus cardboard cat carrier) due to June being Adopt-a-Cat month (even though it's not yet June). She piqued my interest when she mentioned a Siamese cat being there that didn't like other cats, but was good with dogs. As many of you may know, I have a terrible twosome/dynamic duo of smallish dogs. And as a former shelter volunteer I know cats rarely get along well with dogs, unless they're raised with dogs, and not uppity (no offense meant to felines, but yes, most kitties got some major cattitude going on), and that combo is sometimes really hard to find.

So I found George on Petfinder and salivated over him all night long, pretty much making up my mind that if he was still there/available, we'd take him home. He was there, and we took him home, stopping at a store to pick up cat essentials that we hadn't bought for years (we last had a cat 6+ years ago, so it's been a while).

I had first thought I'd change his name (which he doesn't know is his- he doesn't even respond to anything but 'Here kitty, kitty' much like Curran), because I believe cats should have unique names, and George is just... George. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it, because...

George... R.R. Martin

George... Lucas

George... Takei

George... Orwell

George... Harrison

George... Custer

George... Clooney

George... Washington... Carver

There are many more famous Georges, but the point is, by George, George isn't a half-bad name. It has a lot of puns and phrases associated with it. Although Torrie has a hard time discerning her name from George's when I call (fruitlessly) "here, George", I don't mind keeping a pet's old name, much like I did with Torrie and Keisha, especially if they've had it for awhile. In George's case, he's been rehomed twice and got into spats with other cats that gave him his distinctive 'battle tear' on his ear. I'm unsure if he kept the name or they gave him a new one, but he's had it tough, much like all the animals I own. So he's George. And unless Torrie or Keisha suddenly goes spastic on him and gives him a new 'battle tear', he's staying with us.

Interspecies Nap Time
I was surprised at how quickly George and the dogs have adapted to each other. The only hold-out so far is Torrie- her genes make her an excellent hunter, and chasing George sounds like fun to her. Luckily, this has only happened twice and she's ridiculously obedient- every time she gets a 'time out', she's much less likely to make the same mistake again.

Anyway, sorry for the rambling post, but pets are the most exciting part of my life (next to books), and George is an exceptional feline for putting up with my two terrors and not hitting the road back to the shelter when Torrie stalks him like a rabid fangirl. He's one cool cat.

Until Sunday,

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Early Critique: "The Shadow Revolution (Crown & Key #1)" by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Disclaimer: I was given a free advanced copy of this book from NetGalley/the publisher (Del Rey Spectra) in exchange for an honest review. My opinion remains as forthright as ever.

To Be Published: June 3rd

The first thing I noticed about this book is it starts off very historical: apparel descriptions, rakish heroes, and social standing mentions are part of the magic of this book. The fun part is when the historical elements (which I happen to love) meet the paranormal/steampunk aspects, and things start happening at a formal Victorian party.

The magic system in this book relies on aether, and is by no means unlimited. There are side effects to using magic- euphoria, and the possibility of eventual exhaustion. One cannot be a magician forever in the world of The Shadow Revolution- something I appreciate in fantasy. Even fantastic elements shouldn't be too fantastic- I'm a fan of realism as much as I am of fantasy.

The Plot: (As Seen on Goodreads)
'They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.
'As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.
 'After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.'

An unusual thing about Kate is that although her 'magic' lies in preparation (alchemy), she isn't shown as less of a player in the events of the book because of it. Oftentimes you'll see 'healers' and other less-action-oriented characters not even be a part of the battle scene, but only the cleanup, but that isn't the case with this book. Kate is just as competent (if not at times more so) than Simon, who's basically the lead character. Simon Archer, bless his wastrel heart, is trying to step away from his playboy image and become a more notable scribe. His rare type of magic, as you might guess, relies on written phrases. Of course, it gets much cooler if I mention those written phrases might be, in fact, tattoos, as the cover depicts.

Beyond the leading characters, there's more personalities to be had, including a woman named Penny Carter who runs the gadget shop which Simon frequents, and the hunter himself, Malcolm MacFarlane. I could wax poetic about the characters some more, but I think most of you get the picture: they're a quirky and infinitely likable group.

I won't expand upon the plot too much, as I'd hate to spoil it, but I'll say this: although it has been done before, I wasn't able to predict the ending, or some of the twists, which I am usually exceptional at decoding before the 60% mark.

The Shadow Revolution is a fun, fast-paced steampunk that also has a grim and shady side. While some elements of the book felt familiar, the characters kept me engaged, and the plot kept me guessing. I recommend this book for those who like steampunk with a strong historical backbone, and aren't afraid of the odd horror-esque element.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an excellently paced steampunk that kept me reading past my bedtime.

Content: Ages 16+ for violence and extreme medical endeavors.

Page Count: 320 pages

Sunday, May 24, 2015

SFF: The 5 Excuses for Not Reading That Just Don't Cut It Anymore

The Sunday Fun Five #28

Sunday Fun 5:
#28: The 5 Excuses for Not Reading That Just Don't Cut It Anymore
For the 7th of June #29: The 5 Summer Vacations You Can Take Through Reading

A Countdown of

The 5 Excuses for Not Reading That Just Don't Cut It Anymore

5. "Books are boring."
Clearly the person who uses the above excuse needs a literary intervention. Sure, some books aren't for everyone, but enacting a blanket ban against books because you read Moby Dick followed by War and Peace (and no one told you you were insane????) and you lost all hope of being entertained by books? Please. Don't give up. There are many entertaining books out there- entertaining books that have been made fodder for inane tv programming.

4. "But isn't it... nerdy?"
(The only response I have to this is the above photograph of James Dean reading poetry. Enough shown.)

Read- while riding a water buffalo.
3. "I already do (this hobby)."
Some people have never heard of audiobooks. It's like we live in the Stone Ages. People think all people write using a hammer and chisel. I'm sorry, but Moses is gone, and so is the age of the inaccessible book. If you have a hobby you love, compliment it with an audiobook. You'll be glad you did.

Torrie kindly models headphones, as I couldn't find another picture I liked.
2. "I have (insert reading disablement here)."
I've known many people who have disabilities (blindness, dyslexia), but nonetheless prefer books to other mediums of entertainment. Most of the people I know use audiobooks if they have something visually deterring them from reading, but some people just don't have time to read visually, as shown below.

1. "I don't have time."
This one really gets me. You have time to keep up with the Kardashians, spend hours on social media, and binge watch 5 tv series on Netflix... but you don't have time to read. Hmm.... that excuse isn't cutting it anymore. You'll have to find a better one to impress me.

What are the worst and best excuses you've heard for not reading books?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"The Sworn Sword: The Graphic Novel (The Hedge Knight Graphic Novels II)" by George R.R. Martin, Ben Avery, and Mike S. Miller

*There may be incidental/small spoilers in this review for those who haven't yet read The Hedge Knight or its novella equivalent.

I have to say, these graphic novels are much easier to read than A Song of Ice and Fire, and not only due to the shorter length. There is an absence of sex (and sexual misconduct), and while the violence was certainly wince-worthy in The Hedge Knight, Sworn Sword is a little bit cleaner in that aspect. The misogynistic traits of the culture of ASoIaF are glossed over as well, which is a welcome relief to me, even though there's really only one female character.

Sworn Sword is much more light-hearted than its predecessor, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Dunk is still a hedge knight (basically a sword for hire in this edition), and Egg is still his squire, despite the revelations from the previous book. I was pleasantly surprised with how Dunk didn't go the way of the many good-intentioned characters Mr. Martin has penned, but I suppose he has enough corruption going on in the main series to keep the blood flowing.

The Plot: (As Seen on Goodreads)
'Set one hundred years before the events in George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, The Sworn Sword graphic novel follows the adventures of Ser Duncan and his squire, Egg, as they quest for honor and glory in the Seven Kingdoms.
'After the deaths, surprises, and heroics in The Hedge Knight, Dunk and Egg continue their journey in search of the fair puppeteer Tanselle. Along the way, the elderly knight Ser Eustace takes both men under his charge, alongside another knight—and this one promises trouble. Peace is ever elusive for Dunk and Egg, as they are soon embroiled in the schemes of local nobility, while a darker, greater thread threatens to unravel long-held truths of the Battle of Redgrass Field.
'In classic George R.R. Martin fashion, heroes and villains are never clear-cut, and political alliances threaten to slice the deepest. Yet one path lies ahead for Dunk and Egg: onward toward destiny. Join them as they venture along a now-familiar world but in a time all-new!'

Most people who know much about Dunk and Egg (or some other Mr. Martin-style characters) can guess the plotline of this book, but for the most part it's entertaining none the less. Dunk is more than a little naive about things, a bit of an honest man. Egg isn't used to being a squire yet (for obvious reasons) and refuses to put his foot in his mouth even when he should. Although Egg brought most of the trouble on them in the last book, this time it's Dunk's turn to screw up, in Dunk 'the Lunk' fashion.

The artwork in this edition is much improved from The Hedge Knight: whereas the previous art was too clean and idealized, you run into not-so-pretty characters doused with sweat and dirt (or a plethora of freckles) in this edition. Although its still a bit glossy for my taste, the absence of certain details in the previous book was amended in this one, even though my Kindle version had a few pictures I could discern the pixel count of. If you plan on buying this graphic novel, I recommend the physical version for that reason: at some points, the text was difficult to read, and I have good eyesight.

The Sworn Sword is an excellent addition to the continuing adventures of Dunk and Egg. While the storyline was a bit weaker (and more predictable), the improvement in the art makes up for that lack. It also features a much more assertive female character than the previous book, so that's always a plus. If you've enjoyed The Hedge Knight, I can't think of a reason not to pick this one up- it's just as excellent.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an excellent and more light-hearted followup to The Hedge Knight!

Content: Ages 16+ for violence, blood, and plenty of male shirtless torsos.

Page Count: 152 pages

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"The Hedge Knight: The Graphic Novel (The Hedge Knight Graphic Novels I)" by George R.R. Martin, Ben Avery, and Mike S. Miller

This is the first graphic novel I've actually finished reading. Something about books with pictures instead of descriptive text turns me off, but in the case of this book, I don't think I missed anything by not reading the original text only version. I had been prepared to be disappointed, as many graphic novels don't seem to hold my interest, but that was not the case with this one.

The Hedge Knight takes place a hundred years before the events of A Game of Thrones, and I have to say, it's nice to get to know the Targaryens as royals prior to their ousting. This book, for the most part, doesn't get as epic as the original series, but it does ease the deep, gaping hole in my chest that has been aching since 2011. I find it highly unusual that I remember all the house crests/colors of the houses, as well as their 'generational' traits, but I guess when you read five 700+ page books, the world sticks with you, even if you have a sieve for holding memories with holes as large as mine does.

The Plot: (As Seen on Goodreads)
'In this prequel story to George R. R. Martin's Award winning, New York Times Best Selling novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, Night falls over the life of one noble knight and brings the dawn of his squire's knighthood. Dubbing himself "Ser Duncan the Tall," the Hedge Knight sets forth to the tourney at Ashford Meadow in search of fame, glory, and the honor of upholding his oath as a knight of the Seven Kingdoms. Unfortunately for him, the world isn't ready for a knight who keeps his oaths, and his chivalrous methods could be the very cause of his demise.'

And now onto the artwork- it was well done, but a little too clean. I realize how long each little panel must take to make, but if I had a paper version of this graphic novel, I'd want to take my pencil and add in some graphite in areas to grunge it up. I really don't like images that look too perfect- although some of the characters have a scar, they all look idealized. If Tyrion were to make an appearance in this book (which he can't- he wasn't born) he'd look like a Ken doll. My complaints might be because I have the Kindle version, but I expect a little more dirt in the images.

The story itself has a few twists, which I was able to recognize due to my familiarity with the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, but one caught me a little off guard. There is really only one female character who has recurring scenes, but given 'Dunk the Lunk' is a hedge knight without a family, I doubt that many girls would be hanging off of him at this point. Still, there are plenty of characters to love... and loathe, as you would expect with a George R.R. Martin novel.

The Hedge Knight is a graphic novel I can't really compare against others, as I haven't finished any others. Still, it had me turning pages despite my preference for the plain ol' written word, and grateful that I'd shelled out the cash to add it to my Kindle library. If you love the A Song of Ice and Fire series, I do think you would enjoy another previous take on Mr. Martin's world, like the one The Hedge Knight portrays.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an excellent graphic novel that I didn't put down.

Content: Ages 16+ for violence and gore (and no sexual misconduct- yay!).

Page Count: 184 pages (some of mine were a preview of the second book)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley

Caution: This review reads a little like a sex ed. manual- due to the large amount of genetic engineering going on in the book. If you have especially delicate sensibilities, scroll on.

If you've ever thought much about the various (and sometimes near miraculous) ways people can use to get pregnant in this modern world, it becomes amazing to know that when Brave New World was written, IVF and other modern means of conception weren't even invented. In fact, Robert Edwards, the man who developed In Vitro Fertilisation, was only seven years old when this book was published. I open with these factoids because most of the people of Brave New World were born without use of a female body- essentially, literal test tube babies developed only with use of sperm and eggs, but never ever know the people who those sperm and ovum came from. The word 'mother' in this book is used as a derogatory curse.

So imagine yourself starting out as a baby with no parents- trained in a government facilities to the dictates of your class (Alpha = Smarter, better educated to continue to rule the world, Epsilon = Stunted growth in the plastic womb, trained to be maintenence workers). You are taught to only socialize with your peers, and dislike any other class but your own, except to respect your betters- but how to cram that much social engineering in without the prospect of rebellion? You have machines dictating to you in your sleep. That is the basis of society in Brave New World.

The Plot: (As Seen on Goodreads)
'Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs, all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations, where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress...'

As you may be able to tell, I loved the ideas in this book. Some of them even have modern day correlations- the Epsilons were basically under-nurtured from the start, which reminded me of a recent report on the severe lead poisoning that is still impacting the people who lived in Freddie Gray's neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland. Luckily, there weren't many more dystopian parallels I found between our world and the one of Brave New World, but this book certainly makes you think about the ones you come across.

The great weaknesses of this book revolve around the fact that it's mostly an idea book. Although some characters are likable, some have a tendency to change their mind on things they'd previously held dear. Other characters are difficult to get to know due to the fact this is, in part at least, a satire. The female characters really aren't anything to celebrate, as they're all very similar- focused on work and changing up the men they're with because being monogamous is bad for you (there's the satire). There isn't much depth to the plot, but you usually don't notice it because your mind is busy taking in the upside down morals and before-its-time ideas.

One of many favorite quotations:

'"But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."'

    ~Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 92% Kindle edition

Brave New World is filled with wondrous medical technology ideas. It also uses those ideas to fuel the plot of the book, rather than having much of a cohesive story progression. But, if you look beyond the lack of 'normal' storytelling and character development, it truly has a style all its own, that makes you read on, even when you aren't drooling over the characters. I recommend Brave New World to those who love science fiction, with an emphasis on the science.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an excellent idea book that's a little short on the usual trappings of fiction.

Content: Ages 16+ for violence, as well as drug (Soma) and sexual references (Zip-Zip, Orgyporgy, you name it). Also, racial slurs.

Page Count: 268 pages

Sunday, May 17, 2015

NQAC: Biweekly Update #10: Playing With Design, Sprucing up the Yard, and Seething at Gouache

I've been playing around with the blog design again: I can't decide if I should keep the dragon bookends and books or not on the header, but I recently learned how to use more/different fonts on PicMonkey (for free). It gets slightly addicting when you learn new design tricks and a million more options are available to you than you'd realized previously. Some might say I have too many options now.

Recent Acquisitions (or the Piling of the-Piles):

Thrift Shopping:

I got a sweet deal on these like-new mass market paperbacks... even though I have both of these in ebook version already. I just like paper sometimes- and if I don't like the book, I regift.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Already read and reviewed)

The Warded Man (Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett
I had this recommended to me by a fellow Goodreads user who reads all the epic fantasy I like, so the expectations are pretty high. I've heard the first half is better than the second half of the book, though.


My buy theme on Amazon seems to be books with Ghost in the title these past few weeks. Also, nonfiction.

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
This book was reviewed favorably by a fellow blogger, and it was also on sale for the very affordable price of $0.99. Set in Malaysia, it also qualifies for my Travel the World in Books challenge, as well as being an interesting mix of historical fiction and fantasy.

Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius
I saw this reviewed by the Washington Post, and it was promptly added to my Want-To-Read pile. I am always fascinated by medical mysteries, being that I live one on a daily basis. When this became a monthly Kindle deal, I knew I had to buy it.

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre
I am a fan of (non-rapist) anti-heroes, and to read the story of a real life one is right up my alley. Mr. Chapman was a con man who later became a double agent during WWII.

Currently Reading:

The Crystal Shard (Icewind Dale #1) by R.A. Salvatore
So far it's an easy read, although the omnibus version I have must weigh more than my Dorkie.

The Shadow Revolution (Crown & Key #1) by Clay and Susan Griffith
Halfway through and loving it- hopefully it will end well.

The Lady and the Panda by Vicki  Constantine Croke
Because PANDAS. Also, Ruth Harkness is the Woman for pursuing her husband's dream. You get more than a taste of China circa 1930s with this book.

Finished These Books:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Not at all what I expected it to be, and I really can't recall what I expected. This is kind of more an idea book than a plot/character-centric book, and I liked it more for that. It has a lot of more actual technical medical science fiction than I've read in quite some time (it's amazing this was published in 1932).

First of Spring (Gardinian World Novel #2) by Kelsey Jordan
Review is half written on this one, but I'd anticipated the release of this to be sooner.

In the Blogosphere:

Snowflakes and Spider Silk will be a hosting a Gentleman Bastards Readalong from June to August this summer. If you love it, or (like me) haven't read it, it would be a good time to join in.

Joy's Book Blog shows off a new cooking technique called Sous Vide, which I didn't even know existed.

Tanja reviews The Kate Daniels Series at Ja čitam, a ti?, a review which I heartily agree with.

In My Life:

Other than blog design, I've been busy planting things outside, re-mulching the flower beds, and preparing my squash/tomato seedling army for life outside in the garden.

For Mother's Day, I bought my mother some pots/flowers, in addition to painting a rose with gouache paint (like watercolor, but thicker). The word online was that gouache was 'easy' to paint with. Not really the case for me- I'm so used to acrylic that it was a bit of a problem to paint with the not-so-smooth medium. However, I managed to paint the rose anyhow, it's just I won't be using gouache again unless I want to drive myself insane. I haven't gotten to the stem/leaves yet, as the background painting was so hellish I decided to just make it all the same color, but I'm fairly surprised at how well I did, considering.

Until Tuesday,

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