April 3, 2013

Lots and Lots to Report

First thing I want to do is share the results of my little challenge to myself last year...then explain why things went so wrong. I am going to copy and paste my complete list of books I read with the mini reviews that some of them received as part of my project. 

2012 Books

A new project by which I endeavor to challenge myself to read as many books as I can throughout the course of 2012. It will be more a test of my own abilities when not constrained by external pressure. As I have been in school since I was 5, this is the first chance I’ve really had to see what I can do.

1) The Witching Hour by Anne Rice (Fiction over 1000 pages)

2) The Vampire Diaries: Hunters Volume 1: The Phantom by L.J. Smith (Fiction)

3) Founding Myths by Ray Raphael (non-fiction, American History, 100 pages of

4) The Cliff House Strangler By Shirley Tallman (Historical Fiction/Victorian Murder Mystery)

5) Carnival of Souls by Nancy Holder (Fiction)

6) One Thing Or Your Mother by Kristen Beyer (Fiction)

7) Blooded by Christopher Golden & Nancy Holder (fiction/ trite metaphors & lazy writing)

8) The Fables of Aesop (Ancient morality tales; roots of many now common expressions)

9) So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev (imaginative & shockingly Shakespearian in the best way of course)

10) On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers (Pirate themed fiction, strange misnomers and historical inaccuracies that only someone who studied pirate lore would know)

11) Scandal on Rincon Hill by Shirley Tallman (Fiction; Victorian Murder Mystery, the end was sad but there was a surprising bit of romantic intrigue which makes this unique among Ms Tallman’s Books)

12) Marked by P.C. & Kristin Cast ( Fiction; New take on vampire mythology. Some of the dialogue was a bit pithy but very engaging and hard to put down Plus the cat named Nala gave me the giggles bc my kitten is called Simba)

13) Betrayed By P.C. & Kristin Cast (Fiction; second in the series didn’t disappoint. I found myself utterly spellbound by the story and eager for more)

14) The Pirate’s Pocket Book by Stuart Robinson (Non-Fiction, History. Read like my undergraduate dissertation, to a shocking degree. Kicking myself for not having read it last summer as doubtless it would have been of great help when preparing my senior project. Resplendent with Primary & Secondary Sources, moreover the primary sources included Captain Charles Johnson But, and this is most important, included information on how to attain the other primary sources used in the book, which would’ve been of supreme importance as I did have such a dreadfully hard time of that)

15) Notorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll (non-fiction, 500+ pages, European history, short biographical sketches detailing the best and worse of royal weddings and what really went on beyond “I do” )

16) Chosen by P.C. & Kristin Cast (Fiction)

17) Untamed by P.C. & Kristin Cast (Fiction)

18) The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters Volume 2: Moonsong (Fiction)

19) Timeless by Gail Carriger (Fiction; Miss Carriger’s final novel in the bestselling parasol protectorate series lives up to its predecessors in grand fashion. The Victorian steampunk narrative is set two years after the preceding volume, Heartless, in which Prudence, the metanatural, was born. In this book, the family travels to Egypt with Alexia’s dear friend Ivy, her family, acting troop, a french cross-dresser and a rather astonishing collection of ugly hats. Summoned to the court of the ancient vampire queen of Alexandria, Alexia and Connell are quick to discover that the city is besieged by a rather strong incarnation of the god breaker plague. Hunting down the origin point prompts alexia to uncover more secrets about her father as well as new dimensions and limitations of her own unique powers.)

20) Hunted by P.C. & Kristin Cast (Fiction Vampire Fledgling Zoey Redbird is up against her biggest challenge yet, a fallen angel. With the entire House of Night under his spell, is there anything left for Zoey, her friends, and the red fledglings to fight for anymore? )

21) Tempted by P.C. & Kristin Cast (Fiction)

22) Burned by P.C. & Kristin Cast (Fiction: In this installment of the house of night series, Zoey is gone, her soul is shattered and lost in the world beyond. It is up to her oath bound warrior to travel to the ends of the earth and beyond to help Zoey regain herself, but will the journey kill him?)

23) Awakened by P.C. & Kristin Cast (Fiction: Stevie Rae, Red Vampire and High Priestess finds herself loosing something precious, the man she loves. Problem is he isn’t a man so much as a monster, at least to the rest of the world. When it comes down to choosing her friends over her destiny, is she strong enough to choose love over everything else?)

24) Destined by P.C. & Kristin Cast (Fiction: freed from his servitude to the fallen priestess Neferet, Kalona has to come to terms with a new existence. Will he continue to repeat centuries worth of mistakes or will he choose a new path?)

25) The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice (Fiction: by far my favorite Anne Rice book to date. That is saying something as I’ve read her stuff since I was a little girl. While I will freely admit some of the philosophical elements were a little over my head, I loved the character of Reuben and Stuart. Reuben I could relate to because he is like me, practically my age and having grown up in a world I understand. Stuart was hilarious, a bit like a puppy in his mannerisms, his desire to know everything, to savor all that life has to offer. The author description of him is a bit like a cherub but it’s quite clear that he, too, is the spirit of this age. He’s full of vitality and exuberance. It gives him a charm all his own. But by far my favorite part of this is that while it has tragic portions, it isn’t a tragedy. At least not in the same way that the Mayfair witches was. There was something infinitely sad about the aforementioned series that there isn’t here. While you do see the questioning of existence, and the ageless agnostic questions, the simple truth that life can be wonderful if you let it is seeping from the pages of the book. Anne Rice’s perception of the werewolf is also extraordinary for a few reasons. She is returning to the Lon Cheney standard, in that the man wolf is a combination of both human and wolf traits, and not fully one or the other while in the grips of the change. This is significant, particularly as the modern perception of werewolves has been as wolves. But there is also the point of fact where she is reinventing the wheel. Essentially, in the idea that the werewolf is in, for the most part, complete conscious control of his or her actions. This is extremely significant as it pertains to this new mythology Anne Rice is creating. It becomes the cornerstone. They are cast as vigilante style heroes for the most part. Unable to fully be embraced for the good they do because of the blood that is shed when they do it. But this does not tarnish the notion of her wolves as being “good guys” for all practical purposes. I gave this book the virtue of my unbiased observation, I refused to read any reviews or anything that might prejudice my opinion. But I can honestly say I loved this book for everything that made it unique.)

26) The Death and Life of Superman by Roger Stern (Fiction: I can honestly say this one threw me for a loop. It had a bit in common with Superman Returns, a favorite film of mine (I know a lot of comic book folks don’t like it but I do so that’s the important part) I wasn’t familiar with the 1992 Superman, as I was really too little to remember it. But I found in this book things that tied to Smallville Series and the aforementioned film. The idea of a full length novel being made from a comic book is amazing. But more than that, the novel was just good. It was a great story. I especially love the integration of superboy. I’ve been watching young justice lately, and this backstory fits with theirs pretty closely. What is even more remarkable though is, since I’m unfamiliar with the 1992 story, was just how much I could appreciate the story just as it stands, with nothing more than just
the story.)

27) Private Eye Protector by Shirlee McCoy (fiction)

28) Vigee Le Brun by Haldane Macfall (Nonfiction, Biography;   Madame Elizabeth Vigee le brun is my favorite artist. She was a fashionable painter in the reign of Louis XVI and, if this book is accurate, was born the same year as Marie Antoinette. She roamed Europe after the french revolution, painting in the courts of monarchs in Russia, Italy (Italian states), England, Switzerland and German states. What I love about her stuff is this beautiful softness they have. There is boldness and life to them. I first discovered her work while on a fieldtrip in high school. I was attending an exhibit on European masterworks at the frist when I saw this beautiful piece, striking gilt frame, the figure depicted was soft and feminine but had a vitality to it. I came back after school and purchased a print of the only work the frist had in it’s giftshop with the artist’s name on it. Throughout the years since, I’ve done research about her but I’ve come to find information hard to come by. And prints even harder. That’s why this book was so intriguing. Published (according to a google search on it) in 1922, this volume told the story of her life, punctuated with images from some of her most popular pieces. Now most people will not recognize her name, but if they’ve ever seen a portrait of marie Antoinette, like as not it was one she painted. According to the book, the artist would paint 30 portraits for marie during her short reign. Add that to the fact that Madame Vigee Le brun lived to be 87 (at least according to this book) you can imagine her body of work is extraordinary. As is her success as a woman and as a respected artist. She was respected all over Europe and in the times after the revolution, her work was much sought by some of the most powerful people on the continent. One thing though is as someone who has studied history and therefore read thousands of biographies, it was very clear that the author here wasn’t terribly familiar with the idea that a biographer should, by and rights, be impartial. His personal feelings are interjected so often into the narrative that it almost comes off as he’s trying to fight with someone standing next to him discounting every word he writes. It is excusable on some counts because material about her is difficult to find today. But there was one thing about this particular volume to which there was no excuse…someone had torn out one of her paintings from this book. I found it appalling to disgrace a book about art by tearing out a painting. Thanks to the magic of google though I was able to print out a photocopy of that particular painting and return it to the book. All the same though, adding something to an antique book was almost as much of a sacrilege as taking something out and I was loathed to do it. The only reason I did was out of respect to the artist. But I had to fight with the preservationist in me to not deface it further…)

29) High Crimes and Misdemeanors by Ann Coulter (non-fiction/Politics(?)/recent history(?) I couldn’t tell with this one because it is a dated political critique, if it qualifies as recent history at this point or not. It is important though to see what people expected out of a president prior to 9-11. There is no question in my mind that the people who could put up with Clinton’s disgraceful behavior, could stomach the reprehensible actions of Barack Obama. And true to form, this book was meticulously researched and flawlessly defended (as evidenced by 35 pages of endnotes)

30) Her Guardian by Sharon Dunn (Fiction; the back story of the novel seems loosely based on Elizabeth Smart, but from there things take a very different turn)

31) Angel of Vengeance by Trevor O. Munson (Fiction; Supposedly this novel inspired the moonlight television series. Well, this is one of the first times I can honestly say I liked the interpretation better than the novel. I read a lot and normally that isn’t so. The problem is that for one thing the book starts very drolly. It gets better as you go but that slow beginning really hurts it in the long run. Also, one thing is drummed completely to heart. The television show was something a girl could get into. The book…not so much…for a good portion of it…it’s a choice between good stripper/bad stripper; not something any girl really enjoys if you get right down to it. The characters were for the most part unsympathetic and the ending unrewarding. Also the very trite name of Mick Angel was rightly changed for the television incarnation, as Mick Angel seems very much to be ripping of Joss Whedon’s Angel…a Private Eye Vampire in LA…yea that’s a flat out rip off any way you slice it.)

32) Accidentally Demonic by Dakota Cassidy (Supernatural Fiction; great characters, hilarious story, I really loved just about everything about this book, looking forward to tracking down the entire series J )

33) Lost Island by Phyllis A. Whitney (Fiction; I loved this one, the suspense is typical of this author, in that you think you know who the bad guy is but the author always has that final curve ball waiting just around the corner, unpredictable and impossible to put down)

34) The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl (Fiction, very detailed and in the vein of Elizabeth Kostova’s novel, the historian, in that a fictional character, acting as a detective, uses the skills of a researcher to try and discover the truth about a historical event. In this case, however, the fictional character is a contemporary of the historical figure which is the subject of the character’s investigations. Just like Kostova’s masterpiece, this is not a quick read. Because it’s so detailed and thought provoking, it takes about a week to really do it justice. But it’s an amazing trip into this very detailed world, and though yes it takes a week to really read it, it’s worth every moment. Very intelligent fiction)

35) Longing for Home by Kathyrn Springer (Fiction)

36) Avalon by Stephen R. Lawhead (Fiction, the lush detailed world of ancient Britain has given way to a pseudo modern equivalent in this, the conclusion of Lawhead’s Arthurian saga. In it we meet the reborn Arthur as he vies to reestablish the monarchy of Britain which is about to meet its end at the hands of the prime minister who has styled himself as the first president of Britain. Now looking at this from a democratic standpoint, it’s almost as if the idea of democracy itself is vilified in portions of Lawhead’s book, the casting of the villain of the story as a proponent of the dissolution of the monarchy makes that particular element difficult to swallow. That being the only object I would wage to what is an exhilarating and engrossing story.)

37) The Sisters Grimm: The Council Of Mirrors by Michael Buckley (Fiction: the final volume in his sister’s grimm series is both inevitable and unpredictable. It seems quite incredible that it could be both at the same time but somehow that’s really the only way to describe it. Sabrina & Daphne are face to face with their fondest desires, to have their family back again but this same family, after having seen so much heartache, is it even possible for things to ever be as they were. And would they really want them to if it came right down to it?)

38) The Bridge to Never Land by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson (Fiction; Once again, though I freely admit I get a bit of a silent glee from seeing WDW in the fictional world, I am constantly stunned by the fact that the author gets some very simple things wrong. In the last Ridley Pearson novel which featured WDW, Mr. Pearson mixed up the simple geographical locations of the countries which surround world showcase. In essence, he messed up the order and had the kids in his books running through 5 different countries on their way to a location which was, in fact, only one country away from their starting mark. In this book, it is no different. This time, Mr. Pearson misnamed one of the attractions. It’s a glaringly obvious flub, but one I guess no one else noticed. I contacted Mr. Pearson about his last mistake but received no response leading me to believe that he doesn’t actually care if he screws something up. After all……it’s just fiction)

39) The Cowboy’s Homecoming by Brenda Minton (Fiction, just a very sweet story. But I’m not into the whole cowboy genre thing, having only been “out west” once in my life, and then only to southern california so I don’t think that counts)

40) Frontier Father by Dorothy Clark (Fiction)

41) Marrying the Preacher’s Daughter by Cheryl St. John (Fiction; not the best written book but there were some really good parts)

42) The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan (Fiction; the final book in the Kane Chronicles, Egyptian mythology blended with modern life in a way that is characteristic of Rick Riordan and his attempts to make ancient mythology accessible. I’m sorry to see the series die, though some fans of his work never got into the Kane Chronicles, I did. I find them imaginative and engrossing. The only comment I could possibly make is to the scitzophrenic nature of the narration. You do get used to it if you read the entire series but when that first book came out, it was difficult to get a handle on)

43) Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler (nonfiction, biography; This book was a very difficult read for only two reasons. One, it was nearly a 1000 pages and two it was huge, small print and the size of a text book. Be that as it may, this is probably the best biographical sketch I’ve ever seen on Walt Disney, this including the ones released by the Disney company. In fact, after reading this, the others seem to be lacking somehow. He explained away the negative slants from that Disney bio I read last December, the origins of those stories that were told therein and why they were told and retold (interestingly, some of the worst of them had their roots in a disgruntled Disney employee named Art Babitt who apparently absolutely hated Walt. But it is, above all else, the sort of book which makes you feel like suddenly you understand something that you didn’t before, and that you are a more educated and better person having finished it. It’s a great book, it really is, but only if you have what amounted to almost a month to get through it. Which, luckily, I did)

44) The Accidental Werewolf by Dakota Cassidy (Fiction, this author is the pinnacle of scarcastic, funny and romantic chaos, with the supernatural thrown in like icing on an already amazing cake. I love the accidentally series J )

45) Monster High 4: Back and Deader than Ever by Lisi Harrison (Fiction, I read a lot of different kinds of books. Some of them are teen fiction series. Why? Well sometimes the stories are awesome. This is the case with these books. The stories are so unique and fun that, irregardless of them being teen books, they are pretty amazing. The stories tell of a town where monsters have been hiding for almost a century. The tiny town of Salem. And no…not the Salem Massachusetts…though that’s where they thought they were headed originally. There are two new girls in Salem…Frankie…freshly built and ready to begin life as a regular teenage girl…and Melody, transplant from LA who always felt a little bit outside of her California blonde tanned family. As it unfolds, the simple message of being different and accepting those differences, even if they are as bizarre as being a monster of some sort, is a common theme but it is represented so well in this series. By casting monsters in the role out outcasts fighting desperately for a place in the world, the author has exposed the fundamental need in everyone to belong. Having felt like a fish out of water most of my life, it’s a theme I can willingly embrace.)

46) Impossible Journeys by Mathew Lyons (Non-fiction, History: Impossible Journeys tells the story of the ridiculous claims made by early explorers. In some cases, it lead to the downfall of particular expeditions, in others it lead to maps which were utterly ridiculous and lead to the failure of other expeditions which had, as is expected, relied on those maps. I found it extremely fascinating and some of it was rather hilarious.)

47) Accidentally Dead by Dakota Cassidy (Fiction, this series is so much fun. The characters are rich and real which I love. I giggled so much reading this book J The thing I love best about this author is the fact that she is taking such a tired old theme as oops you’re a monster…my bad….and making it just so delightful to read.)

48) The Accidental Human by Dakota Cassidy (Fiction; this book had a lot of really fun tie ins to the previous two in the series. Add a pretty kick ass cover and some very heartfelt pieces about philosophical musings on mortality and love, it is definitely the most involved issue in the series thus far…But I have two more I haven’t read yet but I’m really excited. I love the humor in this series so much, as that is something I don’t see very often in the books I read nowadays. I need a little humor in my life…it brings some vibrancy to the monotony.)

49) Accidentally Catty by Dakota Cassidy (Fiction; completely charming with a frenzied pace to every page. Nothing in this book happened slowly. Take small town vet, add amnesiatic shifter and you’ve got a concoction rife with humor and heart. Like the others in this series, this book was simply purrrfect J )

50) Accidentally Dead, Again by Dakota Cassidy (Fiction, Vampire secret agent man=EPIC J )

51) Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (Fiction, Never was a tv show more perfectly adapted to the source material then the one which was inspired by this novel. The first volume of the song of ice and fire series follows nearly word for word off the first season of the HBO series, Game of Thrones. The book was published more than 10 years prior, which makes the stunning adaptation all the more surprising. There are three notable exceptions in the retelling of the story. One: In the series, in true HBO style, there is a lot of gratuitous sex, Two: there is little mention of Lord Renly being queer, though that was a central plot line in the show and Three: The main reason Catelyn went into battle personally was to reach Riverrun and her father and brother therewithin. Neither of them is a character in the series, and neither features prominently in the adaptation.)

52) Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris (Fiction, Sookie’s marriage to Eric is on the rocks in the light of a dead stripper in Eric’s front yard and a contract signed by Eric’s maker. The combination is enough to strain anyone’s relationship. Add that to the fae drama and the local were pack, things are getting rather complicated for the waitress from bon temps.)

53) Zero Visibility by Sharon Dunn (Fiction, this book and the one I read right before it featured homicidal antiques dealers…I hadn’t realized that was a thing people actually feared….lol)

54) Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs (Fiction; Murder Mystery: Anthropologist Temperance Brennan is responsible for the unidentified and degraded remains which arrive in both Charlotte, NC and Quebec. In this volume, she is in North Carolina, and the remains are centered around that most southern of pastimes, NASCAR. Like me, Tempe is no fan of the redneck sport. But throughout the course of the investigation, the superfans turn dark. The story centered around remains discovered at a landfill on the grounds of the speedway in Charlotte. The unidentified remains prompt speculation and relatives of missing persons to come out of the woodwork to see if this is their missing relative. One of them is a member of a pitcrew at the speedway who tells Dr Brennan about his sister and her boyfriend who went missing in 1998. The time period fits the remains but further research into the missing persons case from 98 reveals an apparent coverup and improper handling of the case with the FBI. True to form, Dr Brennan finds herself in a dangerous situation when she runs afoul of former members of a white supremacy group. What is their connection to the missing young couple? And what about to the body in the landfill? And just how many bodies will pile up before Brennan figures that out?)

55) Plain Secrets by Kit Wilkinson (fiction, a man with an amish upbringing is forced to return to his roots in the light of a horrible murder. Faced with the woman who’s rejection of him caused him to leave the amish lifestyle originally, he must once again make the choice btw the life he was born for and the life he chose.)

56) Kingdom Keepers: Shell Game by Ridley Pearson (Fiction, the latest of the kingdom keeper’s books finds the keepers themselves drifting apart, as the OTKs become more dangerous, the OT believe their time has finally come. They are done with merely trying to capture or control the Keepers. Now they are out for blood. Will rifts among the keepers allow them to do so?)

57) History of Rock City by Jeffrey Beard (History/Travel: This beautifully illustrated volume tells the tale of the founding of rock city and how it became the tourist attraction it is today. I purchased two volumes on the history of Rock City while I was there in June but this volume appealed to me because of the full color illustrations which set it apart from the other, though the other certainly appears to be more comprehensive.)

58) Small Town Protector by Hope White (Fiction; the thing about this book and the others of the similar genre that I’ve read is that the villains seem scary in the beginning but the author sort of tapers them off. By the time you get to the final reveal, the villain (murderer or whatever he may be) doesn’t seem all that terrifying)

59) “The Park” After Dark by Richard Carradine (Folklore; Okie I made a mistake with this book….I read it all in one sitting in the middle of the night….yea still kinda freaked out. It wasn’t well written and most of it seemed to be overly-opinionated bunk but some of it actually matched up with what I’ve learned about real people who were killed at Disneyland. A lot more were than the book mentioned, this I know for sure. Also I’ve heard a different version of a couple of the tales mentioned. Still I doubt I’m gonna get much sleep after reading this bc I’m really kinda jumpy now…still scary even if it wasn’t a particularly good book.)

60) Paragon Walk by Anne Perry (Fiction, Murder Mystery; Murder has touched the affluent community of Paragon Walk and carried away (amid vulgar scandal) a young lady from one of the walk’s oldest and most distinguished families. Now it’s a race against the clock to find the murderer before he or she strikes again)

61) Resurrection Row by Anne Perry (Fiction, Victorian Murder Mystery; Seemingly unrelated corpses are being disinterred all around London by persons unknown. The gruesomeness of the deed itself is shocking but the fact that it keeps happening convinces Inspector Pitt that there must be a murder to be covered up somewhere amid the corpses.)

62) The Temporary Betrothal by Lily George (Fiction, Sophie Handley, impoverished but well-born, has traveled to the city of Bath in order to make her fortune as a dressmaker. She has landed a good position as a private seamstress in the home of one of Bath’s most distinguished nobles. She is finally making her own way. But one rainy encounter with an old friend changes everything. Suddenly making her own dreams come true is no longer enough for Sophie. She wants something more now. She wants him.)

63) Wyatt: Return of the Cowboy by Cathy McDavid (Romance; Fiction: Just a sweet little fluffy story. I enjoyed it though so that was nice lol)

64) Bullseye by Virginia Smith (Suspense Fiction)

65) Rutland Place by Anne Perry (Fiction, Victorian Murder Mystery)
66) The Diamond Secret by Lenora Worth (Suspense Fiction)

67) Oh my Gods by Philip Freeman (Mythology: clever title aside, some of the stories seemed as if the reader wasn’t being given enough information in order to enjoy them. It was clear that he had diverging sources because he often mentioned two versions of the same story and tried to tie them into the narrative. It didn’t always work out right. All in all, not a terrible book but not all that great as far as mythologies go)

68) Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer (Fiction, a none too subtle environmentalist message is forgivable by the delightfulness of the narrative. It wouldn’t be appreciated by someone who hadn’t read the other “Fowl” books, but if one had, it is a great story)

69) The Doctor’s Newfound Family by Valerie Hansen (Fiction)

70) Sex with Kings by Eleanor Herman (History, the subtitle was a bit misleading. It says that the book will deal with 500 years of history. More true is that it will mainly focus on merely 3 monarchs, Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Charles II. Perhaps because better records were kept, perhaps because in the age of absolutism, the king was all powerful and made no attempts to hide marital infidelity. While other monarchs and their courtesans were mentioned, these three hold sway in practically every chapter.)

71) A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (Fiction, once again the series has proven itself more or less in tune with the books. This volume, however, slightly less. The fall of winterfell, for instance, the burning of it mind, is attributed not to a revolt against Theon by his warriors from the iron islands but rather to a separate invading army as a revenge against both theon and the starks for some slight upon his person. And Arya’s escape from harrenhall was also abridged in the series and did not include her rescue of the northerners held prisoner in the dungeon nor her escape from them to save her own skin when the castle was abandoned by the northerners in the wake of the defeat of stannis in king’s landing.)

72) Yuletide Peril by Terri Reed (Fiction, the title made absolutely no sense as the story had nothing which showed it to be set in the Christmas season. There was no reason to call it yuletide anything.)

78) Hidden by P.C & Kristin Cast (Fiction, I don’t know what it is about this house of night series but I’m completely hooked by the books. I discovered it earlier this year and every time I get a new volume, I find it completely impossible to put down. Very few books are that captivating so bravo to the authors)

79) The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Fiction; the grand plans set in the previous volume follow through in this new installment. Percy and company find themselves manipulated into starting a new war by the mother of all baddies (literally) It’s a race against the clock to make it to Rome in time)

80) Season of Dreams by Jenna Mindel (Fiction: sweet but forgettable)

81) The Colonel’s Daughter by Debby Giusti (Fiction)

   So, as you can see I didn't get past 81 on my list. And here's why. Last fall I received some distressing news and I won't bog down anyone with the whole story but the long and short of it is that I ended up having to move...and downsize in a big way. Now I know there is no recourse to bothering to complain and goodness knows it never made anything better. Doesn't make it easier to cope with though. Maybe it's the city girl in me but I absolutely hate Madison. I swear the motto for that place should be "just passing through" and I really wish I was. There is nothing there. It's essentially a wasteland of dirty, dank and depressing. Moreover it's much further from work so I'm going through gas like nobody's business. Which also sucks. 

   Another unfortunate side effect of the move is there are people keeping track of my comings and goings. Not so nice. I like to work late. I love it actually. I'm more of a night owl by nature and paperwork and things just seem to get done better after hours where I'm not playing receptionist in addition to everything else. Used to be as long as I got what I needed to get done then it didn't matter how I chose to get it accomplished. Now it does. And gotta say really not loving that either. 

   But as it relates to the book issue...well...in the 3 months or so that I had to get everything packed up (didn't really get everything done by drop dead date...but more on that later) I had ZERO free time. That means no reading. Which pretty much stopped my little book endeavor cold. BUT I decided to try again this year as I seriously doubt I will be moving again perhaps I can get a better value for the true capacity of that enterprise. But I've decided on two things. First, I'm going to use the goodreads app to chart it this time and second I am going to pay close attention to "pages read" as several of the books from last years list were in excess of 1000 pages and it wasn't really taken into account. It won't change the totals but it will certainly make me feel better lol 

   I've been asked by someone who just discovered the blog yesterday to take down some posts. After careful thought I reviewed the post in question where he was not mentioned by name as he stipulated. But I firmly believe in the power of free speech so for the time being it stays up...however I have removed the link from my newly revamped website because, although completely healthy, it isn't professional to rant. But the post in question is more than two years old and I know for a fact that this page is not read by enough people for it really to get spread around. So on that account I'm not worried. 

   Speaking of the website I do have awesome news on that front. In the past 3 months, I have been working on a grand relaunching of the website and the creation of a brand new facebook page for Cameos By Katrina. cameosbykatrina.webs.com will remain the website for the brand however the facebook page, while not rolling in likes, is getting some traction so it is on there where a lot of attention has been lavished. Just yesterday I ran a full inventory of all pieces currently in stock, updated the inventories on the website and the facebook page. I also radically redesigned the website. A completely new look. I probably need to tweak it some more but I can honestly say I think it looks fantastic. Which is the point, after all. 

   Also for the past few days I had been looking for jewelry cards for the vintage collection. Something to make it look less like a bunch of stuff just dumped on a tray at the festival (more on that later). After having zero success in finding what I wanted, I resorted to attempting to make some on monday night after class (more on that later as well). Which failed. Tuesday I was checking emails and doing some more looking for jewelry cards when I came upon this blog of someone who used recycled paper and rubber stamps to create her own jewelry cards. I wasn't a huge fan of the way she did it but I went to talk to Forrest about rubber stamping. He explained the whole process of cutting a stamp and everything but then he said he didn't understand why I didn't just do it on the computer. I said I'd tried that the night before and it failed. And that was that.
    BUT one of my bad habits is I don't like problems I can't solve. Hate them in fact. They drive me insane. So all day in the back of my mind as I was working and after work when I was running inventory (which took over 4 hours) I couldn't get what Forrest said out of my mind. So I went back to the one I had been playing with Monday night and worked on it more, manipulated sizes, images, the whole thing done to match the style of the price list I made over the weekend. 
   Then I came up with what you see here. Took alot of work to get everything secured into the cards and everything, the most difficult being the pendants without chains which required a little idea on my part which seemed to work fine. I took some of the cards and put two small holes in them that I made with a pilot V5 fine tip pen. Why? because that allowed for the hole itself to be small and soft and the surrounding card to be stable enough for what I wanted to try. Next I cut a small piece of beading wire which I first strung the cameo on. Next I put the two ends of the beading wire through the holes I had made in the card. Finally, I twisted the two ends on the back together until they were all braided and taped it down to prevent unraveling 

   As you can imagine, this wasn't easy to do but I gotta say I felt so accomplished when I got it done, you've no idea. 

  Now you're probably wondering why now. After all, I've had the Cameo thing going since 2007 and it hasn't really paid out much in years. Sure I sold some to friends and coworkers over the years, some even in the Tennessee State University Art Department. I even had a couple offers to put them on consignment (those didn't really end up happening unfortunately). But everything changed when the economy took the turn for the worst. The office moved locations, there was no longer any foot traffic to sell them there and a lot of the agents we used to have decided that they couldn't afford to be in real estate when they weren't making money so there goes the coworker market. With very little left aside from friends, it became a lost cause no matter how much I wanted it to work, it just stopped doing any business at all aside from the occasional sale.  Naturally this was rather disheartening. But I've failed before and will fail again so it was just something I had to deal with. 

   This past January, however, my friend Barbara (who recently got married, congrats!!!) was sharing a picture of a quartz pendant. I happened to mention I've worked with quartz chips and I sent her the link to the page. Apparently this was some information I'd never told her about before. And she was asking why I didn't have a facebook page set up for it. Honestly, the thought had just never occurred to me. I mentioned that I had a website but that it wasn't really getting much traction. Nevertheless, she was completely correct when she said it can't hurt and might help. So I got to work on the designing of it and uploading all the pictures and everything and I got it all set up. It had some activity but mostly friends and no serious people and I started to get discouraged again. 

   Then last Thursday I was running errands for Mom because Dad was busy working with buyers and I ended up having to fight traffic all the way to hillsboro village and back. At like 3:30 in the afternoon. Moreover, I didn't get there until after 4 and didn't get back to east until 5 (again...thank you traffic o.O) naturally by the time I got back to east I was maybe a half hour from when I would have to go to class so I decided to stay close to lockeland springs to avoid the traffic that would've been involved trying to get back to cleveland park at rush hour. I thought maybe I'd go grab a sandwich or something at drifters but the parking lot was full and the lot across the street is now a pay lot and there's no way I'm doing that. 

  A bit let down but still having some time to kill I continued up 11th street intending to find a place to turn around when I happened upon something I hadn't seen before. Curiosity won out and I parked behind the 37206 building and walked across to these cute little cottage looking shops. Each one was rather small..perhaps the size of a small hotel room if you took out the bathroom section. The first store I happened into was a little old fashioned apothecary shop called "High Garden". They sold hand blended loose leaf teas, herbs and herbal remedies. It was pretty awesome actually. I took in the very old fashioned vibe of the place and the engaging artsy staff as they explained the products and what everything was. Left the shop with three kinds of mint tea to try and a very positive outlook on the little area which held a little of the atmosphere of new orleans square in disneyland, that kinda quiet small secluded streets with the little shops lined up and to make things better it was a beautiful day, with warm sun and a lovely refreshing breeze. I just had this "all is right with the world" vibe that was very rejuvenating. further exploration revealed maybe a dozen or so small intimate little artisan shops. One had homemade beads and pendants which were really nice, the ones I really loved, however, were too large for what I do so I passed on snagging any. Another store I went into sold leather purses that had a very wild quality. I don't mean like zebra stripes or anything so tacky as that, but the material, the way it was used, the ends weren't nice and rounded off with a little stitching, no, they were more raw than that, looking like the edges of a pelt I saw being scrapped at Jamestown when I was a kid. I really loved the look. I chatted with the shop keeper who mentioned his desire to maybe get into real estate upon which I gave him a card lol. Next stop was a little vintage place where the owner would go to estate sales and places of that nature and bring back vintage trinkets, plates, ect. The place reminded me alot of my personality, with the antiques everywhere with some handmade artisan stuff kinda thrown in here and there. 

  I happened to stop into another little store. The nice lady who ran that one sold jewelry, clothing, scarves and bags. Not really my style but I did chat with her for a little while whist exploring her shop. I happened to mention that I sold jewelry too, tried to show her the facebook page which didn't cooperate bc my phone was dying. But she mentioned that the little pavillian at the edge of their shopping complex was having a festival in april. She asked if I'd ever considered doing a fair or festival or something of that nature. I mentioned that I did one once and it didn't go well. But then she mentioned that she had a booth at the tomato fest last year and sold like 700 pieces. Now that got my attention in a big way. She gave me the card of the woman who was organizing the "Honeybee" festival. Granted, I don't know that I expect to sell anything at all BUT the booth is only $40 dollars so if I just sell one then that pretty much pays for the right to be there. That's not an unreasonable goal. 
   So I contacted the east-centric pavillian people on facebook. Their response was quick and encouraging and I asked for information about the process and what I needed to have and everything of that nature. I just signed the contract and put down my vendor fee deposit monday afternoon so now I'm officially doing a booth. 

   As you can see, all of this happened by chance but this time I'm really throwing myself into this. All out. I want to succeed here. I want this to work, and I do believe in it. This time I don't intend to stop. This time I want this to work bad enough that I'm going to keep at it until it does. Who knows...maybe it never will. But I'll never know if I don't try. So I've thrown myself into planning the booth with reckless abandon. I even ordered one of those square things so I can take credit cards (they're free so why not!) The more I do the more excited I get which is making me nervous. I'm afraid I'm going to get my hopes up on this and fail, like everything else. 

  But you know something? You never succeed if you don't have the courage to try. I know I'm meant to do something creative. I know it. I happened to fall into the life I have and yea most of the time it pays the bills but it doesn't make me happy. I like to think I have good taste and maybe this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Not that I'm giving up on what I really want but this makes me happy. Even if I never do break even...maybe it making me happy is all that needs to happen. I just kinda want other people to see what I see when I look at a tray full of unset pieces. To me I see the history, the heritage of this type of jewelry. I see how classic and how beautiful it really is. I do this because I appreciate everything they can be, the endless possibilities. One simple unset cameo can be made into just about anything and there in lies the wonder. 

    I mentioned a few things previously that I said I'd clarify. First of all about the "drop dead date" The movers were scheduled to come for the furniture and we were supposed to be ready to go at that point. Unfortunately for me, I caught that horrible flu that was going around. Day of the move I got the fluffies packed up to go and by the time I got them down to the car I couldn't move. It got worse throughout the day...by the time the movers arrived I was sitting in a corner at the new place coughing and hacking and snuggled under a blanket.That night me and the same blanket were to be found in the middle of the floor (being as my bed was discovered to NOT FIT in the new place) The weeks that followed consisted of mostly sleeping...as I wasn't capable of doing much else. Much to my chagrin, everything I hadn't packed prior to the arrival of the movers was just sitting there. Not getting touched. And the worst part for me was that I could do nothing about it. When I was finally well enough to return to packing...there was a lot left and a deadline looming over my head. Let's just say December was a month that I hope someday I forget. 

      The other thing I thought I'd explain is my class. As you know, I hope, I graduated from college in December of 2011. The class I'm talking about now is a dance class...but no I didn't return to franklin ballroom (can't stand the new instructor guy....he's just a pompous jerk who smells terrible and seems not aware that arms belong inside the arm socket) Last fall I had a lady come to my office to do a rental app. I talked to her for a little while and she mentioned a class that she was taking. Belly dance. She told me about it and it actually is something I've always admired since I was a little girl at the morroccan restaurant at disney and the dancer comes into the audience and brings people out to come and dance..she shows them a couple moves and they dance too for a little bit and everyone claps. To me they always seemed so exotic and graceful. So after some wrestling with my own confidence issues and a pep talk from my friend Jazz I decided to try it. It is scary and I feel clumsy and awkward but I still admire it as much as I ever did, if not more so now that I'm aware of just how difficult it is. I took that first class, and another session after the first of the year. Started on my 3rd session about a week ago plus a new monday night class. Honestly if you'd told me a year ago I'd be taking bellydance classes I probably would've laughed myself silly. But I'm actually really glad I'm doing this. I wish I didn't feel so much like a hippo among swans but I hope that will pass. 

  Please check out the new facebook page at facebook.com/CameosbyKatrina and visit  my newly revamped website at cameosbykatrina.webs.com..

  Until next time!

No comments: