Saturday, October 31, 2009

I threw a Halloween party last weekend, and these are the pumpkin pies I made. Topped with real whipped cream, they were delicious!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

the buck stops here...

On Monday night as I was driving home from work, I saw a big white blur leaping at me on the driver's side, and all I could think was, "DEER!" My mind was filled with blind panic, and I didn't know what to do. But while I was busy being unable to think, an angel was driving for me, because somehow I managed to brake, swerve, AND not end up in the ditch. The deer-- a huge white buck-- impacted heavily with a CRUNCH of glass and metal on the front left-hand corner of my truck, tearing out the headlight and putting a huge dent in the hood. (All I was actually aware of at the time was the crunching sound and the screeching of my tires across the rain-slicked pavement.) After I came to a complete stop on the side of the road and stopped hyperventilating enough to realize I needed to turn on my emergency lights and find my cell phone, I saw that the buck was lying on the opposite shoulder of the road-- definitely dead. I started tearing up a bit, not for the buck but from the aftershock, and proceeded to call my dad and the police department (in that order.)

God was definitely watching over me that night. If anything about the crash scenario had been even the slightest bit different, the buck would have hit on the driver's side door, and I would have had a faceful of shattered glass and a trip to the emergency room at the very least. Thankfully, I came out of it unscathed (if a bit shaken), my truck is still driveable (though in need of a new headlight), and God is good!

I had my dad come pick me up, as there was no WAY I thought I could drive after that. While I was waiting for him to arrive and the police officer was finishing up, the officer came and asked me, "Do you want the deer?" I wasn't expecting the question, and I laughed a little and said, "Um, NO."

After Dad came to drive me home, I thanked God for keeping me safe and thanked Him for my life. After I got home, I realized that there were two more things that God had done to keep me safe: 1) None of my friends were avaliable, so I hadn't been on my cell phone, and 2) My umbrella, which is one of the long lance-like ones from Barnes and Noble (not the little fold-up jobs), usually sits quietly on the passenger seat next to me so that I won't forget to use it. Normally it behaves itself and stays wherever I put it, but that night it was flopping all over the place and getting in my way before I'd even left the parking lot at work. Exasperated, I'd thought, "That's weird," and thrown it behind the seat to keep it out of the way. I'm blown away by the fact that God made my umbrella uncharacteristically annoying so that I wouldn't be impaled by it when I hit the deer!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review: Prom Nights from Hell

Prom Nights from Hell features five mediocre stories about proms gone paranormally wrong. A couple of the stories were entertaining, but most fell extremely short of the mark. This book might be okay if you're looking for something light (read: vapid) to read around Halloween, but it's hardly even worth the time. Overall, the stories weren't particularly well-crafted or even interesting.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I was surprised that I was able to take such a close-up shot of the bee nestled in the flower!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Review: Boys That Bite

This is a vampire book told from an unusual point of view, and it worked really well. Sunshine and Rayne are identical twins who got their names from their ex-hippie parents. Both girls are blonde, but Sunny likes to wear flip-flops, tank tops, and jeans, while Rayne's all about the Goth thing. Told from Sunny's perspective, Boys That Bite utilizes situational humor to poke fun at vampire novels in general. This book made me laugh a lot (sometimes out loud), and I really enjoyed it.

It all starts when Rayne invites Sunny to go with her to a Goth-style (alcohol-free) club called Club Fang. Rayne's supposed to get a "love bite" from her future vampire mate, Magnus, so that she can become a vampire, but unfortunately Magnus gets the wrong girl and bites Sunny instead. But Sunny isn't the one who wants to be a vampire. What follows is a quest to "unvampirize" Sunny and a surprisingly sweet, romantic storyline as Sunny and Magnus find themselves... together.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Review: Blood and Chocolate

If you've seen the movie version of this... I'd recommend that you forget you ever saw it! Hollywood didn't seem to have read the book (and if they did, they completely missed the point). I've never really cared for the title-- it doesn't fit in well with the book, and it usually makes my stomach churn (but it comes from a quote from Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse, which I have not read). That aside, the book itself is much better than its title suggests, though it does have its problems.

Vivian is a young loupe-garou (werewolf) whose pack-family is divided. Her father, the pack leader, died in a fire some time ago, and it's taken some time for the group to recover as far as they have. Which isn't much, Vivian realizes. With so much going wrong at home, Vivian seeks other companions and becomes romantically interested in a human boy at school named Aiden. The rest of the pack members-- especially the Five, the young male werewolves that are Vivian's age-- are not happy about her choice. As her relationship with Aiden progresses, she longs to tell him that she's really a loupe-garou. When she does, he laughs at first, but when she shows him her true form, he (understandably) runs. Vivian wishes he could see how beautiful she knows herself to be, and is upset with him for making Vivian hate herself. By the end of the story, however, she's found the one who appreciates her for herself, and embraces her new role in the pack.

Overall, the book has a pretty good storyline, but I felt that a few of the elements detracted from the point it was trying to make. There's some mild innuendo and sexual content that was unneccessary, and a few darker themes run through the storyline as well, marring an otherwise excellent book.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Review: The Silver Kiss

Similar to Twilight in ways but written in 1990, this has been one of my favorites since I was a teenager. Unfortunately the Twilight Saga may have already pushed this book into oblivion, because the slight romance element in the book that makes it exciting has been far more thoroughly explored in the Stephanie Meyer books. Nevertheless, I still like this one.

Zoe's mother is dealing with cancer, and it seems to be a losing battle. Her father isn't home much because he's usually at the hospital with Mom, and Zoe's best friend Lorraine is moving to Oregon. Everything seems to be going wrong, and Zoe is lonely and having a hard time dealing with the idea that her mother may die. It takes the eventual friendship with a handsome vampire named Simon to help her deal with these issues and learn that life is about more than death.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Book Review: Bunnicula

This favorite kids' book isn't really a 'hare-raising' tale, but it's still a lot of fun. Harold, a dog (and the narrator of our story) and Chester, a cat (who enjoys reading books late at night) are the Monroe family's pets. One night, the Monroes go to see a Dracula movie, and bring home a small bundle. What could it be? Garlic? Popcorn? Or perhaps... a small bunny with curious markings on his fur, and an attached message written in Transylvanian-- Take good care of my baby. The Monroes decide to call the rabbit "Bunnicula" in honor of the Dracula movie where they found him. What ensues is a hilarious read full of white vegetables drained dry of their juices, Chester's attempts to prove that Bunnicula is really a vampire, and the suprisingly simple yet creative solution to the problem.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Book Review: Frankenstein

Everyone knows this classic story-- or do they? Thanks to a lot of Hollywood versions of Frankenstein, perhaps not. Read on! (Note: Please keep in mind that Frankenstein is the name of the doctor, not the actual monster that looks like this picture.)

Initially, this is a hard book to get into, even if you're used to the language typically used in classics. (I am, and this book's opening was still long and monotonous.) The story is begun by a man named Walton, the captain of an icebound ship sailing to the North Pole, who rescues a man from the frozen Arctic wasteland. The rescued man is named Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and he has a terrible story to tell. Victor Frankenstein starts out with a fairly happy, pleasant life until he begins to desire glory. His aspirations drive him more and more, and he craves knowledge. Eventually, he's built up the gall to create a sentient being: a monster made out of dead body parts, stitched and stapled together, and sparked into life by the power of electricity. Although Dr. Frankenstein wanted his creation to be handsome and human-looking, his monster is ugly. (This is partly because Dr. Frankenstein had to enlarge everything in the monster's body to a larger scale, because he was unable to put together something normally-sized-- some body parts are too small for that to have been possible.) Victor Frankenstein's dream of creating a superior, godlike race has failed, and he abandons his unattractive creation.

As Frankenstein's monster starts out trying to find his way in the world alone, thinking that humans are "divine beings," he tries very hard to improve himself so he can fit in. He learns the human languages, helping them "as if by an unseen hand," learning the history of mankind, and trying to make his voice sound less harsh. Frankenstein's creation does everything he can to be accepted, and wants someone to love him. He attempts to communicate with an old blind man, DeLacey, and since DeLacey can't see him, things go fairly well at first. Unfortunately, the blind man's children find him, and they beat him. The monster has been wronged by society, and begins to retaliate against the human race. He curses Dr. Frankenstein, and decides that since he has had to experience suffering, his creator should suffer also. The monster goes on a killing rampage and murders William, Victor's younger brother, and frames a servant for it. The servant is put to death by the law, even though she is actually innocent. Later, Frankenstein's monster kills Victor's bride Elizabeth, as well as his best friend, Henry Clerval, and haunts Victor wherever he goes. The monster is never accepted by society, and it makes him miserable and angry. Frankenstein also denies making the monster a mate, destroying his creation's dreams of happiness. Eventually both Dr. Frankenstein and his monster end up chasing one another to the Arctic region, where Victor is picked up by Walton's ship, and Frankenstein's monster goes further north. In these respective places, both eventually die-- alone, friendless, and far from the reaches of sanity.

Overall, this book isn't really about the Hollywood horror that people generally associate with Frankenstein. Instead, Mary Shelley has used various themes, including that of death, to illustrate her ideals and the development of society. Shelley believed that people were basically good until they were wronged by society, and she shows this view best in Frankenstein's monster. However, the main theme this book struggles to answer is: Who is the real evil-- Dr. Frankenstein, or his creation?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Book Review: A Taste for Red

I first heard about this book on a blog I regularly follow, Miss Print, and it sounded really good. However, when I read it myself, it turned out to be somewhat disappointing. (Sorry, Miss Print. Sorry, Mr. Harris.)

Svetlana is a really fun character to listen to-- smart-alecky and hilarious-- with a preference for eating only red foods, sleeping under her bed, and wearing black. Because of these things, she thinks she's a vampire. (I wish she'd turned out to be one in the book, instead of... what she did turn out to be.) I enjoyed the beginning of this book quite a bit. As it progressed, I felt that it wasn't living up to its inital promise and potential.

Overall, I thought the book had a good and unique idea, if perhaps a little short on plot towards the ending. It's not the worst-written book I've ever read, by far... but it's not really the best of the best, either. Instead of being a book I felt like I must add to my personal library (as I was hoping), it turned out to be one I can live without. (Worth checking out at the local library, though.)

That said, I will say this: This is Mr. Harris's first book, and I've seen FAR WORSE books by more experienced authors, and been left wondering why the publisher let it go through to the printing press. This is not one of those books, and I am eager to see what Mr. Harris will produce next. He has a unique, funny, attention-grabbing writing style that's sure to be appealing with young adults. It's not what I'd call a 'must-read,' but it is at least 'worth reading.'