Saturday, August 30, 2008

He can be My Angel of Music Anytime!

A few weeks ago, Terra57 over at Yankee Romance Reviews asked, what to do with Antonio?

Well here's an idea that I found on YouTube... He's no Michael Crawford, but when you're Antonio Banderas, you don't need to be! ;)



Evil, evil YouTube! You can lose HOURS over there!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Book: Grimspace by Ann Aguirre


Sirantha Jax is a jumper, one of the very few with a genetic constitution that allows her to navigate grimspace. Highly in demand, the Jumpers are rock stars in this world, at least until something goes wrong. Jax is the only survivor of a terrible accident, one which claimed many lives, including that of her lover and pilot Kai. The details surrounding the crash are vague, Jax cannot remember what happened exactly, even through repeated "treatment" at the Corp facility where she's being held. Subjected to brutal mind games, Jax is near the breaking point, and at times is uncertain of whether or not she did cause the crash, though she can't believe that she ever would have.

The Corp controls all the jumpers, and with them most of interstellar travel, but a small faction of rogue fighters has other ideas, and securing Jax is a central part their plan. Breaking her out of the interrogation facility she's in, they spirit her away, back to the small headquarters they have to begin their mission. Jax isn't so sure that her rescue is all it's cracked up to be, and at times even wonders if she might have been better off staying in the Corp holding cells. It seems that she destroys the lives of everyone she touches, but somehow through it all she becomes attached to the motley crew that rescued (kidnapped) her, especially their captain, as hard as they try to fight it.

I actually picked Grimspace up with no previous knowledge of the author while looking for some new Science Fiction, which I claim to like, but then never seem to read any of! Not long after that, I saw my friend Susan over at West of Mars promoting Ann Aguirre and thought, hmmm, I just bought that! I'm glad I did, it was fast paced and full of action, definitely keeping my attention, which I'm afraid at times that Sci-Fi won't. The feel I got from this one was something of a cross between the show Firefly by Joss Whedon and the Crystal Singer series of books by Anne McCaffrey, both highly worth the watch and read if you haven't! I also wasn't the only person to make the Firefly statement, as I saw at least one review on goodreads that said the same thing, after I had already thought that to myself. lol!

This is a debut I will definitely recommend, and I'm looking forward to the next episode of the Sirantha Jax story, Wanderlust, which is out now! If you check on the title link, you'll see that Ann is running a contest this week, so go out and buy them, right now! Borders and Barnes and Noble are open late, and Amazon is always online, so there are no excuses! ;)

Check out Ann's website HERE

Monday, August 25, 2008

HQ/Sil Challenge #2: Wicked Ways by Kate Hoffmann


Title: Wicked Ways
Author: Kate Hoffmann
Date: August 1996
Imprint: Harlequin Temptation #599

Hallie runs the Widow's Walk Inn, her ancestral home in the small town of Egg Harbor in Maine. She's happy with her life for the most part, maintaining the inn with the help of her two great aunts.

Tristan Montgomery is a horror novelist, looking for a quiet place to get away to work on his latest book. He thought that the Widow's Walk would be just the place, quiet and out of the way, so he's surprised when he isn't able to get a room due to a sudden influx of tourists.

The reason? Hallie's great aunts have talked about the family vampire legend to the newspaper and now people are flocking to the town in the hopes of spotting Uncle Nicholas, rumored to be rising from the dead.

Tristan convinces Hallie to put him up anyway, so she lets him take over the partially renovated coach house, separate from the main inn, where he can work in private. Although well known, he doesn't divulge his true identity or profession to Hallie, hoping to remain anonymous long enough to get some work done. He finds the surroundings inspiring, but his odd habits raise some suspicions, and only feed into the vampire frenzy that seems to have taken over the town.

Hallie stubbornly refuses to believe in vampires, but even she has to admit that Tristan's ways are a bit weird, and when the special delivery from his editor arrives, she doesn't know what to think! All she knows is that she's strangely attracted to him, no matter how hard she tries to fight it!

Wicked Ways was cute and fun, Tristan starts out as not so likeable, but you're soon rooting for him to at least escape the attention of Hallie's great aunts, who are determined to produce a vampire come hell or high water! They are a hoot!

I'm ready to pass this loved copy along, as with all my books there is a Bookcrossing label in the front, and while I would LOVE to get a journal entry from the next reader (which you can do anonymously and free if you decide that bookcrossing is not for you) the book will then be yours to do with what you like! If you are interested in reading this one, please comment on this post by September 13th to enter!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Historical Meme

I saw this Meme on Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews and thought it sounded like fun, since I love Wikipedia anyway!

The Meme is to put your birthday into Wikipedia, then list 4 events, 3 births, 2 deaths, and 1 holiday/festival that is observed on that day.

Here was what came up for mine:

Events:
*1098 - First Crusade: Antioch falls to the crusaders after an eight-month siege.
*1850 - The traditional founding date of Kansas City, Missouri. This was the date on which it was first incorporated by Jackson County, Missouri as the "City of Kansas".
*1888 - The poem "Casey at the Bat", by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, is published in the San Francisco Examiner.
*1965 - Launch of Gemini 4, the first multi-day space mission by a NASA crew. Crew-member Ed White performs the first American spacewalk (EVA).

Births:
*1808 - Jefferson Davis, American politician and President of the Confederate States of America (d. 1889)
*1930 - Marion Zimmer Bradley, American author (d. 1999) (she’s a favorite of mine, miss her)
*1936 - Larry McMurtry, American author

Deaths:
*1899 - Johann Strauss II, Austrian composer (b. 1825)
*1975 - Ozzie Nelson, American band leader, producer, director, and actor (b. 1906)

Holiday/Festival:
Roman Empire - Festival to Bellona. (Bellona was an ancient Roman War Goddess. She accompanied Mars into battle and is taken variously as his sister, wife or daughter.)

If you're a history buff/fan you'll enjoy this one. There were many more interesting things than I had room to list. :)

Geocaching Picnic and Our First Travel Bug!

We just got home tonight from the 8th Annual Kansas City Geocaching Picnic! I had no idea what to expect, but when I saw it would be at a park so close to home, I decided we needed to go, so I dragged jezebelsk and her hubby along with us! (That's her version, she really wasn't so hard to convince!) There were in theory 200 some people there, none of whom I'd ever met before, and only a couple that we had corresponded with a tiny bit through e-mails, so being an introvert, I was a little nervous about the whole thing, though excited (hello, geocaching, prizes, coin auction, food, need I say more?). Everyone was super nice, and super into geocaching, we were definitely some newbies with only 32 some caches logged to date. But that didn't matter, they were excited for us to keep going!

There were door prizes (didn't win), a travel bug trade/exchange table (left our very first travel bug ever and picked up a geocoin in trade to help on it's way), t-shirts (yep, we ordered a couple), a coin auction (yep, we won a couple) and lots of other coins and items for sale (didn't get back to here because I'd used my last two checks for the t-shirts and the auction, probably a good thing, could have been a lot more expensive!)

All in all a very fun time, nice people, a beautiful park, and yet another obssessive hobby, as if we needed one! ;)

Here is our first travel bug, we're so proud! It's already on it's way somewhere, I'm excited to get updates on it's travel! We've named it Kill-a-bug Byte #1:



Here is the coin we picked up in trade, it shows Old Faithful on the front and a cowboy riding a bronco on the back:



And here are the two coins we won at the auction, proceeds to go for funding next year's picnic:


This one is a compass rose and says around the outside edge "They say the Earth is flat, but I know it is round for I have seen the shadow on the moon" -- Ferdinand Magellan. I think it's beautiful!



This one is of grey whales, since I love ocean animal pictures, and when the sun hit it on the auction table, I was in love, very sparkly and pretty!

I don't know that either of these auction winnings will make it into a cache, they're just too pretty to let go of, but I did see someone with an album book of coins that were there for participants to "discover" though not take, and people were writing down numbers in a frenzy! It was funny, a little scary, and all together a total feed of the OCD-esque part of this hobby! There were people with travel bug numbered t-shirts, name tags and car stickers! I loved it! I have a whole page of numbers to log in for discovery! And Mr. Shaunie and I have decided we really do need those car stickers, they're great!

It was a great time, and we'll definitely go again next year if at all possible! Thanks to everyone that made the picnic possible!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #14 - What do I need?

This is a meme that I think has been going on FOREVER, in which you type "your name" and "needs" into Google to see what comes up. Recently another friend did it and was interested to see how it came out for me. So here goes. I've replaced my real name (which I used to google) with my alias Shaunie, and rearranged them a bit for maximum comedic value. ;)

Shaunie needs the internet (well duh!)

Shaunie needs to take a break (from the internet obviously!)

Shaunie needs to look for a job (instead of being on the internet, oh wait, you can do that on the internet can't you? Score!)

Shaunie needs to find a new agent (I bet I can do that on the internet too!)

Shaunie needs a bed in Mexico City for about a week in August. (that's news to me, can we visit some ruins?)

Shaunie Needs a Home (I might, if I went to Mexico City without the husband!)

Shaunie needs lots of guidance (oh no! Lost in the ruins! Help!)

Shaunie needs hydration after the walk (well, if I'd just stayed on the internet instead of walking to Mexico City I wouldn't be in this fix, would I?)

Shaunie needs to board the blob ship that is hovering overhead. (oh my, now I'm being abducted by aliens? Once again, proving if I'd just stayed on the internet this wouldn't have happened!) This one showed up a lot so I wanted to see where it came from: http://www.mazeguy.net/blobs2.html

Shaunie needs a very strong, patient adoptive family (I certainly will after all this jaunting around I've been doing. I don't know that my current family will take me back!)

Shaunie needs money (that's a definite after this Mexico City trip!)

Shaunie needs to go to school, and she needs her coffee to do so (oh no, you are NOT getting me back in school, but I will take the coffee!)

Shaunie needs a man (well, I have one, and he really wasn't too keen on me getting another one! However, the first one that came up for him was that he needed nude models! Well, if he gets nude models, that I think I can certainly have another man, don't you think?)

Thanks for the visit!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Giveaway #6: A Babe in Ghostland

Case Lambert has a problem. He's just bought himself an old Victorian house to restore, and it's haunted big time, only he doesn't believe in ghosts. Surely everything he's experienced can be explained away somehow... or can it? That's what sends him to Megan Barrows, owner of Antique Fancies, a small antiques store in town. He's hired Eric Ramsey, a supposed supernatural expert, to help explain the activity in the house, and in turn Eric recommended Megan, believing her to be one of the few genuine mediums he knows. He believes Megan will be able to determine if there are any ghosts residing at the house or not.

Case gives Megan a bit of a test with an old watch that belonged to his grandmother before explaining his situation to her. He eventually convinces her to visit the house, no small feat, as a bad past experience while working with Eric and his paranormal investigation group SPIRIT has convinced her she would be perfectly happy only using her ability to fill her store with antiques that harbor happy memories. The temptation of the challenge finally gets to her though, the chance to prove to the skeptical Case that her abilities are real, though she ends up getting into something much deeper than she expected. Case's new home has a few inhabitants with a dark history and their own agenda.

This was my first read by Lisa Cach, and I really enjoyed it. In spite of knowing it was not a "real" ghost story recounting, I still found myself with goosebumps on occasion and reading more quickly to see what happened next! From the cover and the description I expected fast, light and fluffy, and while it was some of that, there was suspense and danger thrown in as well. I will definitely me reading more of Lisa Cach! I especially can't wait to check out George and the Virgin, the title and the description are just too funny!

Check out Lisa Cach's website HERE

And now for the giveaway! My gently loved, Bookcrossing labeled copy is ready to make new friends! I would love it if the winner would make a journal entry for this when they receive it (you can do so anonymously if you decide that you don't want to be a full-fledged member, and it is free), but it will be yours to do with what you like. To enter, please comment on this post, telling me if you do or do not believe in ghosts. I'd be thrilled to hear of experiences you've had! I will choose a winner on September 1st 2008. Remember to leave me a valid e-mail to reach you!

As for my own answer to the question, several people around me have recounted experiences of sightings or activity they couldn't easily explain, but I myself cannot say that I've had such an experience. I also can't say that I'm unhappy about that! I think it would scare me to death to have something happen, though I love to read about it and watch it on TV! Ghost Hunters just cracks me up!

If you like the haunted house idea, I've also got a movie to recommend. The Changeling, starring George C. Scott. My friend DragonGoddess turned me on to this movie one Halloween night and I could not sleep afterwards! It was very scary, but not in a bloody/gory way at all! It was definitely a mind trip, and now I can't help but get goosebumps every time I hear the racquetball my cats like to play with rolling or bouncing across the floor! *shiver* This movie is apparently based on a true story, give it a try!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

All in the Game - Winner!

Okay, so the 15th has come and gone by a couple days, oops!

But I'm back on track, and have chosen my winner!

Tetewa!

Congratulations, you've won this little romantic reality show jaunt from Silhouette Desire!

Please contact me with your snail mail address at shaunesay@gmail.com so I can send it out to you!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Butterflies, Flowers and African Statues

The husband and I made it out to Powell Gardens this past weekend for their Butterfly festival.

The star of their butterfly show is the Blue Morpho, of which there are a couple different kinds, but I think what we saw were the Morpho Peleides, and I'm afraid my pictures don't do them justice. They are quite large, typically from the tip of my thumb to the tip of my little finger if I spread out my hand. Our speciman was a bit washed out, partially because of how humid and slightly foggy it was in the room.



Here is the underside of the Blue Morpho's wings, can you believe that's the same animal?!



Here are some of my other favorites:

A Luna Moth, which I think are just the neatest looking, with big fat fuzzy white bodies, they almost look like they have fur. I was a little creeped out by the fact that once they emerge, they don't have mouths, since they don't eat and only live about a week for the sole purpose of mating. I feel kind of sorry for them!



This next one is some kind of swallowtail butterfly, there are many different kinds of them.



The White Peacock Butterfly



And I have no idea what this one was, but just thought the picture came out REALLY well! I think I have a future as a photographer, don't you? (carefully avoids mention of how many out of focus pictures were deleted! Ah, the wonders of digital cameras!) Okay, having just read the next section of my own post and my link to wiki, I've realized this one is a male Monarch butterfly! I just didn't think he was that big and dark enough to be one, but I guess what we typically think of as very black edgings around orange sections is the female! Look at the wiki pictures and you'll see what I mean. ;)



There was also a Monarch Butterfly tent where there were many displays all about that most famous of butterflies. Monarch tagging is quite the event! I had heard of bird tagging, and other larger animals, but butterflies?! I took this short video of the main butterful conservatory room they had, so you can sort of get an idea of how many were in one room, it's not too good, but I think you can get the idea!



Oh yes, and of course there were flowers, it is a garden after all! ;)







And some other critters that were luckily off the path!



And also some stone statues from Zimbabwe. The exhibit was called Chapungu and apparently each piece represents a story of the Shona people. Here are a few that I liked:





Whew! It was quite a trip, but well worth it! Every year we visit out there it's just getting bigger and better!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Check out Yankee Romance Reviewers!

I wanted to give a little link love to my friends over at Yankee Romance Reviewers. If you've not ever visited them you definitely should, they've worked super hard to get an awesome August lineup in the works, authors galore guest blogging for the whole month! Go on over for a look see, it's worth it!

Also check out the August giveaway on Terra's Book Blog for #8 in the Sookie Stackhouse Series: From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris! You have until August 26th to get entered!

Then head on over to Amberkatze's Book Blog where she will be giving away a copy of 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover by Linda Wisdom, but you've only got until August 10th for this one! I JUST this past weekend purchased myself a copy of this one, the bunny slippers made me do it! ;)

Check 'em all out!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Movie: Iron Man


I saw this movie a few weeks ago, so it may not be out in the theaters any more, but if it isn't, this is definitely one to keep in mind for renting!

Tony Stark is the head of Stark Industries, which makes devastating weapons. During a display of the newest weapon the company has made, the caravan that Tony is riding in is attacked, leaving him fatally injured. He is kidnapped by a terrorist group, whose ringleader wants him to make the group the weapon he was just demonstrating. Upon waking, Tony finds that he has suffered a dangerous heart wound, and that his life is being sustained by a car battery, that his partner in captivity has rigged up. Working together, as they are supposed to be making another Jericho weapon, they are instead making Tony an iron suit in the hopes that he will be able to escape, giving birth to the Iron Man idea.

He does escape, but returns home a much changed man, his views on the world and his place in it challenged to his very core. Meeting opposition from his business partner and long time family friend Obadiah Stane, he continues his new experiments in secret in his own basement, where he develops the Iron Man idea and powers.

Now, I'm not really a huge comic book fan, so I really had never been exposed to the Iron Man story, and probably wouldn't have been able to tell you which super hero he was if shown a picture, but I REALLY enjoyed this movie. I thought Robert Downey Jr. did an excellent job in this role, really making Tony Stark a likable and alive character for me, especially in his interactions with his own robotic creations, and his assistant Pepper.

I highly recommend this one if you're in the mood for a fun action packed super hero movie!

Book: The Autumn Castle by Kim Wilkins



Christine Starlight is living with her lover Jude in Berlin, where he is the guest of a wealthy arts patron, along with other artists Gerda, Pete and Fabyian. They are all housed in the same building, dubbed Hotel Mandy-Z after their patron Immanuel Zweigler who inhabits the top floors and is himself a sculptor. While grateful for his patronage, the artists and Christine all find Immanuel, Mandy for short, to be very strange and disconcerting. They spend much of their time trying to avoid him, he makes them so uncomfortable. The story is seasoned with excerpts of Mandy's memoirs, cluing us in to his true nature, though the artists believe he is harmless, if weird. He is anything but as they come to find out.

Christine lost her parents in a car wreck when she was a teenager. She survived the wreck but has lived with constant pain since. Heiress to a vast fortune, the Starlights were well known musicians, she decided not to access her fortune until she gets married. She seems plain next to the handsomeness of Jude, and Gerda at least suspects he is with her for her impending money, but Jude is much more complex.

Christine finds her way to the Autumn Castle accidentally one night when she bumps into a table in the dark, causing herself enough pain that she blacks out. She finds herself in a forest, where strangely she experiences no pain at all for the first time in years. She comes to learn that this land is far from a hallucination, and that presiding over it is Mayfridh, coincidentally the girl from next door, who had been kidnapped as a child when Christine and her parents lived in Berlin.

Intrigued at being reunited with her lost friend from the past, Mayfridh finally gets up enough courage to make a trip to the real world, encouraged by her counselor and friend, the shapeshifter Eisengrimm. Mayfridh is surprised to find that she LOVES the real world, all the colors and action, compared to the peaceful everyday sameness of her own world Ewigkreis, the faeryland.

Mayfridh's appearance in the real world causes much upheaval, and brings many dark secrets to light.

This story was not at all what I expected, and at first I wasn't sure that I liked it. At one point I even had to skip to the end to see if I could tell something that would make me want to keep going. I don't say this because it was bad, quite the contrary, I had to keep reading to find out! More it is because it was skillfully done that I felt so uncomfortable during it and, okay, I'll say it, creeped out in parts! LOL! I would label it as a fantasy suspense thriller, if there is such a thing.

Check out Kim Wilkin's websitehere where I see that she labels her own novels as supernatural thrillers, so there ya go! ;) Really, great book, because it kept me reading, even though I wasn't sure I wanted to, and I think that takes talent!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Giveaway #5: Real Vampires Have Curves - winner announced!

It's after midnight here and that makes it August 2nd! So here we go!

This was my biggest turn out for a giveaway yet, I had 16 people entered! Congratulations go out to.... *drumroll*

Booksforever

The winner of my copy of Real Vampires Have Curves by Gerry Bartlett!

Thanks for entering everyone! Check back mid-late August for my next giveaway, and in the mean time, if you're a fan of the show Survivor, I also have this little Silhouette Desire up for grabs that is in that type of setting (reality contest show), where the chief cameraman and a contestant of the show get a little thing going on! It's called All in the Game. Check out the sidebar to the right if you're interested.
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