Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dead Ever After

That's right folks, it's the end of an era. 
DEAD EVER AFTER, the 13th and last book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries is out and the story has drawn to a close. It's had it's ups and downs and lots of wtf moments, but I, like many of you, fell in love with the main character, Sookie Stackhouse, and enjoyed following her narration throughout this series. 

For those of you not familiar with these books, I'll fill you in on what you've been missing. WARNING: there are some spoilers for previous books in the series. 
This is one of those genre spanning series: there is mystery, fantasy, humor and some romance in every book. We are introduced through first person narrative to Sookie Stackhouse, a beautiful blonde waitress native to a small town called Bon Temps in Louisiana. We are also introduced to her "disability" as she calls it: she's a telepath. She can hear the thoughts of others. Well, other humans anyway. Because vampires just came out of the proverbial closet to the world and when she meets one in the bar where she works, she realizes that their minds are blank to her. 
As shocked as the world is that vampires are real, Sookie soon finds out first hand that there are plenty of other things going bump in the night. Her good friend and boss is a shifter, a chick she works with is a Wiccan, she befriends a pack of werewolves, some evil witches try to kill her friend, and Sookie soon finds out that she is the grandchild of a faerie. That's a lot to deal with for someone is is already shunned because of her gift. 

Throughout the series, we watch Sookie grow from a naive girl to a mature woman. We see her first real relationship blossom and witness her heartbreak at it's close. Not to mention she goes from being horrified by finding a dead body to "Eh, should we hide it or call the cops?" As predictable as the murders were at first, the plot soon becomes more complex and interesting and we never know who could die next.

Of all the boyfriends and would-bes that come and go for her, I think the relationship with the were-tiger had me the most confused. He was great and sweet but the long distance thing wasn't working for them. And her excuse for leaving him was totally lame. I just didn't get it. And I wish she had actually had a thing with Alcide, the were-wolf. He was so hot and really into her but he did have a lot of baggage. 

As far as the last book, I will say that I'm pretty satisfied with the ending. It was all wrapped up pretty well with no loose ends that I could see. Once again we delved into her mind as she suffered and triumphed and her POV is quite refreshing for me. But for the first time, we actually had a few chapters focus on the point of view of the men trying to frame her for murder. It kept me in suspense because we weren't sure who was really behind it all until the very end.

DEAD EVER AFTER was a great read for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you are into any of the genre mentioned above, I think you'll enjoy it too. Hell, even my husband reads them and he isn't into "girlie romance crap". If you haven't read the series, start with DEAD UNTIL DARK and prepare yourself for some supernatural fun.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Illusive Blue

Last year was when I really started getting into the website deviantART. I thought, "Eh, I'll draw some doodles and post them just for kicks." So I posted some doodles and pics and started to explore other artists. I had no idea that there were so many professionals up there! I honestly thought that it was just a bunch of amateurs like me posting stuff for each other. 

I found some artists that I really like and began following them so every few days I pop up there to see what new art they've posted. Today I want to talk about one of my favorite artists, IllusiveBlue. She's been on deviantART about 3 years and in February one of her works became a Daily Deviation.

There are tons of great artists on deviantART but this one stood out for me because of her unique style. Gothic, creepy, and fun: her art speaks to me on a level that many other works don't. They involve females and wildlife of some kind or mythical creatures. The dresses are usually patchwork with lots of ribbons. And her trees; scary sweet! She also does a silhouette style that is truly awesome. But rather than go on in detail about her work, I'd rather you see it for yourself.

I like art to wow me or whisk me off somewhere magical and emotional and IllusiveBlue does so with ease. Check her out at IllusiveBlue and see what all the fuss is about. Be sure to admire a few of my personal favorites: Ride to Spooky Hall, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and Pink Ribbons, Talking Ravens.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

McDonalds: No Longer Kid Friendly

Remember when you were a kid and going to McDonalds was a big treat? Getting a Happy Meal and a neat little toy. Running outside to climb on the Play Place equipment. Maybe even seeing Ronald McDonald.
Not anymore.

McDonalds has changed so much just in the past decade that I don't eat there anymore. Even my kids are no longer excited about McDonalds. I mention it and they are like, meh. Oh where to begin with all that went wrong? How about when they changed their menu the first time.
Happy Meals used to be a burger and fries. Or chicken nuggets and fries. Then it became a choice of fries or apple dippers. You could get a little packet of sliced apples with caramel dipping sauce. I thought this was an awesome idea! Getting my kids to eat fruit is always a hassle. Now they would order apples so they could dip them in the caramel. Kids ate the fruit, had something sweet with it; problem solved. 

Well, it was too good to be true. They changed the menu again about a year ago. You don't have a choice anymore. You get a tiny packet of fries and a tiny packet of apple slices with your Happy Meal. No more caramel. Because it's not "good for you". Umm, greasy burgers aren't good for you either but you sure as hell didn't take those off the menu! And something about these apple slices has changed. They have this gross, metallic aftertaste now. What the hell did they do to them? Like I said to my husband last night, "How do you f@ck up apple slices?"

Now we all know why this happened. Some sorry parents who don't have the "time" or "energy" to cook their kids a meal after working all day just take them to McDonalds. Every day. And then it's "Why are my kids so fat? It must be McDonald's fault!" Yes. McDonalds is totally to blame for sneaking into your house everyday and forcing their food down your children's throats. But of course, the fast food franchise has to suffer because of some dumb parents.

The toys in the Happy Meal suck now. They used to have pretty awesome themed toys that were well made and fun. Well, they still try to do TV show or movie themed toys sometimes but they straight up suck. They don't work properly or break within a matter of days. I know they are cheap and not made to last but I swear, they were not this crappy when I was younger. 

Remember when The Lion King came out and they had those toys in the Happy Meal? I still have a few. They were awesome. They did some Star Wars toys in 2011 for Clone Wars. We made sure to get lots of Happy Meals that month so the kids could get the different ones. Talk about disappointment. Bobble heads? Key chains? Yoda making a disc or some such levitate? Do you have any idea how quickly I accidentally broke the legs off the walking Chewy bobble head? Even worse was when Phantom Menace came out in 3D and they had to put out toys for that. Spinning tops. Really? How cheap is that? Grab a two cents top and slap a Star Wars sticker on it and there ya go. Wow.

So the food has gone to crap as well as the toys. Well, we can still take the kids for a burger and let them play at the Play Place. 
In this area of NC, they are systematically tearing down McDonalds to rebuild them all to a certain spec. They all look exactly alike now. And the ones that had Play Places don't anymore. Oh no, now they have video games.
Wait a minute, I'm confused. They changed the menu because of fat kids but took away the play equipment that the kids used to run that greasy food off? Does anyone else see a problem here?
Here is a quote from the Kinston Free Press, and by the way, this is not the only location doing this:

" arcade style McDonalds..."
"...two interactive touch screens for children."
"...80-square-foot digital projection play area with about a dozen games where kids can kick a soccer ball, pop balloons or jump on lily pads. The games will be projected onto the floor for patrons of all ages."

Okay, I know that this is the digital age and everyone is racing to be all high tech and shit. I have nothing against arcades or video games. I LOVE video games. My kids enjoy the Wii as much as I do and it's great for a rainy day. The problem isn't that they have them so much as they replaced real play equipment with them. If it was a McDonalds that never had a Play Place to begin with, okay, that's fine. But you are telling a child that they have to eat the new, healthy menu because the old menu makes you fat and then sending them off to play a video game. 

You know who I blame for this load of horse crap: germaphobes. That's right. "The Play Place is unsanitary." "Those surfaces are covered in germs." "My child got sick from going down that slide."
You must be joking. Do these people have any idea how many germs kids pick up on a daily basis at school or home? How many surfaces did you touch just going into McDonalds and placing your order? The doorknob, the counter, the bathroom sink: these are all covered in germs. What's next, installing sliding doors everywhere so no one has to touch a doorknob ever again? These people are ridiculous. Some doctors did some studies about play equipment at restaurants and determined that there are this many of this kind of germ and this many of that. I'll bet that there are more germs in the average home on a daily basis. Even a germaphobes home. And I'm not even going to get into the fact that kids have to get sick once in a while to build up their immune system.

Basically, future generations will be forced to eat "healthy" processed food. They will have to sit and play "active" video games, alone, because going outside is too dangerous for their health and other children might get them sick. Then one day they will walk outside, touch a blade of grass and keel over from some simple sickness. 

McDonalds, making all these changes to please a few morons is the stupidest thing I ever heard of. Giving choices in your menu is one thing but you don't anymore. So you know what that super fat kid who's parents just don't care is going to do now? He's going to order three Happy Meals, eat the burgers and fries, and go stand on this floor mat and lift his arm every few minutes to pop an imaginary balloon. Then he'll have a heart attack and his parents will sue you. And you'll be changing everything all over again.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lover At Last

If you enjoy romances and urban fantasies then you should read J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Eleven books strong, this series is about a race of vampires living in modern times and their ongoing war with their sworn enemies called lessers

When I heard about these books, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read another vampire romance series. Hasn't it all been done before? Perhaps, but I found myself drawn to the characters in this series nonetheless. Honestly, I read it for the male characters and their stories since most of the females are neither deep nor interesting. But J. R. Ward has created an entire world outside our own involving kings and queens, loyalty and brotherhood, love and betrayal and big guys with weapons stomping around in shit-kickers.

LOVER AT LAST, the newest addition to the series, centers around two vampires named Blaylock and Quinn. We've become acquainted with them through previous books in the series but finally we hear their story. They grew up friends on the rich side of vampire society though their families are complete opposites. Theirs is a complicated relationship and though we've seen the strain in the past, everything finally comes to a head in this most recent book. I won't give anything away for those not familiar with the books but I will say that it is seriously suspenseful and full of woe. 

Other vampires mentioned here and there are also involved in this story and even new characters are introduced. And though each story usually has some sort of conclusion for the main couple involved, the side stories clue you in to future dramas soon to unfold. Basically, it leaves you wanting more.

Though there are a lot of great original ideas and lots of bloody action, I think her style of writing is really what I enjoy the most about this particular series. Anyone can write a vampire story, as seen by Stephanie Meyers' crap, but it's all about presentation. It isn't just about getting inside someone's head, it's about making the reader really relate to that character. Ward's males are flawed in their own unique ways but we root for them and hope that they don't have to suffer any more than they already do. And her true-to-life dialogue is funny as hell. 

If you're familiar with the series, make sure you get a copy of LOVER AT LAST. They get better and better as she puts them out and this is one of my favorites now. If you haven't read this series, I suggest you grab the first one and get cracking because you're missing out.