Friday, April 30, 2010

Demonic Rambling

Despite what you may think about Demons, we're really not all bad.

Okay, we are evil to the core. All of us. And we like to indulge ourselves. A lot. But who doesn't?

I can tell you that we don't have tails or horns. We don't have forked tongues. We don't carry pitchforks. We don't breathe fire. Well, except for every once in a while, when we're really drunk.

Most of all, we don't follow people around whispering in their ear to do bad things. No turn to the Dark Side, or do it, you know you want to from us. God, can you imagine how annoying that would be? I mean, following you pathetic humans around all the time? How desperate do you think we are?

No, the petty things you do, the hurtful things you say, the conniving things you think, those are all on you. Sure, you like to blame us - heaven forbid you take responsibility for your actions - and think that passing the buck gets you in the clear. If you hadn't already guessed it by now, it doesn't, but that's not what I wanted to tell you about.

Demons don't stress the little things. We aren't micro-managers. We couldn't care less if the whole human race never uttered another curse, or if everyone reverted back to hand-written birthday cards instead of store-bought ones. In fact, the Whelps down in accounting would probably throw you humans a party. It'd certainly cut down their paperwork.

We Demons got put in charge of the big stuff. Big as in stock market crashes. Big as in serial killers. Big as in landmines. As in wars and genocide and drunk driving.

Don't get me wrong, it's not a hard job. You humans have a lot of sick, twisted stuff already going on in your heads. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to put a square peg in a square hole. But it does take a certain knack to be there at the right time. Some got it. Some don't. And those who don't, improvise.

I improvise. A lot. And I think I've got a certain knack for it. Humans don't usually to say no when you've got a blade to their throat.




4:30 am and I couldn't get this out of my head. Tossed and turned for over an hour. I guess that's what happens when you browse a bookstore for a certain plot and can't find it. Seriously, I went through practically the whole SciFi/Fantasy section at both Powell's and Borders for a book about a female demon and couldn't find one! Sure, there were lots of 'demon-possessed' people, and a LOT of 'demon-possessed but fighting for way out' people, but no 'demon-and-loving-it' people. Ah, it feels good to have found a niche.

That being said, this is MINE. No take-e. I worked far too hard on this for needing to wake up 'in the morning'.

That being said, hope you enjoyed.

~Vicki

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Security Breach!

ALERT! ALERT! ALL CREW MEMBERS TO BATTLE STATIONS! WE HAVE A UNIFORM PAPA CHARLIE! I REPEAT, AN UN-AUTHORIZED PASSWORD CHANGE HAS OCCURRED! REPORT TO BATTLE STATIONS FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS!

...Or, at least, that's what was happening in my head two days ago.

Honestly, I don't know what happened. I don't know if I was hacked. I don't know if two sites decided to simultaneously glitch. I don't know the logic or specifics of what went down. All I know is what I saw, and what I did to fix it.

I guess you could say this all started 3 (or-so) months ago, when Facebook first decided to be glitchy. Okay, I guess they were just being diligent, but it still ticked me off. I was trying to share a link to a page on my profile, and apparently Facebook had had reports from some(body/people) that the site was annoying and/or malicious, so it kicked me out and sent me an e-mail to reset my password:

Hey Vicki,

We have detected suspicious activity on your Facebook account and have reset your password as a security precaution. It is possible that malicious software was downloaded to your computer or that your password was stolen by a phishing website designed to look like Facebook. Please carefully follow the steps provided:

1. Run Anti-Virus Software: If your computer has been infected with a virus or with malware, you will need to run anti-virus software to remove these harmful programs and keep your information secure. [insert support links for Microsoft & Apple]

2. Reset Password: Be sure that you use a complex string of numbers, letters, and punctuation marks that is at least six characters in length.
To reset your password, follow the link below:
[insert link here]

3. Never Click Suspicious Links: It is possible that your friends could unwillingly send spam, viruses, or malware through Facebook if their accounts are infected. Do not click this material and do not run any .exe files on your computer without knowing what they are. Also, be sure to use the most current version of your browser as they contain important security warnings and protection features.

4. Log in at Facebook.com: Make sure that when you access the site, you always log in from a legitimate Facebook page with the facebook.com domain. If something looks or feels suspicious, go directly to www.facebook.com to log in.

5. Report Suspicious Activity: Please visit the following pages for further information about Facebook security and information on reporting material:
[more links]

Once you have performed all these steps, your account should once again be secure. Please be sure to visit the Facebook Help Center for further information regarding these security issues and let us know if you need assistance.

Thanks,
Facebook Security Team


Now, all those steps are good advice (which is why I copied the e-mail), but I was peeved nonetheless since it was ME trying to use my account and NOT someone else. Still, I went ahead, made a new password and gave up on sharing the link (it couldn't have been that important, since I don't remember what it was anyway).

Flash forward to April 21st (or 22nd - the panicking kinda warped my memory of precise time passage) 2010.

I'm on Firefox, with multiple tabs open, flitting back and forth between them. I click on Facebook's tab and find one of their in-screen pop-ups saying, "You must be logged in to see this page" (it was my profile page). I cock my head to the side quizzically, but do as I'm prompted and go to sign in again. I know that they've been doing some more updates recently, so don't think too much about some hiccup causing me to log out.

On the log-in screen I type in my password, no problem, and click submit. The page goes blank a moment, the loading symbol is in on the tab, but then the same page returns with a message in a pink box. Why pink? Was red too scary for them? Too gloom and doom for Facebook? Anyway, the message reads:

Please re-enter your password
The password you entered is incorrect. Please try again (make sure your caps lock is off).
Forgot your password? Request a new one. [<-link]


I try again, slower this time, making sure I hold the shift key for the correct letters and release it for the others.

And I try again.

And again.

And again.

By now I've started to grit my teeth because I know I JUST reset my password (a little while ago) and I don't feel like doing it again. But, with no other choice, finally I give in and click the Request A New One link.

It's fairly simple to request a new password, actually. Facebook simply sends you an e-mail (to the address[es] registered with your account) with an activation code, which you then copy and paste into the space provided. Then you type in your new password twice and are on your way. I click the confirmation button and then go to my e-mail tab.

Normally, I have it up and running, but my mom had just checked hers earlier, so I had yet to log in again.

So I go to the AOL/Netscape log-in screen and type in my username, at which point my Saved Password fills in, and then I click the Sign In button.

A small bit of red text appears above the sign-in: Invalid Username or Password. Please try again.

Now, I KNOW my password is correct, but I go ahead and type my username again, then manually enter my password.

The red message doesn't go away.

I try it again and again and again...again, but nothing changes.

I'm really starting to freak out now. Why would BOTH accounts suddenly seize up at the same time? That can't be coincidence, can it? I mean, this account is the only one registered with my Facebook (my school account closed 6 months after I graduated), so what better way to reset my password than to also hack this e-mail?

Wait...hack? Have I been hacked?!

I quickly follow the "Forgot your Password?" link for my e-mail, which takes me through AOL's steps for password resetting. Trickier than Facebook's (since they obviously don't want you to need to have multiple e-mails) their questions are actually personal. They ask for your birthday, your zip code, and then the answer to a security question which you picked (and answered) upon signing up. I went through everything quickly and easily and changed my password.

Then I went in and finished the process for changing my Facebook password. As an extra precaution, I also went through all my other e-mails (I have 4) and changed their passwords. All was well.

Or so I thought...

I come back the next day and find an e-mail in my inbox... "Facebook Password Reset Confirmation Code". And I'm kinda...O_o I didn't request another reset.

Lo and behold, I was logged out of Facebook again and my password didn't work. I went through the steps again and reset it (getting another confirmation code in my e-mail).

A few minutes...or an hour (again, my idea of time was not constant during this period) later, I was logged out of both Facebook AND E-mail.

Now, this is partly my own fault. I had assumed that the second time my password on Facebook had simply glitched out, and that I needed to reset it to what it used to be. DO NOT USED AN OLD PASSWORD OR A PREVIOUSLY HACKED/BROKEN PASSWORD ON ANY ACCOUNT. Seriously, even if you think it's a glitch, it's better safe than sorry.

It was around this time that I really started panicking. I filed a report to Facebook:

Security: Hacked account

My account has been compromised, but it has not been phished nor affected by the money scam.

My account has been hacked.

If you believe your account has been hacked and you can still access your login email address, you can secure your own account by resetting the password from this page: [link] , or by selecting the "Forgot your password?" link that appears above the on the login page. An email will be sent to you with steps for completing the process.

If your account has been hacked and the login email on your account has also been compromised or has been changed by the hacker, please send us information about the account so we can look into it further and hopefully restore access. Please click here [link] to submit your report.

OR

Login and Password: I can't log in to Facebook or access my account

I reset my password but it will not work the next time I log in.
If you are prompted to reset your password every time you log in, your problem may be related to your internet browser. Please follow these steps to troubleshoot the issue:

1. Follow these instructions [link] to clear your browser’s cache and cookies.
2. If you continue to experience problems, reset your password [link] and log in.
3. If you logout and confirm that you cannot log back in, please contact us [link].


Because my account hadn't been sending out spam, or participating in other malicious activity, I decided to follow the instructions for the second problem. I cleared my cache and cookies (even though I was 99% certain Firefox wasn't the problem) and tried again. Still no dice. So I contacted them and they replied quickly.

Well, I should say I contacted them, then went to reclaim my e-mail again. First I spent a little time Googling things like "what to do if e-mail is hacked" (fyi, apparently I'm the only one who still calls it e-mail instead of email) and "how to tell if account is hacked", only to get dreary news. Most sites gave condolences for having lost my account, 'but here's how to gain access for enough time to save your crucial e-mails.' Others (like Yahoo Answers) actually had people commenting about how they were experienced hackers (and then had replies asking for their services). *shudder*

With the help of a couple more cheery sites (My Email Account Was Hacked! How I Regained Control of It & Password Recovery Speeds [Chart]) I made a new password (1337-speak) AND changed my security question & answer.

Anyway, the Facebook e-mail was there, nice and succinct:

Hi,

Please reply to this email to verify that you are the owner of the account that you referenced in your Facebook support inquiry. This security step must be completed before Facebook can respond to your inquiry. We apologize for any inconvenience.

If this email address is not associated with your account, please reply to this email from an email address that is associated with your Facebook account, ensuring that this email is in your response (this may require you to copy and paste this text if your email client removes this email from your reply).

Please also note that if you have created an account, and you're having trouble logging in, please do not create another account using a different email address. Doing so may also increase the time needed to resolve the issue.

Thanks,
The Facebook Team


I replied with two short sentences:

I am the owner, though I'm also having issues with my e-mail at the moment. If you could please CC my other e-mail [link] I'd appreciate it. Thank you.

Oh, pardon me, three short sentences.

I decided to give Facebook one last try, and sent for the confirmation code once more, changing my password to something not even remotely similar to anything I've used before...

And haven't had a problem since.

I must say, after reading the horror story the first site described, my e-mail and Facebook intrusions were pretty tame. No sent messages, no deleting information, no adding contacts (or e-mails)... The only problem (or clue) I had was my passwords not working. And, even luckier for me, I don't keep other crucial information in my account, so other than links to websites I receive mail from, (that I know of) they didn't get anything from me.

I'm still on edge. Every time I mistype my new passwords, I bite my lip that my next attempt will work (and it does). I ran a (37 hour-long) virus-scan on my computer, which turned up nothing - always a good sign. I just hope this good fortune will last.

If anyone has any advice of things to look for, or how better to secure accounts, please leave a comment below.


...In lighter news, (if you hadn't noticed up at the top) I FINALLY finished Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy! Most likely, I will give a review of the first 5 books together, then have a separate review of the most recent 6th installment by Eoin Colfer. Be on the lookout for that ;)

Hope you all stay safe until we next meet,

~Vicki

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not Another One!

Arg! Why must I have so many interests?!

Wait, let me back up a bit. Have you ever had one of those friends who had to keep all their food separated? Their nose would wrinkle up if their mashed potatoes ran together with their baked beans? It was like any mixing would cause a nuclear reaction and make the entire kitchen explode. Oh, and they had to tackle each food section... One. At. A. Time. I swear, they can be some of the most annoying people on Earth.

Well, I'm one of those people.

Okay, I've gotten better about it. With age has come some laxness (wow, that's a word?!): I don't mind some foods touching, and I don't always have to eat one-at-a-time (though I still eat all my fries before my burger/sandwich).

Unfortunately, this all-at-once thing has bled over into my reading habit. Rather than taking a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, I prefer to down an entire series in one go. This, of course, can prove quite tricky when deadlines (due-dates, release-dates, end-of-the-month, etc.) come into play.

Player One:

I hate - I mean HATE - returning a book to the library without reading it. Doesn't matter what the circumstances are, like if something big came up. Even if I manage to check it in and find another copy the next day, I feel like I've wasted an opportunity.

So here I am, faced with another library book coming due in a week, and I haven't touched it. To make matters worse - you guessed it - it's the beginning of a series.


Atlanta would be a nice place to live if it weren’t for the magic…. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for the bizarre killings – and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realises she’s way out of her league – but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
I picked it up off the "Just Returned" shelves a couple weeks ago, recognizing it from my many (many) perusals down the SciFi/Fantasy shelves at local bookstores. Urban Fantasy (modern paranormal) grabbed me and made me fall in love. But there are just so many new books out there (spurred, I'm sure, by the Sookie Stackhouse and Twilight series), it's hard to pick which ones to read first. This was simply a choice of convenience.

Magic Bites is followed by two, going on three books, and the series is still incomplete. After checking the library just now, neither of the sequels are available. Nor can I renew this one. Just 7 days to go...


Player Two:

I posted a couple weeks ago about a book club I'm in. Granted, it's kinda failing...but wouldn't it make me a hypocrite to tell everyone else to participate and then not do so myself?


The year is 1502, and seven-year-old Bianca de Nevada lives perched high above the rolling hills and valleys of Tuscany and Umbria at Montefiore, the farm of her beloved father, Don Vicente. But one day a noble entourage makes its way up the winding slopes to the farm -- and the world comes to Montefiore.
In the presence of Cesare Borgia and his sister, the lovely and vain Lucrezia -- decadent children of a wicked pope -- no one can claim innocence for very long. When Borgia sends Don Vicente on a years-long quest, he leaves Bianca under the care -- so to speak -- of Lucrezia.
She plots a dire fate for the young girl in the woods below the farm, but in the dark forest salvation can be found as well...
While I'm very interested in reading it, I would only have 10 days to do so, as the book club ends with the end of the month. Plus, I've not even gotten it from the library yet (though I just checked, and it is in)! I'm just not sure it's worth rushing through it for a book club that has no other participants.

On the other hand...it is a stand-alone book without any sequels to worry about...


Player Three:

The book I've 'been reading' for the past...oh, month or so. Technically, it's for the last month's book club, but, as I've said before, that hasn't been much of a motivator recently. You can actually see it at the top of the page...


DON'T PANIC!
There's still time to read this book before everyone else has!

Don't leave Earth without it!

It's a wildly funny novel about the end of the world and the happy-go-lucky days that follow it...

About the worst Thursday that ever happened, and why the Universe is a lot safer if you bring a towel...

I've technically read (or had read to me) the first couple chapters. The Earth's just been demolished. But I've been there since...oh, I dunno, the beginning of April?

I've found that, upon seeing the Americanized (cough bastardized) movie, it's making the standard British humor seem rather dry. Thus, I have found that having someone with a British accent read it to me (alas, only via audiobook) helps me understand the humor and concentrate on the story as a whole. To top it off, this particular version of the audiobook is actually read by Douglas Adams, himself!

As far as completing the series, I own all of them (minus the newest book written by Eoin Colfer, which is not yet in paperback), and today I've downloaded the audiobooks for the sequels on my computer as well. Each book is less than 6 hours (one is less than 5), so it wouldn't be too much trouble to go through (nearly) the entire series in perhaps one or two weeks. If I made this decision, I would go ahead and get the last book from the library (or put in a request for it) immediately.

I've been meaning to read these for a while, it's just a matter of fully committing to it.


Player Four:

Oh yes, there is indeed a fourth player. In fact, this fourth player is the reason I've made this post. Its arrival has thrown me over the edge, so to speak, and I'm practically immobile.


The Young Wizards series presently consists of nine books, with a tenth in progress, focusing on the adventures of two young wizards named Nita and Kit. Each novel pits Nita and Kit against the "Lone Power", an entity ultimately bent on the destruction of the entire universe.

This series incorporates elements of fantasy, science fiction, and religion. Although it deals with wizards capable of casting magic spells, the spells in question are held to a rigorous scientific basis. Additionally, Duane does not shy away from serious topics dealing with such mature ideas as death, sacrifice, and redemption.


Yeah, you remember what I said about liking to read entire series in-one-go? This would be the time when habits like these backfire.

Now, before you start panicking (wait, why are you panicking?) and writing me off as completely insane (it's probably way too late for that), let me first say that I have read 8 out of the 9 books before. I also own them. And I really really like them. Well, I guess you got that. After all, why would I go past one or two books if I hated the series? (Shush, I'm not that insane.)

It's this 9th book, which JUST came out that is moving this series unexpectedly to the front of my list. After seeing it had been released, I flew to the library (site) and placed a hold on the book...and managed to grab #3 in queue!

Normally, I'd be ecstatic. I mean, books like these can grab queue lines in the hundreds. We're talking around Harry Potter numbers.

BUT, having such a low number means that I'll get the book fast. And getting the book fast means less time for catching up. I haven't read the books since the last one came out two years ago. Sure, I remember some stuff, probably enough to get me through, but why struggle through it when I can just read and review?

These books (unlike the Hitchhiker Series) will probably take me 3-4 nights a-piece. And that's if I take them all on without distractions. 8 books...5 nights a piece...that's a freaking long time. Meaning, if I'm going to read these, I need to start NOW!


So now I come to you, my readers... Can you give a girl a hand? Which book would you pick up?

#1: Library book, New Series

#2: Book Club Stand-Alone

#3: 'Currently Reading' Read-Along Series

#4: Review-A-Series With A Deadline


Just leave a comment, and you'll have my gratitude.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Is It Hot In Here?

So, I've just realized how often I like to start sentences, paragraphs, and blogs with 'so', and I've decided to try my best to rectify this. Not doing a very good job, am I?

Today, though I still haven't finished or posted my review of the last book I finished (Fire by Kristen Cashore), I'm going to move ahead and review the latest book on my completion list while it's still fresh in my mind. Well, as fresh as it can be, having been completed over a week ago.

Heat Wave by Richard Castle
~Heat Wave~
Nikki Heat
Book 1
By Richard Castle
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks
A New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy. Secrets that prove to be fatal. Secrets that lay hidden in the dark until one NYPD detective shines a light.

Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly best-selling Derrick Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional, Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City's top homicide squads. She's hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York's Finest. PulitzerPrize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise-cracking and meddling aren't her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them. The one called heat.
Show Tie-In

If the name sounds familiar, you may be a watcher of ABC’s Monday-night Crime-Drama, Castle…or you may have just happened upon a commercial for it. Either way, if you’ve caught the premise of the show, you’ve pretty much got the premise of the book.
  • Show: Richard Castle is a novelist who, having recently killed off his last meal ticket (literally speaking, of course), has cast Detective Kate Beckett of the NYPD homicide division as his new inspiration. With help from the right connections, he gains permission to tail Beckett and her team during their cases, much to her (initial) chagrin. Over time, Castle proves to be useful after all, and Beckett comes to welcome his humor and helpful insights to the daily grind. Castle and Beckett have plenty of romantic tension, but play it off humorously and have yet to share anything more than the occasional walk or car-ride.
  • Novel: Jameson Rook is a magazine freelancer who, having commissioned a piece on the NYPD, has cast Detective Nikki Heat of the homicide division as his main inspiration. With help from the right connections, he gains permission to tail Heat and her team during their cases, much to her (initial) chagrin. Over time, Heat finds she can’t help but be attracted to Rook and the couple finally shares a steamy night (in more ways than one) together in Chapter 10.
If you think they sound familiar…well, that’s probably because they really are. The book was published by Disney’s Hyperion and was done primarily for its tie-in with the show. In fact, the show just finished a two-part episode in which Heat Wave was used to help catch an over-enthusiastic fan gunning for Nikki Heat (aka Detective Beckett). The title, characters, and cover are the same, the page numbers, however, are different (the show claims around 340 pages; the real book, however is only 197).

I picked up the book solely for the tie-in, but I doubt anyone would be turned off it for not watching the series. It plays out very much like an episode, so if you’re an avid hater of the show, it wouldn’t be for you, but otherwise I think it appeals to anyone who enjoys a good cop-thriller novel.

Ghost Writer

Some mystery has arisen over who might have written the book. Every listing in the book names fictional character ‘Richard Castle’. Even the About The Author section shows a picture of Nathan Fillion (the actor who portrays Castle in the show) and lists the character’s bio.

At first, I thought it might be James Patterson, who happens to be one of the Executive Producers of the show. However, after reading it I’m pretty sure it’s not. The book has problems - ones that I don't think a seasoned writer, nor one who is closely involved with the show, would make. I don’t know if grammatical issues are the fault of the writer or the editor (or both?), but there definitely needed to be at least one more read-through.

And before you ask if these were simply due to “Richard Castle” being a novice, I’ll kindly answer, no. “Richard Castle” has supposedly written a best-selling Derrick Storm series, so he is hardly one to fall back to beginning errors.

This ghost writer needs a few more lessons…or a better ghost editor. Or…who knows? Maybe Richard Castle himself did write it… In that case, Nathan dear, you should slip a copy to James or one of his editor friends before sending it along to print.

A Few More Kinks

First, I have a few nit-picky things to get out of the way. After reading through rough drafts of stories online and giving my comments, I found it very hard not to cross things out and write suggestions for fixes in this book. For one thing, there are blatant grammatical errors: misplaced commas, run-on sentences, and sentence flow problems. A couple spots had me re-reading the sentence 5 or 6 times asking, “What the heck were they thinking?!” I’d quote directly, but I’ve already returned the book to the library.

The amount of time Rook has been tailing Heat is never directly established. I don’t have a huge problem with that fact, but I do feel that references to it should be more consistent. Heat's attitude makes it seem like he's been there for maybe one or two cases. Three tops. But she then goes on to state personal tidbits about Rook (such as referring to his mother as the Grand Damn), which make it seem like he's been around much longer. I mean (partly basing Rook off of Castle), yes, he might let tidbits like that slip if it somehow related to the situation at hand, but stuff that personal (and random) seems like it should take a chummier relationship to share.

And, if Rook has been around longer than one or two cases, then why would Heat still be that annoyed with him? Is he truly so useless that he comes off as merely an annoyance? Granted, Rook is not Castle. He’s not nearly as charming in print as Nathan Fillion is on the screen. He also doesn’t come across nearly as intelligent as Castle has proven himself to be. Rook relies more on his favors and high-profile connections to help the case than his actual wit. For a book that's supposedly inspired (and written) by Castle, these main characters fall short of their marks.

The Main Attraction

All that being said, it wasn't a chore to read. It’s not my usual genre, so the beginning took me a little while to adjust to. Plus, I kept trying to picture things as vividly as an episode, which took longer. Once I got in the groove of things, it was an easy and fun read.

The case was interesting, and kept me guessing all the way through. A suicide-that-wasn’t turns into a double homicide with a couple assaults, a home invasion, and an attempted rape thrown in. (I will admit, my mind was starting to ponder about home invasions just before one happened in the book, but I’m leaning toward it being coincidental.) Fans of the show will definitely recognize the long line of suspects and dead-ends, though I have to agree with Rook that the constant dogging around town did get rather tiresome.

The characters (despite some of their plot-based flaws) were engaging. Roach (Detectives Raley and Ochoa) were believable and intelligent. It did throw me off a few times how often they were referred to as a single unit, even in dialog, but it was quirky enough to work. The coroner (whose name unfortunately escapes me) had a great relationship with Heat, and ended up being one of my favorites of the bunch. Other star personalities on the show, like the Police Chief and Castle/Rook's Family, were downplayed, but I have hopes for them yet.

It was an interesting change of pace to get the story from the lady detective’s perspective rather than the writer/reporter who leads in the show. At times, I loved Heat’s insights and internal quips, but at others I craved a little more quirky interaction from Rook. It was almost as if the author were afraid of Rook stealing the spotlight, and so downplayed him as much as possible. He wasn’t even allowed to participate in the final “Gotcha!” scene! Still, Heat was as strong and sexy as her name and the book jacket imply.

Speaking of the “Gotcha!” scene, I have to say, it was straight out of television. Not in the way that I’ve seen it before, but in the way that it was purely a visual set-up. You had the cops go through all this pre-scene setup, leading the reader along with dialog and visual cues, and then they reveal to the reader and the suspect that they knew it was him/her all along and here’s all the proof. In reality, they would have, of course, simply cuffed him/her and taken ‘em to lockup. Instead, they set up an entire scene to lure them into a false sense of security, then don’t even need their confession to seal the deal. Course, it’s more dramatic that way.

Final Impressions

Though the book is lacking in a few areas, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who has room for a quick and fun read. It’s something I can see myself re-reading, even knowing how it turns out. I will probably be purchasing the paperback this summer. News has been released of a sequel (Naked Heat) coming out this fall, which I will gladly pick up from the library (and buy, after it comes out in paperback).

Approximate Reading Time: 8 hours

Want to read a snippet or two? Or how about ten? ABC has kindly supplied snippets and chapter downloads HERE!

~Vicki

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ooh, Shiny!

First off, in case you hadn't noticed, I GOTS ME A NEW PAGE LAYOUT!!!

Ahem. Sorry 'bout that. I usually don't like to venture into all caps, or bad grammar, but this seemed to be an especially fitting occasion.

I happen to love this new format, though I'm still thinking about making a banner image. Yes, I think I will...in the near future. Muahahahaha!

Wow. Caps lock, bad grammar AND evil laughs. This sure is an interesting blog.

I'm still working on my last two book reviews. Heat Wave should be up shortly, perhaps over the weekend, and Fire will probably follow after that. I've also got a couple other blog ideas running around in my head, but those will have to wait.

This week was my sister's birthday. She turned the (not-so) big 17 on Tuesday, and as a present I went ahead and 'fixed up' one of her sketches for her.

I've Always Loved That Hat by NekoKyuuketsuiki13





-- As you can see, this image is an original. While the drawing is based off of an idea (and possibly a quote) from the new Alice in Wonderland movie, there is no direct still used for the image. She used images of the characters for reference, but that was all.

It's drawn with colored pencil in a sketchbook. The coloring and shading have been slightly white-washed because of the scanning process (the original sketchbook drawing is phenomenal) but the basic design still shows through with clarity.

I've Always Loved This Hat































This image, on the other hand, is a conglomeration of layers, textures, and tinting. Course, I don't think it's too bad for a load of stock textures and a free image-editing program (Paint.NET). It took approximately 12 hours to complete, and drew a lot of computing power (had to restart twice). And, to top it all off, I think she enjoyed it immensely.

And, I guess you could say I enjoyed it too, so it's really a win-win. Don't know that I'd want to do things like this as more than a hobby, but when the occasion calls for it, I like what I can do.

So, that's what I've been up to the past week or so. Hope your week has been as fruitful as mine.

Oh, another Happy Birthday to my sister, and many Very Merry Un-Birthdays to the rest of you!

~Vicki

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

All Good Things Must Come To An End...

Don't worry, loyal followers, I am not talking about my blog.

Actually, this week, I'm going to be ranting a little about leadership, or at least the couple stints I've attempted.

I've never labeled myself a leader. Actually, I'd bet that no one who knows me would label me a leader. On the whole, I'm quite content to take a backseat and do as I'm told. Now, if and when I am given a job to work with others on, I'm happy to give ideas and opinions, but I think I'd be the last one to take control of the group, even if it were careening off a cliff.

What can I say? I'm afraid of judgment. I don't like to step on toes. I don't like when others' views are stifled. I'm a team player.

Unfortunately, I'm having a bit of difficulty finding a team on DeviantArt. A few weeks ago, I started up a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Group, dedicated to sharing and promoting artwork from Alan Moore's graphic novels and/or the LXG movie.

Being a member of a couple writing groups, who run regular workshops and/or contests, I was excited to see what I and a team of fellow fans could conjure up.

However, the only response I've gotten from my pleas for volunteer admins is one person who checks in maybe twice a week, and rarely posts ideas or responses to my questions. One of her responses was, "I shall give this some thought and post my findings shortly." ...which was two weeks ago. I'd really love to start up a workshop next month, but with absolutely no creative support, I'm starting to think myself too ambitious. Oh, did I mention that the group is only 25 people? There's that too.

A bit further back, as of 2008(?) I was promoted to the moderation staff on a forum-based website known as Diffindo, which I believe I talked a bit about in my first post. As a moderator, I was one of a group of people in charge of scanning the site for conflicts, inappropriate content, and other cases of rule-breaking, then discussing the issues and resolving them as a team. I never had any duties specific to me, other than the occasional graphic project that I took upon myself.

In July of last year, Diffindo started a monthly book club, and as my fellow moderators became busy with school, work, or other issues, I found myself taking more of an interest in continuing the club. Being unemployed and out of school, I probably have the most time on my hands, anyway.

Out of the themes we generated at the beginning, or member suggestions, I pick one I think is appropriate for the upcoming month. I then write up a post explaining a bit about the theme, defining it, giving ideas, and generally hyping the theme. The thread is then open for book nominations, where members post books they would like to read that fit into that theme. On the 1st of the month, I gather the nominations and create a poll where we vote on which book we want to read for the club. On the 8th, I then close the poll and post a new thread containing short summary of the book that was chosen (perhaps the back cover, or an Amazon review) and open it up for members to start posting their impressions or discussions.

So far, I've made it a point to attempt to read every book. Out of the nine books we've chosen, I've read seven of them, and the two I didn't complete, I only dropped when there was no response from anyone else. And yet, though I try and I try to spur interest (or guilt, in some cases) - even going so far as creating a Facebook Event for this month's poll - all of the 'discussions' have fallen flat.

Now, maybe I don't know how to run a book club. I've never been in one outside of this, so I don't really know about ways to craft discussions, or what topics to bring up. I've posted lengthy impressions on a couple of the books, but gotten no replies. Even one where I copied discussion questions that the book provided got nada response.

Also gaining nada response was the most recent 'bout of Holiday Activities. I posted an open art/writing activity for Valentines day - then opened it up to the whole month of February. Nothing. For Easter, we had The Easter Bunny (me and another staff member) post four different activities (word scramble, art/writing contest, madlib poem, and egg-coloring) that would yield rewards for any entry. There were 2 entries for the word scramble - one of which came from a staff member who was bored.

It just hurts when you put effort into something only to receive no thanks in return. It's like spending hours drawing a picture, only to have someone crumple it up.

The site activity has a whole has dwindled to 3 staff (including myself), and 3 or 4 regularly visiting members. Most posts occur in the Chat, with a total of 10 posts taking place in RP (the main focus of the site) since March 1st.

The mods and admins have discussed this before. I argued that the site was still being used, it just goes in waves, and that we'd fall apart if it went offline. Now...I think I'd let it go. As much as I'd like to, I can't fight alone.

The site won't fall overnight. I think we still have the domain name for another 9 months or so. Activity might pick up in the summer, and maybe we'll make an effort to resolve storylines. I'll probably try to copy my posts into a Word file, since I plan on reusing my main character in the future.

I think I'd move the book club to Facebook, or maybe here, just for the 4-or-so people who do participate. It's a really cool idea, and I do like reading books that aren't normally on my radar (The Perks of Being a Wallflower ~ Stephen Chbosky). Who knows, maybe I'll get more feedback here?

The fall of one age brings the rise of another.

I don't yet know how my adventures in leadership will pan out. Perhaps I'm just not assertive enough, though I prefer to put it more on being open and a team-player. Hey, at least I'm not a tyrant, right?