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Super Fantastic Book Recommendations

Book 8 in the Cal Leandros series. My favourite.

The Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman. Urban fantasy. The first book in the series is called Nightlife. I often say this is a little like Supernatural and also nothing like Supernatural. It’s about 2 brothers that hunt monsters in New York City and there’s lots of sarcasm. That’s about where the likeness ends. Cal is half-human, half-monster. He and his brother Niko have been on the run from the monster half of Cal’s family for years. They want Cal for something but the brothers aren’t sure what that is. I really became obsessed with the series when I read the 3rd book. The 8th is my favourite. So far there are 10 but I’m hoping Ms Thurman will not leave us hanging. Seriously, why are you not reading this series?

The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. Urban fantasy. The first book is called Storm Front. Harry Dresden is a wizard (not the Harry Potter kind) and a private investigator. He’s filled with sarcasm and a need to be chivalrous that tends to blow up in his face. It’s set in modern Chicago. There’s magic. There are supernatural beings. There’s a talking skull. What more could you ask for? I wasn’t entirely sure how to take Harry at first, the whole chivalry thing was a bit of a turn off until it kept blowing up in his face. This series really hooked me on the 3rd book. There are 15 books so far but the 16th is being written.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson. Memoir. It’s a strange journey filled with drugs and weird adventures while Thompson attempted to cover a sporting event in Las Vegas. It turned into something much weirder and much more wonderful. This is one of the books that has had the most impact on my life.

A River Runs Through It by Norman McLean. This is fiction and a slice of Americana. If you read this, you will learn more about fly fishing than you ever wanted to know. You will also have read the single most beautifully written book I have ever read. I don’t care if you’ve seen the movie. I don’t care if you liked the movie or not. If you have not read this book then you have missed out on something beautiful.

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Fantasy. While this is classified as young adult, the story really matures as Harry does. I think there are still people out there who haven’t read the books. If you are one of those people, you should correct that. The movies are great but, as always, the books are better. What better time to read about fighting an oppressive system and conquering over evil?

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Urban fantasy. This is about to air as a TV show. Who knows what that will be like but you should read this book. It goes back and forth a bit, talking about old legends and it can, at times, get a bit dry in those sections but the main story, about an ex-con named Shadow and the mysterious man, Mr Wednesday, that hires him, is well worth the read.

The Body by Stephen King. This is in the book Different Seasons. You should read all the stories, sure, but if you will only read one, read The Body. That’s the story that was the basis for the movie Stand By Me. The movie is wonderful. The story is so much more. I read it when I was 11. It is absolutely the book that had the most influence on my life. Most of you know the story, 4 friends set out to see a dead body. I can’t begin to explain why this story is so important to me. Honestly, even if I could explain it, I wouldn’t. But if you haven’t ever read it, you should probably do that.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Young Adult. This is the story of a kid who lives on a reservation and decides to leave the rez to go to an all-white farm town high school. This is the story of a boy balancing between two worlds and feeling like he doesn’t fit into either. It’s a story about growing up. I think this book should be taught in high school. Everyone should read it.

Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis from the NFL to Youth Leagues
by Christopher Nowinski. Non Fiction. So, I know Chris. I actually appear in the thanks in this book. But that’s not why it’s on my list. EVERY parent and EVERY coach should HAVE to read this book. Concussions are serious business. This book is incredibly easy to read, it isn’t bogged down with medical jargon and it is interspersed with some stories from Chris’ days with WWE. This book is important. If you have a child that plays any kind of contact sport or if you coach contact sports or if you play contact sports, you need to read this. There is no excuse not to read this. Even if you don’t play sports or have kids who do, you need to read this.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. Children’s. Most people know I’ll Love You Forever and that is a beautiful book but this book is important. I have a history of gifting this book to new parents especially new parents who have just had a girl. This is a book about a girl who doesn’t need saving because she can save herself. She outwits the dragon, rescues the snotty prince and walks away, head high. Sure, I just gave the story away but it’s a children’s book so I’m sure you’ll live. Likewise, I highly recommend David’s Father by the same author. David’s father is different. He’s a giant. The book is about accepting differences.

* I’ve left all Yaoi off this list. If you want a list of recommendations for Yaoi, let me know!

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Yaoi

A list of mostly yaoi manga and novels (a few aren’t like Black Butler) that I own or have ordered and am waiting for.

Books On Order

Don’t Worry Mama
The Man Who Doesn’t Take Off His Clothes Volume 1
The Man Who Doesn’t Take Off His Clothes Volume 2
All You Need Is Love Volume 2
Only The Ring Finger Knows Volume 2
Yakuza Café
I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone
Black Sun Volume 2
Noodle Shop Affair Volume 1
The Tyrant Falls in Love Volume 6
His Arrogance
Beast & Feast
Yellow 2: Episode 3
Under Grand Hotel Volume 2
Finder Volume 6
Il Gatto Sul G Volume 1
Border Volume 1
A Gentleman’s Kiss Volume 1
A Gentleman’s Kiss Volume 2
Good Morning
God of Dogs
Maybe I’m Your Steppin’ Stone
Finder no Hyouteki (Target in the View Finder) Characters Book

Books I Own

Ai No Kusabi Volume 2 (novel)
The Betrayal Knows My Name Volume 1
The Betrayal Knows My Name Volume 2
Bi No Isu (Japanese Language)
Black Butler Volume 1
Black Butler Volume 2
Black Butler Volume 3
Black Butler Volume 4
Black Butler Volume 5
Black Butler Volume 6
Black Butler Volume 7
Black Butler Volume 8
Black Butler Volume 9
Blue Sheep Reverie Volume 1
Blue Sheep Reverie Volume 2
The Crimson Spell Volume 1
Finder Volume 1
Finder Volume 2
Finder Volume 3
Finder Volume 4
Finder Volume 5
The Guilty Volume 1 (novel)
The Guilty Volume 2 (novel)
The Guilty Volume 3 (novel)
The Guilty Volume 4 (novel)
Il Gatto Sul G Volume 2
Il Gatto Sul G Volume 3
Immoral Darkness (novel)
Kizuna Volume 1
Kizuna Volume 4
Lies & Kisses
Maiden Rose Volume 1
Maiden Rose Volume 2
Men of Tattoos
Only The Ring Finger Knows Volume 1
Otodama – Voice from the Dead
Sleeping With Money (novel)
Totally Captivated Volume 1
Totally Captivated Volume 2
Totally Captivated Volume 3
Totally Captivated Volume 4
Totally Captivated Volume 5
Totally Captivated Volume 6
The Tyrant Falls in Love Volume 1
The Tyrant Falls in Love Volume 2
The Tyrant Falls in Love Volume 3
The Tyrant Falls in Love Volume 4
The Tyrant Falls in Love Volume 5
Under Grand Hotel Volume 1
Yakuza in Love Volume 1
Yakuza in Love Volume 2
Yakuza in Love Volume 3
Yellow Volume 1 (Omnibus edition)
Yellow Volume 2 (Omnibus edition)
Yellow Volume 3
Yellow Volume 4
Yellow 2: Episode 1
Yellow 2: Episode 2
Your Story I’ve Known

E-Books

Yakuza Café
This Night’s Everything
On Bended Knee
The Devil’s Infirmary
Big Deal Volume 1 (novel)
S Volume 1 (novel)
S Volume 2 (novel)
S Volume 3 (novel)
S Volume 4 (novel)
Anima
Career Gate
The World is Full of Cheating Boyfriends
Gentle Cage (novel)
The Yaoikuza: Oruji
The Yaoikuza: Soboruji
Seven Days: Monday – Thursday
Seven Days: Friday – Sunday
Sadistic Boy
Cheap Chase
Selfish Love Volume 1
A Gentleman’s Agreement Between a Rabbit and a Wolf
Reset
Platinum Pasta
Security Issues (novella)
Neck-Tie
Caged Slave (novel)
The Lonely Egotist (novel)
Chayamachi’s Collection: NOIR
Viewfinder Series – Hard-Working Cameraman Akihito Takaba’s Fulfilling Househusband Life
Viewfinder Series – Akihito Takaba’s Refined Summer Vacation
Interval
Attacked on a Tiger’s Whim
Tired of Waiting for Love
Pinned!
Maelstrom
Bastard King
Endless Rain
The Faithful Dog Waits for Flowers
Touching the Night Stars

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The bell that’s rung.

I remember when I first heart all about Cannibal Holocaust, all the controversy and the fact that it was banned, only pushed me to want to watch it. And boy did I get more than I bargained for. A week of absolute horror as one scene from the movie continuously assaulted my mind when I least expected it. I didn’t regret watching it but I knew I’d never sit through it again.

When I heard about Human Centipede and how utterly disturbing it was supposed to be I hesitated. Remember Cannibal Holocaust, I thought to myself. I don’t want to experience that again. Of course curiosity, as it always does, won over and I watched what has got to be one of the stupidest movies ever made. It didn’t disturb me, it merely annoyed me for trying so hard to be disturbing. It was also supremely boring.

So it figures, I thought. That sort of thing generally doesn’t happen. I am, after all, unshockable. Is that really a word? I don’t think so but it doesn’t matter. So it naturally stands to reason that when it comes to literature I tend to seek out the dark side of human nature. I wonder what it says about me and I blame those VC Andrews books I read when I was 11.

It was inevitable, I suppose, that I would find myself reading this particular manga – I actually didn’t realize it included content that I avoid until I started and then I pressed on anyway though I’m not sure why. Even as I started to feel a sort of sick feeling somewhere deep down I continued to read. After awhile I wasn’t sure if anything other than the pure horror I was feeling was pushing me forward. By the time I finished the manga I was reading this afternoon, I was sobbing. I was thinking about Cannibal Holocaust and how sometimes it’s better to leave well enough alone. It wasn’t the subject matter in and of itself but rather that psychological aspect that I always look for that did me in this time. I can’t stop thinking about it. I sort of regret reading it right now though I know as some time passes, my stomach settles and I’m able to fully process what I read I will probably change my mind and stop regretting it.

Curiosity might not have killed the cat but it certainly did some damage to its psyche. That cat’s a bit of a masochist.

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Manga + Anime + Me

Here’s how it happened.  I haven’t seen much in the way of anime and my knowledge was limited.  I do, however, collect dolls.  One of the dolls I got (because I liked how it looked) happened to be based off of a character from Black Butler.  Someone on Flickr commented, asking me if I liked Black Butler.  I explained that I had never seen it and just wanted the doll.  They told me what it was about and I (being me) protested that I doubted very much I would be interested in it.  I read about it.  Continued to protest that I doubted very much that I would be interested but I might give it a shot.

So I downloaded (egads, yes) the first season and just sort of left it sitting there for awhile.  Then I knew I was going to Virginia and that chances were fairly high that I would be looking for something to do later at night so I copied the Black Butler episodes to my hard drive and off I flew.  And then I settled into bed the second night I was in Virginia and put my headphones on and I started the first episode.  Well, this isn’t too bad, I thought, I’ll watch another.

And then another and another, I was fascinated.  I was hooked.  Black Butler became the most amazing this I had ever seen.  Ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little but I fell in love.  (And just so you know I have purchased both dvds for season 1 – something I never would have done had I not downloaded it and watched it for free first.)   Again, me being me, I started to research this fantastic discovery of mine.  I wanted more!

This was November 2011.  This is when I discovered anime and manga (not that I didn’t know it existed, I certainly did) and that it contained a genre that may as well have been made specifically for me.  Yaoi.  I am not embarrassed to say that I love this genre.  And no Black Butler is not yaoi, it was the key that unlocked the door to something I never would have found had I not bought that doll and posted that picture and had that one girl not commented on that picture.  Fate was working for me.

I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on the manga I’ve read and the anime I’ve watched but I hadn’t wanted to do it here.  I thought I could create a new page and write entries under that but it doesn’t look like Word Press functions like that.  Maybe I’ll just put the reviews behind click-throughs.  Mostly I wanted to write my thoughts because my friends aren’t into this stuff and I have no one to talk about it with like I would with tv shows or movies or other books I may have read.  It seems funny really discovering this now as an adult of however many years but I’m not complaining.  It just means I’m old enough to legally buy the manga I want to read!  HA.

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New books and why I love the mailman

Well, I will start off by saying I’m behind on the quilt along. I had some bad news last week and I didn’t feel much like sewing one day. I am not feeling well (again) and that isn’t helping. I’ve got about 15 blocks left. I really want to finish them. I’d like to get myself caught up to where I’m supposed to be but we’ll see how it goes.

I told two of my friends I’d teach them to sew and we’re getting together tomorrow night for that. I’m going to have them make tote bags as a first project and I may bring my quilt stuff so that I can work on that while they’re making their totes.

I really wanted to update about a couple of books I’ve gotten. The first is The Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam. It just arrived about a half an hour ago and I haven’t had a chance to really look at it yet. I’m really excited to check it out and because I ordered it directly from her site, she autographed it for me! So exciting! If you make bags and you haven’t checked out U-Handbag, what are you waiting for?

The second book is one that I saw posted somewhere at some point, I really don’t remember. So I decided it seemed like my kind of book and after some impatient waiting for them to get with stocking it at Chapters (it was sitting in a box in the back for a bit), I finally got my hands on a copy yesterday. The book is called Dare to be Square by Boo Davis. If you are new to quilting, like I am, you will find the intro section incredibly helpful. I would have to say, of all of the sewing books I have ever seen, this is one of, if not the best, introductions I have seen.

I know it can be a tad redundant once you’ve moved beyond the beginner stages because pretty much every book you buy has these intro sections but I don’t think they’re going anywhere. If you are experienced you can just skip over that part of the book I suppose. What I really love about this book is that the quilt designs are modern, funky and original without being complicated. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a lot of work involved in making some of these quilts but the construction itself is pretty straight forward. As the title suggests, these quilts are made up of squares (well squares and rectangles) so there’s no curves, no crazy angles and no nothing that will make you throw up your hands in frustration and surrender.

For someone like me, this book is perfect. I like that it’s uncomplicated but you still end up with a beautiful and unique quilt. I never dreamed I’d be interested in quilts because all I knew of them was the classic, country style, dark colours in very classic patterns. While that may be your aesthetic, it’s definitely not mine so when someone said quilt, my immediate reaction was “Ugly!” But then a funny thing happened as I started to join some sewing groups on Flickr. I started seeing some quilts that weren’t ugly. As a matter of fact they were beautiful. That’s what made me decide to take my quilting class back at the beginning of the year. While I learned to make a classic style of quilt block (and I’m glad I have those skills), I really was not into the look. I guess that’s why I joined the quilt along, because the final result is going to be something that is actually my style. Meanwhile, that quilt from my class sits in a plastic storage bin, unfinished. Someday…

But back to my point. Dare to be Square is definitely a book that someone with no quilting experience would be able to use. Since I’m not an experienced quilter I can’t say whether one would find the book incredibly useful or not but certainly the unique patterns would be fun for anyone and they’re definitely not the old fashioned, down home, country quilt that I grew up knowing. The good news is, you can search inside the book on Amazon and decide for yourself if you think it’s worth picking up. The best news is the price! Even if you were only going to make one of the quilts (you think – funny how going back to things always changes your perspective) at $16.29 Canadian, you really can’t go wrong! I’ve seen single quilt patterns sell for as much.

The other thing that arrived in today’s mail was the wallet I was able to snag when Keyka Lou put it up as a sample sale. I was really excited to get this because I’m a huge fan of hers. I own nearly every single one of her patterns. They are always so professionally done and the best part are her instructions are clear and easy to follow. I even have a separate binder for her patterns and feel like a kid at Christmas (or what I imagine it feels like to be a kid at Christmas – being a Jew, I wouldn’t know) every time she posts a new pattern! I love my new little wallet, it’s so cute and I can’t wait to start using it.

Her latest blog post is a really great tutorial about taking product photos. There’s nothing worse than poorly shot product photos and you don’t need to be a pro or have fancy equipment to take a good photo! It’s a good idea to always take your product photos on the highest setting your camera allows. This will ensure that when you scale down, you’ll still have a high quality image. If you start small, you can’t make it bigger if you need to. Well you can but it will be pixelated and look terrible! I use Photoshop for all of my photo editing but there’s tons of free software out there, as you’ll in the tutorial I linked above.

I think my biggest pet peeve when it comes to photos is shots that are out of focus. With an auto-focus on every modern camera, I don’t understand how people still manage to take blurry photos! My tip for anyone out there looking to take photos is to make sure you depress the shutter button part-way so that your picture comes into focus, then snap! And if you’re selling something online please take the time to make sure your shots are clear and in focus! That’s another great thing about Keyka Lou’s patterns. Every single product shot is clear, bright and in focus! There’s nothing worse than buying a pattern online only to find out most, if not all, the step by step photos are blurry or too dark!

If you are like me and have a DSLR, it’s really helpful to point your flash at the ceiling rather than the product if you’re keeping the flash on the camera. This prevents glare and allows the light to distribute more evenly because you’re bouncing the light source off of a (I hope) white ceiling.

Finally, if you’re going to be taking LOTS of product shots because you’re planning on selling your stuff, you may find it useful to have a light tent. Maybe purchasing a light tent is out of your budget but guess what! You can make one and it barely costs a thing. In fact, depending on what kind of crafty supplies you have at your disposal, it could be free. Check out this awesome tutorial for a DIY light tent on Strobist.

Well, that’s all the rambling I’ve got for today. If I could stop sneezing maybe I could go work on my quilt but it’s not looking too good at the moment! Oh and lastly, I am SO excited about the season premiere of Criminal Minds tonight! I may be mourning the loss of summer but what a week for tv. Criminal Minds tonight, The Mentalist starts up tomorrow, Supernatural on Friday and Dexter on Sunday. Oh idiot box, thank you for sucking me back in!

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