Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Orson Scott Card's "Shadow Of The Hegemon," And "Shadow Puppets"...Getting Lost In The Enderverse


Today I finished Shadow Puppets, Book 3 in the Shadow Saga Series.

And I’m getting lost in the world.

A few months ago a friend and I were discussing all the Ender Wiggin's books written by Orson Scott Card. It's been years since I read the Ender's Series (Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, and Xenocide...) and we talked about how much we liked those books.

"Have you read the Bean series?" he asked.

"You mean, Ender's Shadow?"

"Yeah," he said. "The Bean books are my favorite books he's written."

I decided then to give those books another try. And I'm glad I did! I don't know if I can say I like this series more than the Ender's Series, but I do like them. I like getting lost in that world. I'm also reading the Formic Wars Series which starts the Enderverse.

The two books, Shadow of the Hegemon, and Shadow Puppets follow the lives of Bean, Petra (two soldiers who helped Ender Wiggin defeat the buggers...), Ender's brother Peter, and Peter's parents as they participate in a deadly game with Achilles, a truly despicable person bent on world domination and personal revenge. In the first book Bean saves the kidnapped Petra (I apologize for any spoilers...), and in the second book, the Bean and Petra get married and then are threatened once again by Achilles. An author's note at the end of Shadow of the Hegemon explains some of the thinking that went into the story, namely the political posturing of nations for control. Card mentions his love of the game RISK as a child. I can definitely see the influence of that game in these stories.

I'm not done--I've got a few more of the Ender's Shadow Series books on hold at the library and will hopefully be getting them soon. I can say, like J.R.R. Tolkien, had Card only created this one world, he would have been considered an amazing visionary writer (my opinion...), but if you're a fan of his other works, you know his abilities stretch far beyond the Enderverse.

On to the next! I've got to see how this thing ends.

* Photo used without permission from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/234724.Shadow_Puppets?ac=1

¶ Photo used without permission from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/234724.Shadow_Puppets?ac=1

Monday, October 20, 2014

How To Keep A Cat From Going Under The Bed...

Twice a year, a ritual occurs in the Taylor household...the changing of the clothes. In our basement we have several plastic containers full of clothes. In the winter the containers are full of summer clothes and in the summer the long-sleeve shirts, sweats, and sweaters are stored.

Because we have three sons, we take the term "hand-me down" very seriously. Luckily my boys are not so concerned with wearing the most up-to-date fashions. In fact, today I sent a picture that I took of my youngest son to my oldest son who is currently serving an LDS mission. He said he remembered wearing that same shirt. I didn't even remember that we had that shirt ten years ago (to me, it still looks in great shape...). Yes, we save stuff. The only downside is all those clothes take up a lot of storage space in the basement.

We usually wait until we're pretty sure the weather's turned for good before we go through the all day process (and sometimes it takes all day...) of swapping the clothes. Today was the day to make the change. Last year we bought some of those space bags and they've been great. This year my son had a fantastic idea.

Let's put some of the clothes under our bed so the cat can't go under the bed to avoid being put in her room. If we don't put Gracie in her room at night, the other cat will come in and they'll start fighting. The last sound you want to hear in the middle of the night is two cats fighting inside your house.

So, we swapped the clothes, freed up some storage space and denied our cat a hiding space--that's a pretty good day!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Value Of 99¢...


What can you buy for 99¢?

An app.

Excluding tax and an extra penny, pretty much anything at the Dollar Store.

And, if you're lucky, a can of pop from certain vending machines.

But, for a limited time, you can buy...



Adventures into exciting new worlds!

Yes! For a limited time, you can buy published anthologies from Xchyler Publishing! And they're only NINETY-NINE CENTS!

Dive headlong into the magical world of Fantasy with Moments In Millennia, A Fantasy Antology. 

Explore the world of dragons with Forged In Flame, A Dragon Anthology.

If steampunk's your thing, there's two books for you! Mechanized Masterpieces, A Steampunk Anthology and Terra Mechanica, A Steampunk Anthology.

There's one for thriller fans: A Dash of Madness, A Thriller Anthology.

And one for those who like paranormal. Shades and Shadows, A Paranormal Anthology.

But you'd better hurry! I don't know how long these incredible deals will last! Seriously, if you've got a buck, just go to Amazon: HERE and download any or all of these books! They're full of great stories from some pretty talented authors. I'm sure you'll find something for you!

* Photo used without permission from: http://www.lettherebeneon.com/?page_id=381

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Reincarnation Of Thrift Store Items...

I don't know if you like to shop at thrift stores. If you've followed this blog for any length of time--especially when I first began the blog years ago--you'll know I love thrift stores. Give me a free afternoon and I would go and see what's available. 

The past couple of years, I've not visited the shop as much, mostly because our small house is running out of room to store all the stuff that others obviously didn't need and that we really don't need, either. Good stuff to have, mind you. I mean, we've already got an edger, but there's an even nicer edger than the one I bought at the thrift store just a year earlier. Heck--I might one day regret not getting the nicer edger. It could happen.

There's a very nice thrift store about five miles from my house and that's the one I shop at. The store is owned and operated by the LDS church and selling donated stuff is only part of its mission. It's really a fantastic operation considering all the good they do.

And since I go to the same store over and over again, I'll see the same stuff that went unsold. It's the same stuff I saw a week or two before. I've also seen stuff that we ourselves donated. After my mom passed away and we cleaned out her house, I went to the store a few weeks after and saw items we had donated (and I even thought about buying some of those...).

But yesterday I saw something I had never seen before--an item that I knew had been in that same thrift store years earlier. I knew this not because it had a previous price sticker on it. I knew this because the item--a drum kit--was the exact same item WE bought! My kids were younger and I bought it because I thought one of them might be interested in learning to play the drums.

Nope--they weren't.

Last year we ended up giving to our next-door neighbors because their son was interested in playing the drums. I don't know if it was them that donated it to the thrift store or if the drum set was donated, bought by someone else and then donated again.

So, if you live near me and you know someone interested in a non-complete drum kit, it was still there as of yesterday afternoon. Of course, it could be gone by now. I wonder if I'll see it back at the thrift store again. There's more than a good chance I will.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Penny!

Two years ago I didn't know Penny Freeman--I think we might have been Facebook friends at the time, or commented on similar posts from the iWriteNetwork. We had many of the same friends. Little did I know that two years later this woman would greatly impact my fledgling writing career.

Penny's amazing! Simply put...amazing! Without Penny Xchyler Publishing would not exist. And without Xchyler, I wouldn't have three short stories published in three anthologies. I was lucky enough to meet Penny at this year's Salt City Steamfest in August. The pictures here are of Penny and her brother Scott. She was wonderful, even considering the previous week she and her family had had.

But if you know nothing else of Penny, I want you to know she's an exceptional writer and editor. I've been fortunate enough to have my short stories published alongside hers. She writes the kind of stories that stay with you and live a while in your mind.

Today is Penny's birthday and I'm glad to be considered her friend. Happy birthday, Penny and thanks--thanks for everything!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our Newest Appliance...

I had a conversation with my wife a few weeks ago and it went something like this:

"Honey, I'm going to a garage sale tomorrow. They have a water cooler I'm interested in. What do you think?"

A water cooler, I thought. "Cool!" I said.

And so, she picked it up and brought it home. After several attempts to find the large, five-gallon water jugs (thank you Smith's Marketplace...) we filled them up with artesian spring water, plugged in the cooler, and slapped on a huge jug of water.

Walla! Instant hot, cold, and room temperature water! No more heating water separately for tea or hot chocolate! No more using the fridge as our only source of cold water!

But, one of the coolest (literally...) features of our newest appliance we only found after we had moved it inside, plugged it in and filled it with water. There's a mini-fridge underneath the water dispensing area. I mean, that's a nice feature. Too bad I can't take the water cooler to work and keep it in my cubicle--they frown on personal fridges at work.

We've had the cooler for a few weeks. It's a winner! The only downsize--now we'll have to swap out our oven, fridge, and dishwasher for stainless steel models...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fathead Military Ad...Brilliant

I saw an ad yesterday for a wall decal, but for me, it was much more than that.

Maybe you've seen it. It's from Fathead Wall Decals. I've always thought they had a great product with huge wall-sized decals of sports heroes, superheroes, Disney images, Star Wars images, Video Game images and other art scenes. 

They also have military pictures. I wonder if the company catches any heat over their support of the military. I'm sure there are those who disapprove of any support of the military, but I don't believe it's the majority. I think the military decals look fantastic.

I would have loved to have had these things when I was a kid and I would have liked to have been able to buy something like this for my kids. I think I checked into it once--to see how much the decals were. They're high quality and therefore, a little too pricey for us so we never purchased them for our home.

But when I saw the ad, it gave me a new appreciation for the company and their mission. The ad shows a toddler giving a hug to an image of his father that's on the wall, a father who cannot be with his young family because he's serving his country. What a great thing for the company to do. And Fathead is donating all the net profits from the sale of their military products to Operation Homefront, an organization that provides emergency assistance for US military troops, the families they leave behind and wounded servicemen when they come home.

My father came from a military family with five brothers serving in WWII, my dad included. It's humbling to see a company do something nice for the military when they don't have to.

To those at Fathead, well done! I wish only for the best with this campaign and continued success in the future! You can see the full ad: HERE. You can access information on Fathead's military program: HERE. You can go to the company's website: HERE.