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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Book Review: Proven Guilty

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Proven Guilty, by Jim Butcher

Proven Guilty is the eighth book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.  The series follows Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard living in Chicago.  In this book, Harry starts his position as a Warden on the White Council by witnessing an execution.  This forces him to look back at his own time of trial before the Council.  After the council meeting, Ebenezar asks Harry to look into why Winter isn’t willing to aid the Council in the war when Summer is.  Meanwhile, Molly Carpenter calls Harry to bail her out of jail.  She says dangerous things are happening and that she needs his help.  Harry always has so much on his plate.

Warning: Spoilers follow here.

Harry decides to do what Eb asks of him and see why Winter is acting weird.  That same night, he gets a phone call from Molly saying she needs to be bailed out of jail.  Once Harry gets there, he realizes that it’s not Molly who needs to be bailed out, but her boyfriend Nelson.  Nelson was arrested after he was accused of brutally attacking a famous movie director at a horror convention.  Nelson claims that he didn’t do it, even though he was the only other person in the bathroom where the assault took place.  Harry takes Molly back home, where she hasn’t been in a while since dropping out of school and leaving home due to differences between her and Charity.  Michael is getting ready to leave on a mission and asks Harry to look after his family and see if he can’t get Molly and Charity to reconcile.  Harry says he will.  Harry heads over to the hotel where the convention is taking place to check things out.  There, he meets Rawlins, a cop who’s worked with him before.  After getting reacquainted, Rawlins and Harry team up to find out what’s happening in the hotel.  Suddenly, the lights go out.  After going up against a movie villain known as the Reaper (who resembles Jason Voorhees), and watching him turn into ectoplasm, Harry realizes the monsters terrorizing the convention are from the Nevernever.  They are beings called Phobophages, and they feed on fear.  So they “dress up” as famous movie villains to elicit fear from the people who were most scared by that villain.  Harry deduces that the phages were called upon by someone, a summoner.  He starts a spell that will redirect the phages to their summoner the next time they show up.  Then the summoner will be done for and the phages will be gone.  The spell works on all but one phage, and Harry finally manages to take her out.  Afterward, Harry and Rawlins leave the hotel and are ambushed by a man named Darby, a movie producer, and his lawyer, Glau.  Darby and Glau take Harry and Rawlins to the Full Moon Garage, the same place Harry was help captive in Fool Moon.  After teaming up with Lasciel against his better judgment to escape, Harry gets Rawlins and himself out of the garage only to be ambushed again by Darby and Glau.  Out of nowhere, Thomas, who had officially moved out of Harry’s apartment and made himself scarce, shows up and uses his sawed-off shotgun to resume order.  Turns out Darby is actually Thomas’s cousin Madrigal.  An unseen figure interrupts the family reunion and kills Glau out of sight.  The figure steps out and reveals himself to be the Scarecrow, another movie villain.  Even with Hellfire, Harry’s magic doesn’t so much as deter the Scarecrow.  Confused, Harry, Thomas, and Mouse all take turns trying to defeat the Scarecrow.  Once the Scarecrow is distracted, and Rawlins is loaded into Madrigal’s rental van, Thomas drives everyone away in the van.  After narrowly escaping the Scarecrow again in the street, Thomas and Harry take Rawlins to the hospital.  Harry decides to follow the trail he placed on the phages when he cast the summoner spell.  The trail leads to the Carpenter’s house, which is completely disheveled.  Seriously worried, Harry runs into the house screaming for someone to answer.  No one answers.  Thomas finds Daniel in the treehouse in the back yard.  Daniel tells Harry that three movie monsters showed up and took Molly away.  Then he tells Harry that the rest of his family is upstairs in the panic room.  Harry hurries up there and gets the whole family to Father Forthill.  Charity confesses to Harry that the reason she and Molly are at odds is because Molly has magical talent, and so did Charity when she was young.  After getting in with the wrong crowd, Charity gave up magic and is now wanting Molly to do the same.  Worried about Molly, Charity, Thomas, and Harry head back to Harry’s apartment as he tries to cast a spell to find Molly in the Nevernever.  The spell fails initially, but after a call from Thomas Murphy shows up and suggests using Charity’s blood as a tracking device.  The foursome decide to take that chance and head into the Nevernever the next morning.  Having previously met up with Lily and Fix and learned that Mab is going crazy and urging Winter to attack Summer since Summer is at its weakest trying to aid the Council (hence Winter not participating), Harry asks the two to accompany his group into the Nevernever.  After defeating three phages inside the theater where the portal to the Nevernever is, Lily admits that she will have to hold the portal open until they can return, which would rob her of all her power – so she has to stay.  And since the portal will just be standing wide open, Fix will need to stay back as well to fight off any creature attempting to come through.  So the four are on their own.  They are led through the snow and ice by a fiery butterfly that Lily supplied them with.  They follow the butterfly to Mab’s castle, Arctis Tor.  The grounds are littered with bones and it takes a long time to wade through them.  The gang finally gets inside the castle and battles more phages before ascending a spiral staircase that leads to the area where Molly is being held, screaming.  While Thomas and Murphy hold the door to the staircase, Harry and Charity go ahead to face the Scarecrow, the phage holding Molly hostage.  After an epic and intense battle, Harry finally defeats the Scarecrow by figuring out that the butterfly is actually a small generator of Summer’s power.  He uses the butterfly to call up one last big spell and wins.  The use of the summer power however alerts all of Winter that Summer is present and the war horns are heard from miles away.  The gang grabs Molly and makes a mad dash back to the portal.  They finally return and Harry confesses that he used Summer power and that now Winter is on his heels.  Fix is taken aback, but Lily admits that she planned it that way, because now that Winter is all the way on the other side from Summer, Summer can now aid the Council against the vampires, which they do.  Everyone heads back to the church, and Harry takes Molly aside for a talk about being a wizard and what her new power means.  Along with Harry’s advice, and against Charity’s wishes, Molly elects to go before the Council of her own accord.  Upon arrival however, Ramirez tells Harry that Luccio, Eb, and Injun Joe are all away at their boot camp.  This means that everyone who favors Harry is absent and that the verdict looks to be grim.  Following a strict trial, Molly is ordered to be killed.  The Gatekeeper steps in and distracts the Council until Ebenezar and the rest of the good guys, including Michael, can show up.  Turns out the mission Michael was called on led him to help out Luccio’s boot camp.  It’s almost as if the Council owes him now.  Harry is finally appointed as Molly’s teacher.  That same night, Harry, Michael, and Molly are driving in Harry’s car on the way to Michael’s house, and Harry finally tells Michael about Lasciel.  Michael says he already knows and that he’s here for Harry, for either path he takes.  Harry and Molly head back to Harry’s apartment to discuss how their relationship is going to work.  After making it bluntly obvious that anything romantic is completely off the table and establishing a schedule for training, Harry takes Molly back home, where she is expected to move back in and enroll in school again.  The next morning, Eb drops by to discuss Council matters with Harry.  They both suspect there is a third-party at work here, not only trying to bring baddies to Chicago, but also messing with Mab.  But whoever/whatever the third-party is is a mystery.  Harry and Eb finally reconnect and head off to grab dinner together.

I really enjoyed this one.  This one is my favorite so far, other than Blood Rites.  Two questions stick out: who ran into Harry with their car at the beginning, and what does Thomas now do for a living?  I need to know!  It blew my mind when I learned about Charity.  Everything of course made a little more sense after that.  I hope Mouse is all right.  He was limping badly for the last half of the book.  Near the end, when Molly sort of tried to seduce Harry, it really made me uncomfortable, like in a pedophilic way.  I’m glad he didn’t give into that.  I was so happy when Harry told Michael about Lasciel.  I actually took in a breath when he said it.  It was surprising to me that Michael already knew, but I appreciated his friendship for Harry.  Thomas was super mysterious this book, so I’m hoping a lot of that gets cleared up next book.  There’s a lot of hinting that Murphy and Harry will get together, but I’m not sure I want that.  I’m still so hopeful for Susan’s return.  I want something more to come of that.  I almost feel like Harry’s just settling for Murphy because she’s there and they’re close.  I’ll be interested to see how Molly’s training goes, and if Charity is any nicer to Harry.

For Next Time

White Night, by Jim Butcher

In Chicago, someone has been killing practitioners of magic, those incapable of becoming full-fledged wizards. Shockingly, all the evidence points to Harry Dresden’s half-brother, Thomas, as the murderer. Determined to clear his sibling’s name, Harry uncovers a conspiracy within the White Council of Wizards that threatens not only him, but his nearest and dearest, too…



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a perfect description of today.

eBook Review: Solitary

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Solitary, by Travis Thrasher

Solitary cover


Solitary is the first book in the Solitary Tales series by Travis Thrasher.  The book follows Chris Buckley, a sixteen-year-old who moves from Chicago to Solitary, NC after his parents divorce.  Once he arrives in Solitary, really weird things start to happen.  First Chris starts getting harassed by the local bully, Gus.  Then he finds notes taped to the inside of his locker, telling him secrets, all signed A Friend.  Chris starts to notice the school beauty, Jocelyn, and no sooner after does everyone start telling Chris to stay away from her.  After discovering lots of weird people and weird secrets, Chris decides to start playing detective…and this leads him to trouble.

Warning: Spoilers follow here.

Ever since moving here, Chris has hated his life.  He misses his friends and his former life back in Chicago, and hates how barren and boring the town of Solitary is.  But the feeling is mutual, because everyone hates him, too.  Chris and his mom moved to Solitary because Chris’s uncle – his moms’ brother – lived there.  But ever since they moved there, he hasn’t been seen or heard from.  The first people he meets at his new school are three girls named Poe, Rachael, and Jocelyn.  Chris immediately falls for Jocelyn.  But from day one, Jocelyn (and everyone else) tries to tell Chris to stay away from her.  This doesn’t deter him in the least.  After meeting and getting harassed by the school bully and the son of the most respected man in town, Gus, Chris begins to wonder why everyone is trying to get to him.  And the weird stuff just keeps happening – threatening emails, phone calls, and in-person warnings, weird behavior from all the local townspeople, bizarre rumors of cult behavior.  Newt, a little peon at school, seems to know everything about the town and is able to relay some of that info to Chris.  Apparently, every year around Christmas, one of the local kids go “missing.”  No one knows what happens to them, they just disappear.  What’s more, everyone else in town just pretends it never happened.  There are some really creepy secrets in the air, and Chris wants to solve the mystery of Solitary.  Against Jocelyn’s wishes, he continues to contact her and the two eventually strike up a relationship.  At first, all is well, but after a few weeks, Chris begins being threatened again.  Jocelyn shows Chris a large boulder where the believes sacrifices are made.  She also believes the missing kids from Christmastimes past to be the victims of these sacrifices.  At first Chris is freaked out, but it’s all he has to go on.  After Chris and his mom finally get Internet in their house, Chris realizes he is being tracked online by unseen forces.  Chris finds muddy footsteps on his porch that end at a window.  His bike tires are slashed.  He is constantly warned to stay away, to get away, and to mind his own business.  Toward the end of the book, a mysterious letter arrives for Chris after Jocelyn goes “missing.”  Thinking the letter is from her, Chris opens it.  It’s not signed, but only offers directions and a time, stating that Jocelyn’s life depends on it.  Chris follows the instructions in the letter and meets an unknown woman in an SUV who drops him off in the woods, telling him to scare a group of hooded figures.  She claims scaring them will alert them that they are being watched, and might make them back off.  After attempting this, and ending up shooting one of the hooded figures, Chris runs through the woods, passes out, and then continues through the woods until he ends up at Jocelyn’s house.  Once there, Chris finds the telephone lines disconnected and the Internet out.  There is an email that was never sent on the laptop screen in Jocelyn’s room telling Chris that “it’s going to happen before the new year” and to go to the place she told him about.  Chris rushes to the boulder, only to be too late.  Jocelyn has been sacrificed.  One of the hooded figures tells him to never speak about the incident and to leave.  Chris walks away, and returns home, wondering what to do next.

This book was really great…until the end.  Here’s a screen cap of a review from Barnes and Noble’s website.  I think it sums up a lot of what I felt at the end.

Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 4.14.50 PM

I have SO many questions!  How does Newt fit into all this?  What was Jocelyn’s big secret?  Is Wade back, does he know any of the town’s secrets?  And so many more.  I will add, when I got this eBook, it was a Free Fridays Selection from Nook.  I bought it without knowing it was part of a series, which I think a lot of other people did as well.  I was expecting the book to wrap up, and as I got closer to the end, I realized there were only 20 pages left and it was far from being solved.  Once I finished the book, I looked up the author’s website, and found out it was a series, already up to the fourth book.  Evidently, this series is one long story, as opposed to four separate ones in the same universe.  Really wish I had known that before starting!  I found the writing enjoyable, and well-paced.  Some parts also reminded me of Butcher’s writing.  I read this book in-between Dresden books, because I was waiting on #8, the last one we don’t own, to show up at the library.  Now it has.  I have it.  So I will now read it.  I give this book 3/5 stars.  I liked the writing and the story a lot, but I wish it has wrapped up better.

For Next Time

Proven Guilty, by Jim Butcher

The White Council of Wizards has drafted Harry Dresden as a Warden and assigned him to look into rumors of black magic in Chicago. Malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in the Windy City, but it’s all in a day’s work for a wizard, his faithful dog, and a talking skull named Bob.

“The Talk”

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When Justin was planning to propose to me, he and my mom were working together to get the perfect ring and set everything up.  A few days before Justin popped the question, I confided in my mom that I thought that weekend would be the weekend.  She already knew that it was indeed the proposal weekend, but didn’t want me to know it so confidently.  In an effort to make me a little more unsure and therefore surprised, my mom started telling me not to get my hopes up.  I shrugged it off and said, “Yeah okay,” and continued knowing I was going to come home with a ring on my finger.  I knew Justin well enough that I could almost smell it on him that he had a diamond for me.  Nevertheless, my mother was relentless with telling me to not get my hopes up.  It got to be so much that I eventually began to wonder if this weekend was actually happening or not, despite my certainty of it.  She made it more of a mission to tell me at least three or four times a day that he probably wasn’t going to propose that weekend.  But hearing it over and over again really wavered my confidence.  Of course, that weekend he did propose, but my mom just tried way too hard to help me be surprised.

When I was growing up, she did the same thing with sex.

Luke, Daddy, and me on the way to church across the street.

I think her thought process was, Since her Daddy is gone now because of the divorce, she’ll look for a male love to fill the void and I don’t want her to get pregnant.  That’s exactly what happened, and I wasn’t smart about it because I wasn’t taught to be.  I was drilled with it a lot more than Luke was because, as we all know, boys can’t get pregnant.

I’ve mentioned this briefly before, but Luke (my twin brother) and I were brought up in a very Christian home.  Every Sunday morning was spent getting ready for church and Sunday school.  Bows that matched my many dresses were snapped on top of curly hair and Luke’s little three-piece suits were assembled in preparation for worship.  We were taught all your basic Christian values, like the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, and all the others.  We were taught that being gay went against God (although this teaching was mostly by my father, my mother was an advocate), and that sex before marriage was one of the worst sins you could commit.

What eventually bothered me as I got older wasn’t the fact that I was taught to not like sex.  I realized that my parents spent so much time telling me that sex was bad, that I was never taught sex was good.  The idea of having sex once you were married was never taught to me until I was too old for it to be engrained.  I imagine that like most parents, my parents didn’t want me to end up being a teenage mother or dropping out of school or some other outcome of getting knocked up.  I also imagine that if that had ended up happening to me, my mother (since my parents have been divorced for better than one-fourth of my life) wouldn’t have been particularly happy, but she would have been helpful.  My mother isn’t nearly as judgmental as my father is.

When I was 19, I had a pregnancy scare.  The test even came back positive. (It turned out to just be a skipped period.  I never was pregnant and never had a baby…obviously) I freaked out and very shamefully told my mom.  She immediately went into judgment mode, but tried to cover it up by asking questions of what to do next.  I was hysterical.  I hadn’t intended this.  That evil sex had been the cause of this!  Well, I’ll be damned if I ever do that again!

So now, not only was I brought up to believe sex was bad, I had been given “proof.”  My parents thought that drilling the sex-is-bad myth into my head would turn me into a nun, but all it did was make me curious.  Why is it bad?  What does it feel like?  Why does everyone else get to do it but me?  These were just a few questions that frequently ran through my head.  Eventually, this curiosity met up with raging hormones, and by the time I got to my senior year of high school, I couldn’t hold out anymore.

You know what else I was never told about?  Protection!  So Justin and I didn’t use any.  My parents were so sure that sex was the farthest thing from Luke’s and my mind, that the thought of having to use protection just sickened them.  We would both be married by the time we had sex, and because we were married, we would obviously want children right away.  It’s absolutely absurd to look back and realize all this now.  The lack of communication about protection, coupled with my burning curiosity, led to that pregnancy scare up there.  The idea of sex wasn’t marketed in my house as the most natural thing in the world, but rather the one thing in the world you don’t want to mess with until you’re married.  As a result, we never even had “the talk.”  It just wasn’t talked about unless we were being told not to do it.

All of this is to say, now that I am married, sex is a tender subject.  Even though I am grown now, and I know that sex is not only okay, but a wonderful thing, the engrained notion of sex being bad just won’t leave me.  I was watching The View two days ago.  Up until this week, for whatever reason, I had never been interested in the show.  Back when the show first aired, all four women would talk at the same time and I couldn’t hear anyone.  I really viewed it like this parody from Family Guy:

But on Wednesday, they had this segment about a reality show called L.A. Shrinks.  The clip they showed was about a woman with my same problem.  She had been taught from an early age that sex was a bad thing and now it was crippling her relationship.

I don’t know how that episode ended or what the shrink told her, but I would like to know.  I wish I had help with this.  I don’t have anyone to turn to really discuss this.  None of my friends seem to have this issue, and I’m sure as hell not talking to my parents about it.  I would like to seek psychiatric help.  I don’t know if my insurance covers it.  I just want a resolution.  I want to be able to give my husband a physical show of my love for him.

When Justin and I have kids, we are going to teach them to be smart, not celibate.  There is such a thing as condoms and pills that you can use to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and we plan on encouraging our kids to use them.  I don’t want them to just give themselves up to everyone, but when/if they do decide to sleep with someone, I just want them to be smart about it.  That’s a whole hell of a lot better than what my parents taught me.

Is an IUD the Answer to My SOS?

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Yesterday, I was finally able to visit the OB-GYN’s office I have been trying to make an appointment for since last month.


I had to go through a little bit of rough waters before I was finally able to go.  The day before my original appointment, my period came.  I had to reschedule for March 6.  The weekend before my appointment, the OB-GYN I had scheduled the appointment for (not to mention had performed research on that rivaled research for my college papers) took medical leave.  The office called me to inform me of this, and they ended up scheduling me for the same day and different appointment time with Amanda O’Briant, who had actually been Dr. Artis’s assistant and was trained under her.  I felt pretty good about that.

I got there around 2:30.  My appointment was for 2:50 (such a weird time).  I was there until 5:30.  I had not expected to be there for 3 hours, but the office also hadn’t expected to lose one of their prime doctors two days before a flood of appointments.  I was left in my exam room several times so that Amanda and her assistant, Charisse, could go check in on someone else.

We had an abundant talk about the different types of birth control.   After going over what I expected from a birth control, and after discussing which methods I was willing to try, Amanda decided that Mirena was a good fit for me.  When I was researching all the different types for my original appointment, Mirena was the one that really fit the bill for me.  We continued with my annual exam, and everything was said to be very pink and healthy.  Good for me!

Right now, I am waiting on a call from the pharmaceutical company to tell me how much my insurance will charge me for Mirena.  If the amount is what we want it to be (it was said with great certainty that it would only cost me my copay, which is $45…which sounds way too good to be true), then all we have to is schedule an appointment to insert it.  It all sounds pretty good.

I was just glad everything seemed good in the exam yesterday.  Cancer runs in my family on both sides, and it scares me to death.

However, any solutions for high blood pressure?

When I arrived at the office, a nurse took my BP, and it was super high.  I told her that’s how it usually is for me and she agreed to take it again after the appointment.  By that time, it was down better than 10 points!  Even so, the lower number was still a little higher than it was supposed to be.  Any old wives’ tales or anything for lowering it?  I really don’t want to start on any pills for it, despite Amanda not even mentioning medication for it.

Any suggestions?

Hope all the other ladies out there are getting good feedback on their bodies, too!

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A simple, lovely read.


My mother is sitting at my dining room table with a book and a cup of tea.  I remember that she loved to read, and loved tea.  Although, in all honesty, I don’t remember ever seeing her actually sit down with a cup of tea. Or a book, for that matter.  Eight children and mounds of laundry, cooking, and housework were what I remember.  I remember slurping the dregs from her neglected, cold teacups and getting into trouble for “borrowing” her library books as a child.

“Mom, what are you doing here?”

“Reading.  Having tea.”  She set her book aside with a smile.  She didn’t look tired, or sick, or any of the ways I remember her looking.

“I see that, Mom.  But…you’re…” my voice cracked.

“Dead?” she asked softly. “Yes, I am.  Grab a cup, sit down and join me”.

“Mom,” I am truly stymied. “Really, I have to get ready for work.”

“Pfft. …

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Such an inspirational post.