Friday, January 25, 2013

DIY: Shelley and the HP Laptop Sleeve

Back at Christmas Husband-Man bought me the laptop I am writing on. Husband-Man is awesome! He also bought me a sleeve for it to keep it safe. Unfortunately the only option was an ugly black neoprene number...not cute. So very not "Shelley".  I like interesting. I like expressive. I want you to see my laptop sleeve and gasp with awe at how AWEsome it is and envy me ( Yep...I said it). Black neoprene is not conducive to that. Black neoprene is for people with knee problems. Black neoprene is UGLY!!!

So I set out to find something to replace the knee brace/laptop sleeve.

I remembered a Kindle case I saw one night while I was pinning on Pinterest (addict here...I need help...seriously as of this writing I think I have like 57 boards. I'm a virtual hoarder.) and immediately fell in love with. But I already had a Kindle case that was functional and perfect for my needs. Plus the one I have is green. I didn't want to buy a new one just because I liked the design, when it didn't offer me the same functionality as the one I was already happy with. See...I can be practical. But I pinned it anyway because I loved it and could imagine going back and looking at it with unholy desire. I do this. It's the hoarder in me. I digress...

So I grabbed my cell phone and pulled up the pin to look and see if the person who made the case had maybe made a laptop case that was similar. I'd have snapped it up in half a heartbeat. Alas it seems the Etsy store it originated from has been removed. So I decided I had to make it myself. This is how:

Step One: Design
I loved the original design. It was cute. Fun. Totally "me". Until I started messing with it. Then I made it a little more "me" and I'm happier with it.

My design

Original design

I traced my laptop onto freezer paper (more on the awesomeness of this great product to come) and got busy designing.

I prefer my hair details and that the scar is actually a little under the hair. I also thought he should have the green eyes, they are an important part of the story after all. and I wanted the scarf a little wider and to have the tail folded over. Not major changes...but it's very much more "me".

Step Two: Shopping
I made my list of supplies needed and skipped off to the craft store to get the materials. I decided that I wanted to keep it felt and fleece and that led me to a bit of a dilemma. I thought the inside of the sleeve should be fleece so it was soft and cushy for my laptop to rest in. I've never worked with fusible fleece before. I had no clue how to use it. It made me nervous. So when I arrived at the store I looked for it and read the box for instructions and thought...I can do this. More on that later in Fun With Fusible Fleece.
I ended up leaving the store with a two foot stack of felt (inspiration struck while I was there for another project...stay tuned) and I hurried home to get started.
Step Three: Fun With Fusible Fleece
As I said, I have never worked with fusible anything. I read the instructions on the box of fusible fleece and it didn't sound too hard. Place fusible side of fleece face up on ironing board and place wrong side of fabric (in my case it didn't matter which side of my felt I placed on it) on top and then iron starting from middle of fabric out. Easy peasy right? WRONG!!!
I ironed my felt and then cut out the panels for the outside of the sleeve to the dimensions I needed (I added 1.5 inches to the original design for seam allowance) and followed the directions on the fleece box. But, I couldn't get it to stick. It wouldn't work.
I thought maybe it was because my iron wasn't hot enough to get through the felt to the adhesive to make it stick so I turned my iron up. Really bad idea. Like REALLY bad idea. I ended up with burnt felt and a sticky iron.
I turned off the iron and, muttering curse words under my breath, set about cleaning the sticky off of it. Once finished with that I had a drink of Dr. Pepper, kissed G (he was cute) and reread the package. At the bottom, under the directions I found something about moisture. A HA!
I reset everything and turned on the steam function of my iron and got to work...sure enough it worked perfectly. By the time I got done with fusing the fleece I was singing Jason Mraz under my breath and dancing at my ironing board. Easy peasy.
Step Four: Did you know Freezer Paper is Awesome?
I was reading tutorials on Pinterest a few days ago and discovered Freezer Paper. I had no idea this even existed. Apparently it has wax on one side and is paper on the other and you can iron it to material and it will stick long enough for you to cut out your pattern. Brilliant! Who knew? I want to kiss whoever came up with Freezer Paper. I love them.
Since I knew this wonderful trick I proceeded to trace the individual pieces of my design onto the paper and cut them completely out. I then ironed the pieces onto the appropriate color of felt.

Step Five: Cut That Out!!
And then cut them out from the felt with a tiny rotating cutter (I'm sure there is a technical term but I prefer mine)

I even tried on Harry's glasses...It's a good look for me. I think.


Step Six: Sew What?!?!

Then I got busy sewing. I pinned each piece where I wanted it and sewed and sewed and sewed.
Harry needed his glasses back

The scarf

The back of the sleeve

I'm particularly proud of the back because I had no idea what to do with it. I wanted it to be eye catching and thought about a Snitch or an owl but then I just decided I liked the obvious HP logo and I couldn't be happier with it. I think it looks great.
Once I had all the pieces and parts sewn onto the outside, I patted myself on the back for doing such a good job on my first really detailed sewing job, and proceeded to join the two pieces to actually make the sleeve. I forgot to take pictures of this step. Euphoria will do that to you. But it's really simple. I turned the right sides (the sides with the designs) to face each other so that the fleece (that I so expertly fused) was facing outward. And I used a straight stitch to sew them together. Then turned the sleeve right side out and BAM!

Isn't it just adorable?
Step Seven: Finish work and Self Congratulations
I slid my laptop into the sleeve and immediately realized I needed something to secure it. A button and flap worked for me. I cut out five strips of red felt and sewed five button holes. Only one turned out right because it was my first time button holing too. Then I sewed a button to the back of the case and attached the button hole flap with a zig zag stitch to the top of the front, above Harry's hair
(haha, that made me giggle for some reason. Harry's hair. Ha!).

If I had it to do over again I'd probably use the other felt panels and sew them over the fleece before sewing the sleeve into a sleeve. That way the fleece wouldn't show. I may still do that. I'll just have to take the sleeve apart. But felt can be tricky with removing stitches. We'll see.
I'm incredibly in love with my sleeve and have already gotten a huge amount of compliments on it. Having Harry with me every day makes me happy and that's all I can really ask for.
Oh...I almost forgot...One more step...
Step Eight: Leave me a comment. Let me know what you think!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Perfect Service

So the company I work as a contractor for puts a huge amount of importance on giving the consumer Perfect Service. Not just the consumer but fellow associates within the company as well. Example: When I have technical issues with my computer and I call our tech support I almost always get great help. Great help = Perfect Service. They have regular summits celebrating our dedication to perfect service. They encourage associates to hold up other associates who give Perfect Service. Its an awesome culture to work in.

It's not hard to give Perfect Service. It's awesome to get Perfect Service. But it is hard to find Perfect Service.

Most of my life has been dedicated to giving perfect service. As a server I strove to give the best customer service I could, with the result that by the time I left the restaurant I worked for through college 90% of the tables I got each time I worked were filled by regular customers who came in and asked for me specifically and I never made less that 25% in tips. When I worked for doctors offices to start my career I tried to show our patients that I genuinely cared about their problems and did everything I could to ensure they were able to see the doctors as quickly as possible. At my current place of employment I have been lucky and blessed enough to have had multiple phone calls placed, email after email sent, no less than three bouquets of flowers delivered and I can't walk through the halls of our corporate headquarters without being stopped by people who know me.

I love my job. I love where I work. I love going to work in the mornings and I love doing the things I do to help the people I help, which results in helping the consumer get the best experience possible. Perfect Service begets Perfect Service. It's truly rewarding.

But the best thing about Perfect Service is getting it yourself. And I have to tell you, blog reading people...Amazon's customer service has always delivered Perfect Service to me every time I've called them. I think I shared the story of how I got my first Kindle with you already, and I even said that it died a tragic and horrible death and gave its life to save mine. I didn't exaggerate. This is the story:

I was sitting outside reading a few years ago during the summer, barefoot, and when I got up to come inside I stepped on a pebble on the threshold of our back door. Three steps inside our back door is the door to our unfinished basement. Wood steps ending in a concrete floor would not have been forgiving to my noggin and I'm positive that had my dear departed Kindle not jumped out of my hand to allow me to catch myself on the door lintel before falling down the stairs I'd have been concussed at the least and dead at the worst.

When darling Kindle jumped to save me, it flew across my kitchen, hit the stove and tumbled face down on our ceramic tile floor (just realized we have a lot of hard surfaces in our house) which resulted in the screen breaking, which resulted in my anguished wail as I curled into the fetal position on the floor while cradling my dear, darling, life saving Kindle. And for those of you who think I'm kidding about any of this...let me assure you I'm not.

I called Amazon to find out if by any slim miracle Kindle was still under warranty even though I purchased it used. Unfortunately their answer was no, but they were willing to offer me a Kindle 2 (brand new) for $80. Knowing that the Kindle 3G Keyboard was due out in 3 months I declined but I was impressed with the offer. Perfect Service.

When the Kindle 3G Keyboard came out Husband-Man bought me one for Christmas and I was delighted. Raul (I named it Raul. The first Kindle was simply known as Kindle) and I were inseparable. Husband-Man had also bought the cool, non-lighted case at Best Buy for me so that I would have protection for Raul. He knows the wants and needs of his woman, my Husband-Man does. About three weeks after I got Raul, I started noticing that I'd be reading a book and he would just randomly reboot. Not cool! I called Kindle customer service and they immediately asked if I had the non-lighted case. I answered yes and they informed me that there was a defect in the design that caused the battery of my Kindle to occasionally be shocked by the plastic inserts that kept the Kindle locked into the case and offered to credit my account $60 to allow me to purchase the lighted version of the same case...on them. Perfect Service.

Then the following year the Kindle Fire was introduced. Husband-Man, again, knowing his wife's deepest, darkest desires, knew after he was informed by three of our best friends, that I wanted it, needed it and HAD to have it. I got it for Hannukah. Recently I began having trouble with it holding a charge and called Amazon to report the issue and see if there was a fix. They offered me a couple alternatives to try to rectify the problem and we thought it was fixed. Sadly it wasn't.

Today I was 96% of the way through the book I am planning to review for you when all of a sudden, without warning Chuck Norris (the Kindle Fire) died...forever. I called Amazon and they walked me through a few possible fixes and we quickly determined that Chuck Norris was DOA. The rep then sadly informed me that my Kindle was outside of the one year replacement warranty and that Husband-Man hadn't purchased the extended warranty. I was devastated. How could Husband-Man have betrayed me this way?!?!? What was I going to do without Chuck Norris. I was ready to cry, sob and go out and purchase a replacement with Husband-Man's bank card...

Until...the customer service rep said, "But I see here a note in your account saying that you called before the warranty was up to report a similar issue and so I'm going to assume that this was the beginning of the problem and I'm going to make an exception to the warranty rule. You'll have a new Kindle Fire within a few days. May I recommend not naming it Chuck Norris...he apparently doesn't like that."

Once again...PERFECT SERVICE and some humour too!

This is why I am completely devoted to the Amazon brand. They really take great care of their customer. Customer service is everything in my eyes. I'll gladly pay more for a product when I know its backed by great customer service. Great customer service builds life long loyalty and loyalty breeds recommendations. Treat your customers and clients the way you would want to be treated and you can never go wrong.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ten Tiny Breaths

So it seems to me that lately books have been cyclical. Or rather genres, subject matter, settings are cyclical. A few years ago we were reintroduced to vampires and werewolves by Twilight. Not that we didn't already know about them and their obviously sexy tendencies (and lest you think I am pretending to be immune rest assured I'm not. I love me some vamps and weres.) but Twilight seemed to usher in a new phase of them. No longer did we have the Louis and Lestat types...oh no...we had the tortured, I can't bear to take a human life type. I'm not a huge Twilight fan. I've seen all the movies. I've read all the books. They were OK. Not great. But not as bad as 50 Shades (yes Ohio...I said it). Vamps made way for shifters, shifters made way for witches and so on...

The cycles of books and their popular genres seem to change more often than a teenage girl's hairstyle after she discovered Pinterest. I grew up reading bodice rippers. He kidnapped her. She hated him. Then one night they were both overcome and suddenly, bang, snap, pop, OHHHH, it was love. And they lived happily ever after. (And though I'm snarky about it I have to admit that The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss is one of my all time favorite books. I love the drawnoutness of it. Its a beautiful and well written story.) From bodice rippers I moved on to historical romance and from there to contemporary romance (Nora Roberts is my go to) and then I got side tracked by Harry Potter and my life was changed forever.

I was left looking for the elements of romance and the supernatural. I love mythical anything. I love vampires, werewolves, psychics, witches, faeries. And I love love. Enter Twilight and so I went through, and am still partially into, an urban fantasy meets supernatural romantica phase. I've found some wonderful series in this very wide and diverse genre (the aforementioned and reviewed here Mercy Thompson Series being one of them) and will continue to read this genre. But lately it seems the book world is turning to either dystopian futures (a'la The Hunger Games...also a favorite) or jacked up, messed up in the head women and the men that heal them....and so this brings me to my review for today, Ten Tiny Breaths by K. A. Tucker.

Gorgeous cover, no?
Kacey Cleary is nineteen years old and the only survivor of a car crash in which her mother, father, best friend and boyfriend were all killed. She suffers major injuries but is still awake and aware enough to hear her mothers last breath and to feel the warmth of her boyfriends hand in hers fade before the paramedics and firefighters can get her out of the vehicle. This understandably leaves her scarred both physically and emotionally and our Kacey is very messed up in the noggin.
The story starts with Kacey and her little sister Livie (who was not in the car) getting off a bus in Miami with all their worldly possessions. We are quickly informed that they had gone to live with a religious fanatic of an aunt and a drunk gambler of an uncle who caused them to flee because he had crawled into bed with Livie. Not good.
When they arrive in Miami, Kacey proceeds to find them lodging and a job at Starbucks, enrolls Livie in high school and they settle in. Kacey however is still holding on to demons and is incredibly filled with rage. After having spent time trying to manage her feelings with drugs, alcohol and random sex she discovers that kickboxing is a good outlet for her anger and pain. But she is still not the Kacey that Livie remembers and doesn't know how to get back there or even if she wants to.
Enter Trent and Storm. Kacey bumps into Trent in the Laundromat of their apartment complex and is instantly mesmerized by his utter gorgeousness. He introduces himself as one of her neighbors, flirts a little and leaves her wanting more. Storm is the stripper next door with a heart of gold. That sounds harsh but its the best way to describe her (and besides I genuinely liked the character). She is a bartender at a strip club and has a 5 year old daughter named Mia who immediately takes a shine to Livie and becomes a sort of stand in maternal influence on both girls.
Trent and Kacey quicky develop and I couldn't help feeling that it was a little too intense on his part almost right from the start. I can't decide if this is a happy accident or author device though so, I'll go with device. Trent wants Kacey to be healed. He wants to make her happy. To fix her. Kacey doesn't think she can or wants to be fixed but she knows she seems to not be able to be without Trent. Until...his secret is revealed. And let me tell you...its a doozie.
I was prepared to dislike this book. I've read a few horrible books recently (one that very closely resembled sludge even) so I figured this one was going to suffer from the "beautiful cover, horrible story" syndrome I've run up against of late. Not so. I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised.
HoweveriIt was a shaky book...I will say that. Some of the plot twists necessitated some suspended belief and I can say I wished some of the events weren't glossed over. There were a couple places in the story where there was some considerable action with no follow up after. No mention of it after. Just gloss. Obvious plot points to make the story move. But while I noticed it, it didn't really detract from the story. I was genuinely interested in Kacey.
The climax was a bit predictable but its hard for a book like this not to be. You know the hero has to be hiding something and that something is going to be a pretty big deal to the heroine. But the resolution in this story was interesting. I loved the theme of the book.
Crap dialogue is always a deal breaker for me. If the dialogue isn't convincing I can't get into the rest of the book. I need both internal dialogue (if I'm reading first person) and external dialogue between the characters to be believable in order to invest myself in a character and story and there were no problems there. I think this is the reason I was able to accept the glossed parts. I could have been hearing the dialogue in a movie rather than reading it. Major points to the author there.
There were some sexual situations but nothing incredibly in depth. And by in depth I mean descriptions of everything going on. There was enough to satisfy the need to know what was happening without all of the details. I wouldn't have minded them, but either way is fine. The lack didn't detract from the story.
All in all this was a good book. I enjoyed reading it and am curious to see if there is a follow up. I'm especially curious about Cain. I feel like this character has some untapped potential and there were some cryptic comments made (maybe, hopefully, purposefully...please?) that would indicate that a possible future offering may be about him.
With a price of $2.99 in the Kindle store and $8.99 for a paperback, I'll definitely be recommending it to friends (and blog readers). It was in no way a waste of my money.
Have you read it? Do you want to? Tell me all about it in the comments. And don't forget to subscribe at the bottom of the page in order to get more reviews.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Shelley and The Awesome Gifts

I'm not going to lie. Today was crap. It was a horrid, evil, nasty day.

First, it was cold. Yesterday morning it was close to 70 degrees and lovely, even if a little rainy. It made me think Spring and it put a spring in my step. But this morning I woke up to 25 degrees. How in the world do you go from Spring to practically subarctic in the span of 24 hours? I can feel the cold coming on. This weather has my poor immune system all confused.

Then today at work was just....well...difficult. Don't get me wrong I love my job, most of the time and I know how incredibly lucky I am to have a job, but sometimes doing what I do can get overwhelming. Just saying. Today was one of those days.

Then I ended my work day at our local courthouse, taking care of a nuisance that just won't accept defeat. Not the most fun thing in the world but at least now the proper steps have been taken and action will commence.

And on top of all of this, as I said earlier...I feel a cold coming on. All in all today was complete crud.

Tonight however...tonight has been awesome. I came home to three presents...and it isn't even Christmas.

First I opened a gift from a friend of mine and Husband-Man's...we'll call him Rockstar to protect his privacy. Rockstar's wife, we'll call her Groupie, just had a birthday and I wrote her a silly little ditty:

Happy birthday to you, you live in a zoo,
With a husband like Rockstar, it must be fun too.
Not ground breaking or Earth shattering...I'm certainly not winning any Grammy's for it. But still...I love her, so I took the time. Its much better than the standard, "Happy birthday! Hope its great!" you see on Facebook all the time.
Well Rockstar loved it and commented on it and said something about how cool I am. And it must be said...I am cool! If you knew'd know. But trust me when I say I think I'm the coolest person I know. (Totally tongue in  cheek there. I'm really the biggest nerd I know)
I replied to Rockstar that I was certainly cooler than Husband-Man who offered up the standard line...See above. Thus started funny comments about Husband-Man and his birthday suit and Groupie was suitably appalled. Job well done, Husband-Man and I laughed about it and moved on, looking forward to seeing our Rockstar and his Groupie sometime in the very near future.
But I came home today to a folded envelope with an odd return address, an alien one, if you will. I'll let you take a look at the pics below to see what was inside.
The envelope
The gift...Pretty out of this world huh?
I love socks. Love them. And I rarely wear matching ones. It's one of my little quirks. Socks aren't seen by anyone you don't want them to see, right? So why waste all of that energy trying to match them all? I'm glad you see it my way.
Rockstar's gift is just stellar and I couldn't love it more! So Rockstar...THANKS! I love you!
Then, my darling, beautiful stepdaughter R had a couple surprises for me. Apparently they are late Christmas presents but whatever...they are pretty awesome. 
I think I may have mentioned I'm a Potterhead. Harry is definitely my homeboy. So opening her gift was so fun. She knows me Miss R. does. She knows me well.
My new t-shirt

 Butterbeer Lip Balm from Wonder Witch
I can assure you I am wearing the t-shirt and my lips smell just like I've always imagined butterbeer would smell. For a Potterhead this is a super gift. Not to mention the t-shirt is grey and it is my personal belief that grey t-shirts are softer than other colors.
And to finish the awesome gifts of this evening out, I turned on the TV to hear that my University of Louisville Cardinals are ranked #1 in the nation. C-A-R-D-S C-A-R-D-S GO CARDS GO!!!!
Now I'm going to settle in, eat some pizza, be comfy in my new shirt and socks and be glad that the end of the day was so much better than the day itself.
Hope yours is as well!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My First DIY: Embroidery Floss Wrapped Tangle-Free Ear Buds

I'm not going to lie to you...I'm addicted to Pinterest. I love the unlimited amount of information, pictures, things that make me laugh, and of course all of the DIY stuff out there. I decided to learn how to sew because of Pinterest. Most of the time if my phone is in my hand and I look really intent on it....I'm pinning. So I thought it would be fun to pay tribute to my love of Pinterest by sharing one of the DIY's I was pinspired to do.

Ladies and (hopefully gentlemen) may I present The Most Awesome Ear Buds EVER!!!

My beautiful, no-tangle, ear buds.

These ear buds are mine. I did them before I settled on all of the decisions I had to make in order to start this blog, and there were a lot of decisions. Making them helped me make the decisions though and Mr. M liked them so much that he asked me to make him some. That made me decide to make these my very first ever DIY post. YAY!
So... I went out and bought him a beautiful new pair of ear buds, and in his favorite color, red.

New SkullCandy 2XL ear buds

Then I dug into my stash of embroidery floss and found red and a black and white variant and got to work.

Supplies you'll need are:
* Ear Buds (any brand, any color, whatever you want goes.)
* 3 skeins of colored embroidery floss.
* tape
* scissors
* one or two binder clips
* and something sturdy to anchor your buds and floss to.

The "stitch" you'll be using is a little difficult to explain in text but I'll try. No promises on the coherency of it. Here we go...

To start you'll want to tape the end of the ear buds the you plug in to your music player to whatever surface you are using to anchor the project.
Then you want to unwind the first skein of floss and find the midpoint of it. I wrap the floss over the back of my neck (like a scarf) and then wind each of the ends around my first and middle fingers (like when you start to roll a ball of yarn). This will help you keep the floss from tangling any worse than it did when you were unwinding it initially (yep... It happens to all of us.)

Then I take it off my neck and slide the floss under the ear buds I have taped and clipped to my sturdy surface.

Once I have the midpoint lined up under the ear bud wire, I tie it in a regular knot to ensure the floss is anchored to the wire.

Now, I will try to explain the process of the stitch but I also did a video (my YouTube debut...yay!) showing the entire process.

So, now that you have your floss tied to the ear bud wires, and and the floss wound up to keep it tangle free (pausing here to allow you to catch up)...

You'll start on your right, picking up the wound floss on the right and sliding it under the ear bud wire, making sure to leave a loop of floss on the right side of the wire.

You'll cross the wound portion of the floss over the floss on the left, making an X out of the floss.

Then you'll pick up the left side of the floss and cross it over the top of the wire and through the loop you left in the right floss.

Pull both sides and you'll see that the floss will pull parallel to the wire. Keep pulling until the knot reaches the knot you made to anchor the floss to the wire. 

Continue this over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over (get the picture?).

You'll notice that as you go the knots are going to appear to spiral around the wire. As that happens you'll just slide the right side of the floss over to the left and the left will become the right and then... Continue the stitch.

When you reach the plastic piece between the split to the earpieces and the bottom, tie a knot in the floss twice and snip the floss with your scissors. Then you can untape the pieces you just finished and replace the end with one of the buds. Tape it to your sturdy surface, clip the other part to hold it taut and start the process all over.

If all of that was confusing (and trust me, and I know it was) take a look at my video, and see if that helps.

M decided after watching me do the video for this post that he wanted to try to do this himself so I'll let him finish (I'm sure Ill do part of it anyway).

I really hope you enjoyed this, my first DIY and that it was as much fun for you to watch and attempt as it was for me. The end result is extremely satisfying and you'll love the look of your ear buds when you wear them.

As always be sure to leave me your feed back in the comments!


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Moon Called

So I'm currently working on my first DIY post for you. I'm really excited about it and can't wait to share it. But my perfectionist side has to have it just right before I do so...So until then I'm going to share one of my favorite books with you. But first a little about how I discovered it.

About three years ago one of my co-workers won a Kindle in a door prize drawing at a conference he was attending. He's not big on reading but knew that I was and so he offered to sell it to me. I jumped at the chance and $80 later had my very own Kindle. Until then I was staunchly anti-e-reader. "They'll never replace books." I said. "I prefer the tactile feel and beautiful smell of paper." I opined. "Books have a marvelous weight to them that en e-reader doesn't have. And I'd miss turning the pages." I stated smugly. And to this day I maintain I am and was right on all counts. However...I'm not ashamed to admit that I love, adore and couldn't live without my Kindles (yes...two. I've actually owned three, but the first one I bought died a tragic death, saving my life. A traumatic experience for me.) and have passed it on to many of my co-workers and friends.

The best thing about a Kindle (or any other e-reader really, I'm just very devoted to the Kindle brand) is that if you like to read trilogies and series like I do then you never have to worry about the next book being at the book store. Its always there, unless it hasn't been published yet. I can't tell you how many times would finish a book and want to immediately start reading the next in the series only to find when I get to the bookstore that they don't have it in stock. They'd have the one before and the one after but not the one I NEEDED. Harumph! I quickly discovered that was not the case with my lovely Kindle. Which is great for me because one of the first series I read on it was the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs and I was so instantly captivated that by the time I finished it within 2 minutes I had the next in the series downloaded. So enough rhapsodizing about my Kindle and on to the book...

The first book in the Mercy Thompson Series is called Moon Called.
Moon Called
Book One in the Mercy Thompson Series
By Patricia Briggs
Don't let the cover fool you...this book is great. Honestly the whole series is stupendous. Briggs is great at character development. By the end of this book I was salivating for the next and it didn't even end in a cliffhanger. It was just that engaging for me.

Mercedes "Mercy" Thompson is a coyote skinwalker. This means she is both human and coyote. She is not a were-anything though and her changes are not dictated by the moon. She can choose when or if to shift anytime she wants and she doesn't have to shift at all if she doesn't want to. Mercy is very much an anomaly in her world, which contains werewolves, vampires and Fae. In fact the Fae have made their existence known to humans and vampires aren't far behind them. But to Mercy's knowledge there is no one else in the world like her.

Mercy is also a mechanic, working primarily on VW's and other German makes (she doesn't miss the irony of a mechanic named Mercedes who works on VW's) and owns her own garage, which she bought from her outted Fae friend Zee. Our story begins when a young boy, about 15 years old enters her garage asking for a days work under the table. Mercy can smell that he is a werewolf (being part coyote has a few advantages, not many though as we quickly learn) and that he is afraid. Making a snap decision Mercy agrees to hire him and puts him to work.

Now she has to decide if she is going to take Mac (the kid) to her closest neighbor Adam Hauptman, who is the local werewolf alpha so that he can possibly be integrated with Adam's pack. Adam is stern and often threatens to kill Mercy's cat when it wanders onto his property. He and Mercy have a relatively good relationship but she is unsure how he will react to a seemingly new, rogue werewolf in his territory and not knowing the dynamics of his pack worries that Adam will have Mac killed to keep him from endangering his pack.

No good deed goes unpunished as Mercy soon learns when she finds Mac involved in a struggle with a couple werewolves not of Adam's pack. She assists him and this is where the action and trouble begins. She will have to rely on Adam and make a return journey to the Montana werewolf pack she was raised by to help Mac and save Adam's daughter Jesse after she is kidnapped.

I loved this book more than I can say. Mercy is immediately engaging and witty and the dynamic between Mercy, Adam and Samuel (a werewolf from Mercy's past who lives with her foster family in Montana) is enticing without being over done.

This series is very much Urban Fantasy and as such there is very little sex in the entire series and none in this book. This is not to say however that there is no romance. But our Mercy is not one to jump in and out of bed with just anyone. She is practical, even if, like her coyote counterpart, prone to getting into trouble.

Have you read Moon Called? If so, leave me a comment and let me know what you think. I'm excited to discuss with you.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

So...We meet

My name is Shelley. You could have probably figured that out from the title of the blog and I hope you did, but I didn't want to assume too much. My Husband-Man was a little confused when I told him what I wanted to name it. But then he often looks at me with his confused face. Not sure if I'm the confusing one or if he's just easily confused, but that's totally off topic. (FWIW, I'm pretty sure I'm the confusing one)

I figure it's only fair to share a little about me with you, since I really want you to hit the subscribe button (I hope). I am currently 30 years of age and the mother of two beautiful boys. M is 12 and G is 19 months. One of my favorite activities is staring at them because as I said, they are beautiful. This is closely followed by kissing them and then by hugging them while telling them how much I love them. I try to do this a few hundred times a day. Sometimes (not all the time) I'm successful.

And how did these beautiful specimens of incredibleness come to be mine you ask? Well I'll tell you... (not the dirty details though...because that would be dirty...)

M was born when I was 18. He was the product of a youthful indiscretion and the very best thing that ever happened to me. He taught me how to be a mom and about the meaning of life (I'll share that in a later post). He's truly a blessing and while I would never want to see another young girl follow in my footsteps, I can say that I honestly think I was supposed to have him so young. His open and loving demeanor made me exactly who I am today and I thank God for him (and my others) just about every other minute.

G came along right after my 3rd wedding anniversary to Husband-Man. We weren't planning him but apparently God was. He's a bright light and so fun to watch. He's to his babbly stage and the "getting in to whatever my little hands can find" stage is upon us as well. Husband-Man and I regularly look at him in awe. Life would have been so boring without the little Bug. While I was writing this, he opened a huge box of Goldfish crackers that his big brother left in his reach and dumped them all over the floor. Our dog was delighted.

So as you've heard by now I am married. I call him Husband-Man since he is my superhero. He's my best friend. My champion. My biggest antagonist (yep..I said it) and I really couldn't tell you what I would do without him. The day I met him was one of the luckiest days of my life. We've been together for over a decade but have only been married for a little under 4 years. I've learned a lot from Husband-Man and I like to think he's learned a lot from me, but I can't be sure...Confused face and all.

The gift of Husband-Man was a twofer because he came with a daughter as well. The beautiful R, who is 18 years old and now away at college. She's quite a bit like her father, witty, a regular wearer of smartyassed-pants, and incredibly smart. Like, scarily so. We miss her quite a bit now that she's gone away but she does come back often to visit. She's one of my favorite people because while we butt heads pretty often, she gets me in a way no one else really does. I really love that about her.

So, now for a little about me specifically. I was born and raised in Louisville, Ky and I still live there to this day. Though I wouldn't mind relocating at some point. I do love Louisville but there is a whole big world out there for the taking and I want to take my little piece, eventually. I consider Hawai'i my second home since Husband-Man and I were married there and regularly visit our friends and o'hana down there. It's one of my most favorite places ever and I find great peace there. The beaches are gorgeous and the pace of life is slower. Ahhh Hawai'i...

Music = life in my family. Husband-Man plays guitar, R plays violin, M plays cello, I play the flute (not recently though) and we all, even G, sing. I'm pretty sure we could all be in the same room together and one of us could start humming and the others would pick it up immediately. We just live for music. So expect quite a few ramblings on musics I love, have just learned about, and can't stand. I'm sure we won't always agree but it'll be fun to see where we differ.

I love to read and hope that occasionally I'll be able to post reviews of books that I've read. I have to tell you right away that I have a bent toward the supernatural. I read a lot of urban fantasy and supernatural romances. I'll try to publish a list of my favorites soon.

I love anything Harry Potter. I read the series at least twice a year and am completely devoted to all things Harry. Harry is my homeboy. Long live Harry!

I am NOT, however a 50 Shades Fan. I think it is the most horribly written piece of tripe ever. Great concept. HORRID execution. But more power to E.L. James for being able to make it into the cash cow I'm sure it has been for her. do detect a little jealousy. I won't lie.

Random fact: I have also been growing out my hair for the past two years and am excited about the fact that it is the longest it has ever been in my life. Just a few more inches maybe 2 or 3) and it will reach the small of my back. I am constantly trying to find new ways to wear it and most of the time they don't work out. But maybe I'll share some of those disasters too.

I'll also be undertaking a weight loss journey this year. You can bet I'll be posting about that as well. If I'm losing weight I'm gonna be bragging about it. And hopefully motivating any of you who'd like to do the same.

For the moment this is all I have I don't want to overwhelm you. Happy reading and I really hope you'll stick with me on this journey.