Saturday, December 21, 2013

Luigi's Mansion Review

I know it's an old game, but it was new to me so I thought I'd write a review either way. It ended up taking me 3 months to play through the game, not because it was hard, but because life has just been crazy for the past 6 months. Well, anyway, on with the review.


Main Character
I believe this was the first 3D game Luigi ever starred in. He is a bit of a fraidy cat, but over all not that much different from Mario.

Gameplay
Freeze the ghosts with your flashlight, suck them up with the vacuum. That about all there is to the combat. A few variations, including: only being able to see enemies by way of a mirror, removing masks before you can freeze them, and using the environment against them. The only enemies with any GREAT difference would be the bosses. Each boss has a different formula that you need to figure out in order to defeat it. These can easily be found in online walkthroughs, but either way they are not hard.

Other than combat the only other gameplay is exploration and collecting. Exploration goes hand in hand with the combat. As you progress through the game, you must clear each room of ghosts before you can move on. Sometimes you can find hidden rooms that are filled with cash an jewels. Which brings us to the collecting portion of the game. The only thing to collect is money, this comes in many forms, cash, coins, pearls, jewels, etc. I guess there you can also collect Boos, but I don't really consider it a collection because you need 40 of the 50 in order to finish the game. Anyway, depending how much cash you collect will determine the size mansion you get at the end of the game.

Plot
Mario disappears and Luigi receives a letter stating that he has won a mansion. Luigi finds out that Mario is being held captive by King Boo and Luigi must battle his way through the mansion to save Mario. That is pretty much the extent of the plot. If you like deep storylines look elsewhere this game is about exploration, not about storylines.

Music
The music was charming. It was just the right blend of creepy and fun. I don't really have much else to say though, because the music, while not bad, wasn't extraordinarily good. I still think it was charming, but can't say I really spent a whole attention toward it either.

Overall I enjoyed Luigi's mansion, it was a fun game and having Luigi as the protagonist was a nice change of pace. However, the lack of variety in gameplay, enemies, and objectives (the whole thing is pretty much room clearing), causes me to think twice about buying Dark Moon. If anyone out there has played the sequel please tell me if you think it's better than the original. If you don't mind repetition or simply want to check out Luigi's first 3D role it's worth it...just don't break the bank on this game.

Monday, October 7, 2013

First "Bad" Princess Maker Ending.

Not much to say, I was going for this ending. Also, Olive ended up marrying the devil...did not see that coming.




Bondage Queen

Refinement = 201
Charisma = 201
Morals = 29
Sin = 500
Fighting Reputation = 210


You daughter now administers discipline to the rich men for a price.

The Clueless Baker: Hermit Cookies

Just another cookie I wanted to try. They looked unique in the cookbook and I wanted to try something new.

I made them according to the recipe, except when it came time to put them on the cookie sheet. At first I used a rounded teaspoon (an actual measuring spoon) like the book said, but I had a really hard time getting consistently sized cookies. So, I used a teaspoon (like the kind you use at the table) and was able to get a more consistent cookie size. ...Unfortunately, I ended up making them twice as big as the cookbook had intended.:





They still turned out okay, and I didn't have to adjust the time at all. I just ended up with about 18 cookies rather than three dozen.

The cookies were delicious! Well, if you like the taste of cloves. It tasted like Christmas. Even though cloves were the flavor it tasted like gingerbread! I used golden raisins instead of regular and I must suggest that anyone who reads this do the same. The raisins were mild and complemented, rather than competed with the taste of the cloves.

Everyone in my family loved the cookies! In fact, my mom has decided to make it one of the five different types of cookies we make every year during the holiday season!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Princess Maker 2: Queen!.....by marriage....Damn

The title pretty much sums it up. I changed Olive's birthday to the middle of October. She's now a Libra instead of an Aries. I tried for the Ruling Queen ending only to end up marrying the CURRENT king. Damn....so close. Oh well maybe next time.


Queen by Marriage

Charisma = 499
Fighting Reputation = 370
Magic Reputation = 370
Social Reputation = 421
Housework Reputation = 370

If you can't rule them, marry them I always say. ^_^

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Another Princess Maker Ending!

This time around I tried for the Hero ending, when I was nearing the end I was trying to get Olive's Sensitivity up to the recommended level of 500. She ending up running away every other month! All of her reputations dropped to the point where they could not be saved. I ended up with this ending:

Writer

Intelligence = 300
Art = 80

Your daughter is now writing novels for the people of the kingdom.

At least it's still a new ending, AND this time I was able to get her to marry the Dragon Youth! It didn't necessarily seem like a good match, but still it was very cute! I've been trying to get it the past couple of times, but each time didn't get it. You have to wait until AFTER her 16th birthday. Then go to the dragon ruins, defeat the young dragon. Go see the old dragon 2 separate times and after a couple of month they should be at your doorstep.

Next time around I think I will give my daughter a different birthday so her attributes are different. Maybe even go for the not so flattering endings!

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Ending For Princess Maker 2!

Okay, this time I played a father who really wanted a boy. So instead of treating my girl like a daughter I treated her like a son. For the first 5 years I trained her and forced her to go on adventures. She accomplished everything there was to accomplish in the four adventure areas and her fighting reputation skyrocketed. However, I started to notice that she have no Refinement or Intelligence, not to mention her Sin was way too high. So I started treating her more like a lady, I took her off the robust diet and put her on a weight loss diet to boost her confidence. I also, made her take Theology, Science, Protocol and Strategy classes. That combined with the Babysitting, Tutoring, and Housework job made her more well rounded and this was the result I was able to achieve.

 
 
General

Intelligence = 500
Morals = 30
Faith = 400
Sensitivity = 300
Fighting Reputation = 421
Magic Reputation = 370
Social Reputation = 370
Housework Reputation = 370

Your daughter is now a General in the King's army.


This ending is one step up from the Royal Guard Ending I obtained before. I was also able to get my daughter to marry Cube! She fainted a lot during her adventures and was sick a lot (I made Cube take care of her), this is what fosters a relationship between them. I read on the internet that getting Cube make the Patron Deity upset with you...this was not my experience. The Patron Deity I had (Mars) was okay with the marriage, but was concerned where it may lead. He still said I was a good father. I don't know what was different in my experience, but I would be interested to here anyone else's result!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Newest Princess Maker 2 Result

Okay, this time I tried to be very even handed. Every month Olive had ten days of class, ten days of work, and ten days of rest. I even did every class evenly. I treated my daughter nicely and visited the castle every month...This is my result:



Domestic Training

Fighting Reputation = 190
Magic Reputation = 190
Social Reputation = 190
Housework Reputation = 421

Your daughter will learn how to keep house until she becomes a beautiful bride. These are basic stats as my daughter had 500 in Housework Rep and 300 - 400 in everything else and still had this ending. :/
 
 
She also ended up with the prince! Not exactly what I thought would happen, I don't really know what my expectations were, but nonetheless I was still surprised. I also found out something about the game: When you give her an equal amount of training in more than one class, the MOST RECENTLY TAKEN class is what is put in her letter and is what's considered the "Most Taken" class in the game.

Leslie Sansone: Walk at Home - The Big Burn- 2 Miles of Intervals *Review*

So basically I've decided that I just going to randomly grab exercise DVDs from my mom's library and give each and every one a try. After the mistake that was Bedroom Body I felt that it was a change of pace was in order. My mom owns many cardio DVDs, particularly DVDs by Leslie Sansone.  She often  raves about them and they seem to be her preferred exercise routines. So it's only fair that I give Sansone a try right?

The Host:
Leslie Sansone is fun a easy going as a host. She very much about not putting pressure on the viewer to do anything that is outside of their comfort zone. She likes to joke a little with the camera crew and is very engaging. She does talk a lot, but it is not useless information. She reminds the viewer of the proper form and counts down to the next exercise. Everything about Sansone exudes warmth and fun. She is not serious our in your face, her exercise creed is about movement and lifestyle, not physical appearance and the end result.

The Music:
The music is generic like any other exercise DVD, but it does serve a purpose. 4 different songs played throughout the workout. Warm-up music, walking music, jogging music, and cool down music. Each of the songs give the viewer an idea of how fast one should move. It just gives an automatic reminder of the energy level that is needed for the respective part of the workout.


The Workout:
The workout is a nice, easy, 30 minute routine. If you are accustomed to vigorous workouts and like it that way, this is not the DVD for you. It's a no pressure, go at your own pace, kind of workout. Minimal upper body movement and overall a lower energy workout. Perfect for beginners or if you don't have a treadmill. At the end of the workout I really felt like I spent 30 minutes on the treadmill. However, I find the treadmill far more entertaining because I can listen to my music or watch a TV show. If one doesn't have the luxury of a treadmill or a gym membership this gives the exact feeling at the end of the workout that walking on the treadmill would.


Lovely DVD, a little boring for my taste, but still very nice. Great for beginners or those looking for a low cost weight loss DVD.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Clueless Baker: Giant Snickerdoodles

COOKIE TIME!! I love cookies. Who doesn't love cookies? Especially homemade cookies!

My family has been desperate for some good quality sweets lately, so I thought cookies would be a good time to try a snickerdoodle recipe. I've never made snickerdoodles before. Occasionally I buy one at the store, but it's never very good. My mom made them one time too and I LOVED them, but we kind of feel like were not allowed to make them. I have a family member that gets irate if anyone but her makes snickerdoodles for the holidays. She seems to think that she is the god and master of all snickerdoodles....I tried her snickerdoodles once....they weren't very good. So I decided to snickerdoodles this once. No one in my family was sure they even liked the cookie (they don't remember when I was 8 and my mom made the cookies).

They turned out nice:






These are the only pictures I was able to get of the cookies. They were gone as soon as they were cool. This snickerdoodle recipe was AWESOME! I didn't even realize how good cream of tartar can taste! It's kind of like a mix between cake and walnuts, that mixed with the cinnamon makes for one tasty cookie. My mom who was sure she didn't like snickerdoodles LOVED these cookies. Everyone wants to make sure I save the recipe and have agreed to keep it from the territorial snickerdoodle family member.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bedroom Body With Angie Miller

My next exercise video review! I meant to do this a week ago, but was distracted by life.

I wasn't thrilled with the title of this video, it sounds like one of those stripper aerobic DVDs. However, my mom said that there wasn't anything overtly sexual in the workout so I decided to give it a try.

The Host:
Angie Miller is incredibly annoying. She never stops talking.  Her voice is slightly grating and certainly doesn't command the viewer to pay attention. This wouldn't be a big deal if she was reminding the person of proper form or positioning, but this is rarely the case. She often just speaks for the sake of speaking. She says something once in a while about form, but usually it's some cutesy way of looking at it that doesn't properly convey what is expected of the exerciser.

The Music:
The music is cheesy and doesn't serve any purpose...enough said.

The Workout:
There were 3 separate workouts on the DVD; Buff Body Blast, Booty Burner, and Core & Pelvic Floor workout. I did Buff Body Blast twice. The workout was cutesy and one of the main focuses seemed to be looking cute while working out at the expense of proper form. The reason why I stress proper form is because when a workout is done improperly it can cause injury.  Miller  moves entirely too fast for her moves. I kept pace despite my better judgment because I wanted to experience it from a beginner's point of view...I hurt my back. I ended up not being able to do a strength training video again for a week and a half. Miller does not give enough reminders and her pace is too quick, injury is inevitable. I didn't end up doing any of the other workouts.

All in all I WOULD NOT recommend this DVD to anyone.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

BzzAgent Review: Silk Fruit and Creamy Yogurt

When I agreed to be part of this BzzAgent campaign I completely forgot that Silk products are made with soy! I'm really allergic to soy and was unable to even try this product without fear of severe stomach cramps. So, I had my mother try it instead.

My mom has enjoyed other Silk products like Silk Fruit and Protein and was willing to try the yogurt as well. She was skeptical, but was pleasantly surprised. According to her the texture of the Silk yogurt was FAR better than that of regular yogurt. It was smooth and creamy without being overly thick. It also didn't have the bitter taste or sour after taste of regular yogurt. My mother's only complaint is that she would have liked more fruit pieces in the yogurt.

Overall, Silk Fruit and Creamy yogurt was a big hit with my mother, whom I would like to add, doesn't really like yogurt. Yet, she loves this and says she would have it as a light snack. I can't wait to introduce this to the rest of my family!

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Clueless Baker: Zingy Lemon Bars

So there are about ten recipes left (including this one) in the book that I want to make. I'm tired of making them in the order that they appear in the book, so I will be bouncing around until I'm finished with the book.

There really isn't a whole lot to say about this recipe. I followed the directions and the bars came out nice.





I thought that the crust was a little too thick, but everyone else in my family loved them. I think I'm just really critical of anything I make. My mom and I agreed that the lemon flavor could have been just a bit more prevalent, but it's not like there wasn't any flavor. I think what it boils down to is personal preference. I like really STRONG citrus flavors, to the point that the dessert is a little sour and that's hard to find in desserts. So, the bars weren't spectacular, but it's a basic baking book so what can I really expect right? 

That's it. Really short post this time, but everything went smoothly and there isn't much to comment about the taste. Nothing bad happening and nothing good makes for a pretty boring blog post.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Super Quick Sailor Moon Vol. 7 &8 REVIEW

Sailor Moon 7:
Okay, so in this volume we are nearing the end of the Death Busters chronicles. Hotaru hasn't awakened as Sailor Saturn, but as something much more sinister.

This volume, like the rest of the updated manga is far better than what was originally released in the US. And I must say Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto have much more personality then they did in the anime.  Chibi-Usa is less annoying too. I actually LIKE her this time around.



Sailor Moon 8:
The Death Busters' story arc wraps up BEAUTIFULLY in this volume. Although the dialogue seems too be a little difficult to follow. However, overall it's very nice.

This volume also starts up that stupid Dark Moon Circus arc. I hope that it is better in the manga than it is in the anime. I just didn't feel it. Although, that could be due to the fact that I hated Chibi-Usa in the anime and this arc is VERY Chibi-Usa centric.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kelly Coffey-Meyer's 30-Minutes to Fitness Your Best Body *REVIEW*

I've recently become more focused on building strength. This is mostly due to me finally being able to obtain a PAX Prime ticket (yay!). So I figure, why not do reviews on the videos I exercise to?

Your Best Body is the only video I've done so far, but after doing is three times a week for the past month I'm getting bored with it. It's a good video though.

HOST:
Kelly Coffey-Meyer is a fine host. She's not annoying, she doesn't talk incessantly, but she does give you reminders on form that help to get the best results of the workout.

MUSIC:
I thought that the music would be cheesy in a workout video and it kind of was, but it was also really good in it's own way. The music was timed PERFECTLY with the workout so I could tell how long my repetitions had to be by the beat of the music. The music wasn't annoying either, but it certainly wasn't something I want on my MP3 player.

WARM-UP:
The warm up was way to fast. I became lost about 30 seconds in and had a hard time following it. This didn't last long however, because the warm-up was also too short. It had to be only two minutes long. Needless to say, I only did it once.

WORKOUT 1:
This workout I like less than workout two, but it is still solid. The leg and lower body workouts are good and not two intense for those that have weak knees or ankles. It will still kick your ass though. The focus is slightly more on lower body in this workout, but there are still some nice arm and back exercises as well.

WORKOUT 2:
LOVE this one! Back, shoulders, arms, and chest get a nice workout. Legs do too, but modifications are needed in this workout for the legs. The host uses lunges a little too much for me and it hurts my knee. The chest workout is a 100 times better than in workout 1. This workout also includes a stretch portion at the end and is very nice.

YOGA / STRETCH
I tried to do this once and all I can say is DO NOT ATTEMPT IF YOU DON'T DO YOGA!! I tried to do some of the positions, but they are too advanced for me. I'm not that flexible, I don't stretch or do yoga at all! The stretch at the end of workout 2 is much better.


So, overall a nice beginner strength training video. Tolerable host, okay music, solid routine. If however, your more advanced, don't waste you money. It will be to easy for you.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Soulless: The Manga

I'm a BIG fan of the Parasol Protectorate series and have been debating about whether I wanted to give the manga a try. I've read manga based on books and movies before, but have never liked them. I'm glad I finally decided to give Soulless: The Manga a try!

The manga acts almost as a companion book for the novel. It gives lovely visuals of the character and key points of the plot. The cast of Soulless each has their personality shine in the manga and in certain romantic moments, both with Conall and Alexia, and Akeldama and Biffy chemistry can be seen more than in the books. Jokes in the novel are given a second life in the manga. Even though I remember them from the novel the jokes and sarcasm still seem fresh.

However, I would not necessarily recommend this for people who have not read the novel. All you really get is the key moments from the novel without the context or background. The entire manga is just one action or romantic scene after another. While the characters are a little deeper reading this after the novel, reading this alone doesn't do the characters justice.

If you're unsure if you want to read the novel or not, give the manga a try, if you like it READ THE BOOK!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Princess Maker 2 My Next 3 Endings

Okay after I finished PM2 the first time I decided to be a mean mother and do what I could to allow Olive to hate me.  I made her work and never let her go to school. I only gave her breaks when she was sick and would scold her every month even when she wasn't being rebellious. I gave her a robust diet because I was tired of Olive getting sick and being on death's door every month...apparently this makes a huge difference. She still thanked me at the end of the game! AND Mars said I was a good father! I was trying to be mean and make her hate me, but apparently I still too nice. She ended up working at the Sleazy Bar part-time. There is another ending that has her working full time. Until I get the full time ending I won't be posting the picture that goes along with the ending. I will, however, give you guys the general stats needed for the ending.


Part Time

Fighting Rep = 70
Magic Rep = 60
Social Rep = 50
 Housework Rep = 40

I tried for the Grand Poobah ending again, but apparently made Olive too smart at she became a scholar.

Scholar (Ph.D.)

Intelligence = 500
Morals = 300
Faith = 400
Fighting Reputation = 381
Magical Reputation = 370
Social Reputation = 360
Housework Reputation = 350

Your daughter will be university bound, but not so bookish that she can't keep a decent fighting reputation about her.
 
 
 
 
Finally I decided to spoil Olive. She didn't go to school or work a job. Every week she went on vacation and never worried or became stressed. However, all of the trips to the mountains made her super sensitive and she ran away every other month. In the end she became a maid and I was still praised by Mars.
 


Maid

Fighting Reputation = 70
Magic Reputation = 60
Social Reputation = 50
Housework Reputation = 40


Your daughter has to clean other people's houses for a living now. Poor Cube, he blames himself for not being diligent in helping to raise her.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Princess Maker 2 ...The Biggest Time Suck of My Life

About a year ago I discovered DOSbox. Being a fan of simulations and alternate endings I download PM2 from Abandonia. Immediately I lost about a month worth of free time to the game. It is SO addictive! I achieved several endings before my computer crashed (not due to the game, it was just old and cranky). From then on I would not allow myself to download it again because I was afraid I would succumb to the game again...I forgot about the amazing amount of time this game can suck out of one's life. I downloaded DOSbox again and...downloaded the game. It's been about a day and I have the first of around 74 endings....I want to get them ALL!

First I guess you guys need some background of the game. Well, right now all I can manage is duh.....I..t..'s..fan...tas..tic..! AMAZING! SO instead I'm going to give you guys Abandonia's summary of the game:
Now this game is completely different from anything I have ever played before. It is a nice and very cute game from Japan, with a very detailed manga-inspired feel to the graphics. A strong idea that has neatly been made into a game.
As for the story it is all up to you. You decide everything in this game and there is an estimate of 76 endings depending on your choices throughout the game. You are a great adventurer who aided a falling kingdom against the attacking Demon-lord! Your payment is a yearly salary from the King of 500 gold coins. As if this was not enough the divine God himself grants you a daughter, sent from heaven itself. The child is pure of heart and will do whatever you want her to. On her 10'th birthday she is old enough to start making herself a destiny.
You have different options at your disposal when you are making her monthly schedules. She can do some work and earn some cash the hard way, or you can send her to schools in order for her to make a profession. She could be adventuring the land, or you could simply let her have a vacation. Each of these choices have several sub-options. For instance she can study the arts of Science, Poetry, Theology, Strategy, Fencing, Fighting, Magic, Protocol, Painting and/or Dance. You have so many different possibilities in this game that it will never be the same no matter how many times you play the game.
The game stops when your daughter reaches the age of 18. She is now old enough to make her own decisions, and some of these are... surprising (to say the least!)
I could go on and on about this game, from the graphics that changes in every event (you will see how your daughter changes over the course of her life), to the endless angles in which you can attack the game. You can try to make her an adventurer like you, a real princess, a warrior, a thief, a magician.... and the list just goes on and on. Remember there are numerous different endings.
The game is easy to understand, and it will take you about 2 minutes to get the hang of the game... strangely enough that is also the time you will need to get completely hooked about the game! It is always fun to compare you daughter with someone else’s. The game is the ultimate time-killer! And it also a nice game to see if you would be a good parent ;)

I went for the best ending you can get, the Grand Poobah. In which your daughter becomes queen. I failed. Apparently she became a little too violent to become queen and this is my first result:






 





 
 
Officer of Royal Guard

Refinement = 100
Morals = 30
Fighting Reputation = 420
Magic Reputation = 360
Social Reputation = 360
Housework Reputation = 360


Your daughter is now an Officer of the Royal Guard for his majesty the king.


Not exactly what I wanted, but I'll take it. If you want to try this AWESOME game the only place I know to download it is here:http://www.abandonia.com/games/181/
Click the "Get It" button to download.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Clueless Baker: MUFFINS!

Yesterday was the first time it's been under 70 in WEEKS! So, of course, I had to bake. I made two different recipes for muffins. There really isn't anything to say about the baking process it's pretty much straight forward.

I made the peanut butter muffins first:





They really didn't have much flavor, so my mom broke open a bag of butterscotch chips. It really brought out the flavor of the peanut butter and was a nice addition to the muffins. Unfortunately, that flavor didn't last over night. By this morning any good flavor the muffins had is long gone. It almost tastes like he peanut butter in the muffin went rancid or something! It's weird.

Next the chocolate muffins:






Nothing much to say about these. They were nice and chocolaty and will definitely satisfy a chocolate craving. They even taste good the next day too!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Clueless Baker: Multigrain Bread

Okay, I finally did it. I made a full-fledged bread recipe! I kneaded the dough and rolled it into a loaf. It was a little stressful, but I did it! I nearly botched it though.

I did everything the book said...well...almost. I heated the ingredients that it said to, I mixed everything together. The book had a guide on how to knead bread. I added enough flour to the point where the bread no longer stuck to anything and I let it rise. It rose very well, and it was finally time to bring out the bread pans and roll the dough...and then I realized something...I didn't add the egg. After a few frenzied moments of panic and swearing I decided to improvise a little. I grabbed the egg and cracked it over the dough while it was still in the bowel. I used my hands to coat the dough and then separated the dough slightly while scooping what I could of the egg into the pocket.  I continued to massage the egg into the dough until there was little remnant of the egg in the bowl. Now, a new problem arose, the dough was wet again. This makes it really hard to roll the dough out on the counter. I took a little extra flour and dusted the dough and proceeded to separate it into two pieces and roll them into loaves. Here's how they turned out:









I couldn't believe it actually worked! It wasn't exactly the kind of multigrain bread that I was expecting. I eat a lot of Dave's Bread and it was a lot of texture and flavor, my sister refers to it as "hippie bread". Instead it was a subtler texture and flavor, but still distinctly different from white bread. The texture was slightly grainy and dense, but still had a lovely flavor. Have you even had Oatnut bread? It tastes like that.

Next up MUFFINS!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger *Review*

Etiquette & Espionage is an enchanting story that takes place in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate series. Carriger has a knack for weaving a very Victorian style plot in current age vernacular.

The story takes place roughly 25 years before the events of the PP series. Rowdy and rambunctious Sophronia Temminck has once again embarrassed her mother by way of highly unladylike conduct. Luckily for Sophronia's mother, she has already arranged for her daughter to be sent away to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. However, this is no ordinary finishing school. The additional subjects on intelligence gathering and appropriate fighting maneuvers for ladies of quality, while not known to the public (including Sophronia's mother), may pique Sophronia's interest.

The book was absolutely charming! The art of questioning without showing one's motives, eyelash fluttering, and fainting with purpose are just a few of the class subjects that Sophronia and her peers must learn. The plot is hard to judge from an adult perspective. I found it rather subtle and predictable. However, it IS a YA book and my perceptions are coming from a demographic outside of which the book was intended for. I personally found the book so entertaining that I didn't care if I could guess the ending easily. The only true problem I found was the issue pf Monique's teacher spy. Who was it? Will that be revealed later?  The characters were intriguing and the premises of the book captured my attention. Carriger does steampunk in a way that is very inviting to people that may not have explored the genre, yet she still keeps to the core elements of the subculture.

E&E is like a wonderful cross of steampunk Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, minus the fairies. A spectacular school with questionable morals and kick ass technology; in which the main character is special in some way and is always breaking the rules. Add a sprinkle of supernatural creatures and you have E&E. The best part is that a few beloved characters from PP are in the book as their younger selves! A teenage Sideagh (please forgive the spelling), a pint size Genevive, and an alive Beatrice Lafoux (...her name was Beatrice right?)! I loved this book so much and I can't wait for the next installment!

Monday, July 29, 2013

No Knead Casserole Bread- The Clueless Baker

So I was finally able to bake a yeast bread. However, since I've only ever used yeast once (and according to my mom I didn't work that time) I was hesitant to make a bread that had to be kneaded. Thankfully this was the first bread recipe in the "Yeast Breads" section.

It turned out nice if I do say so myself:



Unfortunately it fell (how do I fix that?):



After using yeast in this recipe I can safely say that the last time I use yeast it did not work! The bowl I used almost wasn't big enough to hold all of the dough once it rose! I also didn't realize that yeast had a smell to it. It didn't stink or anything, I could just tell that the scent that came from the bread as it was rising and baking was from the yeast. According my sister loved the smell and said it reminded her of her early childhood (my mom used to bake a lot!).

As for the taste...well... there really isn't much to say. It tasted like bread. There wasn't anything special about it, but it wasn't awful either. It just tasted like bread. The only way I can think of expanding on that is to say that it didn't taste like Wonderbread or like bakery bread, or those French baguettes you can get from the grocery store...it kind of tasted like those Hawaiian Bread Rolls that my family buys for Thanksgiving. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

If you cut into it right one might be able to use it for sandwiches, but this is not the case for me. I cut into it like one would a pie and just spread jam on the triangle. We already had some bread in the house and I didn't find the bread that great, so the rest of the bread (about half of it) will either go in the garbage or may the squirrels outside will eat it.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Assassin's Creed 3 *Review*

Okay, I realize that this game was released in OCTOBER, but I stopped playing it for a while. When I found out the AC4 was coming out this October I really wanted to know exactly what happened so I could follow the story.  Why did I stop playing it for a while you ask? ...Well it's like this: AC3 released the week before midterms at my school. I tried to play it some, but was preoccupied with studying. Two weeks went by and I had only played to sequence 6. However, with midterms over I decided that night (the last day of school for the week) that I would pull an all nighter and finish the game. Unfortunately that morning someone in my school was talking to his friends in the hall. As they were walking past me I heard him say "So Desmond basically *End of AC3*". How did I know he was talking about AC3? It was obvious, how many other main characters are there named Desmond? Once I heard the ending I lost all motivation to finish the game. Now that E3 has passed though, I felt like trying again. Here are my thoughts:

Main Character:
Conner is a Native American who watches his village burn, his mother die, and the land around him taken by invaders. His motivation in this game is vengeance against those that have wronged him and his people.

Connor is the opposite of Ezio in almost every way. While both witnessed their loved ones die Ezio was reasoned with and was able to step back and plot his revenge. Connor, on the other-hand is consumed by vengeance, refuses to understand the ways of the world and charges against his enemy in a barbaric and unrefined manner. I was really disappointed with the way the game developers went with Connor. I'm part Native American and found the portrayal of Connor down right offensive for the first 1/3 of the game. He was a whiny, unreasonable, barbaric, ignorant, hot-tempered, jackass that thought he knew it all from just a little training. The second third of the game I was confused, he was barbaric when in Boston or New York, but civil everywhere else. He was slightly more refined, however his mood swings came across as somewhat bi-polar rather than character growth (which is what I think Ubisoft was going for). The last third of the game Connor comes into his own more, he is less volatile than before and his killings seem less fueled by explosive anger.

I think Ubisoft tried to make Connor almost a coming of age tale, but instead it came across as a savage that was integrated into a civilized society. Connor never achieves the subtlety, grace, control, mystique, intrigue, or intelligence of Altair or Ezio. Instead Conner is just a cheap imitation, he never fully embraces the Brotherhood and instead, only uses it to further his own agenda. By the end of the game I was still slightly offended by Connor, but was comforted by the thought that the way Conner came across was not what Ubisoft originally intended.

Plot:
As always the historical accuracy and the integration of a fictional story with actual events is done marvelously. The events that involve Conner and historical figures are believable and the story is intriguing. Once again I get to traipse through history and make friends (and enemies) with historical figures. Connor's side of the plot is well done (except for Connor himself) and pulls you in.

Desmond's side of the plot however, could have been a bit better.  There are only 3 parts where the player actually plays as Desmond (apart from the very beginning). And they are all very short. Given the ending of this game I felt that more time spent playing Desmond would have made sense. Also, there was a new character added to the modern day portion of the game, Daniel Cross. He was merely a means to an end and didn't hold any real value. If we had seen him more throughout the series perhaps he wouldn't have bothered me so much, but he really felt out of place and I didn't like his addition to the cast of antagonists.

Gameplay:
Game Mechanics:
Free Running:
Free running in this game is far more refined than in previous games. Any leaps that need to be made from one foothold to another are done automatically and Connor can climb MUCH faster than Ezio. The problem is that because of the new simplicity of free running, climbing to viewpoints isn't as fun. In fact, in this game it's pointless. The game makes a map for you as you explore, meaning you can have a full map without using one viewpoint. And while Connor climbs faster, it isn't a believable climb. Most of the buildings I climbed I couldn't see most of what Connor was supposedly hanging on to. It may seem nitpicky, but it really bothered me. Free running before seemed like a fun puzzle and it was very satisfying when I would finally figure out how to get to the top of a really high structure. Now it's just a way to get around.

While we on the subject of free running I want to talk about the environment of AC3. In the towns, most of the buildings were too far apart to really jump from one to another. Historically this makes sense as building were spaced out more than in Europe, but gameplay wise it certainly wasn't as fun. As for the bulk of the environment, the forest, I couldn't really climb from tree to tree the way I wanted to. Most of the tree branches have one path, that's it. If one say, wanted to try to get from point A to point B without touching the ground this would be a next to impossible feat. EXCEPT during story missions. The developers realized people may want to assassinate people during memories in the forest, so they gave a path for those specific destinations. However, if you try taking the trees to get to a side mission good luck, because there are a lot of dead ends and false starts. Most of the paths I took in the tree ended up in the veering off course, even when I tried to force my way through in the desired direction.

Fighting:
The way fighting is set up in AC3 is very different than in previous games. No longer does the player operate with different buttons to control different hands. Instead, stealing and passing people are done intuitively or with prompts. The fighting is done with different attacking and countering moves. I actually didn't mind the new fighting system until sequence 8, when for some reason I lost my tomahawk. I still don't understand why I suddenly lost it, but I was without it for the rest of the game. My best guess it that it broke and I was supposed to craft a new one. However, I have no idea how to craft anything in this game. If it's possible I don't think a tutorial was included. Anyway, without that Tomahawk the rest of the fighting in the game was done with my hidden blade and lead to a lot of swearing and rage quits. Ubisoft needs to ensure that while I can UPGRADE stuff and it may break, the original item that I am AUTOMATICALLY GIVEN stays in my hand. Or if it does break, how about a prompt that reminds me how to fix it or get a new one hmm?
Missions:
Story Missions:
The story mission break away from the tried and true methods in previous AC games. Instead of learning the target, learning about the target, learning about the target's location, and finally killing the target; we start the mission and everything has already been set in motion for us. There weren't a whole lot of actual assassinations in this game either. Instead there were several missions involved in warfare, such as defending the area, are retreating to an area within a set time limit. Many group battles too, there were some specific stealth missions, but few had to do with killing. In fact, for two of the biggest deaths in the game, you don't really battle them and kill them, what you really do is attempt to fight or chase them and then a cutscene kills them for you...it was really disappointing. Finally there were several chase missions that the player is forced to do, and they WERE NOT FUN! They were some of the most irritating things I've had to do in a video game in the past five years.
Side Missions:
I can't really comment on this much because I didn't do many of them. There were some homestead missions that were fun, and some delivery missions that were boring, but the main thing I tried to do were the liberation missions. In the liberation missions one must kill a bunch of guards while protecting those whom the guards were bullying. I failed every attempt to liberate the citizens and after defeating a bunch of guards 5 times only to realize that the potential assassins were all dead I gave up. I don't think it was the game's fault thought that I couldn't save the citizens, I think I just suck at this game. 
Music
The music in AC3 was rather charming. Some colonial music while spending time in towns and while in the forest the player is treated to some traditional Native American chanting. I'm not really one for dissecting music or commenting on what is good and bad about a particular track. So, instead I'll leave you with my concise opinion: It was nice music and I liked it.

Visuals
This is a BEAUTIFUL game! The open forest looks real, and the towns are done so realistically that I feel like I'm getting an actual glimpse into colonial America. The only negatives I found in the visuals were in New York and in Modern Day. In New York, well...it's really a small thing, but some of the trees around town just looked BAD. Like early PS2 graphics bad. However, this was in an odd location (I can't even really say exactly where) and was likely just the graphics engine being push to it's limits. As for the modern day critique, it's really more of a question. Was Desmond supposed to look emaciated? He looked like he hadn't had a decent meal in about 6 months. Well, perhaps it was because he was in the Animus for so long...I don't know.

Ending (Spoilers Of Couse):
Conner's Ending
Warning, Conner's ending is depressing, but incredibly accurate. Despite everything he does his family is driven from their homes and forced west. Near the end of the game his family believes he has betrayed them and in all honestly it seemed unbelievable to me. Really? You believe a white man over your own flesh and blood without even asking them first? Whatever. Anyway there is a discussion at the end of the epilogue that seems to hint that Desmond's memories are in a network now that others can reach. Definitely excited to see how this turns out. 
Desmond's Ending
I was disappointed when found out the ending from that guy at school. I had really been hoping that Desmond wouldn't have the messiah ending, but alas regardless of which ending Desmond chose this was the fate the developers chose for him. I wasn't prepared for the ending itself though. It felt rushed. The options laid before Desmond seconds before the decision had to be made caused a rather chaotic scene. I didn't really follow Desmond's reasoning. In Minerva's ending the world would be reset and history would essentially repeat itself, meaning that far in the future the same decision may have to be made again. In Juno's ending the world goes on as always, but Juno is released upon humanity. Apart from the loss of billions of lives or the release of Juno I don't really see the difference between the two option. Yet Desmond claimed that Minerva's ending had "No hope" in it. I fail to see how there was more hope in Juno's future than Minerva's . I hope his reasoning is revealed in time.

Downloadable Content:
I can't really comment on this much because I haven't, nor do I plan to play the DLC. From what I understand the DLC is set in an alternate reality for Conner. I thought that the Animus was meant to show us how things ACTUALLY happened, not a fantasied scenario. By having this DLC it shows that the Animus and the data it pulls can be manipulated, meaning that every game I've played up until now could have been a farce.

Whew! I think this is the longest post I've ever written! I hope you enjoyed it. Overall I enjoyed AC3, it just wasn't the best the series has had to offer.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Simple Living - 30 days to less stuff and more life by Lorilee Lippincott *Review*

I found this book for free on Amazon. I've been thinking about embracing minimalism lately and thought this would be a great place to start.

This book taught me that while some of the principles of minimalism are good to think about, minimalism as a whole is impractical for the majority of people. Keeping a space completely clear and getting rid of things simply so you can have clear space isn't always a good thing. Granted she does state that a lot of thing are a matter of personal needs. Her solution if you suddenly need something you purged is to simply buy another one. To me that just seems like a waste of money and could quite possibly become a cycle of money spending. Also, I realized that minimalism seems to be for people and families who prefer time spent outside of the house. Be it church activities, school activities, hikes, trips to the park, etc. you kind of have to be the type of person who is home only long enough to eat and sleep (and maybe work if you have a home office), but spend all of your free time out of the house. This is the opposite of myself and my family. My idea of a good time is reading a book, playing a game (be it video game or board game), and cooking. All of these require space at home to do and I like to replay and reread my stuff, it may be five years down the road, but I do replay and reread them. Minimalism just doesn't work for me. However I could see how it might help someone else, there were a few things brought up that even a non-minimalist should think about.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Clueless Baker: Banana Bread

Okay, I know I said I was going to start on a yeast bread for the next recipe out of The Clueless Baker cookbook, but I had 5 bananas that were about to go into the garbage. So, to prevent waste, I made the banana bread recipe. I actually made two different versions of the bread. One following the cookbook EXACTLY and my own that had just a few tiny adjustments.

I made my own version first (I know, bad idea) with a few tweaks it came out fine:




Then, while that was cooling I made the exact recipe:





Both turned out well, but had subtle differences in flavor. With my version I added an extra banana to the mix and then followed the recipe exactly. Unfortunately this caused the outside of the bread to finish while the inside was still raw. Thanks to my mom though, I learned that you can put foil a top of the bread to slow the cooking process on the outside of the bread. For both breads,  I found the cooking time to be off. If I let either loaf to cook for the recommended hour the whole thing would have been burnt to a crisp! I found that if you bake the loaves for 40 minutes, put foil on them and then bake them for another 10 minutes the bread comes out perfectly.

Enough of the technical stuff, I want to talk about the difference in taste! My version had stronger banana flavor than the cookbooks version, but it turned out more dense as well. I didn't mind that so much though, I eat the banana bread for breakfast mostly and a denser bread is more filling. The cookbook's banana bread, while lighter had less of a banana flavor and more of a general sweet taste. The texture differed more than in just the weight of the bread too. The cookbook's bread had a slightly grainy texture, while my variation was a bit smoother and was significantly more moist. Amazing the difference one small banana makes isn't it?

Okay hopefully I won't get distracted again and next time I will have a yeast bread to share with you.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines *Review*

I won this in a GR giveaway for my mother. She loves anything Victorian. I'm a lot like her, I love Victorian items, themes, and programing as well. I haven't actually watched a single episode of Downton Abbey, but hoped that this cookbook would inspired me to start because I'm not really one for watching TV shows once I'm behind everyone else. I expected to see mostly dishes from the series with an occasional extra traditional Victorian recipes thrown in. Unfortunately this wasn't the case at all.

Baines doesn't appear to have many recipes from the actual tv show. Rather, she says a lot of "*Downton Abbey character* might like this". On a few occasions she even goes out of the era entirely and travels as far as the 1950s. If I were a fan of the series this would irritate me to no end. Almost every recipe has a tidbit of information about traditions and etiquette accustom to the Victorian era. She always finds a way to seek in a little bit of information from the show as well. It was enough to whet my appetite for more of the series. I'm currently in the process of finding a site that I can watch episodes for free.

All in all I feel like this failed a little as a cookbook and would have been better as a "World of Downton Abbey" book with a FEW recipes thrown in. Instead of recipes being the main focus, manners, customs, etiquette, and dress would take center stage. In my opinion that would have made for a far better book.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Clueless Baker: Cheese Bread

It was finally cool enough outside for me to bake! It's been hard lately for me to justify baking lately because it's so damn hot outside! Anything over 75 degrees is just too hot for me. Anyway, I was able to bake today without turning my house into a furnace.

I made cheese bread and this time I made sure to look CLOSELY at the directions and preheat the oven to it's proper temperature. I did everything the way I was supposed to and look at my reward:






It came out PERFECTLY!! I am so happy it didn't fall apart this time!

As for the taste.....well it leaves a something to be desired. For being a cheesy bread recipe I didn't taste the cheese, it had taste, but I could put my finger on what it was. I shared some with my mom and she was able to provide the answer that eluded me...CORNBREAD! That's what it tastes like! I don't mind cornbread, but that wasn't really what I wanted today. If I wanted cornbread I would have made cornbread. I didn't eat another bite, but my mom had a few pieces with her soup and she said it complements tomato soup nicely. So, at least the bread won't go to waste. I won't eat it (I hate tomato soup), but perhaps others in my family will polish it off for me. The recipe calls for 1 1/4 cup cheese, this is by FAR not enough. Anyone who is thinking of trying this recipe make it of 2 cups of cheese (I used sharp cheddar) and let me know if it's any better.

Next up...I'm not sure...some kind of yeast bread.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Blindsight (Through the Eyes of Aniela Dawson) by Eliabeth Hawthorne

Before reading this review, please read my review on  "Blindsight (Through the Eyes of Leocardo Reyes).

The plot in this book is basically the same as it was in Leo's book, but told through the eyes of a different key character, Ana. While the plot is the same in the way of the ending and the driving force of the plot being Odette, the book reads like a completely different story (which I guess it kind of is).

Rather than being taken from her homeland and stranded on the strange island of Edaion, Ana has lived there all her life and is in fact, a princess. She befriends Odette and we get to see many of the minor mysteries from Leo's story revealed.

This is kind of like the secret behind the scenes footage from the movie that is Leo's Blindsight. The reader gets to see the mundane aspects and everyday activities of the islands inhabitants. Ana's version of the plot breathes life into Edaion. Characters come to life, and royal family drama smacks you over the head with a crown. And if you're like me, who loves watching shows like Real Housewives of New Jersey, and Dance Moms you'll eat this up. I truly loved the strong personalities in this book, many of the characters stood out and grabbed my attention. The author's portrayal of Ana and her trials made this more of a lovely coming of age story with an on-going mystery playing somewhat in the background. Hawthorne's way with relationships between the characters was well done and Ana's internal monologue was very realistic. And I love the portrayal of what royalty is in this book. No princesses sitting around doing nothing, but princesses with an unending list of responsibilities and obligations.

Now for the reason why I call this book a "behind the scenes" version of the events. The book does well after reading Leo's version, but certainly would not work if someone reads this version first or on it's own. Ana's Blindsight seems to assume that the reader knows what is going on. Explanations  on how the Edaion operates, and why things are the way they are, are often muddled. The framework of the world is brushed over or hinted at, which is understandable given that the character doesn't need the explanation...but the reader still does.

The two different versions of the plot work wonderfully together. Each has what the other is missing. Leo's story focuses on events and the plot, but is dry and doesn't seem to have much room for the characters. While Ana's story focuses on the characters, their thoughts, feelings, actions, and relationships, it's entertaining to read, but lacks a focused plot and groundwork to give the reader and understanding of the world. After I read both I felt like I read more than just a book, I received a peek into a fascinating world where all of the characters can shine. There isn't one main character with supporting characters around him/her instead there is a community of people each with their own agenda. I can't wait to continue this journey.

WAIT! Before you go I'd like to leave you with an excerpt from Ana's story...It's quite possibly the cutest prologue I've ever read.
This post is part of the Blind Sight Blog Tour. Blind Sight is an urban fantasy novel written in two volumes, each telling the story through a different character's perspective. preview on Barnes and Noble preview on Amazon


Blind Sight tells the story of Odette Reyes, a blind girl who develops the ability to draw. In one volume, the story is told through the eyes of her brother Leocardo who thinks she's having premonitions. The other volume tells the same story through the eyes of her best friend Aniela who thinks she's a medium channeling voiceless spirits. Who is right? Whose eyes will you read through?


This is the prologue to Aniela's volume.


A bundle of joy wrapped in a white feather boa streaked down the hall. Her long blonde hair flowed out behind her. Dressed in a vintage dress several sizes too large, Edaion’s youngest princess had just come out from playing dress up in her mother’s closet. Aniela wore oversized tortoise-shell aviator sunglasses and a necklace of pearls that dragged on the floor, threatening to trip her as she ran barefoot toward her sister’s room. The energetic four-year-old girl pushed open the bedroom door without knocking, still learning appropriate boundaries.
Seven-year-old Tatiana sat on her bed, her dark hair and dark eyes a stark contrast to Aniela’s baby blues. One of their mother’s favorite lamps levitated up and down; it moved slowly through the air. Tatiana never let it exceed six inches from the ground while she practiced her magic. All three of the Dawson children had inherited telekinesis from their mother. Tatiana specialized in large, heavy objects. Her twin, Theodore, who sat at Tatiana’s desk playing solitaire in the air, specialized in multiple small objects. Aniela had yet to develop a specialty.
“Hi Ana,” Theodore said. The door swung shut without any help from his sister.
“Hi Teo,” Aniela replied, sometimes still struggling with her t-h sounds.
Aniela tried to jump on her sister’s bed, but it was too high, causing her to miss and slide down until her feet once again touched the soft rug. She backed up and took a running leap. Aniela’s forehead smacked into Tatiana’s palm and she toppled backward onto to floor. Theodore frowned. His brow furrowed as he shook his head, but he did not comment as Aniela crawled up onto his lap instead. Much like his role in life, his looks fell somewhere between the two girls’. He had Tatiana’s intelligent brown eyes and Aniela’s light blonde hair. While he lacked Aniela’s innocence, he also lacked Tatiana’s smugness. He was the middle; one they could both enjoy.
“What do you want?” Tatiana droned in her ever present annoyed tone.
“Where does magic come from?” Aniela watched the lamp travel fluidly through the air as Tatiana moved it to the floor before answering.
“<i>Everyone</i> knows that a boat shipwrecked on the island and that one of our ancestors was the captain.”
“They were cursed for hunting on the island.” Theodore took up the story.
Aniela looked back and forth between her siblings, watching them trade off the conversation like a ball in a tennis match and quickly lost interest.
“I want to go to the park,” she announced.
“I’ll see if Marcus can drive us,” Theodore offered. Rarely did the king or queen have time to chaperone their children.
Simultaneously, and with practiced ease, the cards moved into a neat pile on Tatiana’s desk as Theodore picked Aniela off his lap and set her on the floor. Tatiana’s eyes flickered with new-found mischievousness as her twin closed the door behind him and waved Aniela over. Excited to be included, Aniela scrambled over, but Tatiana stopped her before she could climb onto the bed. She leaned in close, Tatiana’s voice barely more than a whisper. Something in her voice made Aniela feel the way she did before she snuck into their mother’s closet without permission.
Tatiana’s eyes glistened. “You know what we should do?”
“What?” Aniela bounced as she failed to contain her enthusiasm.
“We should play hide and seek at the park, but you know how Theo always finds you so quick?” She paused, lowering her voice. “So when we get there, you go hide, and I’ll give you a head start before I tell Theo it’s time to look for you.” If Aniela had known about <i>Alice in Wonderland,</i> she would have compared Tatiana’s smile to that of the Cheshire Cat’s.
“Okay!” Aniela agreed enthusiastically. She put her fingers to her lips and turned an invisible key, offering it to Tatiana for safekeeping. Tatiana did not play along, letting the would-be key fall onto the bed untouched.
“And no telling Theo,” Tatiana emphasized. “I’ll tell him, but before we go you had better put Mum’s clothes back where you found them.”
“Okay.” Aniela sprinted out of the room and back down the hall. She placed the clothes back in the trunk at the back of her mother’s closet, pearls and all. She then returned to Tatiana’s room to find Theodore waiting and Tatiana ready to go. They piled into a waiting car; Theodore placed himself between the two girls. The driver would stay with them in place of a bodyguard, for while no one had expanded on the subject, Aniela knew there was some kind of protection in place that made them unnecessary.
Aniela pressed her face to glass as she watched the houses go by. “We here! We here!” she celebrated.
Theodore helped Aniela as she fumbled to get out of the car.
“You’ll want to chew some gum after you smoke or Mum will smell it on your breath,” Tatiana told Marcus as she climbed out. He coughed and Theodore’s eyes narrowed. “What? It’s true!”
Once Aniela was freed from her booster seat, she shot out of the car and went to find a suitable hiding place. She looked around and chose the jungle gym. Hiding in one of the many colorful tunnels, she listened for either of her siblings to start counting. When she did not hear any, she assumed she was safely hidden. Excited about the game, she was determined to stay put, at least until her short attention span got the better of her. Her gaze fell on two boys sitting in the gravel near the swing set; one was holding a vehemently protesting cat while the other pulled its whiskers.
“Stop it! Stop being mean!” her voice echoed through the tunnel. She crawled out and ran back to the twins.
She pulled on the hem of Theodore’s shirt with one hand and pointed with the other. “Mean boys are being mean to a kitty!” she screamed and turned to Tatiana. “Fix it!”
Aniela’s anger elevated once Tatiana’s eyes fell on the boys, able to read her sibling’s mood whether she wanted to or not. She moved behind Theodore, pushing on his lower back and keeping directly behind him as if he were an impenetrable wall. Tatiana walked over with an intimidating gait, so quiet in her movements that despite Aniela’s yelling, the boys did not look up until her shadow was upon them. One look at her and they both shot off in the opposite direction, leaving the cat to run off as well.
“Awe!” Aniela yelled, “Kitty! Kitty come back! I wanna take you home! Tia get it!”
“Ana, don’t be silly. The cat is not going to want to be caught after that.”
“But I wanna make it feel better. Tia use your ma-muh…” she was muffled by Theodore’s hand cupping her mouth. She huffed at him, but his hand remained firm as he began forcibly walking her back to the car.
“Not a word until we get home,” he hissed.
Confused, she looked up at him, unable to understand why he was angry now that the cat was free, but he remained silent.
“Marcus, gum please.” Tatiana shot out a demanding hand between the front seats once she joined them. He handed her two pieces and she passed one to Theodore.
“I want gum,” Aniela whined. The first and only time she had been given gum, she had swallowed it.
“You’re too young,” Tatiana gloated, blowing a large bubble and popping it with her teeth.
“Am not!” Aniela puffed out her bottom lip and made sad puppy dog eyes at her brother who she no longer felt was mad at her.
Tatiana reached across Theodore and pulled one of Aniela’s shoestrings, untying it in one fluid motion. “You’re too young until you can tie your shoe.”
“I can,” Aniela shot, bringing her foot up close and playing with the laces. Her tongue wiggled around, poking out of the corner of her mouth in determination. It kept her busy the whole way home until eventually, Theodore reached over and helped.
“Ana, you still want gum?” Tatiana asked once they were home.
“Yes please!” she held out her hand expectantly.
“Here.” Tatiana took the piece of gum out of her mouth and placed it in Aniela’s hand. A familiar grin spread across Tatiana’s face.
Aniela’s jaw dropped and her nose wrinkled in mortified disgust. Saliva pooled in the palm of her hand as it slid off the damp wad while she stared at it until Theodore took it from her. Aniela wiped her hand on Theodore’s shirt and he made no signs of minding, but as soon as Tatiana started to do the same, he gave her a dark glare and she wiped her fingers on her own shirt instead.
Theodore took Aniela by the hand and walked her to her room. “Stay. I will be right back and we can talk about why I had to cut you off in the park,” he commanded. He closed the door behind him. She waited for his footsteps to fade down the marble hallway before tiptoeing out of her room and back into her sister’s.
“What now?” Tatiana groaned.
“Why can’t we use magic outside?”
Tatiana had been lying on her back but rolled over on the bed before she answered. The same grin she had worn that morning pulled at the corners of her lips. “If you use magic, or mention it outside the house, in the middle of the night, when the lights are out and you’re sound asleep…”
“You just don’t!” Theodore interjected firmly. The door to Tatiana’s room had swung open so forcefully it collided with the wall, cutting Tatiana off mid-sentence. “Inside is one thing, but outside it is forbidden.” Theodore informed Aniela before Tatiana could continue.
Tatiana pouted and rolled back over, but Aniela could not help but worry where the story had been going. All sorts of terrible scenarios played through her vivid imagination involving monsters in the closet or bugs that came and carried people away in their sleep, but she did not want to know badly enough to ask Tatiana to continue. Theodore took her by the hand, this time more gently, and led her back to her room.
“Ana, don’t let Tia scare you. Magic is not scary; it is a gift. You will understand when you are older. For now, you do not want to get in trouble, do you?”
Aniela shook her head.
-end excerpt-

This post is part of the Blind Sight Blog Tour. Blind Sight is an urban fantasy novel written in two volumes, each telling the story through a different character's perspective. preview on Barnes and Noble preview on Amazon