Nodds & Nends: i can’t even, artistic renderings, and compliments

One of the best Christmas Specials I came across recently was by the webseries “i can’t even.” If you recall, they were part of my webseries review fest last year. Their Christmas Special is titled The Doctor’s New Companion, and it is awesome. I had to pause the episode because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t hear what they were saying.

Saw this on Facebook and thought it was full of massive skill, both in the artistic quality and the ability to add reasonable outfits to a female character in a drawing rather than no-reason-for-the-lack-of-clothing that often happens in such drawings.

Also found on Facebook was this great video about giving compliments that do not have to do with a person’s appearance. I especially try to do this with my nieces. Little girls get told all the time how pretty they are, which is fine, but I think complimenting growing children on their accomplishments and who they are as people is extremely important as well. This is a good list to start with!

Best Books of 2015

Last year because I was reading law book and studying I did not even reach my own book challenge, so I set the sights low for myself this year, hoping to get back on track and start reading more. I challenged myself to read 30 books and I’ve read 39, plus I’m halfway through two more books and hope to finish them before the year is out. I’m very pleased with my accomplishment of meeting and exceeding my goal, as well as, tackling some of my “Want to Read” list and never ending tbr pile.

Here are my favorite books of 2015 in no particular order.

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Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is an amazing book. I can’t believe it took me this long to track down a copy and ready it. Read my review here.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is a perfectly intricate plot that plays across years and worlds. A must read. My review is here.

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InterWorld is another wonderfully written book by Neil Gaiman, this time with a co-author Michael Reaves, about multiple universes and how the tiny decisions in our lives have rippling affects. Read my review here.

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The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman is the final book in his The Magician’s Trilogy and is full of flawed characters and wonderful world building. As I said in my review:

“Real life in all its glory and sadness spills itself across the pages and that is the beauty of Grossman’s characters. Not that they have magic and spells, but that they have life, and they live it.”

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Dreams of Gods and Monsters is the final chapter in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy. I actually liked this book the best in the series, which was a wonderful surprise. You can read my full review here. But be warned there may be spoilers about the first two books in the series.

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Graveyard Shift by Angela Roquet is a fun light urban fantasy tale about a grim reaper, but the story has depth and the characters are fully developed. But my favorite part of this book is her female characters have actual agency, a nice shift from many of the urban fantasy series I read this year. Read my review here.

Geeky Holiday Haul

The holidays are upon us and I have recieved a lot of wonderful geeky gifts I just have to tell everyone about! I got a TARDIS hoodie that I have wanted for ages! I got a Doctor Who mug which I’ve used the every day to watch the TARDIS disappear for coffee time.  But, perhaps the most unique gift is the Doctor Who t-shirt I posted about earlier on this blog that my best friend sent me. It is soooo awesome and really does glow in the dark!

It’s like my people know me.😉

I wore this Where the Wild Things Are T-shirt to work today. It was a present from my mother who has always been a huge supporter of my geeky side.  I love that I can wear this to work, yes that’s my hand made TARDIS cork board behind me, and I even have a squishy TARDIS toy that lights up sitting on my desk. No one even blinks that I have these things. Either this is a testament to the power of me being able to get away with anything because I work hard, or people are so used to my weirdness it doesn’t even register anymore.

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N.Y.E. Party

I don’t throw N.Y.E. parties. I find New Years Eve is usually so built up the let down is to be avoided, so I try to not over sell the holiday and usually do something low key. The best ringing-in-the-new-years parties I’ve been to involved close friends and fun games or working at a pub and being able to make money while partying. But, if I could be the perfect non-anxious party hostess this is what I would do, aka my Pinterest NYE party.

I would make these pinata cookies, but not eat them because I do not like sugar cookies and I think its a horrible way to eat M&Ms, but they sure do look pretty and I bet my perfect guests (who do not get any of the coconut shavings on my kitchen floor) would love them. I would make other food of course, maybe a crock pot of chili and have a vegetable and fruit platter. In my dream world I could expense this because people are paying me to be a perfect host and show them how to party. Because I’m a party animal. Oh yah.

pinata sugar coconut cookies the urbanpocketknife

I would do one set of Countdown Bags with a fun game in them. I would do one set, because who has time for all that shit when you are making colored coconut shavings? I mean seriously. However, games are always a fun idea and putting them in fun party bags is just the icing on the pinata cookie.

New Years Eve Countdown Bags

I would create a photo booth corner. Not sure where exactly. I guess I would take down my table or move things around and cover up part of the mirror/wall in my dining room. Ugh, this is starting to stress me out and it’s a fake party! Anyway, I would also miraculously have the time to not only create the photo booth, but also some photo booth props.

Wedding Photo Booth Ideas

Photo Booth Props

I would put up streamers, balloons, and bright paper flowers to decorate. I would get them at Michaels and I would plan ahead enough to get them on the cheap with coupons, and possibly make a last minute run to the dollar store to fill out my stash. I would have my friend Adrian fly in from Chicago so he could help me decorate, because he is awesome at it. I would also expense this and it would be glorious. We would both agree none of this gold and black sophisticated crap, we want bright colors to ring in a bright new year.

I love the look of this...the colors, the textures, the patterns, the sign. love it all! :) pinned by Jodi from The Clutter-Free Classroom www.CFClassroom.com:

But this is all a fantasy. I’m sure my new years eve will be more movies and popcorn than chili and pinata cookies, more laid back and relaxing and falling asleep at ten than up until midnight pulling the cord for a room full of balloons. But it sure is fun to plan the perfect party, especially when I don’t even have to think about following through.

Audio Book Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I love Amy Poehler ever since she stole my heart in Parks and Recreation.  I think she is amazing, kind, wise, and love her openness about sharing what she has learned from life. Her YouTube channel Smart Girls is wonderful and in particular I love her show Ask Amy where she posts some wonderful pieces of advice.

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Yes Please is an extension of Amy’s wonderful self, where she gives advice, tells tales, and gets her friends and family to share their perspective. I was able to get a copy of the audio book at my library. It was one of the most enjoyable autobiographies that I’ve listened to.

Summary from GoodReads:

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book,Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

Amy has a good balance of telling unforgettable stories that made me think, sympathize, and appreciate her ability to be vulnerable, as well as spinning satirical pieces about how writing is hard and the amazing funny moments she experienced on SNL. Most touching was her love for her children and her love for life in general that seeps through every moment of her storytelling. I also appreciated that although I’m sure it was painful, she speaks of her divorce with some distance, humor, and a lack of bitterness that is inspiring. Sometimes it is just too easy to be bitter about the traumas that come along in life. I enjoyed her stories that were sneak peaks into behind the scenes with her cast members on the TV shows she’s been on and her work with Upright Citizens Brigade, a sketch/improv troupe that she co-founded which now has theaters in two major cities.

I thought Amy did an excellent job as the voice over actor for her own book and I enjoyed the guest appearances of friends and families as they voiced their bits. She left in several  bits in the audio book that were obviously improvised and in the moment, which was lovely. Obviously these bits would not appear in the paper book version, so I do recommend listening to the audio book if you can. I thought it was well produced, well voiced, and had some interesting elements not usually associated with audio books. But, I don’t want to spoil the surprises!

I know she complains about writing the book, for most of the book, but she did such a lovely job I hope she writes some more. If you like autobiographies, enjoy Parks and Rec, or want to give a fun audio book a try, check out Yes Please by Amy Poehler.

Audio Book Review: The Name of the Wind By Patrick Rothfuss

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally decided to tackle this series. I know so many people who love Rothfuss’ work, and I had them on my tbr pile for forever. I’m not always an epic high fantasy fan, and I dislike hating what everyone else likes, because then I just feel more weird, so I put off reading this until I couldn’t anymore. I took the plunge and, using a free credit, downloaded it from Audible. I’m happy to say that I loved it!

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Summary from GoodReads:

“My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I have burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to God’s, loved women and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.”

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature – the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

What I liked about this book was that it was stories inside of stories, which broke up the main story into intervals so that it never got boring. I devoured the tales and loved nearly every minute of Nick Podehl’s narration. This story has everything in it: mythologies that are well devolved, characters that are flawed but still likable, and an wonderful plot line that kept me enthralled.

Kvothe is not the best person in the world, he is immature, and he has been through a lot of traumatic events that have shaped who he is. He is smart without wisdom, clever without a lot of purpose except getting what he wants in the moment, and he can’t seem to take instruction unless he deems the person smart enough to learn from. The side characters are well developed and help Kvothe seem less imperfect because of their own imperfections. A wonderful cast of characters in an interesting setting.

The only thing I really did not like, was his main romantic interest. Ugh. Even Kvothe admits she is cruel, but this does not stop his attraction. I’ve met women like her and seen all the men they cut through, and it’s like the guys can’t help it, they must love these women even though they are horrible human beings. Make no sense. Though, I guess this happens to both genders, and maybe is more indicative of the one who is falling being unable to respect themselves than it is the “fault” of the cruel men and women who play with other people like they are toys to be discarded after they have lost their shine. I’m not sure why such a female has to be the main romantic interest in the story though, and in almost an homage to such females. That the main character admires her cruelty and learns how to stay in the good graces of such a toxic person was a bit disappointing as a romantic plot. I kept reminding myself, he is young, he is foolish, but that only help cool my ire a tad. Perhaps, as the series progresses the main character will learn that while toxic people can be exciting, they cannot be made whole, and they are best left to their toxic lives.

What the author is able to accomplish is a connection to characters that live outside of our timeline and universe. and that is to be commended. I felt for all of the characters, even the side characters. They have strong voices and personalities and are integral to the story line, even if they just jump in for small snippets of time.

Nick Podehl did a wonderful job of narration. His voice acting was excellent and he was able to keep the story alive in my mind. He didn’t really have different voices for the characters, but he was really good at inflection and emotion at what was going on in the story. He was easy to listen to, and as there are a lot of chapters and hours to finish the audible book this was necessary.

In spite of my dislike of one of the female characters, this was definitely one of the best books I listened to this year. I would recommend it to any one who likes sci/fi  or fantasy, or enjoys intricate plot lines and coming of age stories.