Saturday, December 28, 2013

Book Review: A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with Dragons is the fifth book of the series. I reviewed the last two here and here. The last one was a bit slow and this one was a bit slower, but I still enjoyed it and can't wait for the next book.

I've read some pretty hilarious and spot-on criticisms of this book, mostly that nothing happens. While this book doesn't need to be as long as it is (there are some excruciatingly elaborate descriptions of traveling through grass, snow, and river), there is a lot happening here. A new villain emerges (so much worse than Joffrey), Cercei must deal with her imprisonment, and new sides in the battle gather strength.

Some of the chapters read like filler, but it could be reasonably called character development. Martin is setting the stage here, moving the cyvasse pieces around the board, and getting us ready for the next installment.

HBO will begin airing the next season at the beginning of 2014.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Spirit of Christmas - Skipping the Gifts

For several years now, my family has decided to donate to charity in lieu of gifts to each other. We have given to Unicef, Heifer, CharityWater, to name a few. Helping someone on the other side of the world to become self-reliant feels better to me than receiving a bunch of things I really don't need. (And it saves on standing in the exchange line on December 26th.) It's much more consistent with the Christmas spirit.

This year, I've chosen OxFam. Their letter to me this year pointed out that they don't waste money on gimmicks like address labels and I appreciate that. shows they spend 78.9% of their budget on program expenses and their company president makes a salary of $327,192. (I can't stand charity CEOs who make millions.) I recommend checking out your charity here before donating. You can even look at their list of top-rated charities if you need ideas.

Here's OxFam's mission statement: Oxfam America is a global organization working to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice. We save lives, develop long-term solutions to poverty, and campaign for social change. As one of 17 members of the international Oxfam confederation, we work with people in more than 90 countries to create lasting solutions.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Made in America Holiday Shopping

This is the third year in a row I've decided that my holiday gifts should be made in America. I have noticed it getting easier as businesses seem to be catching on to the demand. There are quite a few blogs with lists compiled for American made products.

What makes it easier for me is that I only buy for my friends kids and my boyfriend. It is also getting easier to find affordable US made toys, but I'm still finding it so hard to find cute kids clothes at reasonable prices.

I think the best option I've found is, which is full of handmade gifts by artisans across the country. (There are also some that are international, so make sure you check their location.)

For great mix and match basics, check out the closing sale at BasicBrilliance.

There's a specific section for American made clothes at CWDKids.

Take advantage of Cyber Monday sales and buy American.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Nano - The End

If there had been one more day in the month (like I thought there were) I would have finished with 9,501 words. While that means I didn't meet my goal, it's also nothing to sneeze at. When I add the 10,000 words I started with, that's almost a third of a complete novel. I call that success.

Realistically, I won't be adding to the word count this month because I'll be busy with the holidays. Like the last two years, I'll be scouring the internet for American-made gift ideas and I'll be sharing what I find.

I'll get back to a writing routine in January.