One last (most likely) picture of the snow in Maine. It’s supposed to be 60 degree in North Carolina for the first day of 2011, right?
Ultimately, the forecasts for 14-16 inches of snow were a little overblown. It was only about 6, 8 tops. It wasn’t the snow that caused the problems though, it was the wind. Just driving to the store resulted in a couple of “white out” situations. I think I’d be fine to not be around for a storm like this for another 5-7 years.
Retribution by Drew Karpyshyn<br/>
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’ve been a major fan of BioWare’s games, and their associated tie-ins, since Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic in 2003. The games have stories that are tightly coupled to their gameplay mechanics and this combination makes it nearly impossible for me to walk away once I’ve started playing them. The Mass Effect universe was a unique IP created by BioWare that has already spawned two mega-hit video games (with a third game due Christmas 2011). In addition to the game itself, there have been tie-in books and comics. Mass Effect: Retribution is a fairly direct sequel to 2008’s Mass Effect: Ascension (the novel) and also builds upon the events of Mass Effect 2 (the video game).<br/><br/>ME:Retribution is the first of the ME novels that contains the same characters as the previous novel. The other two novels took place in the same universe as the video game but introduced new characters for each particular story. This book centers on the two main characters from the previous book, introduces one major new character, and also contains appearances from two characters that players of the ME games will be familiar with. The ME Books have never been particularly rich on character development, however, and this one is no exception. The book moves at a quick pace, going from beat to beat without much time to reflect or to showcase the characters. It’s what I expected, but it doesn’t necessarily excuse that style of plotting.<br/><br/>One of the reasons I get so wrapped up in the BioWare games is their tight plots. They drive the player hard to an end goal. The first to ME books followed this kind of tight plotting. ME: Retribution, however, seemed to meander. The book seemed to have trouble finding its way at points and, were it not for its attachment to the ME universe, I might have set it aside for a bit. Ultimately, it’s the book’s attachment to the ME universe that is its biggest selling point. Even though the plot is only tangentially related to the games, seeing characters you’re familiar with from the games is entertaining. I was disappointed with the plotting in this book when I compare it to previous ME efforts, but I would still recommend it to ME fans. With the third Mass Effect game about a year away, it’s decent way to scratch that ME itch.<br/><br/> View all my reviews
My father made the suggestion of taking a shot of the fully decorated Christmas tree with the lights turned off. To be honest, that had not even occurred to me. I was very pleased with the results.
The Confession by John Grisham<br/>
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is the first John Grisham book I’ve read since I started law school. To be honest, I probably would not have read this book if my mother had not had it waiting for me when I went to visit at Christmas. More importantly, I probably would not have burned through it as quickly as I did were I not motivated to finish it before I left (thereby avoiding the need to pack it and bring it home with me). <br/><br/>I’m not sure exactly how to classify this book. It’s not really a mystery; there is nothing that needs to be solved. It’s not really a thriller; there is only mild tension to speak off. It’s more like a “recounting” of some fictional event. Even more unfortunate, it’s a recounting of a fictional event that is used as a way to provide an anti-death penalty screed.<br/><br/>I’ve taken a criminal law class. I’ve heard all the arguments against the death penalty. I understand why some people oppose It so strongly. Do I want to read a book whose apparent purpose is cloth these arguments in some nice narrative? No, not really. I guess this is what people who believe in man-made global warming felt like when they read Michael Crichton’s State of Fear.<br/><br/>That leaves me to qualify the review. I’m giving the book two  stars. The rather uneventful plot and sort of mundane narrative earn it three  stars and I’m subtracting another star for his insertion of a crim. law guest lecture into my escapist fiction. <br/><br/>View all my reviews
Sure the benches and trees make entering the door a little tougher, but it looks so pretty. Even though it’s snowed all day, the amount has been so light that there’s barely a dusting on the ground.
Around 3:15 yesterday, just as the darkness started to roll in, a light dusting of snow started up. It only lasted about 3 hours and was a total of about an inch of accumulation on the ground. It hardly even registered in Maine, though it might have shut down North Carolina for a day or two if it had happened done there.
Mind Games by Carolyn Crane<br/>
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As a comic book reader, I have no problem jumping into the middle of an ongoing series and being perfectly content to just figure out things as I go along. I assume I might miss out on some little nod to previous stories, but I am perfectly okay with that if the story I am reading is solid on its own. Series that are clearly marked as finite, however, I normally take the time to start from the beginning. <br/> <br/>When I was filling out the Goodreads “End of Year” Awards, I spent some time reading the reviews of the various nominees. I was stuck by the particularly high reviews and large amounts of praise that was heaped on the second book of Carolyn Crane’s Disillusionists Trilogy. Though the overall body of the reviews on the first book, Mind Games, were not as high, the reviews I read spoke highly and contained things like “noir” and “comic book-y”. Ultimately, this was enough for me to give it a shot. <br/> <br/>I understand now why people used term like “noir” and “comic book-y”. The book has some elements of both. What really stands out about the book, however, is its concept of “powers”. The concept is far from the traditional set of superhero powers and does not fall anywhere near currently popular vampire, werewolf, witch paranormal trappings. Instead, the powers are something all together new and refreshing. <br/> <br/>The story provides a suitable amount of twists and turns to keep the reader involved. There is a decent amount of foreshadowing and a clever reader will probably see some of the more interesting twists coming, but the story is engaging nonetheless. Ms. Crane makes an interesting choice on her chapter organization by fully containing the smaller arcs within each chapter. None of the individual chapters end on some cliff hanger that makes the reader say “must. start. next. chapter.” I found this structure allowed me to budget my time time to read the book more efficiently and, as a result, burn through it rather quickly. Besides, the overall story arc was more than engaging enough to want me to keep reading. <br/> <br/>Those people who say this is a noir book must be reading different noir than I’m used to. Though it does have a noir-ish feel at some points, there is an overall optimism to the book that I do not think falls within the traditional noir realm. Also, I did not expect as many “romance” elements in the book as there ended up being (though that’s probably from my lack of overall research on that book, not any false advertising by the author or publisher). After reading books like The Hunger Games Trilogy, the more adult takes on romance and relationships were a nice change of pace. Though I would have been perfectly entertained without those elements , they in no way hampered by enjoyment of the story. Most importantly, they didn’t take take me out of the story like I have found in some YA-targeted books. <br/>Overall, I was extremely pleased with Ms. Crane’s work. I fully anticipate the second book in this trilogy, Double Cross, to be occupying a spot in my “currently reading” queue in the next couple of weeks. <br/><br/> View all my reviews
It’s started snowing, which means it’s time to really get the fire going.
The christmas tree is up and ready to be decorated.