Tuesday, September 27, 2011

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

After a few years in prison, Shadow is released to find that his wife tragically died along with his best friend.  Few remnants of his past life remain and he quickly meets Mr. Wednesday, a mysterious character that requests his services.  Their journey continues across America to meet many of his new boss's unusual colleagues and acquaintances.  Through a series of twists and turns, the novel unfolds into a great tale of intrigue and mystery culminating into a battle between the old and new Gods of this world.  The novel is the winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 2002.  I enjoyed the book, but unfortunately had very high expectations prior to reading that were not entirely met.  Neil Gaiman is a talented writer with a prolific career.  I would recommend the book and look forward to the HBO series adaptation that is planned to come in 2013.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Amazing Group

Lost in the Trees is an eclectic ensemble that can even impress theEclecticHobbyist with its breadth of originality.  Any group that includes a guitar, tuba, accordion, violin, and cello is already on the A-list.  The group founded the genre orchestral pop and infuse many classical elements with a more traditional singer-songwriter.  Ari Picker the songwriter and composer was formally trained at Berklee and shows his musical abilities in every song.  Lost in the Trees released their debut album (All alone in an Empty House) for the Anti-Records label on August 10, 2010.  Check out their title song below.                                   
Rating 5/5


Monday, September 5, 2011

Resurrection of Liberty, by Michael Wentz

     This epic science fiction novel is a fantastic adventure full of endless action and mystery.  As three unsuspecting teenagers get pulled into space while driving an old car, they soon learn that more exists in space than just life on earth.  As they journey further into the great beyond, they discover that life on earth is threatened by an invasive race that has been causing destruction throughout the galaxy.  It is up to Dan and his friends, as well as a ragtag group of followers to save earth and ultimately the galaxy.  Although the characters lack some development, it is a fast paced book that is hard to put down.  I would recommend this to any reader who enjoys a great story.  Also, the book is currently free on Amazon!!

4/5 Stars

Friday, September 2, 2011

Yuengling Lager

 Although not the greatest beer on earth, it is from America's first brewery and a great standard.  A cheap and enjoyable everyday beer from the keystone state.  My usual weekday beer classic.

3.5/5 Stars

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Garmin Forerunner

This GPS device is great for calculating mileage and speed for runners/bikers.  It is not too bulky to be worn easily on the wrist and is generally as comfortable to wear as a wristwatch.  It’s a great running partner particularly on days when I run alone.  The only con, is that at times it can take awhile to obtain a signal, but once connected it never loses signal.  Although it is one of the cheaper GPS enabled wrist watches on the market, I have been very happy with the purchase.
5/5 Stars

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Eden, by Keary Taylor

     Keary creates a great vivid dystopian world in this full length novel.  The underlying premise was both intriguing and seemingly plausible. The characters were three-dimensional. The book was filled with romance that unfortunately felt like an afterthought. I felt distracted by the love triangle at times, but yet I was still fully engaged by the plot. Overall, the book is a fun read and I would recommend it to others.

4/5 Stars

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Destiny Binds, by Tammy Blackwell

Humor and paranormal romance are a great combination in this young adult novel by Tammy Blackwell.  I found myself laughing from the very first line and throughout the book.  Although paranormal romance is not my favorite genre and has been at times overdone, this book was very enjoyable and engaging.  Scout is a well developed character that you could easily picture walking down the halls of any high school.  I would recommend this book to anyone without reservation.  Well edited, good length, and without explicit sexual content.

5/5 Stars

Buy at Amazon

Friday, July 29, 2011

Rebirth Brass Band

The New Orleans based group, Rebirth Brass Band, is a great example of the street beat music that I fell in love with while living in NOLA.  Nothing else quite captures the essence and culture of New Orleans.  Below is a great example of their impromptu performance in the french quarter. 


My favorite album is by far their compilation album, Ultimate Rebirth Brass Band (see album cover below)
The album and group overall: 5/5 Stars

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Beckoning Light by Alyssa Rose Ivy

Beckoning Light is a great read with plenty of action, fantasy, and romance.  It is a first person, dual narrative of a brother and sister that find another world through an old gate.  Reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia, but with a YA twist.  Primarily written for young adult audience, but fun for all ages.  Great quality with near perfect editing and formating. 

Book Description:
As Charlotte steps through the gate, she has a strong feeling that nothing will ever be the same again.
Moving back to South Carolina after three years away, Charlotte knows she’s going to have to face people from her past and adjust to a new high school, but she’s completely unprepared for what else waits for her in Charleston.
Drawn through an old garden gate, Charlotte discovers a hidden world where she meets Calvin, a boy to whom she is inexplicably attracted. As Charlotte is pulled deeper into this hidden world, it’s up to her older brother Kevin to rescue her. No matter how hard Kevin tries, the rescue depends upon Charlotte fighting her intense feelings for Calvin while mastering a set of abilities that she has only just discovered she possesses. 

5/5 stars

Check out her blog at AlyssaRoseIvy.com

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Great New Movie

Awesome new movie that is reminiscent of the Goonies meets Cloverfield.  Great coming of age story set in 1979 that has plenty of action and special effects as well.  Fun for the whole family and worth the trip to the theater.  Sure to be a classic.            4/5 stars

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fun Summer Book Series

The Hunger Games Trilogy
These books are a great summer read that are full of action with a great overall story. Set in a grim dystopian world, the books are very exciting and entertaining reads.  They are likely to become extremely popular once the first movie comes out starting in 2012.
5/5 stars

Monday, June 13, 2011

Latest Musical Adventure

The tin whistle is a six-holed woodwind instrument that is frequently featured in Celtic music.  Seemingly simple at first, but becomes more complex the more you learn.  Great example of a low tin whistle with guitar accompaniment at the youtube link below.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fun Dive Site

Sheraton Caverns:
Kauai's signature dive. Has many lava tubes with awesome overhangs and archways.  Often several green sea turtles along the way.  Can also be reached by shore.
3/5 Stars

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Great Everyday Wine

Great Cabernet Sauvignon by Liberty School in Paso Robles region of California.  Taste of dark berry with an great balance of tannin and acidity.  And the best part is the price makes it affordable. 4/5 Stars

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Up and Coming Music Artists

Kiev is a new artist out of L.A.  They sound similar to Radiohead with a more eclectic funk.  Their first album is entitled "Ain't No Scary Folks In On Around Here".  View a sample song at Youtube below.

Another incredible artist is Emily Wells.  She is a violinist that manages to seemlessly blend hip-hop and classical.  She has a voice that is reminescent of Bjork.  She has also mastered the muscial art of the loop.  See a perfect example at Youtube below.