Monday, March 6, 2017

Spotlight on author and illustrator William Steig...

Our family was introduced to author and illustrator William Steig through his children's books, namely Amos and Boris, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, and The Amazing Bone. These are delightful children's stories that are not just for children. The author's illustrations add greatly to the tender charm of these stories. Friendship and family are themes which are celebrated in the books.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Steig, was born in 1907 into an immigrant family in New York City. His parents encouraged their children to become familiar with art and music. His father worked as a house painter and his mother worked as a seamstress. Even as a child William enjoyed creating art and reading, which assisted him in becoming a success as an author and illustrator. The great depression was hard on his family and he contributed to their support, at that time, by selling his cartoons and pictures around the city. He became an illustrator and eventually produced 2000 cartoons and over 100 magazine covers for The New Yorker. 
 

He became an author, at age 61, in a round about way, after a fellow worker at the magazine asked him to write a children's book. He wrote a children's puzzle book and then, the story of Roland the Minstrel Pig, and eventually, all the other titles. He received awards for his art and his books and died of natural causes at the age of 95. Most recently he is known as the creator of Shrek



Some of my favorites by William Steig:

Amos and Boris- Amos the mouse and Boris the whale: a devoted pair of friends with nothing at all
in common, except good hearts and a willingness to help their fellow mammal.
Amos sets out to sea in his homemade boat, the Rodent, and soon finds himself in
extreme need of rescue.

Dominic- It's time for a change, so Dominic packs his collection of hats and his piccolo and heads
out, letting the world take him where it may.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble- Sylvester can’t believe his luck when he finds a magic pebble that
can make wishes come true. But when a lion jumps out at him on
his way home, Sylvester is shocked into making a wish that has
unexpected consequences.

Abel's Island- Abel's place in his familiar, mouse world has always been secure; he had an
allowance from his mother, a comfortable home, and a lovely wife, Amanda. But one
stormy August day, furious flood waters carry him off and dump him on an
uninhabited island.

The Amazing Bone- It's a bright and beautiful spring day, and Pearl, a pig, is dawdling on her way
home from school. Most unexpectedly, she strikes up an acquaintance with a
small bone. "You talk?" says Pearl. "In any language," says the bone. 


Also by Steig:

Doctor De Soto- Doctor De Soto, the dentist, did very good work. With the aid of his able
assistant, Mrs. De Soto, he copes with the toothaches of animals large and small.
Brave Irene- Irene's mother is a dressmaker, she made a beautiful gown that needs to be delivered to
the palace. Irene volunteers to deliver the dress in spite of a raging snow storm.

Roland the Minstrel Pig- Roland the pig plays the lute and sings so sweetly that his friends never
have enough of listening to him. He has bigger dreams, though, so he
decides to take his show on the road and share his music with the world.

Shrek- A book about an ordinary ogre who leaves his swampy childhood home to go out and
see the world.
                                     (Most book descriptions from the Amazon web site.)

New Yorker Magazine cover.

Some Quotes from William Steig's books:

Later she sat on the ground in the forest between school and home, and spring was so bright and beautiful, the warm air touched her so tenderly, she could almost feel herself changing into a flower. Her light dress felt like petals.

"I love everything," she heard herself say.
"So do I," a voice answered.

Pearl straightened up and looked around. No one was there.”
(William Steig- The Amazing Bone)



New Yorker magazine cover.


Her image was in his mind, as clear as life sometimes, and he smiled with wistful tenderness, remembering her ways. Amanda was dreamy. It often seemed she was dreaming the real world around her, the things that were actually happening. She could dream Abel when he was right there by her side. Abel loved this dreaminess in her. He loved her dreamy eyes.

Wherever he went about the island, he wore Amanda's scarf around his neck, the ends tied in a knot. He would not leave it in the log.” (William Steig- Abel's Island p. 43)


One thing I love about his writing is that it is so descriptive. Here is a passage from Amos and Boris:

One night, in a phosphorescent sea, he marveled at the sight of some whales spouting luminous water; and later, lying on the deck of his boat gazing at the immense, starry sky, the tiny mouse Amos, a little speck of a living thing in the vast living universe, felt thoroughly akin to it all.”

Your eyes and ears are in for a treat reading the stories of William Steig with your family. 


New Yorker magazine cover.

Another plus...he's a lefty, just like me!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A bright YELLOW and Happy Wednesday to all!

I'm on a writing kick again, 25 sentences all starting with Yellow. When I thought about which color to do after green, the first two colors to pop into my head were blue, and black. I figured blue would be too easy, and 25 sentences starting with black was a bit depressing, so I chose yellow thinking it would be a little more challenging. Feel free to share your own sentences in the comment section.

I also added another exercise after writing the sentences-checking a thesaurus and then substituting some of the suggested words in the sentences that I wrote to see if it spiced up the writing a bit. Here goes....


  1. Yellow ribbons decorated the trees after the festivities.

  1. Yellow and various shades of gold were evident in leaves that had fallen to the ground on that Autumn day.

  1. Yellow pencils made up the bulk of the available writing implements that were placed on the desk.

  1. Yellow centers in the daisies made for a happy welcome, while strolling through the garden.

  1. Yellow and green were the spirit colors of the new high school.

  1. Yellow highlighting lined every page of the used textbook making the resale price lower.

  1. Yellow fire engines are becoming just as common as red ones.

  1. Yellow vents releasing sulfur gas sat adjacent to the trail which wound up to the top of the volcano, releasing a strong smell.

  1. Yellow garnets are called Andradites, they contain magnesium and titanium which gives them their distinctive yellow-green color.

  1. Yellow pages used to be the place for looking up phone numbers and addresses before the days of the internet.

  1. Yellow and refreshing, the homemade lemonade really hit the spot after a trip to the park with the grand kids.

  1. Yellow Mr. Sketch magic markers really do smell like lemons.

  1. Yellow was the color my cousin chose for the bridesmaid dresses at her wedding, and the men wore yellow ties.

  1. Yellow flowers on a rose bush seem to cheer you up when you look at them.

  1. Yellow and black checkered taxi-cabs were seen everywhere when we visited New York City.

  1. Yellow, red and blue are known as the primary colors and can be seen on any color wheel.

  1. Yellow suns and pink flowers decorated drawings in the pictures that the little girl drew.

  1. Yellow fever is a disease found in tropical areas and it is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes.

  1. Yellow is how I would describe her face after the first 30 minutes of her ride on the cruise ship.

  1. Yellow blankets and sleepers used to be standard fare at baby showers before the days of ultrasound.

  1. Yellow bananas lined the shelf of the produce section and you could smell them a few feet away.

  1. Yellow with polka dots describes the color of the swim suit in the itsy bitsy, teenie weenie bikini song by Brian Hyland.

  1. Yellow snow, have you ever heard someone admonish you not to eat it?

  1. Yellow blossoms festooned the forsythia bushes, a welcome sign that spring had really arrived.

  1. Yellow daffodils pop into my head when I am thinking of harbingers of spring.



Have some fun with the words!

Now try it using a thesaurus to spice things up with the writing, keeping in mind the exercise is to write 25 sentences all starting with "yellow", so I am not going to change that.

First sentence- "Yellow ribbons decorated the trees after the festivities."
decorated: adorned, bedecked, dressed up, trimmed
ribbons: bows, streamers
trees: forest, shrubs, timber, woods
festivity: joviality, bash, party, shindig, fun and games
after: behind, subsequently, later


"Yellow streamers adorned the shrubs after the fun and games."

"Yellow ribbons bedecked the trees following the shindig."


and so on.....


Monday, February 6, 2017

Green, I am dreaming of Green.

I am a person who needs to keep her mind busy. I am always thinking, thinking. Sometimes it can wear me out, but mostly it energizes me. On wintry days when the snow covers mostly everything and you can't really spend time outside, it is the time to keep my brain busy. I have always wanted to improve my writing skills so here's to developing a writing brain...practice and more practice.

Writing prompt...Write 25 sentences that all start with the word "Green". Just wait and see, something interesting will happen. (You can also do this exercise using any other color you choose besides green.)

Here are my sentences- I just went with whatever popped into my head one evening while I was cooking dinner,back and forth from the stove to the laptop.


  1. Green my valley was not, it was brown, brown from the drying Santa Ana winds that blew generously in southern California .
  1. Green, his eyes were green, greener than a Martian's skin.
  1. Green pom pom sticking halfway out of his mouth, Jonas the cat padded silently down the hallway.
  1. Green, amazing shades of green, that chicken crap was all over the barn.
  1. Green pine needles peeked out among the drifts of snow which blanketed the mountains.
  1. Green tentacles of fungus grasped their way our of that bag of stale bread, which was found behind the fridge.
  1. Green, a sea of green took flight before us, as we watched the flock of wild parakeets when startled in the park.
  1. Green shiny beetles could be found, even inside the house, when we visited my friend in Japan.
  1. Green hordes of cicada strummed a greeting to the visitors that day while we were strolling around the grounds of Nagoya Castle.
  1. Green as a ripe, picked, lime, her cool-aid dyed hair was a sight to see.
  1. Green, it comes in a bottle that's lime green, is this any way to promote the sale of lemon juice?
  1. Green tint in their blonde hair not withstanding, the grandkids really enjoyed their three weeks of swimming lessons at the indoor community pool this winter.
  1. Green, it was on her mind as she gazed out the window at the snowy landscape and longed for spring.
  1. Green with envy, I believe that is how you would describe her face.
  1. Green crayon in hand, the toddler proceeded to make art all over his bedroom wall.
  1. Green, all kinds of green, did you know that a large box of crayons has eight different shades of green within?
  1. Green duckweed floated across the surface of the pond while the fish swam lazily below.
  1. Green smudges decorated several of the preschoolers' foreheads after the finger painting activity.
  1. Green paint can be made by the mixing of blue and yellow paint.

  2. Green taffy and small red and white candy canes were tossed from the fire truck at the Christmas parade.
  1. Green is the order of the day when celebrating the luck o' the Irish.
  1. Green garden snakes are found hidden in the midst of the bushes which populate my back yard.
  1. Green paint on the walls of the living room seemed a welcome relief from the ubiquitous beige in every other room of the house.
  1. Green mistletoe hung from the rafters of the ski lodge in December, inviting the visitors to embrace the holiday spirit.
  1. Green sprigs of parsley decorating the plate are the finishing touch to a gourmet meal.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Teaser Tuesdays- Sparking your interest in Books!

Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty
"A riveting novel of supernatural suspense."- Dacre Stoker
  
 I raced through this book in a few days, because it was entertaining and I had to find out what would happen next. This book is a fictional account of a person who has been hired to authenticate a manuscript of Bram Stoker's famous Dracula story. Along the way fact and fiction, and supernatural suspense are mixed in together with some interesting things happening to the investigator as he performs his job of trying to determine the authenticity of the manuscript. A great first novel for the author.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

My Year in Books- Third and Final Part...#41 to the end.

41. Herald of the Hidden by Mark Valentine
Written in the same vein as older Gothic stories about occult detectives and odd goings on. The
author is a well versed collector of literature in the genre and does a good job of writing his
own works in a similar style.

42. The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
What do you do when you read all the Dresden files, started reading the Codex Alera and want
more from the same author? You read other stuff you can find that said author has written.
Fantastic world building and a set of great new characters by a very talented author. I hope he
continues this series. 

 43. The Bible's Cutting Room Floor by Dr. Joel Hoffman

A work of non-fiction giving historical perspective on the bible and what was and was not
included in it. Interesting.

44. Under the Shadow of Etna by Giovanni Verga
A book of stories about Sicily and the Sicilian mind-set by an Italian author known for such
historical story telling. Rather bleak and fatalistic but helps the reader understand
where the people of this island are coming from in their life view.

 45. The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers
I still have no clue what this story was about and I read it twice.

 46.Your Happily Ever After by Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Inspirational reading from a beloved religious leader. 

 47. Turn on Your Super Brain by Dr. Jill Ammon Wexler
I'm always on the look out for interesting and or informative reading.


 48. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling &.
At first I found it hard to get into the story with the distraction of the screen play format. Then I
became more interested in what was happening in the book and was able to overlook the
distraction of the format, even though I still think it was an unusual way to present a book. I'd
like to read Fantastic Beasts, but am not too excited about that one also being in a screen play
format.
  
49. Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Duggard
Interesting historical exploration about the politics and peculiarities surrounding this famous
person's death from a view that is not trying to support any particular religion.

 50. Beloved by Toni Morrison
Masterful representation of life from a historical freed slave point of view after the civil war..
An important cultural representation, and a dang good ghost story mixed in. 

51. Kitty's Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn
A collection of stories by the author of the urban fantasy series featuring “Kitty”, (Kitty and the
Midnight Hour, etc.), who is a late night radio host and also happens to be a werewolf. Not all of
the stories are in the Kitty universe, but they are a really good mixed bag and a nice introduction
to the author because I went on to start reading the Kitty series because I enjoyed these stories.
My interest was really peaked to find out more about, Cormac, whom I felt was a very intriguing
character and he is also included as a character in the Kitty series.
   
52. To Hold the Bridge by Garth Nix
A collection of stories by an author I have enjoyed. Some of them take place in the world he
created for the Abhorsen or Old Kingdom series featuring Sabriel. I particularly enjoyed the title
story and the one about the Uncle in Scotland and a hell-boy type character. I will probably
revisit this one again in the coming year.
  
53. The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd
A interesting Gothic type book, the main character is Camille. Her father runs a
curiosity/antique shop. He is keeping secrets from his daughter about his business and why
Camille's mother seemed to abandon the family when she was still a young girl. Camille
becomes embroiled in all the mystery even though she was not trying to be involved. Family
secrets, English manors, and a young woman in peril...what more could you ask for? I would
read more by this author.

54. The Lights of Mahonri Moriancumer by Phyllis Gunderson
I was on a Jaredite kick after reading The Lost Stones, mentioned above. The main character is
a woman who is also an archaeologist. A niche author catering to the LDS/Utah crowd but it
was still well done and I have already obtained another book by the same author, about the
same lady archaeologist when she travels to South America to check out some ruins. it is
already in my to-be-read pile.

 55. Dead Men Do Tell Tales by William R. Maples
An interesting collection of accounts written by a Forensic Pathologist about examining the
bodies of crime victims and what can be deduced about the circumstances of the death to help
solve the crime. The author also writes about how he was asked to be part of a forensic study of
the Russian Romanov family, the circumstances surrounding their deaths, and what was found
out about studying the victims and correlating it with the historical accounts.
  
56. Staked by Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid)
I am a fan of the Iron Druid series by this author and have even read all the novellas that have been written which include the same characters in the series. When I first started reading this one I became bored by all the Norse Mythology stuff because it seemed like nothing was really happening to move the story forward. Then the story got all vampire laden and a bit out of control. Personally I feel this was not one of the better Iron Druid novels, maybe the author felt pressure to put out another story about Atticus but struggled getting it out. That is what it felt like to me. After putting the book aside for a few months I wanted to be able to complete the series up to what had already been written so I started reading from where I left off. I finished but I did not enjoy it as much as the other books. A novella,”The Purloined Poodle”, (Oberon's Meaty Mysteries), recently written by Hearne is much better and more like what I have come to expect from this author. 

57. Find Me by Dan Baldwin
This book turned out to be a bit different than what I expected. I purchased it because I wanted
to read about missing persons cases that psychics had helped solve. The book turned out to be
more like how to become a psychic and solve cases, and this is what some other psychics do to
help them get information/inspiration to solve cases. Oh well.
  

58. Dance of Death by Preston and Child (Pendergast #6)
The continuing thriller series starring Special Agent AXL Pendergast, this one continues with
the exploits of Diogenes, the evil brother of Agent Pendergast, who is expected to commit his
greatest crime during the time period of the book. 
  
59. Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty #1)
The first in a series of urban fantasy stories featuring Kitty Norville, late night radio talk show
host and unwitting werewolf. I was put off by the brutishness of Carl, the leader of the Denver
clan and Kitty's action, or rather, inaction about it but this part of the story is important to
understanding things that happen in the following books. Interesting series. 

60. The Book of the Dead by Preston and Child (Pendergast #7)
More thrilling adventures had by Agent Pendergast and his trusty sidekick NYPD Lt. Vincent
D'Agosta. Reminiscent of the first two books in the series (Relic, Reliquary) in that this is
another tale of a special museum exhibit gone bad. This time it is rumored to be because of an
ancient Egyptian mummy curse.

61. Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty #2)
Kitty reveals to the world that she is a werewolf on her late night radio talk show. She and her
lawyer Ben, travel to Washington D.C. to testify before congress in hearings regarding the
rights of supernatural beings in our midst such as vampires, werewolves, etc. Upon arrival, she
is whisked away by the local vampire clan, enjoys a romance with an attractive were-jaguar she
meets in the D.C. werewolf community, and is captured by a paranormal researcher.

 62. The Wheel of Darkness by Preston and Child (Pendergast #8)
Another Special Agent Pendergast adventure. While recovering from the events of the last book,
(Book of the Dead) Pendergast and his ward Constance spend time in a remote Tibetan
monastery. The monks ask for their help in retrieving a stolen artifact. A worldwide chase
ensues. A lot of the story takes place on a cruise ship while following the trail of the artifact
thief.

 63. Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty #3)
Kitty decides to escape from the world for a while after the harrowing events of the last
book by renting a remote cabin in the mountains, away from Denver, where she is no longer
welcome because of a feud with the clan leader, Carl. She settles down to write her
memoirs, but this is Kitty we are talking about here and she rarely has quiet time
to just enjoy her life as she soon finds out even when she tries to get away from it all.

 64. Cemetery Dance by Preston and Child (Pendergast #9)
The book starts out with continuing characters in the series, William Smithback and Nora Kelly
celebrating their first wedding anniversary. I wanted to throw the book across the room for what
happened next, but don't want to spoil it for you if you have not read it yet. The book was at
first entitled Revenant, so that should give you some kind of an idea about what kind of
adventures Agent Pendergast is having in this book. Classic Pendergast with the added twist of
an ancient zombie cult and Constance being institutionalized as insane for the supposed
murder of her infant son that she threw overboard when they were on the cruise ship in the last
book.
 
65. Wrapped for Eternity- The Story of the Egyptian Mummy by Mildred Mastin Pace
I developed a curiosity about mummies while reading the novel The Book of the Dead, (#59)
above, so I read a non fiction book about mummies. 

66. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
I needed a break from murder and mayhem with Agent Pendergast so I read about India with
Kipling. Most of the book was a fascinating look at a culture I don't know much about in a
unique time period. Toward the end, it seemed the author did not know how to end the book
so he just came up with something. Nonetheless, an interesting and rather amusing read as Kim
and the holy man seeking the blessed river are great characters that I suspect are a
compilation of real people the author met while living in India.
  
67. Fever Dream by Preston and Child (Pendergast #10)
Here I am, looking for more murder and mayhem with Agent Pendergast. In this book
Pendergast discovers that his deceased wife, Helen, was really murdered and not killed in a
tragic safari hunting accident as previously thought. Pendergast stays in the old family mansion
in New Orleans and the action takes place in the southern USA for this book. The story
involves artist John J. Audubon, genetic engineering of the avian flu, and the introduction of
Justin Esterhazy, brother to Pendergast's late wife. The first of a mini trilogy within the series
about Helen.

 68. Cold Vengeance by Preston and Child (Pendergast #11)
The second installment of the Helen miniseries within the Pendergast series. Pendergast is
determined to bring justice (or vengeance) to all those involved in the murder of his wife Helen.
He puts his trust in Helen's brother to help solve the mystery only to find out that Justin
was involved in the planning and cover up of the murder. He learns about a still surviving
group of German Nazi's called The Covenant, that may have had something to do
with his wife's death.

 69. Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty #3)
A satisfying development for Kitty's personal growth as she has to confront some distasteful
events in her past in this book. She is torn between visiting her ill mother and having been
banished from Denver by the jerk named Carl who is the wolf clan leader there. She finds a new
love and repairs past blunders with her family, she also finds her inner Alpha.

 70. Two Graves by Preston and Child (Pendergast #12)
The third and final volume of the Helen miniseries within the greater series books. Pendergast
anticipates a reunion with his wife Helen, whom he thought was dead for the past 12 years but
she really has been alive. She is kidnapped by a crazed band of Nazi's just as their reunion is
about to take place. There is also trouble brewing in NYC as a murderer dubbed the Hotel Killer
creates havoc around town and Agent Pendergast is asked by the NYPD to help apprehend the
killer.
 
71. White Fever by Preston and Child (Pendergast #13)
Previously introduced character, Corrie Swanson, has been generously sponsored by Agent
Pendergast at the university to learn the art of law enforcement and forensics. She sets out to
investigate an old story of miners killed by a bear in a Colorado ski town and to examine the
remains to see what she can learn about the incident for her Master's thesis. Along the way, she
discovers a whole lot more than she bargained for. Pendergast is drawn to the scene to help
Corrie escape from the mess she uncovered and help solve the mystery of recent arson
murders that have taken place in the town. I have enjoyed the Corrie character but she acted
foolishly in this book. She kind-of redeemed herself at the end, but I hope she will return in a
future novel cast in a better light.

 72. The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson is a master story teller with an amazing imagination, and he does great world and
character building. This book is part of a spinoff of his Mistborn series. This is the second book
I have read about Waxilliam, the main character, who has special abilities involving metal. He is
an interesting character but I realized I missed a few books in the series about Wax that took
place before the events in this latest installment. It is interesting enough that one can understand
and enjoy the book without previous knowledge of the characters but I plan on seeking out the
books that I missed to round out my experience with this series. A bit like a steam-punk
western, if you can follow that train of thought at all.
  
73. Blue Labyrinth by Preston and Child (Pendergast #14)
The drama and mayhem continue as Agent Pendergast, confronting the knowledge that he is the
father of twin teenage sons he never knew about until recently, one evening he receives a knock
on the door of his Riverside Drive, New York City mansion. Deposited on his door step is the
body of the bad twin, Alban. During the autopsy of Alban's body, a rock made of unique
turquoise is found in his stomach. Pendergast sets out on a quest to learn why this rock was
found in the stomach of his son. From the southwestern USA to the greenhouses of the Brooklyn
Botanical Gardens, Preston and Child never fail to deliver on the Agent Pendergast series.

74.  Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival by Dean King
I recently did a write up on this one for the Teaser Tuesday feature on this blog. This
book is a compilation of journals written by two of the men who had the experience of
being shipwrecked off the northern coast of Africa, taken as slaves by the Arab peoples
there and their trek to freedom across the Sahara desert. The author also did a similar
trek while being sponsored by National Geographic as additional research for this book.
A riveting account.


75. Crimson Shore by Preston and Child (Pendergast #15)
A fast moving thriller continuing the drama of the life of Special Agent Pendergast, who, at the end of the book was lost at sea and presumed dead (again). The action takes place in a sleepy New England village on the Atlantic coast. I was good with the story and thought the it was all wrapped up after the reasons for the wine cellar theft was solved. But there was more...it continued in a over the top vein with the conclusion of a second story line that was brewing all along in the main story. I would have been satisfied with the story ending after the resolution of the wine theft as it became quite fantastical after that, but I guess Constance had to have her day in the sun beside agent Pendergast. It did not stop me from going back for more action in the next Pendergast book.
  
76.  The Obsidian Chamber by Preston and Child (Pendergast #16)
What will I do now that I have read all the Pendergast novels! Woe is me, what can happen
next as I wonder if Preston and Child have more Pendergast tales up their respective
sleeves. Constance is coerced into going away with Pendergast's evil brother Diogenes,
who was supposed to be dead in a previous book (surprise, surprise). She is convinced
Pendergast is dead as his body has never been recovered from the ocean off the coast of
New England. Sounds like a soap opera doesn't it? But, never the less,it is a long action
filled one that I hope to return to again in the future. (Guess I have no excuse but to finish
Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series now, and catch up on all the other series I've started
reading.)

 77. Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman 
Delightful and told like a folktale. Gaiman used his magic to tell the story of a boy named Odd who saved Asgard for Odin, Thor and Loki of Norse mythology. I'd like to see the graphic novel version of this one.




 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

My Year in Books, Part II; The next 20 books.


  1. Vanished by Kat Richardson
Part of theGreywalker” series by this author, set in today's world (urban fantasy) with a great
female protagonist who unwittingly gains special abilities to see/exist in between this world and
the world of the dead after suffering a near death experience. Series centered around Seattle, WA. Harper investigates her past and seeks to communicate with the ghost of her dead father
to find out why he mysteriously vanished.
  1. Abhorsen by Garth Nix
The third book in the Sabriel/Abhorsen trilogy, continuing to tell the story of Lirael, Sabriel and
her two children. (Zombies before zombies were a “cool” thing.)

 3. Labyrinth by Kat Richardson
Another interesting novel starring Harper Blaine who is a Greywalker, and Seattle P.I. Harper has returned from London after investigating her father's past and wants to find out who it was that originally 'killed' her, which resulted in her gaining extraordinary abilities to walk between the world of the living and the world of the dead.
  1. The Dead Sea Scrolls by Verne Madsen
An interesting and readily understandable account and history of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  1. Downpour by Kat Richardson
More intrigue and investigating from the brave and independent Harper Blaine. Harper is “killed” again and discovers dark secrets about a mountain resort in the Olympic Peninsula (Washington State) and a place called Blood Lake.
  1. Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigaluppi
Another one that could be classified as Utopian Literature (as in a world gone wrong), I seem to like this genre as it gives me a lot to think about regarding society and how it is, was, or could become. Interesting world building and a bit of a brutal world, but good reading.
  1. Princesses Behaving Badly By Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
This one is just like the title says, historic stories of royalty, specifically female royalty, with all the warts showing for all the world to see.
  1. The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey (9th Duke of Rutland)
Historical fact finding by a researcher who came upon a conundrum about a titled English
family and delved into the family secrets. Spoiler: The Duke wound up being a lamer and a coward of privilege, but still an interesting read as it seemed like a real life Gothic tale.
  1. Eerie Britain #2 by M B Forde
A collection of ghost stories from the British Isles, which has a rich tradition of such stories.
  1. Sabriel by Garth Nix
A backward way to finish out the Abhorsen trilogy by Nix, as this is actually the first novel of the series, but after reading Lirael and Abhorsen I went back and re-read the first book.
  1. Seawitch by Kat Richardson (#7 Greywalker Series)
Another tale starring detective Harper Blaine, and the underworld of Seattle, a very enjoyable series. Harper investigates a 25 year old tale about the disappearance of a boat called the Seawitch, which leads to information about another ship's disappearance 100 years ago and the dark secrets surrounding the events.
  1. Possession by Kat Richardson (#8 Greywalker Series)
A woman who has been in a coma suddenly wakes up and starts painting pictures of scenes that wind up being real places with some terrible stories attached to them. Strange writing also appears on her body. Thinking the woman is possessed, her sister, desperate for some answers to the unusual happenings, seeks the help of Greywalker, Harper Blaine.
  1. Revenant by Kat Richardson (Last Greywalker novel)
Harper's niece is kidnapped in Portugal and she goes to investigate. She finds out more about her boyfriend's father and his nefarious dealings with the Ghost Division and learns more about the enigmatic vampire, Carlos, who is a trusted friend. (As you can see I was really interested in this series during the year.) I was bummed that this was the last book in the series as I wanted more!
  1. The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigaluppi
Sequel to Shipbreaker, by the same author. It takes off with a side/continuing story about the super soldier/genetically engineered being that was introduced in the previous book. Still a pretty bleak world.
  1. The Witch Finder and Other Stories by S. Baring Gould
I guess you either love or hate mid-eighteen hundreds writing, which can be rather wordy to wade through at times but I have read several works by this author and will continue to do so as I find them. For the most part, good Gothic genre tales, which interest me. Many of this author's works are free on kindle because there are no copyrights on this old stuff. Sometimes the
electronic formatting is second rate though.
  1. Great Ghost Stories 2, another kindle freebie or one to be had for a small price such as 99 cents. I can't turn down most ghost stories but I am definitely not a fan of gore, so most of them that I read are old or from the wordy writers of the 1800's and rather more fantastical, anecdotal or psychological rather that gory.


  2. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
Could be considered a classic fantasy tale, with fantastical animals involved- a winner for me. Interesting and haunting main character.
  1. The Woman with the Alabaster Jar by Margaret Starbird
The author puts forth the theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and expounds on
the royal blood line of Jesus explored in the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The DaVinci
Code.

  1. The Encounter-Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu
A rather mind boggling story of a man who was lost in the Amazon jungle and spent time living
with one of the tribes indigenous to the area. They could not understand each others spoken
language very well but the man, McIntyre, claims to have been able to communicate
telepathically with the tribal chief.
  1. The Story of the Amulet by E. Nesbit
A children's oldie written in 1906, but still delightfully entertaining. A story about a mysterious
amulet, a strange animal and three siblings who travel to different periods in time learning
about times and places where the amulet has existed. Part of a trilogy.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Year in Books (Part One)

I've kept lists of the books I have read for years and I usually post a goal for the new year along with some book challenges to tackle and a list of the books that were read during the year. Here we go with part one of "My Year in Books". I met my goal of reading 75 books and actually read 76, so kudos to me for reaching that goal. I am going to keep that same goal this year as well while secretly hoping to best it by one or two more books. Maybe you will find a few books you have or will enjoy from the list. Best to all in 2017!!

My 2016 Reading List, with quick comments about each one.
I reached my year end goal of reading 75 books!

  1. Mycroft Holmes Casebook by David Dickinson
A nice collection of detection stories, solved by Mycroft Holmes, brother of one of the most
famous detectives in the world. Conveniently available in electronic format (Kindle). Mystery.
  1. The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
The first book in a series with teenage twins (a brother and a sister) as the main characters who
have adventures with an ancient alchemist (who really was a historical figure, but these
adventures are fictional). Mythology and fantasy in a modern setting.
  1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Could be categorized as utopian fiction, aimed at the YA market, but interesting enough for
adults, too. Part of a Divergent series, which has also been made into a movie. Takes place in a
world where ones life path is determined in a special ceremony when a teenager. The world is
suffering the aftermath of some huge disaster.
  1. The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb
A nice Gothic piece which takes place in the present day. It has been called 'tourism horror' by
one reviewer, but I don't necessarily agree with the horror label, it is a good Gothic to me;
Heroine finds out about her true identity after moving in to the mansion left to her by her family
in an idealistic setting, discovers family secrets and all the rest that I love about the Gothic
genre.
  1. Fated (Alex Versus #1) by Benedict Jacka
While mourning the fact that there were no more Dresden Files books to read (I'd read them
all), a book loving friend sent me the first book of the Alex Verus series. Kind of a knock off of
the Dresden Files but has interesting characters that get involved in the paranormal in today's
world.
  1. Homo Sylvanus by Amber D. Sistla
A Sci Fi novelette I gave a try to on Kindle because it was either free or it cost one dollar. About
genetic engineering, a father tries to help his teenage daughter illegally. I don't remember much
about it so that means, to me, it was kind-of forgettable.
  1. Detection by Gaslight by various, including Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert W. Chambers, Baroness Orczy, etc. (Victorian and Edwardian Crime Stories)
I absolutely loved this old collection of stories about Crime solving and “Occult” Detectives. I
never realized this was a category, but it opened up a new sub-genre to me that I realized I
enjoyed, Harry Dresden, Alex Verus, and the Greywalker Series with Harper Blaine, to mention
a few.
  1. The Life and Times of Jesus from Child to God by Joseph Lumpkin, a collection put together by the author from varied ancient sources telling mostly about the childhood of Jesus.

  2. Atlantis Rising Magazine volumes: 99, 100, 101, 112,113, 114
Atlantis Rising is a new age magazine that comes out 6 times a year. The kindle version is about
half the price of the printed version and makes for interesting middle of the night reading when
I am unable to sleep due to discomfort from a chronic health condition. I don't believe
everything I read in it, but it definitely gives one food for thought. I have been slowly catching
up on back issues on my kindle (all caught up now). My least favorite section is the astrology
because the lady goes on and on about it, so it is good for putting me to sleep, when I reach
that part.
  1. The Cabinet of Curiosities by Preston and Child (Agent Pendergast #3)
Wow, I did not know what I was getting myself into when I started this series last year. I was
browsing the audio book section of the local library and found the “Gideon” books by these
authors. I enjoyed listening to them in my car, so I started looking for other books by Preston
and Child as well. I have became obsessed with the Agent Pendergast series and have finished
them all, racing through them this year. I stayed up late way too many nights reading on and on.
Well worth the effort!! Now I am looking to read everything these guys have written, as a pair
and individually. This particular story is important to the rest of the series as it is when the
character Constance Green is introduced. She eventually becomes an important part of the
series. I am going to re-read this one in 2017, to make sure I did not miss any important plot
points about Constance and also because I know her appearance will be better understood in the
later books after I re-read it. Slow down while reading this one to integrate what comes in the following novels.
  1. Still Life with Crows by Preston and Child (Pendergast #4)
Another fast paced Pendergast novel, introduces Corrie Swanson, a character who also appears in later books in the series.
  1. Amazed by Grace by Sheri Dew
Inspirational reading from a well loved woman of faith.


  1. Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick
One of my most favorite books for the year. This book still “haunts me”. It is a bit surreal but it grabs you into unusual circumstances you are not really sure you understand and pulls you straight into the story. I'm still there on that island with these characters. Amazing.
  1. Haunted Utah by Andy Weeks
A collection of folklore and local ghost stories specific to Utah.


  1. Dinosaurs in the Attic by Douglas Preston
I told you I was searching out everything Preston and Child have written.....Preston writes about
his time employed at the Museum of Natural History in NYC. Quite interesting, and relevant to
the Agent Pendergast series, too, as the museum is the setting for several of the investigations in the novels.
  1. The Lost Stones by Paul Rimmasch
A novel exploring the possibilities and realities of the seer stones of the Jaredites, (which
the Utah crowd/LDS members can relate to).
  1. Adventure Stories #4 by Seabury Quinn and Others
A kindle freebie and pretty interesting if you like oldish literature, Conan Doyle, Kipling, and
such authors.
  1. Forget Me Not by Dieter F. Uchdorf
Inspirational reading from a well known and well loved religious leader.
  1. Lirael by Garth Nix
The second book in the Abhorsen series by Nix. I thought I really liked Sabriel, the star of the
first book in the series, but I realized I absolutely loved Lirael even more, after reading this
book. I also fell in love with the “disreputable dog”, a great character in this book. Could be
described as a zombie story for those that don't really like zombie stories or maybe a zombie
story that was written before zombie stories were “cool”. Nothing like the Walking Dead, which
I think is kind of boring and soap opera-ish (from only watching two episodes on TV, read
The Road by Cormac McCarthy instead, WD is a rip off of it.

  1. Brimstone by Preston and Child (Pendergast #5)
Another spine tingling, fast paced, Pendergast adventure.