Monday, January 19, 2015

Three Book Reviews

This month I've already tried three new authors, and have been pleased with my reading experiences. My kindle is usually always by my side and there is no better way for me to relax before going to sleep or to distract my mind from health issues than by reading a good book! Fiction or non-fiction, it does not matter to me, I'll always have an 'inquiring mind'. 

I receive the Kindle version of the magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction and there is always a column about new publications in it, That is where I heard about Katherine Addison's book, The Goblin Emperor. I checked out a sample of the book and then read it. I read it pretty quickly, too. I guess you could classify it as Fantasy that had some elements of Steampunk in it. I generally think of goblins as bad guys in fantasy stories, but in this story the goblin was a likeable underdog, the shunned son of his father, the Emperor, from his one time marriage to a goblin woman. His father and older brothers die in a zepplin accident leaving the throne to him. He has to travel to court and claim the throne as his father's only surviving son. There are fantasy elements, good court intrigue, nice world building, and a good story line. I read a lot of fantasy and this story was fresh and interesting. Thumbs up to Katherine Addison for this great book.

Nina ,wife of explorer Percy Fawcett.
Non-Fiction read: The Lost City of Z: A tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann. David Grann has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, it is an excellent publication. I started reading Malcolm Gladwell's books from the New Yorker, too. This story is very intriguing as it tells about of Percy Fawcett, explorer and Amazon expert. He and his son disappeared during a trek through the Amazon jungle in 1925. Fawcett had made many trips in the Amazon and was considered one of the leading explorers of the region in his time. History has never really been able to discover what happened on that fateful expedition. Mr. Grann takes us on a whirlwind history tour of Amazon exploration, the Royal Geographic Society, and the life of the Fawcett family. Mrs, Fawcett never gave up hope that her husband and son would be found. Fawcett's remaining son and several other exploration parties also went looking for the lost explorers but could never discover what really happened. Mr. Grann, the author, followed in the footsteps of the exploration and found out some interesting truths on his journey. Delightful, and very engaging tale. Thumbs up! 
Jack Fawcett- disappeared with his father in the Amazon in 1925.   

Antonio Garrido- "The Corpse Reader". Mr. Garrido's novel about the historical figure Song, Ci, a Chinese man who is considered the father of forensic science, keeps you up reading past your bedtime. This novel won the prize for best historical novel in Spain in 2012. I was a bit dismayed at times while reading it because sometimes it seemed that the main character would never get a break. Everything was going wrong for him, but I was still curious to find out what would happen and read through the book quickly. It was very interesting subject matter to me as both a medical science person and one who enjoys the Gothic and Historical literature. Thumbs up to this author, I plan on reading his other book, The Scribe, very soon. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year, new book challenges

Life continues to be as crazy as ever, but that has become the norm around here. I have survived my first 5 months as a new teacher and still love it, so that is good news! I can't believe how much time I spend out side of work grading papers, and planning curriculum (hours and hours). Over the holidays we've had visitors at the house and I am enjoying a bit of slugging around by sleeping in, reading a lot, and wasting some time on computer games. Yes, I still have papers to grade, I am procrastinating on starting that until tomorrow evening when the visitors leave.

December at our house involves three birthdays, and two wedding anniversaries along with all the Christmas and New Year's holiday preparations. This year I tried to made things a bit more special by getting a real Christmas tree instead of using the same old artificial one. The tree was a very beautiful specimen and smelled so good. One activity I have not done for a while was sledding, but I went out with my granddaughter even though it was quite cold. Our family has often attended the Nutcracker Ballet, but not every year, we enjoyed attending again last week.

Good things: My sister moved from a location in another state to my state (but still a few hours away), so we have had more contact then before and that is a plus for our relationship.

Hubby got a new job in 2014 with a boost in salary.

Hubby and I celebrated 35 amazing years of marriage at the end of 2014. 

I passed the certification test for being a 'highly qualified' Biology teacher.

My youngest child graduated with a Bach. of Science from the University.

My first grandson was born in 2014.

Challenges: My Mom, who recently finished cancer treatments, had a pacemaker put in for her heart.

My father-in-law had a heart attack  just before Christmas with ensuing bypass surgery and is still in the hospital.

A messy divorce is going on with another family member.

 I need to finish getting my official teacher's license.

 Oh well, 2015 will bring it's challenges, but will also have it's joys. :)

With the new year, I also like to plan on doing a few reading challenges because besides planning curriculum for my students, my other favorite pastime besides sewing, is reading.

In 2014 I met my goal of reading at least 50 books. I participated in a Mythology Reading Challenge, A Library Book Challenge, and a Get Rid of Your To-Be-Read Pile Reading Challenge. I am a member of Goodreads, LibraryThing, and Shelfari, even though I might not be one of the most active members I still like to do some challenges, comment on the boards every once in a while, and keep up on the news. My read list for 2014 is only half posted here because my old computer had a meltdown (and I did not have everything backed up). Currently reading: Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky and The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann, both non-fiction, historical, and quite interesting. One of my favorites from 2014 was The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, it was interesting, touching and she was a new author for me. I am looking forward to reading more by her. Since I've read all the Dresden Files books ( by Jim Butcher) I started the Codex Alera series by Mr. Butcher (which is more a fantasy series than a paranormal type of series).  I was craving more books like the Dresden Files, so I am now going through Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series and Annie Bellet's Twenty-Sided Sorceress series. Both of those author's deliver interesting and satisfying reads if you like that style/genre.

The Lost City of Z, British Explorer Percy Fawcett.
2014 Partial Reading List:  
  1. The Man Who Would be King and Other Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  2. Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clark
  3. Sermons in a Sentence by John Bytheway
  4. The Things Which My Father Saw by Various (BYU Press)
  5. The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne
  6. The Hiram Key by Knight and Lomas
  7. The Grimoire of the Lamb by Kevin Hearne
  8. The Violinist's Thumb by Sam Keane
  9. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
  10. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James
  11. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  12. Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera 1) by Jim Butcher
  13. Occult Detective Megapack
  14. Saving Yahaela by Annie Bellet
  15. Four by Veronica Roth
  16. Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith
  17. Atlantis Rising #108
  18. The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum
  19. Justice Calling-The Twenty-Sided Sorceress Part 1 by Annie Bellet
  20. 50 Real American Ghost Stories by MJ Wayland
  21. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  22. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  23. The Coin from Calabria by Michael Caputo

    New Years Resolution: post more often this year on my blog!