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
  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
  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.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays...Sparking your interest in books!!

Mixed in with my usual Fantasy/SciFi reading and my growing addiction to Richard Preston and Lincoln Child's action packed novels of the many faceted life of secret agent A.X.L. Pendergast, I recently managed to get in some non-fiction reading. The latest is entitled "Skeletons on the Zahara- A True Story of Survival" by Dean King. It was so gripping I found myself wanting to read during every spare minute I had. I have also been recovering from some new health challenges so I have had a bit more down time than usual trying to regain my health. Not good for so close to preparations for the holidays, but not something I have much control over. 

The story tells of a true event that happened in the early 1800's, of a trading ship Commerce, captained by a mostly, New England crew that took cargo across the Atlantic Ocean to sell and was shipwrecked on the rocky coast of northern Africa, on the edges of the Sahara desert. The crew were captured and taken as slaves by the indigenous peoples there and sold and traded to various masters. Most, but not all, of the crew obtained their freedom after the British consul in Morocco paid a ransom for them and because of one dedicated Arab owner who believed the Captain's word that it would be beneficial to them both if he brought the crew to 'civilization' in the city on the edge of the desert.

The book is based on journals, written afterward, of two of the crew that had these experiences, one of them being ship's Captain- James Riley. These journals were best sellers in their hey day of the early 1800's and the story was widely known then. The author, Dean King, actually went on a trek in 2001, sponsored by National Geographic, that roughly traveled the same route as the crew members did during their ordeal. 

The camel is a truly alien to us but it is an indispensable animal in these parts and although I don't think I would ever want the experience of herding, riding or eating the parts of one, this strange beast is a real blessing to people in these desert areas.

It is almost too awful to contemplate the trauma, both physical and mental these men endured. It is an amazing feat that they survived to tell about it, it was also eye opening to me to learn about cultures that many of us have no clue about. Even though the incident took place in 1815, the author traveled to the area and made the trek and knows first hand that much has remained the same in the nearly timeless sands of the Sahara.

Highly recommended- Skeletons on the Zahara- A True Story of Survival by Dean King.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Teaser spark your interest in books!! Kevin Hearne-Iron Druid Series

Shattered by Kevin Hearne (The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 7) (Fantasy) NY Times Best Seller!

"Granuaile raised her hand. I have a problem with this plan to stab my father in the head and the heart!" (pg 66)

Hunted by Kevin Hearne (The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 6)

Atticus speaking: "Do you mean Pi, the mathematical symbol?"
Oberon the Irish Wolfhound: "< No, Atticus, I mean Shepherd's Pie. I'm not going to confuse that with math. Shepherd's Pie is delicious and desirable, math is not.> " (pg 67)

The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne have, for the most part, been an entertaining and fun series for reading. I just barely finished the 8th book in the series called “Staked”, and to me, it didn't seem as good as the other volumes. I got a bit bored with all the Norse mythology stuff being rehashed over and over again, could it be the author was struggling for ideas? (Not surprising after writing seven volumes about the same characters.) I just wanted to read about Atticus (the main character) and his latest adventures. I stopped reading “Staked” about 2/3 through and put it away for a few months, then I pulled it out again the other night and completely finished it within a few days. It's not my favorite one of the series but the story is still entertaining and witty. I will continue to be a fan of the author as he creates more adventures for these characters. The one unique thing about the latest book is that it bounced around between three main points of view- Atticus (main character and the one known as the iron druid) his female student and now a full druid Granuaile, and Owen, Attticus' old druid master who was rescued from being trapped in time. It is an interesting story telling device having the three points of view, it also was sometimes a bit confusing. I can't say if I liked the technique or not yet, I am reserving judgment on that for now. Throughout the series there have always been parts of the story including “conversations” between Atticus and his dog (and the dogs point of view), these are some of the best parts of all the books. Oberon, the Irish Wolf Hound is the dog, he is one of the characters I love in this series.
A man with his Irish Wolfhound.
Author Kevin Hearne

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays- To Spark Your Interest in Books of All Kinds!!

Notes to Myself (My struggle to become a person) by Hugh Prather (self-help, philosophy) (1970, 1983)

"All I want is for you to accept me as I am."
"Yes, and all I want is for you to accept my not accepting you."

A small volume that takes the reader on a ride of introspection. Interesting and inspiring, good for pondering, mindful. These are collected thoughts from the author's journal. Lends itself well to reading in bits and pieces, thoughts about oneself, handling life, relationships, human emotions. Put together in an unusual format with no page numbers.

Next time I will ..."
"From now on I will ..."
- What makes me think I am wiser today than I will be tomorrow?”

Now that I know that I am no wiser than anyone else, does this wisdom make me wiser?”
Hugh Prather, Notes to Myself: My Struggle to Become a Person

The author was a lay minister, author of self-help books, and a counselor. The book had sold over 5 million copies and has been translated into 10 languages. Prather died of a heat-attack in 2010 in his Arizona home.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Teaser spark your interest in books!

Never Argue with a Dead Person by Thomas John (Manhattan medium)
True and unbelievable stories from the other side.

Quotes from the book:

"A quizzical look on my face must have betrayed my thoughts as Detective Caprini immediately answered the question I asked only in my mind." 

" She hung herself. Nasty scene; we've been at her penthouse since 3:00 this morning..."
"So what is it that you do?" The taller cop asked..."I talk to spirit people...I channeled her son."

This book is written by a man who is known as a medium, he has the ability to channel, and communicate with the dead. The stories are heartwarming especially since they usually bring comfort and some closure to people that have lost a loved one. I do believe in life after death and it
is helpful to me to know that our loved ones are not gone forever from us when they go from one form of existence to another. While I have never really 'talked' to a dead person, I have had a few choice dreams where I have been in dreamland, with people I have known, that were deceased and do get “impressions” from people and places. I think some persons have special spiritual/supernatural gifts that may allow them to communicate with people after death. There are many examples of spiritual gifts and supernatural things in the Bible, burning bushes, heavenly manna, miracles of preservation (think Daniel in the lions den) and healing (Christ), banishing devils into swine, prophecy being pronounced and then fulfilled.

To me, mediumship seems to be a part of what we are as spiritual beings sojourning on earth, some people just have more developed spiritual senses than others. But this type of thing seems to be frowned upon by a lot of religions and is sometimes called evil. Maybe one reason it is not encouraged is that it may show a lack of faith and that one is not trusting in God by wanting to communicate with a person who has moved to the next spiritual realm, even though you do believe in it. These are the thoughts that clutter my mind when I consider mediums, or those called clairvoyant, because I am certainly curious about the afterlife, like I am sure many other people are.
Faith and actually knowing are not the same thing, which reminded me of a scripture:
Hebrews 11:1 (King James Version of the Bible)

 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Your thoughts??

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Nautilus - Pretty Shell, Aqua-Propelled...

The Nautilus - Pretty Shell, 
amazing nautical creature.

The Nautilus is part of a family of sea creatures which have seemingly made their way into today's oceans from a rift in time. It is the only remaining member of the family Nautilaceae, they look like they have for millions of years and have even been called 'living fossils', because they have existed in the ocean since the dinosaurs. In fact, they have existed longer than the dinosaurs but are not extinct. Scientists have used fossil data to determine that this species has not changed significantly in millions of years.

The nautilus is considered a marine mollusc, this is a category of marine animals that do not possess a backbone. They are also in a category of marine animals known as Cephalopods, characterized by a large head and including arms or tentacles (meaning head-foot). Other examples of cephalopods include octopi, squid, and cuttlefish. They also have bilateral symmetry, which means if you chopped them in half, the halves would be mirror images of each other. Another characteristic of cephalopods is that their blood contains hemocyanin, a protein that carries oxygen to their body tissues. Hemocyanin is blue colored when it contains oxygen (the opposite of people, where the protein hemoglobin is red when carrying oxygen). No other cephalopod has an external shell except the nautilus and it can hide completely in its shell if it needs to.

Nautilidae are protected by smooth, whorled shells which shield their soft bodies from predators. Like other cephalopods, the nautilus has lots of tentacles but it has even more of them, up to 90! Their tentacles are retractable and they do not have little suckers on them like an octopus does, instead they have grooves for gripping. There are two small tentacles by the eye of the nautilus that are used for smell, this is the main way they find their food. The nautilus has a parrot-like beak with specialized teeth which is used to scrape food off of rocks and to help crush and shred their scavenged meals, which include the discarded shells of lobsters and hermit crabs; but nautiluses will also eat just about any discarded carrion they come across. The nautilus has a four-chambered heart and arteries and veins, it has nervous tissue but scientists do not believe it has a brain. Though scientists once believed that these ancient creatures had very limited intelligence, studies now show the presence of memory and an ability to improvise and change behavior relative to changing stimuli. Most species of nautilus are about 8 inches in diameter (20cm), but one particular dwarf species has a shell averaging 115mm, about 4.5 inches. 

The chambers inside a nautilus.

Nautiluses have a unique shell that can withstand ocean pressure to a depth of about 800 meters (2600ft). The shell is composed of two layers, a shiny inside and a flat white with brownish stripes outside. The shell is divided into chambers. As the nautilus grows it creates new larger chambers to grow into and seals off the older, smaller, chambers as it moves out, these chambers aid the nautilus with buoyancy. A newly hatched baby nautilus starts out with a four chambered shell and as it grows its shell can contain 30 or more chambers by the time it is mature.

If you look at a shark or an orca whale from above and below you can see that it is camouflaged to blend in well with its environment. Animals having darker markings on the top and white or lighter markings on the bottom to help them blend in are said to have counter-shading. The nautilus also uses counter-shading. When viewed from above the darker markings on the top of the shell help it blend in with the darker ocean water. When viewed from below, the white underside helps the animal blend in because it is viewed towards the lighter, sun touched, surface of the water. Cool!  

countershading on a nautilus


Nautiluses "swim" in an amazing way, using a complex inner plumbing system with siphons, they draw water into and out of their shells, propelling them forward, up or down, a bit like a submarine filling or emptying its dive tanks. Nautiluses do not suffer from the bends and can raise and lower themselves quickly in the water without pressure damage.

The nautilus is difficult to raise in captivity and in the wild their eggs can take up to a year to hatch. They are a creature that matures late in life, up to 15 years and they only live about 20 years, so they reproduce slowly. They live in the Asian and Australian regions of the ocean, on the deep slopes of coral reefs and they like cooler water, only surfacing to warmer, shallower regions of water at night to feed. These interesting creatures are hunted for their beautiful shells and the meat is used as food. The inner shell is sought after for its iridescent beauty called 'mother of pearl'.


There have not been any regulations regarding the hunting of the nautilus and there were concerns that they were becoming endangered as a species from over hunting. As I was writing this article I found out that on October 3, 2016, a proposal to protect the nautilus was approved by CITIES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) at a meeting in South Africa, now the nautilus will hopefully be a bit more protected. I think the nautilus is a beautiful and fascinating creature and I had to cut a lot of information out from the research I did for this article to make it a manageable length, because I realize not everybody will be as enamored of it as I am, but I wanted to share some interesting facts about this wonderful creature.

USFish and
Aquarium of the
(National Aquarium)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Teaser Tuesday...Sparking your interest in books!

Anthem by Ayn Rand 1938 (Science Fiction)
"There is fear hanging in the air of the sleeping halls, and in the air of the streets. Fear walks through the city, fear without name, without shape. All men feel it and none dare to speak." (pg 46)

I had a literature class in my senior year of High School entitled “Utopian Literature”. We read things like Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984, Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and had great discussions in class. I don't remember much about The Fountainhead, but that class really got me interested in the subject of Utopian and Dystopian literature because of the interesting explorations of political and social organization that the books explored.

I like to frequent thrift stores just to check out the books. It's like a little bit of heaven to me to spend an hour rummaging through the stacks to see what I can find. I always found a few copies of Anthem, every time I went to look at the books. Finally, I purchased a copy of Anthem for myself and proceeded to read the slim volume. This book is disturbing and odd. Something that might be better enjoyed with a group of readers you can discuss it with. I'm not sure what to make of it.

Author Ayn Rand was controversial then and continues to be so now. She did not worship at the altar of political correctness, in fact she rallied against it. She grew up in the Soviet Union, at a time when collectivism and statism were King and individualism was scorned. She proceeded to give her strong opinions on the subject back in the 1930's. Anthem was published in 1938. I wonder if any public high school would even dare to have her books on their reading lists now, it might offend someone or cause a riot!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays- Sparking your interest in Books...

Quotes from books actually on my shelves.....

The Furies by John Jakes (Book 4 of the Kent Family Chronicles, Historical Fiction about the founding and shaping of America as a nation. Eight volumes all together, listed here in order: The Bastard, The Rebels, The Seekers, The Furies, The Titans, The Warriors, The Lawless, The Americans.)

Quote from The Furies:"Instead, he'd wrecked her customary composure with the one thing capable of doing that- the past; the past she constantly picked over so the wound could never heal." (pg 179)

In book one, the illegitimate son of a nobleman who is refused his birthright travels to London where he learns the printing trade and admires the statesmanship of Benjamin Franklin. He decides
to leave England and start a new life in America. The series follows the Kent Family as they live through exciting historical periods in U.S. History. John Jakes has also written the North and South Trilogy, and the Crown Family Saga. The books have been dramatized in movie production miniseries.

The Kent Family Chronicles

From left, Andrew Stevens, Gwen Humble, William Shatner and Don Johnson (wielding flintlock) in the 1978-79 mini-series “The Kent Family Chronicles”.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Working for a Living!

A friend of mine had a post on Facebook and it said "List the first seven jobs you ever had". So that made some wheels turn in my head and I started making a list of all the jobs I've ever had and remembering the good and not so good times all those thoughts dredged up in my brain. 

I made a list going forward from my very first job as a babysitter to the job I have now as a Medical Technologist specializing in Microbiology. Then I made the list backwards- from my job now back in time to my first job and realized I forgot a few jobs along the way and corrected my list. All in all, it was an entertaining cerebral exercise that put me in the mood to write about it. I've done everything from scrub the toilets in the men's bathroom to teach medical students the joys of gram staining bacteria, and a lot of things in between. There are so many good ideas for spin off writing here from debating the minimum wage to discussing why schools seem to be failing, and all from thinking about the various employment situations I've had since I was a teenager. Play along with me and spend a bit of time thinking about the different jobs you have had in your life.

Here is my bare bones list: Chronologically from the past until the present day...

Retail Store Clerk (Department Store)
Fast Food cook and cashier
Library Attendant
Retail Store Clerk (Clothing Store)
Cafeteria Employee
Avon Salesperson
Fast Food cashier and chief restroom cleaner (graveyard)
Retail Store Clerk, display designer and depositor of bank funds at night (Clothing Store)
Retail Store Clerk- Aquatics (Pet Store)
Medical Courier
Medical Laboratory Technician and Phlebotomist
Medical Technologist Generalist
Medical Technologist/Teaching Technologist/Laboratory Coordinator
Community College/Applied Technology College Instructor
Medical Technologist Blood Bank
Substitute Teacher K-12
Special Education Teacher's Aide (Junior High)
Science, Honor's Science, and Art Teacher (Junior High)
Medical Technologist/Microbiologist
Great guitar solo by Chris Hayes, live performance with Tower of Power Horns.
Basically from this list, my one sentence explanation of my employment experiences is: "I am a 'scientific labbie type who does not mind being with people", this appears to be a contradiction since most people loving types are not scientific types and most science nerds are not all that social. So I guess I am the embodiment of an oxymoron or maybe I am an oxymoron? Oh well, I have always felt dual pulls from the scientific side of me and the artistic side of me. I have expressed each side at different times in my life-such as when I started college wanting to be a laboratory scientist, then changed my major to Interior Design. I finished up the design program and then went back to college a few years later to finish becoming a lab scientist. I finally "found myself", in the lab, but continued to express my creative side through sewing other handicrafts. 

When I taught junior high it was the perfect juxtaposition of science self and my artsy self and I loved being able to express both sides of me each and every day through the teaching I did. The downside was that when I opened my mouth to talk science to the other 'science teachers' I got a lot of blank stares because the majority of them had never been in a laboratory except for college Biology class. My educational philosophy is not reconstructionism, (IMHO public schools are over run with reconstructionists and that is part of why public education isn't as stellar as it may have been in the past- but that is another discussion all together), my philosophy is more essentialist\perenialist, as in reading, writing and rithmaticism, so I didn't exactly feel that I fit in where I was.

If you had to sum up your employment experiences in one sentence what would that sentence be?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays! Sparking your interest in books!

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (Fiction/Post-apocalyptic)
"She traces one long finger down my cheek, her fingernail sharp against my skin. You will be the end of us if you keep following this path! I can feel it, I can see it now." (pg 65)

I was excited to finally get and read this book. It started out quite interesting but as it went on the story-telling just didn't fill in the plot holes, like how did the society get this way in the first place? The main character was not very likeable and wound up being a let down by the end of the book. I was left wanting by the time the story was finished and the ending was not that satisfying after the time invested. There is a sequel but I've decided that it's not worth reading if it is anything like the first book. I also came to the conclusion that I am not really a lover of zombie stories, they're just too mindless for me! (I couldn't resist, sorry). I don't like the Walking Dead show either, even though many people do like it, it's not that interesting to me. Destroy! Destroy! Run away from zombies, kill the zombies, mindless destruction...snooze. 

On the other hand I loved the movie with Will Smith (2007) I Am Legend, it had me on the edge of my seat and invested in the characters. I have also read the original 
I Am Legend story by Robert Matheson, where the main character is a little different from the depiction by Will Smith (Smith does it better IMHO), and liked it. Even though there are some zombie characters in the Garth Nix book series (Sabriel), that I have previously reviewed here, there are other plots and action going on in the book besides the zombie mindless kill-it-all mentality and the characters are developed much better by Nix. So now you know... but if you are a zombie fan, maybe you would be interested in checking out this book.

A scene from the movie I Am Legend, starring Will Smith (2007).

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays- Sparking your interest in books!

The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
(The Cinder Spires)
      I've been a fan of Butcher's Dresden Files for quite a while now. Since I've read all of that series I've been kindof starved for more of Harry Dresden. So I have read all of Kat Richardson's Greywalker series (which I love), and Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series (which I also love but seems to be getting repetitive now) to fill the gap. Butcher has written the Furies of Calderon series but I have only read the first volume so far and I'm not ready to form an opinion on it yet. I am an easily distracted book lover and keep getting sidetracked into reading other stuff, but I do have more books from the Furies of Calderon series occupying space on my bookshelves and plan to read them soon.
      I purchased this steampunk offering (Windlass-hardcover) about 6 months ago on a trip. I realized I didn't have room for it in my suitcase so I gave it to my daughter to read until at such a time when I visited her again and took it back with a less crammed suitcase. Well last week I came home from visiting my daughter with my book, I had started reading it at her house. My suitcase was still too full so I carried it onto the plane and continued reading it on the trip home. I have been happily satisfied with the results and am now just over halfway through the book. This book has reminded me why I enjoy Jim Butcher as an author, he really does have a way with words and a great imagination, along with a good sense of humor- this all gets rolled up into one of his books! I am loving The Aeronaut's Windlass! I really like the characters and the setting is very unique. I am not quite sure why the people are living in cities in the sky, or what happened to earth, if there is even an earth somewhere in this universe, but small tidbits of information have been sown among the action in the story that might lead to an explanation. I think Rowl the cat and his person Bridget are my favorite characters so far, Folly the Etheriel apprentice, is also pretty intriguing.

Book Quotes:
The Aeronaut's Windlass, page 214.
Gwendolyn Lancaster looked around Predator with what she felt was well-earned skepticism. It seemed that in following the orders of the Spirearch, she had fallen in with scoundrels.”
(The Spirearch is the name for the leader of the city/'spire' in which Gwen lives.)

Another quote from page 92, that I thought was quite timely during this election year in the USA right now.
Politics is the purview of scoundrels, tyrants, and fools.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays- To spark your interest in books!

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi (2008, Non-fiction, True crime)

The Monster of Florence, also known as Il Mostro, is an epithet (or name) commonly used for the perpetrator, or perpetrators, of 16 murders, nearly all of them couples, that took place between 1968 and 1985 in the province of Florence, Italy. The same gun and pattern were used in all the murders. (Wiki)

Quote from the book: "The summer of 1985 was one of the hottest in recent memory. A serious drought gripped Tuscany, and the hills of Florence lay stunned and prostrate under the sun...Along with the heat, fear of the monster hung over the city like a stifling blanket." (pg 106)

Actual crime scene photo.
Ponte Vecchio (The Old Bridge) a famous sight in Florence.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays- Quotes to spark your interest in books!

Sabriel by Garth Nix (Fiction/Fantasy)
"He paused in mid-stride, boots crashing, and his eyes once again looked at the bells, and the whiteness of Sabriel's skin, stark against the black of her hair, black as the bitumen under her feet." (Pg 43)

(Bitumen-the natural oily byproduct of decomposed organic materials, also known as asphalt or tar.)

Garth Nix is a best-selling author, over 5 million of his books have been sold and they have also been translated into 40 languages. He was born in Australia and lives there with his wife and two children. He has worked in various publishing and book related careers, and even served in the Australian Army Reserves, but is now a full-time author. He was writing 'zombie' books before they were cool or popular. Nix is the author of the YA Old Kingdom series of fantasy books: Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen and Clariel. He has also written two science fiction novels; Shade's Children and A Confusion of Princes. Newt's Emerald is described as a romance with magic. His YA Keys to the Kingdom series include Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, etc. He has also written for the children's Spirit Animals Series, and penned novellas with stories that take place in his fantasy worlds (To Hold the Bridge, Across the Wall). I have not read them all, just the Old Kingdom series so far. Of that series I think Lirael has become my favorite series book, and the disreputable dog is one of my favorite characters ever in a book (introduced in Lirael). I have read Sabriel twice so far.

Fan art rendering of the character Lirael (from the book with the same name) with the "disreputable dog", another character in the book, from the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix.

Author Garth Nix holding two framed pictures of book cover art from his Old Kingdom fantasy series which includes the books Sabriel and Lirael.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays---to spark your interest in books!

Salt- (A World History) by Mark Kurlansky (Non-fiction)
"By the seventh century, the Basques built stone towers on high points of land along their coast. When the lookout tower spied a whale, it's great shiny back breaking the surface while spouting vapor, (the lookout) would shout a series of coded cries that told whalers where and how big the whale was...(pg 112)." 

Tons and tons of salt have been used over the ages to preserve seafood (think salt cod) and in the preservation of all kinds of meat.

                  Today's feature is a non-fiction book encompassing  the history surrounding salt! 

Basque stronghold; Arteaga Tower.

Basque coastal region.
Basque Countryside between Spain and France.
Map showing where the Basques originate.                            

Basques- an ethnic group of people that inhabit an area in north-central Spain and south-western France, thought to be the renmants of the early settlers of Western Europe. Basque tribes were mentioned by the Romans and today have limited self-government of a specific area. Historically sheepherders, ranchers and fisherman.

Bonneville Salt Flats near Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
If the subject interests you, or if you are interested in Sicily, or reading a fictional work that will show you about the life of a salt miner, here is an e-book suggestion. This was one of my first e-book purchases when I received my Kindle. The setting is in Sicily and the story follows two brothers that make their living salt mining. The author does an excellent job of getting the reader into the Sicilian mind-set. Not a fairy tale book but one that has stuck with me over the years.