Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Reads; Bunches of Books!

 Another fulfilling year of reading. As usual I have scattered my favorite genres in the midst of all the books. I will always be curious about the supernatural and include stories of both "fact" and "fiction"about it in my reading choices. Science fiction, Fantasy, and History are usually favorite categories, too. I had a goal of 70 books total for the year and I have made it to 68 with a few more hours left in the year, and I am currently about half way through the next book that I  am currently reading.   

Only a few things on this years list would be considered busts- those being Tales from the Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkein, which I just could not get into, even though I love The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books by this author. Maybe it was my mindset, I'm not sure, it was not that fulfilling to delve into. The other bust was one which seemed to have so much potential but made me want to skip all future zombie stories ever, it was the compilation Zombies vs. Unicorns, it had such a fun premise but really, only the unicorn stories were good! I'm just not a zombie type of gal even though I liked I am Legend in both book and movie forms, but not having liked the zombie book The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and never getting into The Walking Dead in any way, shape, or form. 

The other disappointment was Cassandra Claire's City of Bones series. The first one or two books were good but the series devolved after that. It became full of angst that was never resolved, made me dislike the characters for their spineless personalities, and became an uninteresting story of Alex, an older teen who did not have a starring role (but was always a support character) trying to have a relationship with an ageless warlock. One of the main characters, Jase, also turned into an abusive twit and I could go on no longer. There are so many other better things to be read and I felt a bit cheated after investing time into four of the author's novels. (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, then I stopped.) Generally I enjoy reading YA but it is hard to stomach characters doing these earth shattering feats and then being immature boo boos while they make a bunch of stupid decisions that just increase their trouble, making the reader feel like the carrot that is out of reach is not worth the effort to catch by reading further.

I always enjoy Alexander McCall Smith's series about Precious and the Ladies Detective Agency and am slowly working my way through it. (I have not seen any of the TV adaptations so cannot offer any comparison there.) In fact, I can reliably turn to that series when I am looking for something interesting to read and want some consistency I can count on from an author.

I explored more of Carrie Vaughn's Kitty series and like the character of Kitty (she is a werewolf with a late night radio show), better now that she has learned to stick up for herself. Kitty predictably gets herself into unusual circumstances and always entertains as she works her way out of them. Carrie Vaughn wins the jackpot for the author I read the most books from (8) this year.

Now that I have read all the Gideon and Agent Pendergast books by Preston and Child, I explored some of their other writings together as a winning author pair and as separate authors, they never dissapoint. I purchased Child's newest Full Wolf Moon (Jeremy Logan series) and I am impatiently awaiting the January release of their newest Agent Pendergast book, City of Endless Night. Preston does a good job writing non-fiction as well (Dinosaurs in the Attic, Lost City of the Monkey God, etc.)

Hot off the press was Pullman's Book of Dust. Having enjoyed the golden compass books I was looking forward to this new one. It is set in the time when Lyra, of the golden compass series, is a baby. It is a good mix of real and fantasy, but the author belabored some of his anti-religious dogma a little too much in it. I don't remember this really being a problem in the previous books but some people find this aspect of his writing a good reason to like his books. He tells a good fantasy with engaging characters and that is why I read his books. It does not really matter to me what his political or religious views are if he is telling a good story and can deliver that to the reader without being too preachy about it.

Titles I read for exploring more gothic literature were Ghost Stories of California, Ghost Stories of Virginia, She is not Invisible, The Foreshadowing, Oxford Book of 20th Century Ghost Stories, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Kwaidan Stories of the Strange, Porcelain, Among the Shadows, Dark Shadows Angelique's Descent, April's Grave, Call in the Night, Ghostlight, In Ghostly Japan, and The Haunted House Handbook (15).

I discovered a new author of classic science fiction, Clifford Simak, and read two titles by him, The Trouble with Tycho, and Way Station. I might have to visit Way Station again, it is that kind of story. He is an oldie but somehow I had never read anything by him before. I hope to read some more of his work in the coming year.

When I moved my residence back in 2000, packing was made easier by donating many of the books I had to the local second-hand charity store. I regretted that decision later and have tried to rebuild some of the series I had then but had not been able to read yet. I can say I have remade a healthy library here in this house, now book shelves seem to be taking over! That is perfectly fine with me, but then again I am not the only one that lives here. My challenge now is finding a place for everything. I alphabetized my books by author recently instead of by genre which is how I had it before and it is a bit easier to keep track of what I have now. One of the ways I'd like to work through reading in 2018 is by taking one book from each successive shelf and going through my library that way to get a nice variety of subjects and different authors to read. I have to limit trips to the library or else I will always be reading books I don't own and would never work my way through the "to be read" shelves here in the house. 

Definitely on my list of author's next year are: Brandon Sanderson, Preston and Child (together and separate, and Carrie Vaughn. I'd also like to catch up with the full books of some titles I have read previews of on kindle, and I'd like to delve into more History and science/medical stuff this year.

2017 Reading List

  1. Ghost Stories of California by Barbara Smith (True tales of ghostly encounters in California)
  2. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith (Book 10 of the Ladies' Detective Agency series)
  3. The Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (oldie but goodie Children's literature)
  4. The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith (#9 in series)
  5. Ghost Stories of Virginia by Dan Asfar (True tales of ghostly encounters in Virginia)
  6. There Were Jaredites by Hugh Nibley (Ancient History and religion)
  7. Atlantis Rising Issues (New age book-magazine publication)
  8. She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick (YA and fits in gothic category)
  9. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allen Poe (Poe!)
  10. Porcelain by Benjamin Read (Gothic graphic novel, independent press in the UK)
  11. Science Set Free by Rupert Sheldrake (Science and a bit of new ageness)
  12. Among the Shadows by L.M. Montgomery (author of Little House on the Prairie books, but this is a compilation of gothic tales)
  13. Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston (Non-fiction, archeology discovery in Central America)
  14. Oxford Book of 20th Century Ghost Stories Ed. By Michael Cox (A meaty offering of tales)
  15. The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick (YA and a bit gothic)
  16. Tales From the Perilous Realm by J.R.R Tolkein (Fantasy/Folk Tales)
  17. The Ice Limit by Preston and Child (Action and Adventure)
  18. Beyond the Ice Limit by Preston and Child (Action and Adventure)
  19. Kwaidan Stories of the Strange by Leftcadio Hearn (Ghost and strange stories/asian)
  20. The Forgotten Room by Lincoln Child (Action and Adventure, mystery)
  21. Deep Storm by Lincoln Child (Action and Adventure)
  22. Dark Shadows Angelique's Descent by Lara Parker (Old soap opera popular in the 70's, continuing drama with Barnabus Collins the Vampire)
  23. The Abraham Enigma by Jack Lyons (LDS author, Adventure)
  24. Readings in Social Studies: Ancient Times Prentice Hall Library (compilation)
  25. The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith (#11 in the series)
  26. The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith (#12 in the series)
  27. April's Grave by Susan Howatch (70's gothic)
  28. Call in the Night bySusan Howatch (70's gothic)
  29. The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith (#13 in series)
  30. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis (YA Fantasy)
  31. The Companions by R.A. Salvatore (Fantasy)
  32. Ghostlight by Marion Zimmer Bradley (70's gothic)
  33. City of Bones by Cassandra Claire (YA Urban fantasy)
  34. Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand by Carrie Vaughn (Paranormal/fantasy)
  35. City of Ashes by Cassandra Claire (YA Urban Fantasy)
  36. Billy Blacksmith Demon Slayer by Ben Ireland (YA Urban Fantasy)
  37. Unfettered: compiled by Patrick Rothfuss (Sci Fi collection of stories)
  38. Underground Bases by James and Lance Morcan (NF)
  39. Beyond the Fur by Tammy Billups (NF for animal lovers)
  40. Kitty Raises Hell by Carrie Vaughn (Paranormal/fantasy)
  41. Kitty's House of Horrors by Carrie Vaughn (Para/fantasy)
  42. Kitty Goes to War by Carrie Vaughn (Para/fantasy)
  43. Classic Mystery Stories by Dover (Mystery)
  44. Low Midnight by Carrie Vaughn (Para/fantasy)
  45. City of Glass by Cassandra Claire (Urban fantasy)
  46. In Ghostly Japan by Leftcadio Hearne (Paranormal tales with a Japanese twist)
  47. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Claire (Urban fantasy)
  48. Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn (Fantasy)
  49. Refuge of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn (Fantasy)
  50. The Trouble with Tycho by Clifford Simak (Science Fiction)
  51. The Haunted House Handbook by D. Scott Rogo (NF)
  52. Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn (Fantasy)
  53. Stuff Matters by Mark Midownik (NF)
  54. A Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley (Fantasy)
  55. The BFG by Roald Dahl (Children's Lit Fantasy)
  56. Old Venus by G R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Sci Fi compilation of stories)
  57. Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black (Fantasy compilation of stories)
  58. Dr. Mutter's Marvels by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz (NF, medical/science)
  59. The Dragon of Lonely Island by Rebecca Rupp (Children's Lit/fantasy)
  60. The Return of the Dragon by Rebecca Rupp (Children's Lit/fantasy)
  61. Kitty's Big Trouble by Carrie Vaughn (Paranormal/fantasy)
  62. The Cabinet of Curiosities by Preston and Child (Action and Adventure/mystery)
  63. The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman (Fantasy)
  64. Justinian's Flea by William Rosen (NF, History, Roman Empire, Science, Biology of plague)
  65. The Golden Age of Science Fiction Volume 1. (compilation)
  66. Proofread of a new book, not yet published (Sci Fi)
  67. Way Station by Clifford Simak (Sci Fi)
  68. The Reaper by Eric Niven (Western)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Sunflower field in Nebraska.
I am native to North and South America, I follow the direction of the sun. Helianthus is my genus and my family is Asteraceae. The common variety that will grow in a field or your yard is known as Helianthus annuus. Flowers can range from a few inches to about a foot (.30 meters) in diameter. I am a sunflower. Helios means sun and anthos means flower, hence my name, sunflower.

Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh
My sister decorated her kitchen with sunflower decor, Van Gogh made a famous painting using the them, if you drive through the state of Nebraska or through the great plains, you will see fields and fields of sunflowers from your car window as you are zipping down the highway. Tourists enamored with Tuscany will conjure up pictures of sunflowers fields as they dream of their romantic getaway. (Those sunflowers originally came from North America.)
Sunflowers are a common and popular symbol. Their usual yellow stands for "sunniness" generally meaning happiness. No matter how hard we try to eradicate them, we usually get a bunch of volunteer wild sunflowers growing on the edges of our vegetable garden each year. I usually leave them be if they are getting bigger because they provide a lot of cover for the wild birds and also feed them with the delectable seed heads in the fall and winter. The stalks are tall and tough and sometimes a bit difficult to remove when clearing out the garden bed but I wind up liking them there because they are fascinating to watch grow. Right now we have some wild ones growing at least ten feet tall along the garden patch. The birds and bees are always flitting through them.
Sunflower field in Tuscany

I found out some interesting tidbits of information recently after staring at the sunflowers in my yard and deciding I wanted to learn more about them. All species of the sunflower are native to North America (explorers brought them to Italy in the 18th century where they were first used as ornamental plants), except for three species that are native to South America. Sunflower roots are used in herbal medicine, the leaves are used in teas, the flowers are used in dyes, and the stalks are used as fiber in paper and cloth. The seeds, of course are used as food for humans and animals and for oil, in grain products such as bread, or made into a butter like peanut butter. 

The oil is considered a premium oil because of the mild flavor and light color, low saturated fat content. There are the black oil-seeded types (used as oil and bird feed) and striped seeded types, most often used as a snack. Sunflower roots are said to clean soil up from lead or arsenic contamination. Because they are known to clean up toxic substances, millions of them were planted in Japan after a tsunami destroyed the Fukushima nuclear reactor to help rid the ground of radiation poisoning. 

Fukushima, Japan
Each sunflower is made up of hundreds of tiny flowers. The type of flower is a composite of disk flowers and ray flowers. The disk flowers are in the center and each disk flower makes one seed. The ray flowers are generally yellow and surround the middle containing the disk flowers.
The ray flowers can be fried up and cooked as food. Sunflowers are fast growers classed as annuals. When they are growing the emerging flower head follows the sun in the sky as it grows. After blooming it stops this behavior of following the direction of the sun, which is known as "heliotropism". At sunrise the heads will face east and by the time sunset arrives they will face west. They are generally easy to grow, requiring adequate water and a place that gets lots of sunshine in the garden. The French word for sunflower is tournesol, and it means 'turns-with-the sun', the Italian word is girasole, meaning sun-turner. Sunflower seeds which arise from the tiny disk flowers, are arranged in spirals in the flower head. The spirals in the head follow the Fibonacci sequence, which is an amazing mathematical formula found in many places in nature such as flowers, sea shells and in the proportions of living things.

Sunflowers have disk flowers and ray flowers.
Spirals in a sunflower head

Sunflowers are pretty amazing.

Closeup view of the disk flowers of the suflower.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

70's Blast from the Past!

Which Partridge kid was your favorite?
A page from the Sears 1970 Catalog. Polyester special. Ouch! My eyes!!!

Blast from the Past!!!

I was remembering some fads from when I was a tween-ager today. Yes, my sister and I had pogo sticks! We also had footsies. We played stick ball with the other neighborhood kids in the middle of the street (it really wasn't that busy of a street), whenever a car did happen to come by we all moved out of the way and got right back to our game after the car went on its merry way. We wandered around in the woods, just a few kids together, and rode our bicycles all the way around the lake, (two miles?) by ourselves, alone. We did not have much need to fear anything, we were innocent, lucky to live in a small, rather rural town, and probably a bit sheltered, too.
Ye olde Pogo stick.

This is a footsie! It kept us hoppin'.
Halter tops, straight hair, and fringe were the fashion when I was almost a teen. I had a pair of lime green bell bottoms and wore wedge shoes at my 6th grade graduation. Peace signs made their appearance but my Dad didn't like them, I had a brown suede a purse with a peace sign attached via a little silver chain when it was purchased, he removed it.
These are similar to the ones I had, only mine were a dazzling white.

I also had a brown suede jacket with wonderful fringe all down the arms, a crochet mini skirt and vest set made for me by a family friend, and we used Herbal Essence shampoo on our hair, it was so groovy! My Mom got me a bedspread and curtain set for my room, (from the Sears catalog), it was quite a loud design, but was the latest fashion at the pink, orange, lime green, and kindof like the Partridge Family Bus on floral steroids (Yes, we watched that show and I always imagined myself as the big sister who played piano, Susan Dey, and had a secret crush on Danny). How did I ever sleep in the room with all that color saturation surrounding me?
Color saturation overload.
The grooviest shampoo.

My Dad owned his own Barber shop. He made friends with the local twenty somethings because they hung around jawing at the shop and ate together at the one and only "luncheonette". One band they listened to was "Country Joe and the Fish". I liked Steppenwolf and Three Dog Night, there was nothing like Chuck Negron and his rather large moustache. My Dad had a neighborhood barbeque for some of those friends. We grilled hamburgers and sunfish we caught ourselves in the lake. After that those young friends of his were gone. To Canada. Some of them had been drafted and were opposed to the war. I was really too young to understand what it all meant but when my 6th grade English teacher gave us an assignment to write about Viet Nam my Dad got angry and gave the teacher a piece of his mind. Needless to say, I didn't have to do that assignment. I had a good childhood back then, growing up on the lake,
in my little town.
Chuck Negron from the band Three Dog Night.
Country Joe and the Fish

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kissy face...

Have fun with words and memories....
Describe your first kiss: "Heavens, I don't even remember it. Must not have been that memorable I guess. Something I do remember though is the first boy I ever went "steady" with. His name was Carl, we were in the sixth grade. I am pretty short, but at the time I think he was a bit shorter than me, poor guy. He was a dreamy sixth grade musician, complete with seventies style nerdy horn-rim glasses. We held each others hands (very daring), in a death grip, during the sixth grade class trip."

Describe your last kiss: "It was a perfunctory goodbye kiss with hubby before he left the house for work this morning."

Describe your next kiss: "With hubby it will definitely be more passionate."

(Do grand-kid kisses count too? If so, I kissed, kissed, kissed, the tops of their cute little heads earlier today after spending some time with them this afternoon! In the future I can guarantee that I will not be able to resist doing it again when I see them.)

I have wanted to write for weeks now. You would think that with three of the four kids out of the house I would have oodles of time to do whatever I want. Wishful thinking. I am still working, but only part time now, there are animals to take care of, a household to run, and loads of laundry and weeds in the yard that constantly need attention, sigh. Health challenges continue but I can't dwell on it too much or I will just get bitter or depressed, better to keep my mind and body occupied and not let the daily pain completely stop me from living my life, even though it has slowed me down. As a boxing referee might say, "Down, but not out". Not yet anyway!

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
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

 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
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
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 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

 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.