Wednesday, March 25, 2015

London Under, Peter Ackroyd

London Under by Peter Ackroyd was interesting but it didn't go far enough.  It had some interesting facts, but it was really thin on them.  I'd like to find more books about the various series of underground catacombs around the world.

It did give me a germ of an idea for a story, but I'm not sure where the idea is going.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New afghan for myself

I have decided that the combination of Pinterest and Ravelry is completely evil.  Yesterday, I was looking for a little granny square pattern I could use to make a bookmark with some crochet thread I have.  I ended up finding a pattern for a hexagonal granny that I'm now working up using the yarn I picked out for my personal afghan.  I had been making it in a ripple, but I screwed up in a couple of places and I've kind of abandoned it.  So now I'm going to use the yarn I had gathered and make a ton of little granny hexes and stitch them all together after a while.  They work up really easily and are great for television stitching.

The pattern I'm using is this lovely one from Eggbirddesigns.  I'm stopping at the fourth round using yarn that is no longer being made, Caron's Eco-soft.  All but one of the colors are at least still available in their Simply Soft and Simply Soft Paints lines, so if I need to buy more of a color, I'll be good.  I know I need to buy more black.  I used up most of it on a scarf for a friend for Christmas.  The one color no longer available is the one I'm using for the smallest round, so I should be good.  If I have to, I'll frog the progress I'd made on the ripple afghan.  I was making it out of double crochets with no gaps, so it's a very solid piece that used a lot of yarn.

The colors I'm using are:
Aqua Mist, the discontinued one :(
Spring Brook, the variegated Simply Soft Paints
Ocean, the dark blue Simply Soft
Black

These are the colors I'm going to be using for my bedroom when I get around to painting it and rearranging it.  I need to buy a few more bookshelves, a few floating shelves, and a new lamp and then I can commence the massive project.

Four more books/stories - two good, two not-so-good

Well, I have four more for my list.  One was a re-read because I just liked it.  I'm also making slow progress on LOTR.  I'm reading it mostly at work on breaks.

Stardust Miracle by Edie Ramer was the first read chronologically.  I'll admit to more skimming it than closely reading it.  It was one of my free downloads so I'm not to sorry about not liking it as much as I'd hoped.  It just didn't grab my attention well.

Love Potions by Michelle Pillow was the re-read.  I get a kick out of the family and am looking forward to more books in the series.

The Werewolf Liaison by Vivi Anna was a teeny, tiny, short story that I really didn't like in the least.  EMT gets kidnapped by the big bad wolf, is tied up and interrogated, but the minute he turns all wolfy, instead of scaring the shit out of her, she's turned on?  WTF?  No.  Just no.  I'm very glad I didn't pay for this one.

The Naughty Never Die by LL Kellogg was another free read.  I liked it.  The characters didn't fall in live at first sight.  In fact, he kidnapped her and scared the shit out of her, too.  He was under orders from her Governor father to get her to safety and there was a miscommunication about him scaring her so she wouldn't ditch her security again.  He had flaws, she had flaws.  There was a mystery that had me guessing for some of it.  I think I'll pick up the first book in the series on payday.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Getting there, but not knocking off categories

I finished Before Midnight by Jennifer Blackstream last night.  I liked it.  I'll be picking up the next one in the series.  My only quibble is that the end seemed rushed.  I liked how it ended, but the book just felt a bit easy, which had its own charm.  I hope the next book in the series is a bit more complex, though.

As an aside, I'm trying to re-read the Lord of the Rings trilogy as part of my reading challenge.  I remember now why I disliked it so much.  It's BORING!!!!!  Yes, I am that nerd/geek that hates Tolkien.  I actually gave away the copies of Peter Jackson's trilogy, unopened, a few years after I bought them.  Maybe after I finish this slog I'll borrow my friend's copy and try to watch them.

I've been working on my printers' mark research more lately, as is evidenced by the long list of printers' marks and early book history books.  Walking into the Rare Books room at the NY Public Library the other day was like walking into Nirvana,  The smell of the books just rolled over me the moment I walked in the door and I turned to the librarian whose name I didn't get and said with a sigh, "I love that smell."  He smiled and said he did, too.  It felt so good to be doing research again.  Just sitting there, trying to find information about men who lived hundred of years ago, was just amazing.  I really need to figure out what I have to do to get back to college.  I felt so at home and at peace.

Oh, and a shout out to the librarian, Meredith, who helped me so much.  She actually found, in their holdings, the two books printed by Gerard Van Wolsschaten (or however he wanted to spell it each day) that I was able to hold.  I held two books printed in the early 1600s.  I teared up, I'll admit.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Make It a Double, Sawyer Bennett

I've been adding way too many ebook freebies from Amazon and Kobo to my TBR pile thanks to Bookbub lately.  One of them was Make It a Double, by Sawyer Bennett.  The second book in a series, it works perfectly well as a standalone read.  In fact, I haven't read the first, although I think I may need to go back and do so.

The story is about a man named Brody and a woman named Alyssa.  He is an ex-con who was convicted of vehicular homicide and she runs a no-kill animal shelter.  He ends up volunteering there to settle his community service requirements.  There is, of course, external drama, but part of the conflict of the story is of a man adjusting back to life outside of prison.  I liked how the routines established in prison life are both subtly and not-so-subtly touched upon.

My only problem with the story is the person.  I fairly loathe first-person stories, and this one was written not just in first person, but in alternating POV, as well.  It was well done, though, so I was able to get past that.  I can definitely recommend this book.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Pox and the Covenant

Last night I finished The Pox and the Covenant by Tony Williams.  It really isn't a long book and it left me feeling the way a good history book should, wanting to know more about the subject.  I knew from other readings that inoculation was a touchy subject in Colonial days, but I hadn't realized just how touchy it was.

I must confess to also being one of the many Americans that knew Reverend Cotton Mather only through the lens of the Salem Witch Trials.  I had no clue he was actually a learned scholar and could legitimately be called a scientist.  I figured he was simply a hidebound theologian.  My mistake.  I think I'll be reading more about him.

The book seemed to end a bit abruptly, as if the author didn't quite know if there was more he should put in there, but he did show how the kerfuffle over the smallpox epidemic of 1721 and the inoculations championed by Mather and his friend Boylston sped up a disconnect between the Puritan Covenant and a rapidly modernizing Boston and New England society.  I will definitely be looking into this more.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Children of the Night

Usually when I'm sick, I spend most of my recuperative time reading.  For some reason, this stinking cold/flu/sinus infection, whatever it actually is, has left me not even wanting to read.  This is when you know I'm on my proverbial deathbed.

I did manage to read, well, reread Mercedes Lackey's Children of the Night.  It's an urban fantasy written back in the 1990's, before urban fantasy became big.  I liked it then and I still like it.  The heroine, Diana Tregarde, is definitely not perfect.  She gets injured, has panic attacks, and drinks way too much.  Too many of the heroes and heroines in sf/f are either perfect or virtual machines.

For shits and giggles, it's set during the Watergate era.  I don't know why, but that has always really amused me.  The setting also makes some of the jarring bits of the book make sense.  This isn't modern day, with our modern slang or sensibilities.  There are terms used in the book that are annoying, but they weren't looked askance upon in the early 1970's.

On the whole, while it may not have stood up as much as I liked from my earliest purchase of it, it still does stand up better than I hoped.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Immortal Who Loved Me by Lynsay Sands

One more book read.  You would think I would have read more during this time being sick, but I just want to sleep and watch Hogan's Heroes.  The Pox book was definitely put away because who really wants to read a book about fatal illnesses when one feels like crud warmed over?  I listened to half of the audiobook/radio program for America: Empire of Liberty.  I'll listen to the rest on my commutes to and from work.

I finished The Immortal Who Loved Me by Lynsay Sands on Wednesday.  The Argeneau series is a lot of fun.  I figure most vampire books should be written in a humorous vein (no pun intended).  Serious vampire books tend to put me off.  This one was not as funny as the majority of the others, but it was definitely not the most serious.

The jist of this series, and this is not really a spoiler, is that the immortals (vampires) are originally from Atlantis.  Their society was isolated and developed into an extremely technologically advanced one before it was destroyed by a series of earthquakes.  There had been an experiment to heal wounds using nanotechnology that went awry.  Instead of the nanos disintegrating after healing the cancer or injury they were being used for, their lack of specific programming made them run amok inside the body of the patient and heal everything.  Since the human body is assaulted by UV rays, pollution, etc., there is always something for the nanos to heal.  Since the nanos used blood as fuel, the patients needed to constantly renew their blood supply since the little buggers were using it to keep them at the peak physical state constantly.  Before Atlantis fell, transfusions were used.  After it fell and the survivors made it out, if they were immortals, they needed to use other means to survive in the non-medically advanced world they found themselves.  The nanos adapted their bodies to grow fangs when necessary.

The world she's built is pretty cool.  It's mostly set in Canada, for anyone looking for a book set somewhere not the US.  The people are also interesting.  Basil is one of three brothers who escaped Atlantis' fall.  He works on the Council.  Sherry, the heroine, owns a kitchenware business, and is brought into the whole world when a character from a previous novel ducks into her store to hide from one of the villains that's been popping up in the last five or six books.

This really isn't a stand-alone novel.  Too much of its plot is contingent on having read earlier books.  A person getting into the series with this one would possibly be a little confused.  The nature of the events mean there are a lot of previous characters popping in and out and things are assumed to be known.  Ms. Sands definitely explains things for the newbie to the series, but I would still be disappointed by the immediacy of the romance between Sherry and Basil.  Relationship growth happens after she basically accepts that they are life-mates.  Basil, knowing the way things work, immediately accepts that Sherry is his life-mate when the two characters who seem to be turning into the match-makers of the series just say, "Here she is.  Have fun, you crazy kids."

Also, the plot-line with Sherry's father bothered me.

If you want to start the series from the beginning, read A Quick Bite.  To tell the truth, this newest one of hers probably won't be re-read much, even if it does go on my keeper shelf because it's part of the series.  Here's hoping the next one in the series is much better.