Monday, April 20, 2015

Re-reading old friends

I decided to re-read a few old friends instead of playing with the new and unread books I have on my pile.  I went through the Protector of the Small quartet by Tamora Pierce and have started in on the Mage Storm trilogy by Mercedes Lackey.  I think I'll actually read a few other Lackey and Pierce books before I go back to the new stuff.  It's been a rough few weeks and I need the visit to some of my favorite worlds.

Here's my basic review of the series, bearing in mind that this is my favorite of Tammy's series.

It has been almost two decades since Alanna, the Lioness, earned her knighthood while disguising herself as a boy.  It has been over a hundred years since women made up any portion of the knighthood of Tortall.  The king has decreed that girls can now openly try for their knighthoods and Keladry of Midelan is the first in a decade to try.  She faces steep opposition.  In the first book, First Test, she is allowed to join the pages (the first step of a knight's training) on a trial basis.  If she can prove to the training master, Lord Wyldon, that she can hack it, she can stay on permanently.

In the second book, Page, obviously takes place after she has proven she can handle to duties and has promise as a knight.  Kel and her friends declare war on the hazing that happens among the pages.

The third book, Squire, sees Kel becoming the squire to Lord Raoul and serving with the King's Own.  She has a romance and ends up being the caretaker of a gryphon, much to her dismay.

The last book, Lady Knight, has Lord Wyldon, who had been impressed by her performance and skills taking advantage of the fact that Lord Raoul basically trained Kel for command and giving her command of a refugee camp.  The country is at war with their traditional northern enemies, the Scanrans.  The Scanrans have a new weapon made with necromancy by a mage called Blayce.  Kel is given the task of ridding the world of the man by the Chamber of the Ordeal (it's basically a magical being that sorts out the squires who fail and those who become knights).  The only problem is that she has the refugee camp to take care of and can't do both without becoming foresworn.

These are the basic plot points and I hate giving spoilers.  As is usual with Tammy's books, the characters are pretty well-drawn.  Animals have a prominent place in the books.  They're getting pretty intelligent after the events of Daine's series.  I especially liked Peachblossom, Kel's warhorse.  He sounds so sweet and innocent from that name, doesn't he?  Ha!  Peachblossom's interactions with Kel's friend, Neal, really get me giggling.

I love this series.  It is my favorite of hers.  I could read it once a month and not be upset.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Another re-read and the monster Granny Hex

I really enjoy Bianca d'Arc's Dragon Knights series.  I love the world she's built, so I read it quite a bit.  The other day (last Wednesday) I re-read Keeper of the Flames.  It has gryphons in it.  Yay!  My favorite fantasy critter.

I bought two new history books in my unending quest to avoid going back to LOTR.  They're in the vein of Kurlansky's Salt, which I really loved.  They're about spices and their influence on history.

As for other stuff, I figured out I'm going to need 481 hexes for my Granny Hex afghan.  I frogged most of my progress on the ripple that nuked itself and balled the yarn to recycle.  Obviously, I did nothing wrong.  I didn't miscount or anything.  It was the afghan that went wonky by itself.  He he.  I have five hexes done completely and sewn together with a whip stitch.  I'll keep doing that rather than have to sew a pile of 481 hexes in marathon sewing sessions.

Also, Mom and I have most of the plans in place for our vacation to Canada and the World Cup!  Regrettably, we won't be able to get to any USA games, but the games we got tickets for look like excellent match-ups.  And there will be whale watching!

Monday, April 06, 2015

A rare miss by Stephanie Laurens and driving debacles

One more book to add.  I stopped at the bookstore before work and ended up reading a hardcover I've been eying up for a few months, By Winter's Light, by Stephanie Laurens.  This was one of her winter/Christmas Cynster stories.  It wasn't bad but it was a bit boring.  It seemed to serve less as a romance and more of an introduction to the next generation of Cynsters.  Which is fine, but definitely not hardcover-price-worthy.  I'll wait until it comes out on paperback to actually buy it.

Last night when we got home from my brother's house we talked to the neighbors and found out that there is a long wait time to schedule driving exams.  I went online just a bit ago and found out the earliest I can take mine is September 2.  Five friggin' months?  They only test on Wednesdays at my local troopers barracks.  That is absolutely ridiculous.

I've scheduled it because my permit expires on the 12th.  This should be interesting.  Mom will bug and badger me to drive as much as possible and I still want to just curl up in a ball at the very idea.  I now have to find an instructor and that means sopending more money I don't have to get something I absolutely want no part of.  Lovely.  Maybe the area will suddenly get metropolitan-rated public transportation in the next month and I can forget all about it.  What?  It could happen (in a mirror universe).

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Star Trek and Birdies

Today I finished a book about Star Trek called Star Trek and History, a collection of essays (shockingly enough) about the role history has played in the development of the Star Trek universe and how Star Trek has also influenced history.  I enjoyed most of the essays.  Each of them at least made me think, even if they didn't all teach me something new.  I did learn some new things about the fictional universe that has shaped my life.

The other book I'm adding to the list is The Unleashing, by Shelly Laurenston.  I picked it up on Wednesday and really liked it.  It's the first book in her new world that features mostly Viking gods and the people they choose to fight for them when Ragnarok comes around.

The first one is about Kera Watson, a former marine who is killed and becomes one of the Crows, women chosen by the goddess Skuld, one of the Norns, to be her soldiers.  Regrettably for Kera, the other Crows aren't exactly big on discipline or military efficiency.  They are all women who, thanks to Skuld's intervention, have a chance at living their lives all over again.  The fighting they do for her is their night job.  Kera has a bit of trouble meshing with their craziness at first.  As this is a romance, she finds her soul mate in the form of one of Odin's Ravens, Ludvig "Vig" Rundstrom, whom she originally thinks is a vet with PTSD, not a skilled blacksmith who can fly.

I know that sounds strange but it's really fun.  Laurenston's characters tend to have one trait that I absolutely love.  They are completely nuts and they make me laugh.    

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.