Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Two good reviews

Floor 21, by Jason Luthor.  I'm not a fan of dystopias, this is certain, but Luthor has crafted a really compelling story while simultaneously using the two things I tend to hate: dystopias, and first person narrative.  The story is told from three viewpoints and it works.  The gist of the story is at some unspecified time a cataclysm happened and people got stuck in a skyscraper with an organism that feeds on them coming up from the bottom floor.  There are people who go scouting through the lower levels to find things the former inhabitants left behind.  The tower is monitored everywhere and there is an overtone of "thought crimes ".  Th main character is a teen girl who has serious doubts about her society.  She records a diary to keep herself on an even keel so the story is mostly told from that perspective.  I look forward to the next book.

The Once and Future Lover, by Angela Knight is actually a novella in her newest anthology.  I confess to only reading it and not the other stories, but that was because of time constraints.  It's a prequel to her Mageverse series and tells how Arthur and Co. were given Merlin's gift, how Arthur got Excalibur, how Mordred died, and the debacle between Guinevere and Lancelot (for which Arthur is not completely blameless in this version.)  It was pretty good.  I wish she would write more of the Mageverse books.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Coursera insanity

Since I can't afford to return to school yet, I'm turning to Coursera to learn new things.   I'm. Signed up for two classes right now: The American South, and Beginner's Chinese.  Learning Chinese has been on my bucket list for a while.  Wish me luck.  The difference between two of the tones is driving me batty and I just started the course.  I think I need to find a site where someone just reads of sentences that are written out so I can practice and listen to the tones more.

I've also started a new granny square afghan.  My cousin is pregnant and I want to make the sprout a blanket.  I'm trying something new for me.  If this works, I might post the pattern on here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Two good reviews, one bad

Quite a few books to add today.  I did finish Exile's Valor, then went on to read the rest of Tammy's Immortals series.  I also read three others not related to either author; two I liked, but the third didn't impress me.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, by Sarah MacLean, is the fourth and final book in a historical romance series.  I have the others and enjoyed them immensely.  This last book is about the fourth partner in a London gaming hell, called Chase.  There's a secret about Chase that I won't spoil for those who haven't read the first three.  Suffice to say that Chase is a complicated character.  I enjoyed this one in the series, as well.

I finished Dale Kutzera's Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds just a few minutes ago.  It's a middle-grader adventure book inspired by (surprise, surprise) HG Wells' War of the Worlds.  I really liked it.  Andy is a sixth grader who went through cancer treatments last school year and is trying to deal with being Cancer Boy in school when aliens invade and capture his entire town.  He and a few others meet a sympathetic alien and have to figure out how to stop them.  It was a good adventure.

The book I wasn't impressed with was Jade Kerrion's Perfection Unleashed.  It's the first book in a sci-fi series.  It stopped abruptly.  It technically had a wrap-up and ended at an endpoint, but it just didn't work for me.  The characters it seemed she wanted you to care for were either meh or assholes.  The hero character was such a Gary Sue I wanted to toss my cookies.  He says he's not a masochist but he willingly let's everyone abuse him.  Sorry, not working for me.  I'll skip the rest of the series.

The other books were re-reads so you can assume I love them.
Exile's Valor, Mercedes Lackey
Wolf-Speaker, Tamora Pierce
Emperor Mage, Tamora Pierce
The Realms of the Gods, Tamora Pierce

I may go back to Doubt or The Race Beat next.  Or pick up with Spice.  I'm not sure.  I have some crafting to do first.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Re-reads and funerals

Four more books for the list, all of them are re-reads.

Take a Thief, by Mercedes Lackey
The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After, by Julia Quinn
Wild Magic, by Tamora Pierce
Exile's Honor by Mercedes Lackey

I've already started Exile's Valor and I figure I'll work through the rest of Tammy's Immortals series after that.

I have about fifty hexes half-finished for my afghan.  I worked on a bunch of them while waiting for a funeral to begin.  Sounds grim, I know, but it helped keep me calm.  Actually, I was reading Take a Thief in the line at the viewing.  Same reason.  I hate viewings.  Everyone always says "Doesn't such and such look just like they're sleeping?".  No.  They don't look like they're sleeping.  They look like they're dead and a mortician painted them up in a clownish imitation of their living selves.

When I go, I want my family and friends to throw a huge bash.  If they need anything with my image on it, my niece took a cool picture of me walking away on the dam at Lake Scranton that I actually liked.  Throw up the picture, put my ashes in a rocket to be sent up to space, and tell lots of silly stories about me.  Trust me when I say there will be plenty of them to keep everyone occupied long enough to get blindingly drunk!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Bald Eagles vs. Vegetation = One Fine Day

A few years ago I lucked into buying a Nikon D50 DSLR camera.  I've been taking bird pictures ever since.  My nemesis bird was a Bald Eagle.  I would go somewhere people had seen them and be told, "Oh, they were flying around an hour ago" or "They usually fly on the other side of the lake/river/etc. this time of day."  Today, Mom and I went on a short train excursion down the Susquehanna River.  I saw them.  Not only did I see them, but I got two good shots of them!

This one is sitting pretty in his or her nest.  I knew Bald Eagles like trees on islands in the middle of the lakes or rivers, so I kept an eye out for a likely candidate with a huge nest.  Found one!

And this eagle decided to fly alongside the train for a bit.  This was the best shot I got of it.  I'm happy.  I saw a few other birds, all birds I had identified and photographed prior, but this was a fun trip.

I ended it spending time snuggled up against a really awesome tree at Riverside Park in Tunkhannock, taking oddly-framed shots of it.

The tree is old and gnarly and the bark is cracked and broken in some places with wonderful shapes running through them.

We ended up going to Kettel's afterward and got plants for our garden.  We planted our potatoes, a host of veggies, and we'll take care of the herbs, tomatoes, and cucumbers tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baby anole!

Well, my Green Anoles had a hatchling.  It seems to be a she.  I see a light colored line running down her back and she has the snub nose my female does.  I swear I have no clue where Kel laid the egg.  It must be under the Dracaena.  Now I have to look for any others.  I bought Repashy to incubate any she laid because I didn't think they'd hatch in the tank if she laid any there.  I guess I was wrong about that.  I woke up today and looked over at the tank and saw something small hanging from the grate.  All I could think at first was, "How did they poop there?"  Then my sleep-muzzled mind cleared a bit and I realized what I was looking at.

I've ordered small phoenix worms to feed her and they should get here in the next few days.  Hopefully she'll eat the springtails in the tank and any tiny crickets until they arrive.  Also, I'm hoping the big lizards leave her alone.  She is about a third the size of Dom's head.  That's the two of them in the picture.  I put a whole bunch of crickets in the tank to (theoretically) keep the adults happy and fed so they won't go after her.  I'm just going to keep watching as I can.  Once the phoenix worms get here I'll try to catch her and put her in the smaller keeper I have.  The adults don't seem to know what to make of her.  They keep staring at her.  When Dom gets too close, I'm spraying him with water.  It works for cats, right?

She seems to be claiming the little ledge between the tank and the grate as a good place to hang out.  I'm glad.  I don't think the adults can get to her there.  And I discovered a new use for my Halloween Jack-o-Lantern washi tape: covering the corners of the cage grate where she might escape.

Oh, Dom(itan) is my male, and Kel(adry) is my female.  Mom wants me to let my niece name the baby if she ends up taking care of her.  She'd probably name her something lame so I'm likely going to have to be mean and put my foot down.  I'd prefer to have them all named after some kind of geekdom.  If I can keep her alive until adulthood or at least past the true hatchling stage, then I'll name her.  Although, Stella sounds good to me.  Maybe T'Pau?  I've done Tortall names, the next would have to be either Star Trek or Valdemar.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Some more old friends

Last post saw me re-reading one of Tamora Pierce's series.  This last week I've been reading Mercedes Lackey and Julia Quinn.

The Mage Storms trilogy by Mercedes Lackey is another old friend.  The majority of the characters in it are from prior series based in Valdemar.  However one of the new characters and the main character of the series is a young priest from the country that has been the traditional enemy of Valdemar.  Karal is sent to Valdemar as the secretary of his mentor, and former Black-robe (demon-summoning) priest, Ulrich, the first ambassador to Valdemar from Karse in hundreds of years.  Once there, poor Karal experiences a massive case of culture shock as he meets people from societies and religions that he would normally consider heretical.  He makes friends of some of those wildly different people, and starts to adapt to his new life and accept the differences surrounding him just in time for the world to turn topsy-turvy on him.  The energy from a magical disaster that happened over two thousand years before is returning to the world in the exact opposite manner and Valdemar and the Dhorisha Plains are located right where that energy is returning.  Now the mages have to figure out how to stop it from destroying everything their civilizations have built in twenty-four hundred years.

Storm Warning is the first and the introduction to the major players.  In Storm Rising they find a stopgap measure that gives them time to try to figure out their last move.  Storm Breaking is the last and the final solution to their problem takes its toll on the characters.

I moved from fantasy to romance Saturday, probably because Mom and I took my niece to Cinderella.  I read two of Julia Quinn's Bridgerton books: An Offer From A Gentleman, and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton over the last two days.  The first is basically a retelling of Cinderella, so you can see why I read that one.  I've always enjoyed it.  Sophie is the bastard daughter of an earl and has been reduced to servant by her stepmother after having been raised as the earl's ward (a neat way of taking responsibility but not having to acknowledge Sophie).  The Bridgertons give a masquerade ball and Sophie is given a one-night makeover by the servants of the house, who are sick of seeing her treated badly when she's really one of the family.  She and Benedict, the second Bridgerton son, share a wonderful evening and they fall in love.  Ah, but this is a novel and thus conflict is required.  Sophie runs off without telling Benedict who she is.  He tries to find her with the monogrammed glove she left behind (it was her grandmother's).  He fails but Sophie is turned out of her house because stepmother is mean but not stupid and figures out what happened.  The story picks up a few years later when Benedict manages to be at the same house where Sophie has found employ and he saves her from an Unfortunate Fate (translation: the son of a bitch son of the owners was about to gang rape her with a few friends of his).  Benedict feels responsible for the little maid he saved, promising her a job in his mother's household, and things progress from there.

The second is my favorite of her books and features my favorite of her heroines, Penelope Featherington.  Penelope popped in and put of the earlier Bridgerton books and it was always obvious she had a massive crush on the third Bridgerton brother, Colin.  However, Penelope is a tried and true wallflower and Colin is one of the most popular men of the ton.  Not exactly the match of the century.  Colin has wanderlust that takes him all over the place, usually about the time his mother starts bugging him about getting married.  This time when he returns, Penelope is firmly on the shelf and Colin has finally grown up enough to see what he has right in front of him.

I guess I should go back to reading the non-fiction books I have, but I'm just not in the mood.  I feel in the mood for happy endings lately.  I may go back and read all of the Bridgerton books.  I may not.  Looking at the tags for this post, I noticed Harry Potter.  I just may go through all of them again before anything else.  Also, I've turned the list post into a page.  Hopefully it'll be easier to maintain and read that way.