Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book lists

Here are a few lists of authors to bump up your reading lists.  My taste runs to science fiction and fantasy, so that's what I'm peddling.  Other authors exist out there, or so I'm told.
Asian Speculative Fiction Authors
Speculative Fiction by writers of color (Wikipedia)
Women Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors (Wikipedia)
List of LGBT-themed Speculative Fiction (Wikipedia) - I would add Commitment Hour by James Alan Gardner to the list on the site.

Here are some links to digitized public domain books.
African American Women Writers of the 19th Century
Project Gutenberg
Open Library

Baen Books Free Library - not public domain, but free to download

Have fun and enjoy many books this year coming up!  I hope to have the Ultimate Reading Challenge finished by the New Year and will post it then.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Reading Challenge for 2016

So, I failed my reading challenge for the last year miserably and have been thinking about next year's.  I could do the same one and win or I could go another route altogether.  I'm thinking the other route will win.  I've found a few reading lists on Goodreads that look intriguing.

Children's Introduction to Science Fiction  There are some on here that I never read.  Actually, quite a few.
Feminista's 100 Great 20th Century Works of Fiction by Women  Rather self-explanatory, I think.Sword and Laser Fantasy List  Just because.
There are also all the books by my indie publishing friends I need to get to.  So many options!

I also failed NaNoWriMo and figured I'd do it in January.  Or maybe just wait until Camp Nano.  Too much to think about this upcoming year.  I'll probably just mash everything together again!  Whee!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

NaNoWriMo has consumed me, as usual

Well, I'm significantly behind on my NaNoWriMo, but I've made a lot of progress in the last two days.  I'm on a break from writing at the moment because I've written 6314 words in the last two days.  I found a word crawl in the Word Wars, Prompts, and Sprints section of the NaNo forums, Extreme Harry Potter Writing Crawl that's been helping me.  The writer has done the first three years, but I'm not done with the first year yet.  I've tagged a few others to do after these three.

There aren't any for Star Trek, Stargate, Star Wars, or the classic movie monsters, so after I've won NaNoWriMo this year, I do believe I will have to create some for those.  I'm thinking the two for Star Trek would be TOS and TNG.  Stargate would need two: one for SG1 and one for Atlantis.  Star Wars would be from the original trilogy.  The movie monster one would have to include my favorite, of course, The Creature From the Black Lagoon.  I'm starting a list to work on after I make my 50,000.

As for the real progress on my story, I haven't the foggiest where this story is going.  I know I said I would end up doing a few short stories, but they've gone places I absolutely didn't expect.  I think I've watched too much with Peter Dinklage lately because I've actually added a pixie with dwarfism.  They're already only a friggin' foot high.  What the hell?  Mariel has topped out at eight inches.  And now her father is the old, grumpy leader of a council that refused to call for help when a colony of rats was attacking their village.  Where these people came from I have no clue.  So, I now have story lines that range from my original teenage pixies wanting to start a jazz band with the help of a couple of humans, the court of Queen Mab, and to the Elite Guard of the pixies and a village being attacked by a colony of rats driven out of there former homes by human habitation.  Yeesh.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Reading challenge done, NaNoWriMo on

Well, so much for keeping track of my reading.  I am completely lost as to what I have read so far.  Maybe next year I'll keep up the challenge.  As for what I'm doing right now, it's November, so I must be committing myself to the insanity that is NaNoWriMo.  Today was the first day and I have no plot, just a collection of characters and a vague idea, so I already have 2475 words.  I only needed 1667 to make the day, but I try to shoot ahead.  We'll see.  50,000 words by November 30th, here I come!  Hopefully the story will even make sense in the end.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

I am definitely insane.

It's official.  I am insane.  Not content with taking Chinese and a class on the art and culture of the South, I signed up for two other Coursera classes.  One of them starts tomorrow and requires regular essays about SF/F readings.  I go on vacation at the end of this week.  I'll be doing schoolwork while on vacation!  Why!?  But the course looks interesting, so why not?  Besides, we have a few relatively long drives ahead of us.  I should have plenty of time to read.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must get back to figuring out Chinese pronunciation.  I even bought a book to help me.  ;)

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.

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.  I like the characters so much that the two Green Anoles I have are named after two of the characters, Kel and Dom.

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

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.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hidden Dragons by Bianca D'arc

Today's addition to my booklist is Hidden Dragons, by Bianca D'arc.  It's the latest in her series of fantasy romance, Dragon Knights.  They feature love at first sight/instant soul mate connection.  Most of the series also features a menage a trois, but it works with the world she's built.  But most of all, they feature dragons!  The heroes are knights that ride dragons into battle.  The dragons are intelligent and telepathic.  The heroines can generally speak with the dragons, too.  The end of this one brings a new twist to the future of the war between Draconia and Skithdron (home of basilisk-like creatures with acid-like venom).  I'm hoping she'll finally bring the North Witch, Lorelei, into the next book.  I'm also hoping she'll one day make a female one of the knights.  She has featured some warriors females already, but I want one of them to actually have a dragon to ride.

I'm still working on The Pox and the Covenant.  It's not a difficult read and is interesting.  I'm just not in the mood for books about illnesses at the moment.  I have a stupid sinus infection that's kicking my ass.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cartoons of World War II

I spent some time at Books-A-Million today.  I almost started reading a sci-fi, but I was pretty exhausted from work, so I took an easier route.  I noticed a book called Cartoons of World War II, by Paul Husband, as I was going in.  He collected cartoons, mostly editorial, on papers and magazines on both sides of the conflict.  I've seen some of them before but it was nice getting the juxtapostion of date and source.  My only regret with the book (other than my lack of cash to buy it at the moment) is that it didn't have more in it.  I would love to see a comprehensive study of editorial satire from the era.

I'm not sure what category to put this one in.  It wasn't a graphic novel.  It was both a history book and an art book.  Maybe I'll just add a couple of wildcard categories.  Got it.  I used it for the "book based entirely on its cover" category.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Obsession in Death

Well, one more book down and I'm about a third of the way through one of my non-fictions.

I bought and read Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb today.  Wow.  It was really good.  I've liked most of the books in the series, but I can honestly say this one is going to be in the top ten of them.  It's very personal to Eve and the family she's built over the series.  I like those.  Since it just came out yesterday, I shall say no more, but I can chalk up Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb as my "book published this year".  Started and finished on 2/11/2015.

The other one I'm reading is The Pox and the Covenant by Tony Williams.  It's about the smallpox epidemic that hit Boston in 1721 that seems to be leading to the inoculation trend that I know John and Abigail Adams took advantage of for themselves and their own children.  The surprising thing is that the cry for inoculations was started by a person I never expected: Cotton Mather.  The book is quite interesting thus far and very readable, which is not always the case for history books.

Monday, February 09, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge

Wow.  Three years since I've blogged.  I guess that's actually a good sign as to my mental health.  It means I no longer need the vent.  However, I have decided to do a few reading challenges this year and need something to link back to.  Of course, since I am insane, I can't just do one.  I have decided to mix at least four of them into one massive challenge.  If you want to start one of your own, here's a link to Bustle, which lists a bunch of options.  Here goes.

2015 Reading Challenge, encompassing challenges by Popsugar, Kindred Digital Books, Bookish, Peekabook, Books and Chocolate, All About Books

There is a lot of overlap in the various challenges and I'm going to see how many of the categories I can fill up with my TBR shelves, female authors, and classics.  To be honest, just knowing that at least three of my authors are prolific as rabbits means I'll be able to fulfill a few categories as soon as they publish their next few novels.  I may not fill all of the categories this year, but it should be interesting.  Beside this I'll be working on my NaNoWriMo novel from last year and a short pamphlet for the local libray.  Then there are my crafts.  This will be a busy year for me.

This post will probably get quite long as I will be using it as my central list.

A collection of short stories
A collection of poetry
A book published by an indie press
A book that takes place in Asia - The Rape of Nanking, Iris Chang, 1/15/2015
A book by an author from Africa
A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)
A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)
A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)
A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of anyind
A microhistory - The Pox and the Covenant, Tony Williams, 3/4/2015
A YA novel
A sci-fi novel
A memoir
A mystery or thriller
A 19th Century Classic
A 20th Century Classic
A Classic by a female author
A Classic in Translation
A Classic with a person's name in the title
A humorous or satirical Classic
A forgotten Classic
A nonfiction Classic
A Children's Classic book
A Classic play - Lysistrata, Aristophanes, 3/15/2015
A classic romance
A book based on a true story
A nonfiction book - Children of the Flames, Lucette Lagnado, 1/15/15
A romance novel - Saving Grace, Julie Garwood, 1/30/2015
A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade
A book that someone else has recommended to you
A book published this year - Obsession in Death, J.D. Robb, 2/11/2015
A Classic novella, under 250 pages
A 500+ page novel
A 1,000+ page novel
A novel in one day - The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy, Julia Quinn, 2/5/2015
Something by Plato, Aristotle, or Marcus Aurelius
A novel by David Foster Wallace
A novel by Nabokov
A novel by Mark Twain
A book by Neil Gaiman
A novel by James Joyce
A novel by Haruki Murakami
A novel by Kurt Vonnegut
A book by an author you LOATHE
A book written by an author with your same initials
An independently published by an Amazon author
A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25
A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65
A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ
A book by a person whose gender is different from your own
A novel on an e-reader - Children of the Night, Mercedes Lackey, 3/2/2015
A book that was/has been banned
A book with nonhuman characters
A book with antonyms in the title
A book with a number in the title
A book with a color in the title
A book with a one-word title
A book set in a different country
A popular author's first book
A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet - The Unleashing, Shelly Laurenston, 4/1/2015
A book a friend recommended
A book at the bottom of your to be read list
A book your mother loves
A book that scares you
A book based entirely on its cover - Cartoons of World War II, Paul Husband, 2/18/2015
A book you were supposed to read in high school but didn't
A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
A book that came out the year you were born
A book with bad reviews - The Immortal Who Loved Me, Lynsay Sands, 2/25/2015 - (Putting this here because I gave it a generally bad review!)
A trilogy
A book from your childhood
A book with a love triangle
A book set in the future - Concealed in Death, J.D. Robb, 2/5/2015
A book set in a high school
A book that made you cry
A book with magic - Hidden Dragons, Bianca D'arc, 2/20/2015
A book by an author you've never read before
A book you own but have never read
A book that takes place in your hometown
A book set during christmas - Festive in Death, J.D. Robb, 2/6/2015
A book based on or turned into a tv show
A book that became a movie
A book you started but never finished
Listen to an entire audiobook - America: Empire of Liberty, David Reynolds, 3/11/2015

The Wolf, Jean Johnson, 3/7/2015
The Mage, Jean Johnson, 3/8/2015
The Mane Event, Shelly Laurenston, 3/9/2015
Printers' Marks: A Chapter in the History of Typography, William Roberts, 3/11/2015 (the link is to a downloadable pdf)
The Evolution of the Book, Frederick G. Kilgour, 3/11/2015
The Book: The Story of Printing and Bookmaking, Douglas McMurtrie. 3/11/2015
The Art & History of Books, Norma Levarie, 3/11/2015
Dragon Storm, Bianca D'arc, 3/12/2015
Big Bad Beast, Shelly Laurenston, 3/15/2015
Early Dutch, German & English Printers' Marks, Jean Philibert Berjeau, 3/16/2015 (the link is to a downloadable pdf)
Make It a Double, Sawyer Bennett, 3/17/2015
Printers Marks and their Significance, Douglas McMurtrie, 3/18/2015 (the link is to an online copy of the book)
Devices of the Early Printers: 1457-1560, Hugh William Davies, 3/18/2015 (the link is to an html copy from Project Gutenberg)
Printers Devices in Dutch Incunabula, W.J. Schretlen, 3/18/2015
Printers Marks, Horace Townsend, 3/18/2015
Printers Mottoes, Bella C. Landauer, 3/18/2015
Sicilia et Magna Graecia sive Historiae Vrbium Populorum et Graeciae ex Antiquis Nomismatibus Liber Primus, Hubert Goltzius, 3/18/2015 (this book was published in 1617 by the printer whose mark it took me years to identify.  It is written in Latin, so it might be more accurate that I looked at every page)
Amoris Divini et Human Antipathia, 3/18/2015 (the same as the one above, but printed in 1655.  The illustrations were absolutely amazing.)
Dutch Printers Devices, volumes 1-3, Peter van Huisstede, 3/19/2015
The Printed Book, Henri Bouchot, 3/19/2015 (link goes to a free downloadable copy at Project Gutenberg)
Masterpieces of the Early Printers and Engravers, Henry Noel Humphreys, 3/19/2015 (the link is to a downloadable copy of the book)
Heraldic Influence on Early Printers Marks, James Moran, 3/19/2015
English Printers Marks of the 16th Century, F.C. Avis, 3/19/2015
Before Midnight, Jennifer Blackstream, 3/20/2105
Stardust Miracle, Edie Ramer, 3/22/2015
Love Potions, Michelle Pillow, 3/23/2015
The Werewolf Liaison, Vivi Anna, 3/24/2015
The Naughty Never Die, LL Kellogg, 3/24/2015
London Under, Peter Ackroyd, 3/25/2015
Star Trek and History, Nancy R. Reagin, 4/5/2015
Keeper of the Flames, Bianca d'Arc, 4/8/2015
Protector of the Small: First Test, Tamora Pierce, 4/16/2015
Protector of the Small: Page, Tamora Pierce, 4/17/2015
Protector of the Small: Squire, Tamora Pierce, 4/18/2015
Protector of the Small: Lady Knight, Tamora Pierce, 4/19/2015
Storm Warning, Mercedes Lackey, 4/23/2015
Storm Rising, Mercedes Lackey, 4/24/2015
Storm Breaking, Mercedes Lackey, 4/25/2015
An Offer From A Gentleman, Julia Quinn, 4/26/2015
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, Julia Quinn, 4/27/2015