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.