Fiction

Murder in the Paperback Parlor by Ellery Adams

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I feel like I cheated with this book. The whole premise of Storyton Hall, a resort where folks go to get away from technology and read, is to get away from technology and I read this one as an e-book on my computer because I was too impatient for my library to get a physical copy. I don’t think they let e-readers into this place, but they certainly make people leave their cameras, phones, and laptops in their rooms.

This cozy mystery is set during Valentine’s Day during a week full of events geared towards Regency Romance Novel lovers. Once again it’s all very well done and completely believable even with certain spins this family takes (you’ll understand what I mean once you read Murder in the Mystery Suitethe first book in this series). I am a sucker for a sweet romance and I like the depth of one hinted at within this book. At first I wasn’t impressed, but as I finished the book, I have high hopes.

Bookworm's Laptop Case
Bookworm’s Laptop Case by SjasisDesignSpace
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Vintage Altered Art Rabbit Book Page iPhone 6 case
Vintage Altered Art Rabbit Book Page iPhone 6 case by gidget26
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Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

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“Miss Jenkyns wore a cravat, and a little bonnet like a jockey-cap, and altogether had the appearance of a strong-minded woman; although she would have despised the modern idea of women being equal to men.  Equal, indeed! she knew they were superior.”

 I picked this one up to satisfy my continued need for period pieces written in the period as well as it being the novel a TV show I watched was based on. It’s a nice tale, a stream of consciousness view of life in small town England with all it’s quirks. I’m still not sure what to think about the husband who wrote to their son that his wife had sprained her ankle and therefore wasn’t able to hold a pen. Considering her note on the back of the page, I guess the pain in her foot didn’t affect her hand that much. I don’t know whether to laugh at the obsurdity or to suspect that something more sinister was amiss.

I wouldn’t consider this a special piece of literature per se, but it’s definitely a good introduction to social history and viewing historical figures as they viewed themselves.

Flapper in a Feathered Turban
Flapper in a Feathered Turban by hermoines
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If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

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Ugh. I have a headache now from all the crying I did while reading this book. I still rated it a 5, but it was just so dang depressing for a Kristan Higgins novel! Spoiler alert (it’s in the blurb) one of the husbands is a cheater.

I’m not sure exactly what made me cry so much. They were the leaky tears that you don’t even notice until they either roll down your cheeks or make it difficult to see the page. I suspect my BF’s smoking played a roll in my tears because it’s our “other woman”. BF won’t lie about it, but he certainly isn’t as forthcoming as he should be and there are a lot of the same “I’m weak” comments. Grr.

My mom came out here to spend half the day with him since she had the day off and with two full grown children her compulsive shopping addiction has gotten out of control (she’s depressed). He took her out to lunch, drove her around the county on all his favorite back roads, showed her a Fort we found, took her to get a car with the tow truck, and at some point brought up the idea of marrying me. She gave her blessing, of course (she’s had us hitched since she first found out we were a couple). He told her that it won’t happen until he’s been smoke free for 2 months, but there’s still the Feb 29th deadline looming. And I came home yesterday to him in the backyard smoking a pathetic looking butt that he wouldn’t but out until he’d gotten one last drag on it. So yeah…while I don’t have to worry about another woman catching his eye, I still have to contend with the siren’s call that can be triggered by nothing more than a neighbor asking if he has a cigarette to spare. By the way, he’s been telling me for a week that he’s only been getting drags, rather than whole cigarettes from his friends–how did he end up with something smokable in his pocket?

Wedding Love Postage
Wedding Love Postage by allweddingproducts
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In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

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Sigh. This is one of those wonderfully depressing stories that leaves you crying at 3 am because you can’t put it down. I read it purely on a whim because it was advertised as a “Big Library Read Book” this month on my library’s ebook site (a book which isn’t limited in checkouts by the number of copies the library owns). It’s one I highly recommend.

It’s set in 1918, during the last months of WWI and the Spanish Influenza pandemic. Lot’s of death, lots of sorrow. And yet, finishing it has left me hopeful rather than depressed, which is how the best books are (in my opinion).

The last book I read on Spiritualism was set in WWII Britain (The Strange Case of Hellish Nell) so we know that this phenomenon (I mean the act of believing in spirits) lasted a long time. This book paints a very realistic view of life during this period–no white washing.

WWI Propaganda
WWI Propaganda by Dividenda
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Are you 100% American? Buy Bonds
Are you 100% American? Buy Bonds by parrow1978
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Beat Back the Hun
Beat Back the Hun by Dividenda
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Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

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Like many people, I’ve seen the movie a few times, but had never read the book before.

Up until the final chapters, this book reads like the movie. The only real difference is the age of the girl (I cannot remember her name in the movie to know if they changed that as well) and her being given some of Tim’s (the boy) actions. I think this was a good change because it gave us a second strong female character. Lex, in the book, is like 7 years old and for the most part she acts like a 7 year old, which is a good choice. She’s a strong 7 year old, but still a 7 year old.

Where the movie ends, this book continues and there are distinct differences from the direction the movie went. I think I prefer the book in this, but I don’t remember how sympathetic I felt towards Hammond at the end of the movie, but he definitely learned his lesson by the conclusion of this book. And I think many readers will walk away with a more ethical approach to scientific advancement after reading Jurassic Park.

When it comes to Malcolm’s ethical preaching, I agree in the most general terms that we as humans should never seek to play God. BUT, whereas Malcolm seems to think that all scientific study is for the advancement of human ego, I think that study is inherently for good of humanity not just the prestige of the scientist. Take this conclusion Malcolm gives near the end of the story: “Let’s be clear. The planet is not in jeopardy. We are in jeopardy. We haven’t got the power to destroy the planet–or to save it. But we might have the power to save ourselves.” Add to it this part of a lecture I heard in college where the professor listed a dozen or so animals and plants that have gone extinct recently and the potential cures to disease that died with them. There is a distinct line when it comes to ethics and science and I think that “do no harm” is a good rule of thumb because for every harm we cause to the environment, we have had the potential to harm ourselves. We need to see things much more broadly than the “thintelligence” that Malcolm coined and we do have to admit the potential consequences of all of our actions and admit that there are dozens more that we could never dream of. But to stop all scientific advancement simply because it has a possibility of causing harm is also dangerous.

I consider myself an environmentalist. But I do not automatically oppose mining for natural resources or even pipelines for transporting them. But I approach these issues with a very specific set of questions. First and foremost is “What will you do WHEN said pipeline leaks?” Oil and gas companies and the governments that support them like to talk about “ifs” and “maybes” even though all the evidence points towards “whens” and “definitelys”. The Alaskan pipeline has been leaking since the day it was built. Offshore drilling platforms do blow up. We do everyone a disservice when we pretend that we can play God because then we’re not allowed to plan for the inevitabilities (anyone who does plan is laughed at for being paranoid).

Anyway, there were a few specific items within Jurassic Park that made me giggle or roll my eyes. The first giggle was the description of a CD-Rom as a laser disk run by a computer. I think that folks just a few years younger than me will read this and think “what the hell is a laser disk?!?”. ‘Course, I’m one of the few people my age who has actually met a real floppy disk (the one about 5 inches across that really did flop when you waved it). I eye-rolled every time someone “clicked off the radio”. Uh…that means the radio would no longer be able to send and receive transmissions because it’s OFF! Physically off–no juice flowing from the batteries, OFF. I was in a search and rescue group in college and learning how to use the radios was one of our lessons, jargon included. In our organization (a conference of 2 dozen groups across the state and surrounding states), we used the term “clear” to indicate that we were done with the conversation and were putting our radio away. “Out” meant we were going to turn our radio completely OFF. When we worked with law enforcement, we’d have to remember that they’d use “out” with a different meaning so base wouldn’t panic. Anyone who’s used a radio before knows that you don’t turn your radio off during an exercise. You’d turn the volume down to get relative silence, but you’d still keep it loud enough to hear when someone needs you. And with as often as you’ll read about the hiss of the radio being heard, you know that it was a writer error to say that they were turning their radios off.

There is one last poignant conversation within Jurassic Park that bares mentioning. When Wu and Hammond discuss the nature of the park and whether or not the dinosaurs are real and if they really “re-created the past”. One of the classes I took in college was on the history of museums and we discussed to what extent these creations were creations vs. reality. Colonial Williamsburg is an excellent example. I believe that just about every building there was built during the 20th century to try to re-create what it looked like during the 1700s. But, it can at best be nothing more than a snapshot. In fact, the way the park is run, the “date” that it on any given day changes depending on what the overall plan for the season is. One day they may be showing a world preparing for Revolution. On another, it’ll be acting as the national capital after the war. On another, it’s life under British rule. But in all cases, it’s constructed to be entertainment. The restaurants cater to modern tastes. The actors perform on schedule. Sure, they hold slave auctions, but only on proscribed days (this would be historically accurate), but true slavery would have been on display every day during the real days of Williamsburg in the real 1700s. Back then, you’d see slaves getting slapped in the streets probably daily. Now, you’d only see that during a scheduled event. “Attention guests: at 3pm please come to the main square to see William Turner get beat for dropping the gravy on the carpet in the Governor’s Palace”. Actually…change guests to citizens and under certain circumstances that announcement would also have been historically accurate.

Funny velociraptor tee
Funny velociraptor tee by AnimalsForYou
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Predator Dinosaur iPhone 5C Case
Predator Dinosaur iPhone 5C Case by FantasyCases
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Stegosaurus Bones Dinosaur Dig
Stegosaurus Bones Dinosaur Dig by happygotimes
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Old School Dinosaur
Old School Dinosaur by LVMENES
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Almost Famous Women

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Ehh…I’m torn between not caring for Almost Famous Women because it wasn’t my taste/style and liking it for forcing me to take a step out of my comfort zone.

Having just finished Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World and not having done my research before I ordered this book from the library (I’m doing the 2015 Reading Challenge and this one was a book “based on it’s cover”), I wasn’t expecting historical fiction. I thought I was going to be reading actual short biographies of these women.

I’m relatively sure I could draw the line between fact and fiction for all of these ladies, but going back to style issues, I’m not sure where the author drew her line. I’d like to hope that the goal was to having a snapshot of life that the real woman/women, if given a chance to read it would say “yes, that’s me/us”. But I think only someone who’d done as much research as the author did could judge that.

I guess my biggest issue with this book is that about half of the women showcased in this book I don’t really care to learn more about. These are the ones who were the used (and in my opinion abused) lovers of the (also female) famous. I guess there’s something interesting to be found in what would cause a woman without real prospects (given her time and place) would be drawn to women who are wealthy/famous/etc even though said lover treats the women like dirt. But I don’t glamorize these relationships when the perpetrator is male, so why should I be intrigued since the perpetrator is female? Maybe I’m callous, but whilst reading these snapshots I could only think “I’m sorry that you lack the self-esteem to realize that you deserve better than this asshole”.

My last critique is possibly not an issue: when can one accurately use the term “autobiography”? One of the snapshots is of the 4 year old illegitimate daughter of Lord Byron and is titled something along the lines of “The autobiography of Allegra”. The entirety of this snapshot is written from the perspective of her nurse and so I find it incorrect to label it an autobiography. Of course, there may be some other way to define autobiography which would make this usage correct and I’m open to that being the case.

Gentry Bros. Circus, 1920
Gentry Bros. Circus, 1920 by HistoryPhoto
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Dragonbane by Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Well, I’m going to start this review off with a minor spoiler alert: it ends more or less on a cliffhanger and the next book won’t be published until Aug. 2016. Boo. BUT, this is still a fantastic read for anyone who likes fantasy romances. Though, when it comes to this series, I really recommend starting from the beginning because even though every book stands alone, the characters intermingle amongst themselves and there’s a lot of subtle stuff that you’d miss out on if you read them out of order. Like the major squeal that escaped me within the first 5 chapters or so, hahaha!!! I’ll stop there because that’d be a MAJOR Spoiler! But I assume all fan-girls (and fan-guys) have already read this one, so I’m not very worried.

Anywho. Bad-ass dragons. Amazon warriors. The usual stuff for a Dark-Hunter novel. I’ll admit that these books get to the point that they’re really formulaic, but the stories themselves are so nuanced to keep things interesting. For instance this book explains the invention of the entire Were-Hunter species, which we fan-girls have been dying to learn for like 15 books!

One of the reasons I like the Were-Hunter stories (which is a subsection of the Dark-Hunters Universe) is because there are two types of “Weres”–those who are humans who can shift into animals (Arcadians) and those who are animals that can shift into humans (Katagarians). One of the running themes tackles the issue of who the “real animals” are and the answer isn’t necessarily the obvious one. In previous books we’ve been told/shown that they’ve been hunting each other for centuries because of some endless civil war. In this book, we learn what started it all.

Like I said, this book ends with me whining for more even more than I do usually with this series. I miss the days when I was 15 books behind the author and could order a new one every week! But actually, for anyone looking to get hooked on this series, there are about 6 additional books hinted at within this one (which one HUGE one, if I do say so myself).

Find it here on Amazon! Yes, that’s an affiliate link, haha.

Dragon Sunset
Dragon Sunset by DreamFlame
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The Lookout
The Lookout by tigressdragon
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