baronessekat: (book)
American WarAmerican War by Omar El Akkad

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

talk about a deep, slightly uncomfortable topic that leads to a book that had me engrossed and wanting more.

2074... the ice caps have melted, resulting in large portions of the United States no longer existing. The Mississippi Delta is now the Mississippi Sea. The Capital of the United States has moved from the now underwater Washington DC to Columbus, Ohio. A ban on fossil fuels has lead to the Second American Civil War because the Southern States, who relied on the industry for the economy once again broke from the north and formed the Free Southern States. The entire State of South Carolina is behind a wall to keep a plague virus that was unleashed there early in the war contained.

This is the world that Sara T. Chestnut (known to all as Sarat) lived.

This book is told by her nephew Benjamin years after the events happen. How, when she was 6, Sarat's family evacuated their small home in Louisiana to a refugee camp, where she lived for 7 years. How she and her siblings survived a massacre there and she went to work for a rebel faction, how she lived in a military prison for years as a prisoner of war, and how, after being freed, she worked to end it all.

I found the book very difficult, because I can see how it could so easily happen. I am glad I read the book, though I think I can say with certainty that I do not think I need to ever read it again.

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Guest of the RevolutionGuest of the Revolution by Kathryn Koob

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Mentioned in "Laughing with an Accent"

Katherine Koob was working at the American Embassy in Iran when the Revolution started in 1979 and was one of the people taken hostage and held for 444 days. This was her recounting of her experience.

If Goodreads allowed for half stars this would be a 2.5. It wasn't bad, but it certainly was not what I expected the tale of the experiences of one of the Iranian Hostages to be.

Now, I don't know if that is because I was 6 when she was taken hostage and my memories of the time are vague at best, and my life experiences have caused me to have a different view on "being a hostage" from other stories, movies, tv and such than what Ms. Koob did, but I found myself frustrated by her.

She said she told an interviewer that she and the other female hostage that she ended up sharing quarters with as being scared all the time. But that certainly did not come across in the writing. I expected more descriptions of the fear, the isolation before she was quartered with Ann, the pains of hunger because they didn't always feed her, the general uncomfortableness of having to wear the same clothes day in and day out, etc.

Instead she describes spending her days reading the bible and hymnal she had with her, praying, making plans for what she would cook for dinner, etc. But frankly the entire read made it seem like it was just an inconvenience for her, not an ordeal. She talked about decorating whatever room she was in to celebrate the holidays, chatting with the female guards, cooking meals for all the hostages. She even describes back-talking her captors and doing other things that in my mind I'm screaming "are you insane, that's how you get shot?!?!?" She says she was allowed to write letters home and then was completely upset that they were never mailed.

Again, I can only think that it is a cultural difference over the last 37 years that made me go "what made you think they would send them?" She talks of the outrage she felt that she did not receive the letters that were being sent to her with any kind of regularity. Again...HOSTAGE... not vacation guest.

I am not upset I read this book. In fact it did make me think and reflect on how much the world and socio-political feelings have changed in the near 40 years since this happened. That is always a good thing to see where we were and where we are and where we could be.

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The Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon & Clare, #1)The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been a fan of Lilith Saintcrow for years after first discovering her Dante Valentine series. So when a reading challenge called for a "steampunk book" and I saw that she had written a series in that genre, I happily leapt at the opportunity.

I was not at all disappointed. Steampunk, sorcery, mystery, a touch of possible romance all blended well for a fun, enjoyable book that kept me entertained during a long car trip weekend.

I am looking forward to continuing in this series as I am anxious to see where the storyline goes.

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Fool Me OnceFool Me Once by Harlan Coben

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The premise sounded interesting. Former Army Pilot Mia's husband is murdered, just a couple months after her sister's grizzly murder. Her best friend gives her a nanny camera to help her keep an eye on the house and her 2 year old daughter while she's out. One night, she checks the footage and sees her dead husband playing with her daughter. This causes her to start her own investigation into the events regarding both murders.

The description of the plot caught my attention, though the genre is not one I generally gravitate towards. But the actual story was far from as exciting as I expected by the write up.

Shortly into the book, I feel that Mia is not displaying any form of grief for a supposedly loving widow. She keeps referring to this scandal that caused an abrupt end to her military career but never goes into details, other than saying that if all information came to light, she would be even more ruined than she was already. She treats one of her best friends like crap. I start classifying her as an unreliable narrator - which instantly makes me hate her. Her continued behavior, the lack of logic to much of the story, the vagueness to actions and behaviors made me literally cry out once "stop pussyfooting around and hinting and just say what you mean".

When we finally do learn all the "sordid" details, I found myself going "you know what, I honestly don't care". And I didn't. In the end I was just grateful for the end of the book.

This was my first introduction to the author and upon reading other reviews of this book, I find that he follows pretty much the same formula for them all. And since I really didn't like this one, you can bet, I'm not going to bother reading anything else by him. The only reason this book got 2 stars is because the audiobook narrator made it something I could actually finish.

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Taking a small break from painting teeny tiny coats of arms on the lineage scroll (it's a new experience to do painting through a magnifying glass). Thought I would share some random Heraldic trivia I have collected because of this project.

Of the 40 reigns that are represented on this scroll, 19 are Ducal or more reigns

Of the 21 men that have sat the Sylvan Throne, 14 of them have critters on their arms.

The colors preferences on the arms (in ascending order) are:

Blue = 3
Green = 3
Purple = 3
Red = 6
Yellow = 10
Black = 16
White = 17

The charges represented (in ascending order) but not distinguished by style/type are:

Augmentation = 1 (only one has registered their augmentation)
Crescent = 1
Dragon = 1
Stars = 1
Swan = 1
Horse = 1
Lance = 1
Castle = 1
Rabbit = 1
Fleur de Lys = 1
Pile = 1
Rose = 1
Saltire = 1
Squirrel = 1
Acorn = 1
Bend = 1
Pale = 1
Canine = 2
Stag = 2
Bear = 2
Chevron = 2
Border = 3
Feline = 3
Cross = 4

Field Divisions (in ascending order) are:

Quarterly = 1
Per Fess = 2
Per Pale = 2
Per Bend = 2
Per Chevron = 4
None = 8

And we have had 1 sit the Throne with no registered Arms.
baronessekat: (book)
Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own BodyGhost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body by Martin Pistorius

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Martin was 12 he fell ill and eventually lost all control of his body and fell into a coma. At the age of 16 he started to become aware again, but still had no control over his body. He was trapped in a prison and at the mercy of those around him. When he was 21, a worker at one of the care centers he went to on a daily basis, started talking to him and realized that there was an active mind behind his eyes and fought to get him help.

This book was difficult to deal with in places, especially as I have had family trapped inside their body and as someone on the outside looking in, you hope that you are doing right by them. It was really easy to empathize with Martin as well as his family.

The only thing I had trouble with was that this book is written in present tense as it goes from age 21 to 30-something. While there is nothing wrong with that style, it is not one I am fond of for memoirs.

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Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad (Funny in Farsi #2)Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad by Firoozeh Dumas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I found "Funny in Farsi" funnier, I enjoyed the stories in this installment more enjoyable and ones I could relate to more.

this time we get to experience even more of her personal life, both growing up and after being married, and how she had to deal with Parents from a very different culture than what they were living in. The story of her mother, husband and the bright red bedspread had me giggling to no end. Her realization that Jewish Mothers and Iranian Mothers are the same creature, just separated by religion, classic.

I highly recommend both this and "Funny in Farsi" and at roughly 6 hours each, they are both quick listens.

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baronessekat: (book)
The Gospel of LokiThe Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am totally kicking myself for letting this book sit on my TBR list for as long as it did. I completely and utterly enjoyed this book and it was made all the better by Allan Corduner's narration.

This book tells the Norse Myths completely from the point of view of Loki, the Trickster god. The first person narration makes it even better.

I've always been a sucker for the anti-hero/bad boy and this was all about him. It gave a great perspective on the myths and I totally LOVED how it ended.

If you like stories of the Norse myths, I cannot recommend this book enough.

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baronessekat: (book)
Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in AmericaFunny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fun book. An enjoyable look at one woman's struggle growing up in the 70's and 80's in California after immigrating from Iran and dealing with being both American and Iranian by culture when her parents were strongly Iranian (pre- Iranian revolution Iranian culture, not what we associate with Iranian culture today).

I found myself smiling throughout the entire book and have already obtained a copy of the author's next book as I am looking forward to more of a glimpse into her life and family.

Highly recommend.

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baronessekat: (book)
A Distant MirrorA Distant Mirror by Barbara W. Tuchman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure going into this book what I'd think. But I found an engaging and entertaining look at Europe in the 14th Century, specifically France and England and the dealings regarding the 100 Years War. I learned a lot of things that I did not know about the century, and am glad I took the friend's recommendation for it.

I did the audiobook and think the reader was a huge help in keeping me engaged for the entire 29 hours. If it's an option for you, I would recommend listening to this book.

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Amish Vampires in Space (Peril in Plain Space #1)Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Nietz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

They say "Don't judge a book by it's cover". Same holds true for the title.

I went into this book expecting a written version of a story you'd see made into a movie shown on public access TV at 2am, or torn apart by Mystery Science Theater. I mean, come on, a book entitled "Amish Vampires in Space"? What else could it be but camp and nonsense?

Boy was I wrong. Instead I got a well written, enjoyable Science Fiction story that wove Amish, Vampires and Space Travel together with a logical thread that made me go "Huh, I never would have thought of that, but it makes total sense".

Oh sure, you can figure out early on where the bad guys come into the picture. But that's secondary to how the crew of the Raven and the Amish settlers deal with them.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book and have actually started recommending it to others. I may even look to get the next book in the series now.

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Mr. Wuffles!Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book caught my attention as I was walking through the library today. The cat on the cover looks just like my Puck that I had to stop and look through the book. It was an absolutely wonderful picture book that made me smile the entire time that I stood there in the aisle "reading" it.

There are only a couple words in the entire book, spoken by Mr. Wuffles owner. The rest of the time it's all pictures that tell the story of a teeny-tiny alien space ship that lands inside Mr. Wuffle's home. Mr. Wuffles plays with the ship until the occupants are forced to evacuate to under a credenza, where they meet a colony of ants who treat Mr. Wuffles as a Giant Godlike being. Through cooperation and sharing of resources, the ants and other insects help the aliens get past Mr. Wuffles to reclaim their spaceship and escape back home.

All in all Mr. Wuffles looks and acts just like my cat and now I have a story to go with him staring at the "invisible people in the walls" as I call it.

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The ShiningThe Shining by Stephen King

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

30 years ago I was a hardcore Stephen King fan, but had somehow missed reading The Shining. So when a reading challenge category of "Book that takes place in a hotel" came up, I decided to revisit the author.

I now remember why I stopped reading his stuff. I don't know if it was the book itself or the narrator but I kept finding myself looking to see how much time I had left in the book and going "I still have HOURS" to go. I found the reader to be rather monotone, and it wasn't until the end that his voice took on any kind of excitement that made me feel even remotely interested.

I never saw either the movie or the made for tv miniseries and frankly have no desire to do so. But I can see how this book could have translated well into a suspense thriller on screen. I just wish I had felt it while listening to the book.

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King's Cage (Red Queen, #3)King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm rather ambivalent about this book. I liked many parts of it, but in general it's my least favorite of the three thus far.

I think what made me go "eh" over it was that it would randomly change which character was narrating the story. Which, if that had been the story telling technique from book one, I'd have been more OK with it. But waiting until the third book caused me to loose interest. Same thing happened with Book three of the Divergent series.

But at least the different points of view were read by different readers, so it was easier to tell. Though I though the voice of Evangeline sounded to young, but that's a personal taste thing rather than a story telling thing.

I did like how the author continued with the exploration of Mar's PTSD and I was glad to see that she didn't dive into Stockholm Syndrome (which was a fear I had). Once a certain point was brought up by a secondary character, I totally saw how the ending was going to go, but it was a believable ending.

Will I continue with the series if there are more books? Yes. But unlike other series, I'm not sitting here refreshing the author's webpage to find out when the next book is due to be published.

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This year for war, I chronicled my activities as if writing a personal log for a sci-fi/space tv show. This came about after spending a week reading Duchess Dagmar’s FB posts about the great Crapiderm Migration across the Serengeti and watching the episode of the Big Bang Theory that ends with the guys going to a Ren Faire with Sheldon dressed as Spock.

Here are my entries:
Read more... )
baronessekat: (book)
The Ides of April (Flavia Albia Mystery, #1)The Ides of April by Lindsey Davis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I neither liked nor disliked this book. It was just OK for me. The writing was good and the reader talented, but it just didn't pull me in. Perhaps if I had read the previous works of this author, I might have liked it more, but as it was, I had no knowledge of the author or the fact that she had written an entire other series of books set just before this one.

As far as the mystery goes, I pretty much figure out who the killer was within a chapter or two of them being introduced. That doesn't mean it was a bad story, just that if you have read murder mysteries, there were flags early on.

I can't say that I will continue in this series, but if the next one crosses my path, I won't turn away from it.

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War is just shy of 2 weeks away.

I have done NO sewing, thought I want to make a couple new tunics.

The only prep I've done really is pull out and inspect the pavilion and that's only because we used it at Pax for J's vigil. I did order a new tarp for under my tent and some new chests of drawers as last year my drawer unit failed spectacularly.

But I don't have a scroll that has to be done (though I have a backlog that would be nice to get done but at this point it won't). I have a kingdom gift exchange gift I have to finish because the first attempt was a fail and I promised the replacement would be delivered at war.

But frankly, I'm not feeling it this year. No real excitement or anticipation. I'm not even feeling much of a panic that I've not done as much (if any) real prep yet. In fact, I was talking with Un-Minion this weekend and confessed that if I were not Watch 2 this year, I'd give serious thought about not going for the full two weeks if at all.

I have determined that as long as I am not in the upper command staff of the Watch next year, I may take the two weeks off of work but only go down for a week (like Wednesday to Wednesday) and use the other days as prep/recuperation/me time. The following year is still up in the air as we wait to find out if Dagmar got the bid to be Mayor. If she does, I am going to have to be down for 2.5-3 weeks as I'll be the War Admin/XO.

I admit that I miss feeling the excitement. Heck, I'm not really feeling the excitement for the SCA in general. (in fact I've been feeling a whole lot of "why bother anymore" since war practice) And I miss that. I miss just feeling excited about anything, it is just more obvious to me in regards to the SCA.
baronessekat: (book)
The Girl with Ghost Eyes (Xian Li-lin, #1)The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

if Goodreads let us do 1/2 stars, I would give this a 3.5.

Xian Li-lin is a 22 year old widow, living with her father in Chinatown in San Francisco at the end of the 19th century. She studies Daoist traditions and strives to not bring shame on to her father. The thing that makes her unusual is that she has Yin or Ghost Eyes which means that she can see and interact with the Spirits.

She's approached by the son of one of the most important men in Chinatown, who asks her to help his friend who has a friend who died but needs help crossing over to the next realm. She agrees. From there things go sideways.

The blending of the Supernatual with traditional Chinese beliefs and attitudes at the end of the 19th century was something I had not seen before and enjoyed greatly. I do think that I would have liked this book more had a read it rather than listened to it. Not being familiar with Chinese names, it was hard at times to keep them all straight. Add to that, is that I first encountered the narrator through another series of books (also in the first person) and I had a hard time separating that series' main character from Li-lin. Had either book been in third person I do not think I would have had that trouble.

Overall, it was a fun book.

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The Neverending StoryThe Neverending Story by Michael Ende

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was definitely not the target audience for this book. And I can see how a person of a much younger age might have enjoyed this book. However, I felt incredibly eh about it.

if you've seen the movie by the same name, the movie is the first third of the book. I have not seen the sequels but from those that have, they encompass the rest of the story.

I found the first third interesting and I vividly recalled the movie parts as they came up. But once we reached the part where the first movie stopped, I really had trouble focusing and caring about the characters.

In the end I felt that the book was aptly named... as it felt like it was neverending.

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Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2)Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this one a lot better than the first book and I found the first book really good.

The only way I can describe this series is X-Men meets Hunger Games. But that does it an injustice.

I'm liking that the author is giving the heroine of the story more depth and really conveys her feeling so completely over her head and out of her depths with what is happening. Unlike in Hunger Games, she didn't even initially start out asking for what happened to her, or sacrificing herself to save a family member. She did what she had to in order to survive and now she has to keep going.

I like that she is being shown dealing with the traumas. How she's being effected by PSTD (though it's not anything said but all the symptoms are there) of the torture, abuse and sheer hell she's had to endure.

And the narrator of the audiobook is really good and her voice alone grips me and drags me in and the story keeps me.

I will certainly be looking for the next book.

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