Monday, July 23, 2012

Ranchero Vocabulary

Ranchero by Rick Gavin

Miscegenation: marriage or cohabitation between a man and woman of different races, especially, in the U.S., between a black and a white person

Lyceum: an institution for popular education providing discussions, lectures, concerts, etc.

Atavistic: of, pertaining to, or characterized by atavism; reverting to or suggesting the characteristics of a remote ancestor or primitive type.

Etude: a musical composition, usually instrumental, intended mainly for the practice of some point of technique.

Muriatic: (not in scientific use) of or derived from muriatic acid.

Endomorph: a mineral enclosed within another mineral

Monday, July 16, 2012

Meg Review

Meg by Steve Alten
(from the book jacket)
On a top-secret dive into the Pacific Ocean’s deepest canyon, Jonas Taylor found himself face-to-face with the largest and most ferocious predator in the history of the animal kingdom.  The sole survivor of the mission, Taylor is haunted by what he’s sure he saw but still can’t prove exists – Carcharodon megalodon, the massive mother of the great white shark.  The average prehistoric Meg weighs in at twenty tons and could tear apart a Tyrannosaurus rex in seconds.
Written off as a crackpot suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Taylor refuses to forget the depths that nearly cost him his life.  With a Ph. D. in paleontology under his belt, Taylor spends years theorizing, lecturing, and writing about the possibility that Meg still feeds at the deepest levels of the sea.  But it takes an old friend in need to get him to return to the water, and a hotshot female submarine pilot to dare him back into a high-tech miniature sub.
Diving deeper than he ever has before, Taylor will face terror like he’s never imagined, and what he finds could turn the tides bloody red until the end of time.

Meg is exactly what you are expecting it to be.  A highly improbable plot where a megalodon has survived and is now terrorizing the oceans.  You have all the usual characters: the save the shark crew, the kill the shark crew, the expert no one listens to until it’s too late.  There aren’t too many surprises.  You are not going to be blown away by the great writing or intricate plotting.  But if you are picking up the book in the first place I don’t really think that’s what you’re looking for.  It was what I was in the mood for at the time so I enjoyed reading it.  It has the appropriate amount of people getting eaten, bloody scenes, people getting in each other’s way and good plans going wrong along with some mayhem and things exploding.  There were even some shark facts thrown in.  And a few people who you honestly didn’t know if they would get eaten or not.  Good stuff.  If you like that sort of thing.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bookin' Giveaways

Bookin' With Bingo is having a bunch of giveaway (as usual).  You should head on over and check them out.

For The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich go here.  Ends July 22nd.

For An Unsuitable Bride by Jane Feathers go here.  Ends July 29th.

For Murder for Choir by Joelle Charbonneau go here.  Ends July 29th.

For Bloodline by James Rollins go here.  Ends July 29th.

For Eat the City by Robin Schulman go here.  Ends July 31st.

For Pies and Prejudice by Ellery Adams go here.  Ends July 31st.

For Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot go here.  Ends July 31st.

For an audio copy of The Nightmare by Lars Kepler go here.  Ends July 31st.

All giveaway end at 6PM EST on the date mentioned.  All giveaways are open to the US only, no PO boxes.

And as always there is a list of giveaways you can check here.

The Friday 56 (July 13th)

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link it to Freda's Voice.
*Add your (url) post to Linky on Freda’s post

The book is Culinary Reactions by Simon Quellen Field. It is about the science behind cooking. There are even chemical diagrams in here. I understand some of it though.

To round out the flavor palate, it’s good to excite the sweet sensors and the sour sensors on the tongue as well. (I’ll let someone else devise a good-tasting recipe that also excites the two bitter sensors – I’d just as soon avoid those myself.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WWW Wednesdays (July 11th)

To play along just answer the following three (3) questions…

*What are you currently reading?
*What did you recently finish reading?
*What do you think you’ll read next?

Leave a link to you post (or the answers themselves if you do not have a blog) in the comments of Should Be Reading.

What are you currently reading?

Euclid’s Window by Leonard Mlodinow
It’s all about geometry. Not for everyone but so far it is very readable and doesn’t have too many numbers.

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Fred Bruemmer
So far this has been equal parts about unicorn myths and narwhals.

What did you recently finish reading?

A Cup Full of Midnight by Jaden Terrell
A murder mystery that got pretty dark and was kind of gruesome at times. If you’re okay with that it is a good book.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Culinary Reactions by Simon Quellen Field
I just picked it up from the library and it looks pretty interesting. Besides I’m kind of behind on my non-fiction reading challenge and need to get going on that.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Last Unicorn Movie vs. Book

The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle
The Last Unicorn with Alan Arkin and Jeff Bridges

A unicorn comes to believe that she is the last unicorn in the world and sets out to see if she can find any others.

In broad strokes the story in the movie and the book are the same.
The unicorn sets out on a journey to find other unicorns.  She meets up with Schmendrick the magician and Molly Grue and heads toward King Haggard’s castle to solve the mystery of the missing unicorns.  But the book is deeper somehow.  It is also infinitely sadder.  Schmendrick is a bit of a clown in the movie, when his tricks go wrong it’s funny but in the book he is not a character that can be laughed at, he is to be pitied.  There is a dark gloomy feeling to the entire book that doesn’t completely come across in the movie and I think it loses something.  As with most book to movie conversions parts were cut for the movie.  There is a whole cursed town in the book that doesn’t show up in the movie.  There are a few other things that don’t show up too but mostly things that the story could work around, it still works without them.  The cut that really makes a difference is the time table.  Things happen more quickly in the movie.  The slow loss of hope, the creeping despair is lost in the movie and it fails to have the same impact.  The movie was okay but the book was great.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Knight in History Review

The Knight in History by Frances Gies

(from the back of the book)

For six centuries the medieval knight dominated the battlefields and stirred the imagination of the Western world. Born out of the chaos of the early Middle Ages, the armored, mounted warrior revolutionized warfare and became the keystone of the new political structure of feudalism. Alarmed by his excesses, the Church first attempted to tame him, then enlisted him in its own enterprises – above all, the First Crusade of 1095. The Church’s efforts to Christianize the knight gave him a status sought even by kings and princes, and he was celebrated by the troubadours, trouveres, and their successors, including the fabricators of the legend of King Arthur and the Round Table.

In the end, the knight was anachronistically stranded in the age of gunpowder and the national state, but memory of him proved durable. In a long “Indian summer,” which stretched into modern times, knighthood was revived and recalled with affectionate myopia – its faults forgotten, its virtues exaggerated. Here, at last, is the real picture of knighthood.

This is obviously very well researched. And it is equally obvious that Gies knows what he is talking about. The knight is a very broad topic and spans over a long period of time and over many countries and cultures. So the information is pretty dense. Gies looks into the beginnings of knighthood and how the institution changed over time. He shows how the equipment, funding and even function changed and how they turned to poetry and song and ended up fighting for the church. It is impossible, of course, to pull the knight out of the history that he took part in and also impossible to go in-depth into all of that history but Gies strikes a pretty good balance. There were times when a lot of names were mentioned that didn't get much of an introduction and a history buff would probably have no trouble with that but some of the names ended up meaning nothing to me. But he also takes a close look at a couple of particular knights that gives the reader a better idea of the life of a knight more than an overview could do. It isn't the most readable history book I've ever read but that doesn't mean it wasn't interesting. You just have to have a true, and I would say, slightly more than casual interest to make it worth your time.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Castle in the Air Review

Castle in the Air by Donald Westlake

(from the book jacket)
A castle is about to be dismantled and flown to Paris where it will be reassembled for an international exhibit of architectural styles.  But a deposed South American dictator has hidden his entire fortune of cash, stocks, and jewelry inside twelve stones of the castle.  Lida Perez, a sexy and fiery revolutionary who wants to get her hands on the loot to further her political cause, enlists the aid of British master-criminal Eustace Dench to mastermind the heist.

When Dench assembles his working gang of thieves, they turn out to be the Who’s Who of Europe’s Most Wanted List – Sir Mortimer Maxwell, doddering but dangerous, peppery Rosa Palermo, sly Jean LeFraque, and Vito Palone, who is whisked from his peaceful retirement in jail to join the biggest, most elaborate heist the world has ever known.

This book is written in a way that makes it sound as if the narrator is talking to you, like he is telling you the story.  I think the casual tone and laid back way that things are said add to the humor of the situation.  I also think that it is one of the reasons that the book is so easy and quick to read.  Westlake has a knack for a good comic crime.  And he makes watching this international group of thieves stealing a castle a lot of fun.  The humor does get almost slap stick at times with all the people falling into canals and no one understanding anyone else because they all speak different languages, but it is also witty.  The actual crime is not the end of the story here.  You get to see it planned and then perpetrated but then you get to see after the crime where everything starts to fall apart.  It’s fun to watch the group breakup and reform and morph along the way as you follow the money and try to figure out you is going to get what by the time everything is said and done.  It’s an entertaining and quick story for anyone who likes a little fun with their crime.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

WWW Wednesdays (July 4th)

To play along just answer the following three (3) questions...

*What are you currently reading?
*What did you recently finish reading?
*What do you think you’ll read next?

Leave a link to your post (or the answers themselves if you do not have a blog) in the comments of Should Be Reading.

What are you currently reading?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
A lot of ‘80’s pop culture references.  I get most of them but I don’t know if anyone younger than me will remember all this stuff.  Although I think gamers will like this book.

What did you recently finish reading?

Dolphin People by Torsten Krol
A very interesting book.  And slightly odd.  I think I liked it. 

What do you think you’ll read next?

A Cup Full of Midnight by Jaden Terrell
I got it from the Early Reviewers from Librarything and I’m trying to keep on top of the reviews I have to write so I want to get started on it soon.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What's Your Opinion on Giveaways?

Pretty Opinionated is giving away some really cool stuff.  I'd get over there and check it out if I were you.

For a $25 Bath and Body Works gift card go here.  Open to US residents 18+.  Ends July 11th.

For a Kindle Fire ($200 Amazon gift card) go here. Open internationally.  Ends July 13th.

For an autographed copy of The Light Tamer by Devyn Dawson and a $50 Amazon gift card go here.  Open to the US only for those 13+.  Ends July 24th.

For a $100 Amazon gift card and a set of autographed books by Olivia Hardin plus some jewelry go here.  The gift card and ebooks are open internationally but the books and the jewelry are open to the US only.  Ends July 30th.

For the Immortal Voyage Book Tour where you can win a Kindle, books, a necklace and some swag go here.  Open to the US and Canada for those 18+.  Ends August 6th.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Trollhunter Review

With Otto Jespersen

Three students think they are making a documentary about a bear poacher only to find that he is not hunting bears, but trolls.

I’m not a fan of movies that use the ‘found footage’ format. Where you have supposedly real footage shot by an amateur or film crew or something. And this is one of those. So you have all the odd camera movements and shots of the ground and bad sound quality that comes with that. It can also be a bit boring at times and is very slow to get started. I do like the story though. It is a fun concept and it is interesting to hear the troll facts (about the different kinds, how to kill them, how to contain them etc.) and the characters are pretty good too. And I like how they did the trolls themselves and that you got to see the trolls in more than just a blurry spot as the camera flashes by. There is some action as they run for their lives and fight trolls and some tense moments as you wonder if they will survive but there is a lot of footage of the forest and footage of interviews with people so it does slow down a lot at times. I liked it but I wouldn’t say it was great. And definitely not for someone who wants a non-stop action sort of movie.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Whiplash River Review

Whiplash River by Lou Berney

(from the back of the book)
Having left his life of crime behind, former getaway driver Charles “Shake” Bouchon has finally realzed the dream of owning his own restaurant in Belize. To do so, unfortunately, he’s had to go deep in debt to a murderous local drug lord named Baby Jesus.  And then when Shake thwarts an attempted hit on an elderly customer named Quinn, things go from bad to worse.

Next thing Shake knows, his restaurant’s gone up in flames and he’s on the run from Baby Jesus, two freelance assassins, and a beautiful but ferocious FBI agent.  Out of options, Shake has to turn for help to the mysterious Quinn.  Suddenly Shake’s up to his neck in a dangerous score that he’ll never pull off unless he can convince an even more dangerous ex-girlfriend to join him.

I liked Whiplash River.  It was fast and funny.  It was part thriller, part action and part heist book.  The characters were quirky and interesting while still being believable.  Berney manages to take some familiar elements; the slightly bumbling would be sidekick, the woman cop out to prove something, the ex-con trying to go good, the heist that keeps spinning further and further out of control and keep them from being derivative, cliché and stale.  It has a good pace and enough action and surprises that there are no slow spots and it keeps your attention right to the end.  It all comes together for a book that is enjoyable to read without much thinking involved.  But I don’t know how much will stick with me.  A month from now I’ll remember I liked the book and would read another by Berney but I don’t think I’ll be able to tell you the plot.  But it was fun while it lasted.