Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bear Island Vocabulary

Bear Island by Alistair MacLean

Threnody: a poem, speech, or song of lamentation, especially for the dead;dirge; funeral song.

Postprandial: after a meal, especially after dinner:

Apposite: suitable; well-adapted; pertinent; relevant; apt:

Sybaritic: 1.pertaining to or characteristic of a sybarite; characterized by or loving luxury or sensuous pleasure: to wallow in sybaritic splendor.
2. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Sybaris or its inhabitants.

(Sybarite: a person devoted to luxury and pleasure.)

Cosset: to treat as a pet; pamper; coddle.

Plenary: 1.full; complete; entire; absolute; unqualified: plenary powers.
2. attended by all qualified members; fully constituted:

Peripatetic: 1.walking or traveling about; itinerant.
2. ( initial capital letter ) of or pertaining to Aristotle, who taught philosophy while walking in the Lyceum of ancient Athens.
3. ( initial capital letter ) of or pertaining to the Aristotelian school of philosophy.

Volte-face: a turnabout, especially a reversal of opinion or policy.

Concomitant: existing or occurring with something else, often in a lesser way; accompanying; concurrent:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bear Island Review

Bear Island by Alistair MacLean

(from the back of the book)
October is no time to be aboard ship in the Barents Sea, three hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle. But that's where the cast and crew of Olympus Productions find themselves. And even before they reach their destination, the ship's doctor has his hands full. Three men are violently murdered, and the company's unspoken fears are confirmed: a pathological killer awaits them on the loneliest, most desolate island in the world.

Does Bear Island guard a secret more valuable than five lives? Why is there no shooting script for the movie-and why has no one except the director been allowed to see the screenplay? Is the entire company marked for death? Does a mass murderer lurk in its midst, a pathological killer?

A film crew is trapped on a ship, with no way off and people dropping dead all over the place.  There is suspense and surprises and people who are not always what they seem.  And the narrator is interesting, and it’s fun to listen to him as he works through his suspicion of everyone and goes over the evidence for and against everyone, trying to figure out what is going on.  There is a lot of dialogue, most of the book is dialogue, and it becomes what drives the story more than anything else.  So, even though it brings out the tension between the characters, there are times when there doesn’t seem to be much going on.  It is a mystery but there is really no way that you could possibly figure it out because there is too much you just don’t know.  Until the moment when two characters get together and discuss it all.  There is really no other way to get the information to the readers but to me it seemed like a rather long conversation while the story is put on hold.  It’s not bad, I’m not sorry I read it, but I don’t think I would recommend it.  There are a lot of others books out there that are probably more worthy of your time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Win Your Books a Whole Box at a Time!

The Hollow Cupboard is giving away a box of YA books.  You get some ARCs, some paperbacks and some hardcovers.  And a couple of them are signed.

It is open to the US and Canada.

There is also a giveaway for the international readers.

There is a list of 2013 releases and the winner will be able to pick two.

You have to be or become a follower to enter either of these.

Both end January 15th.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Elements Review

The Elements by Theodore Gray

(from the back of the book) 
The Elements in the most complete and visually stunning catalog of the periodic table ever assembled.  Each element has been culled from Theodore Gray’s coveted collection of thousands of samples, lovingly photographed, and illuminated by his wonderfully entertaining and erudite text.  The ultimate marriage of science and art, The Elements will dazzle and enlighten every sentient creature.

I love this book.  I have always been interested in the elements and have read several books about them but this one is different from the rest.  It gives you a lot of technical information like the emission spectrum, atomic weight, and lots of other numbers and diagrams that will satisfy any science geek.  The information on what it is used for, where to find it, who first discovered it, how they got their names and other tidbits is interesting and written by someone who clearly loves his topic and tells it with humor.  The photos are wonderful and you actually get to see the pure elements and compounds and products they are in.  I think that’s what sets this book apart from the others, being able to see the elements.  Ok, so a good portion of them are greyish metals, and others are clear gases and some don’t stick around long enough to have pictures, but it’s still cool. And I liked seeing all the ways the elements, even the ones people have never heard of, show up in everyday life.  It is easy access chemistry for non-science nerds and even if you have read about the elements before this one is well worth a look

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Want to win books?

I Am a Reader, Not a Writer is having a bunch of giveaways.  You should go check them out.

For Escape From the Forbidden Planet by Julie Anne Grasso go here.  Ends November 29th.  Open internationally.

For Rosemary Opens Her Heart by Naomi King go here.  Ends November 30th.  Open to the US only.

For an ebook copy of After Dark by Emi Gayle go here.  Ends December 2nd.

For a copy of The Christmas Star by Ace Collins go here.  Ends December 3rd.  Open to the US only.

For Texting Through Time: John Taylor and the Mystery Puzzle by Christy Monson go here.  Ends December 3rd.  Open to the US only.

For a $50 Amazon gift card and ebook copy of Lethal Circuit by Lars Guignard go here.  Ends December 12th.  Open to anyone who can receive and use Amazon gift cards.

There are a lot more so be sure to check out the whole list in the right sidebar.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Black Count Review

The Black Count by Tom Reiss

(from the back of the book)
The hero of The Black Count is a man almost unknown today, yet his swashbuckling exploits appear in The Three Musketeers, and his triumphs and ultimate tragic fate inspired The Count of Monte Cristo.  His name is Alex Dumas.  Father of the novelist Alexandre Dumas, Alex has become, through his son’s books, the model for a captivating modern protagonist: the wronged man in search of justice.

Born to a black slave mother and a fugitive white French nobleman in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but then made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy and, after a meteoric rise through the army of the French Republic, given command of 53,000 men.  It was after his subsequent heroic service as Napoleon’s cavalry commander that Dumas was captured and cast into a dungeon – and a harrowing ordeal commenced that inspired one of the world’s classic works of fiction.

The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure, a lushly textured evocation of eighteenth-century France, a window into the modern world’s first multiracial society, and a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.

It turns out that Alexandre Dumas used his own father as inspiration for his stories.  And it also turns out that his father was a very interesting person.  This very carefully researched book actually starts out with the novelist’s grandfather, who happened to be a French count.  So you get to see the entire life of Alex Dumas from being sold by his own father, to becoming a renowned solider fighting with Napoleon, to dropping into obscurity.  He lived through a very interesting time in French history and had many adventures along the way so his life truly reads like one of his son’s novels without needing any embellishment.  Because of his mixed heritage, race relations in France are an important part of the book and they take an interesting course though time.  I didn’t know anything about Alex Dumas before I read this book so I obviously learned a lot about him but I also learned things about French history in general that I didn’t know before.  Quite apart from the role he played in history you would think that his story would be better known simply because it is such a good story, with action, courage, duels, romance and so much more.  This is a good book for you if you are interested in French history or if you are just interested in Dumas’ novels, because you can truly see his father in his works.  

Teaser Tuesdays (November 13th)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I felt her presence behind me like a pillar of stone. I didn’t need to hear her voice to know who it was.

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Monday, November 12, 2012

Do You Love YA Books?

I like YA books.  Why?  Great stories.  There are some really great YA writers out there that tell some amazing stories.  Also (sometimes at least) they are cleaner and simpler stories.  Not as much swearing or sex or gore and about things like growing up and first love instead of some of the nastier stuff you read about.  And to be honest I'm less likely to run into words that I don't know the meaning of.  And sometimes I like a book that challenges me but other times an escape is what I'm looking for and I can find one in YA books.

For all these reasons I like to read YA books and love to win them.  So what could be better than winning 50 signed YA books?  Not much.  If you feel the same way then you should take a look at this.

Beth Revis is giving away nearly 50 signed YA books.  That's right.  Almost 50 of them. And they are all signed.  That's awesome, right?  So pop on over there and enter to win this fantastic prize.

It runs all month but is open to the US only.  You have to be 18 or older to enter.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Friday 56 (November 9th)


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

The book this week if Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. I like the book. As I have liked other books by Moran. But I do not like Nefertiti in the book. She is a bit of a witch.

He was taller than any Pharaoh that had come before him, and there was more gold on his arms than in my parents’ entire treasury in Akhmim. The priests of Amun filed through the crowd, taking their places on the dais next to me, their bald heads like newly polished brass in the sun.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Reformed Vampire Support Group Review

(from the book jacket)
Contrary to popular opinion, vampires are not sexy, romantic, or powerful.  In case you hadn’t noticed, vampires are dead.  And the only ones who don’t get staked are the ones who avoid attacking people, admit they have a problem, and join a support group.

Just ask Nina Harrison – fanged at fifteen, and still living with her mother.  She hasn’t aged since 1973, and the hindsight of her sickly, couch-bound life is probably her Tuesday-night group meeting, which she spends with a miserable bunch of fellow sufferers, being lectured at.

But then one of the group is mysteriously turned to ashes… and suddenly they’re all under threat.  That’s when Nina decides to prove that every vampire on earth isn’t a weak, pathetic loser.  Along with her friend Dave – a former punk rocker who could be pretty cute, if he weren’t such a vampire – she travels way out of her comfort zone to track down the killer.

It could be that there is more to being a vampire than Nina realized.

This is an interesting look at vampire myth.  Lots of times the down side to being a vampire is explored – not being in the sun, no garlic and the like – but this is the first time that I’ve seen a story where it is all downside.  There is no compensation for what is lost.  And that makes for a rather angry and sad group of vampires who wish they weren’t.  Nina is forever fifteen and everything is always the same.  And every Tuesday she meets with the same group of rather sullen and depressed vampires who never change either.  Until one of them is killed and after about 50 years she finally has to grow up.  It’s a nice change from the other vampire stories I’ve read.  I think it’s interesting how it can somehow have a coming-of-age feel to it when the youngest person there is 50 years old.  And I like how it is about overcoming people’s low expectations of you and the low expectations you have of yourself.  The vampires are a group of interesting characters and the story is familiar in some ways but still new.  And  the mystery and suspense, along with the bickering of people who have been stuck with each other a long time, keep things going at a good pace.  It’s not the best young adult novel I’ve ever read, nor is it the best vampire book I’ve read but it is fun, the characters compelling, and the plot enjoyable. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Circumference Vocabulary

Circumference by Nicholas Nicastro

Encomium: a formal expression of high praise; eulogy:

Entrepot: 1.a warehouse.
2. a commercial center where goods are received for distribution, transshipment, or repackaging.

Faience: glazed earthenware or pottery, especially a fine variety with highly colored designs

Twee: affectedly dainty or quaint:

Volutes: 1. a spiral or twisted formation or object.
2. Architecture . a spiral ornament, found especially in the capitals of the Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite orders.
3. Carpentry . a horizontal scrolled termination to the handrail of a stair.

Teleological: of or pertaining to teleology, the philosophical doctrine that final causes, design, and purpose exist in nature.

Nostrum: a medicine sold with false or exaggerated claims and with no demonstrable value; quack medicine

Chthonic: of or pertaining to the deities, spirits, and other beings dwelling under the earth.

Conurbations: an extensive urban area resulting from the expansion of several cities or towns so that they coalesce but usually retain their separate identities.

Tumescent: 1. swelling; slightly tumid.
2. exhibiting or affected with many ideas or emotions; teeming.
3. pompous and pretentious, especially in the use of language; bombastic.

Verdigris: a green or bluish patina formed on copper, brass, or bronze surfaces exposed to the atmosphere for long periods of time,consisting principally of basic copper sulfate.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Circumference Review

Circumference by Nicholas Nicastro

(from the book jacket)
How do measure the size of the planet you’re standing on?

This is the story of what happened when one man asked himself that question.  Nicholas Nicastro brings to life one of history’s greatest experiments – how the ancient Greek named Eratosthenes accurately determined the distance around the earth for the first time.  In this fascinating narrative history, Nicastro takes a look at a deceptively simple but stunning achievement made by a single individual millennia ago, with only the simplest of materials at his disposal.  How was he able to calculate the circumference of our planet at a time when the measure of distance was more a matter of a shrug and a guess?  How could he be so confident in two key assumptions that underlay his calculations: that the earth was round and the sun so far away that its rays struck the ground in parallel lines?  Was it luck or pure scientific genius?

Nicastro brings readers on a trip into a long-vanished world that prefigured modernity in many ways, where neither Eratosthenes’ reputation, nor the validity of his method, nor his leadership of the Great Library of Alexandria were enough to convince all his contemporaries about the dimensions of the earth.  Eratosthenes’ results were debated for centuries, and only vindicated almost two thousand years after his death, during the great voyages of exploration.

This is a very readable account of the times of Eratosthenes.  It is filled with a lot of information, not just about Eratosthenes but about the times and the state of science.  I sometimes don’t read the preface but this time I’m glad I did.  It gave me some insight into how the author approached the topic that I thought it was useful to have.  Even though I did find all the information I was reading interesting I did start to wonder when Eratosthenes was going to show up in this book but when he did it became apparent why all the information that came before was necessary.  It sets the stage for the feat that Eratosthenes accomplishes.  And understanding the world around him and having him firmly placed in a well-defined setting helps you to understand Eratosthenes better.  You get to see how Eratosthenes went against convention and popular thought in his pursuit of science and how he was an original thinker in a lot of ways.  And you see the impact of his work on those that came after him.  Not much in known about Eratosthenes but Nicastro manages to give the reader a wonderful idea of who the man was and why he has been remembered through history.