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November Photo a Day Challenge

>> Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tomorrow is November 1st. That means it's time for my monthly reminder about Photo-A-Day. The beginning of a new month is always a great time to join in or give this another try. This is really a lot of fun and quite addictive. I posted my 594th daily photo yesterday.

September Photo A Day
Click on the image to see larger and save to your computer

Every month I do a reminder and review post about Photo a Day. There are two parts to this monthly post. One is to recruit more of my friends to participate and the other is to share my favorites of my photos from the previous month. The Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim. I've been doing this daily photo thing since the middle of March of 2012. I like that more of my online and in person friends seem to join in every month. It's a lot of fun to see everyone's photos and how creative folks can be with the daily prompts.

It's really not that hard and you can participate in so many ways. The flexibility is what makes this so great. Now that I've done this for over a year it's become a bit of photo journal and scrolling through my photos is a fun reminder of something that happened or caught my eye at some point each day.

Every month Chantelle posts a list of subjects or prompts for each day of the month. Chantelle's post about the November list includes some extra explanation and ideas just in case any of the prompts have you stumped.

Here is the short version of Chantelle's instructions:
How to play!

Playing along with photo a day is super easy:
♥ Check out the Novwmber photo a day list.
♥ Each day look at the daily prompt and take a photo according to whatever the prompt is. For example for day 1 the prompt is ‘fruit’ so go ahead and find something fruity to shoot. It might be a piece of fresh fruit, a ornament, print on clothing, a fruit stall… anything. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.
♥ Once you've taken the photo it’s time to share it. There are loads of places you can share it. See below for more details.
♥ Check out other people’s photos. You can browse through them on my Facebook page, in the FMS Photo A Day Facebook group. Or on Instagram or Twitter just search for the #FMSphotoaday hashtag to see them all.

Where to play?

There are loads of places to be social and share your photos with the #FMSphotoaday community:

♥ Instagram: Just upload your photo, use a fancy filter, add a caption and the hashtag #FMSphotoaday and then share.
♥ Facebook: There are a few options here. You can simply share on your own personal page, among your own friends. Or you can upload to my page’s wall, or I’ve created a Facebook group for 2013. You can join it here: Now that Facebook has hashtags, simply add the hashtag #FMSphotoaday when you share your photos and you’ll be able to see which of your friends are playing along too. It’s cool!
♥ Blog: If you have a blog, you could share each day or do a wrap up of all the photos at the end of the month.
♥ Tumblr: Add your daily photos to your Tumblr feed.
♥ Flickr: You can get their app and share your photos there, or upload on their web version. We also have a photo a day group here.
♥ Twitter: You can share on Twitter by uploading the photo and sharing the hashtag #FMSphotoaday. Easy.

I keep this easy and just use my phone for taking the photos. Between Instagram and a few other photo applications I have plenty of options for editing photos on my phone. It's been a lot of fun for me to see what I can do using just my phone and apps.

If you’d like to check out my previous photos they’re on my Tumblr blog at at Whimpulsiveness

I love using ShutterCal too. It gives me several ways to review my daily photos. Montly collages or scrolling through them all. It's a bit of a visual journal. You can see all of my Photo A Day photos in a calendar format. I think this is my favorite way to scan through my past photos. If you decide to use Shuttercal, be sure to let me know or link up with me there.

The most important thing to remember about this is don't work to hard and make this difficult by overthinking it. For me, using only photos from my phone makes it low pressure so I don't feel like I have to have a perfect shot. That helps me to just relax and have fun with it. Even with the photo prompts that are repeated it's fun to try to come up with something different. Sometimes a prompt that was used a couple of months ago can spark a totally different meaning depending on my mood or circumstances that day. Honestly some days I just don't get that inspired but other days I spend a lot of time playing to get a photo I'm happy with.

If you've been participating I hope you'll continue or give it another try if you've gotten out of the habit. Please let me know where you are sharing your photos so that I can find them.

I had fun with the October prompts and was pretty happy with the ideas I came up with for a couple of them. I picked six favorites to feature today. If you want to see the whole month check the month view on Shuttercal.

something colourful
October 1st - something colourful
pinkOctober 9th - pink
m is for . . .  mapOctober 11th - m is for . . . map secret (squirrel)October 15th - secret (squirrel)
openOctober 20th - open depth of field
October 26th - depth of field

Just a reminder - click on any of the photos to see a larger version


Wordless Wednesday #210

>> Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Walk in the Woods

A walk in the woods
click on image for larger version

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The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly

>> Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly

The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 303
Source: Copy provided by the publisher

The Short Version:
The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 is the background for a story of bootleggers, revenue agents, an orphaned baby and unexpected love.

Why I Read It:
I have been a fan of Tom Franklin since I read Hell at the Breech and when I found out he’d written this one with his wife (an award winning poet) I knew I had to read it.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Set against the backdrop of the historic flooding of the Mississippi River, The Tilted World is an extraordinary tale of murder and moonshine, sandbagging and saboteurs, and a man and a woman who find unexpected love, from Tom Franklin, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and award-winning poet Beth Ann Fennelly

The year is 1927. As rains swell the Mississippi, the mighty river threatens to burst its banks and engulf everything in its path, including federal revenue agent Ted Ingersoll and his partner, Ham Johnson. Arriving in the tiny hamlet of Hobnob, Mississippi, to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents who'd been on the trail of a local bootlegger, they are astonished to find a baby boy abandoned in the middle of a crime scene.

My Thoughts:
I’m not going to say much more than that portion of the publisher’s synopsis because I think that the less you know about the plot of this one the more you’ll enjoy it.

I’ll admit that I’m predisposed to like anything written by Tom Franklin but when I heard that his latest book was a collaboration with his wife Beth Ann Fennelly who I knew was an award winning poet I was pretty sure I’d love it. I was right. This is a wonderfully atmospheric story set in a small town on the banks of the Mississippi river in the midst of historic flooding.

There are bootleggers, revenue agents, an orphaned baby, future president Hoover and a levee that if breached could destroy a small town and save New Orleans.

It’s a wonderfully written story of a time and place with interesting and complex characters. I loved it just as much as I thought I would and highly recommend it. Franklin’s writing has always captivated me and this collaboration with Fennelly is just beautifully written. There is action, adventure, romance, danger, friendship and betrayal.

I loved it. You should read it.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5


Weekend Update October 26, 2013

>> Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I’m still struggling with squeezing reading time in my life these days. That tends to happen during football season. I love college football but it does take up a big chunk of our weekends this time of year and that means all the stuff that normally happens on Saturday has to be plugged in to the rest of the week. Anyway – that’s normal and seasonal and my reading routine will be back eventually.

In the meantime I’m still reading the same things I was reading last week.

I am loving The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly. It’s a wonderful atmospheric story with the 1927 Great Flood of the Mississippi River as the backdrop. There are bootleggers, revenue agents, an orphaned baby and stolen explosives meant to breach the levee in order to save those downstream. Every time I have to put my bookmark back in to set it down I’m a little sad. I want to find out what’s next for these characters and I’m getting rather annoyed with my life outside of books interfering with that.

As soon as I do finish The Tilted World I’m going to finish out October with more of my Graphic Novel Reading Binge. I’ve got several out from the library and I’m looking forward to reading them.

On audio I’m a little over halfway through The Golden One by Elizabeth Peters. As usual for this series it’s a nice mix of adventure, fun and moments that make me giggle. Barbara Rosenblat really shines as the narrator of this series.

I took a big step with my TBR spreadsheets this week (yes I said spreadsheets). I have an Excel Workbook I use to track my To Be Read lists. One worksheet in that has for years been what I called my “Read Soon” list. The problem was that I’d put books on that worksheet and never take them off. Since my reading plans rarely have any resemblance to my actual reading speed and available time there were books that had been on that worksheet for years and that list was growing and never getting any smaller. The big step I took was to delete that worksheet. All of the books are still on my master TBR list but that list of ever unachieved goals I called my Read Soon list is gone. It’ll be back but I’m going to rethink it and put a limit on it so it’s not so stress inducing or a reminder of what I haven’t read but wanted to. Perhaps 10-20 books and keep it capped and only add one when I read or remove another from that list. That will give me enough to have a variety of possible next books but without a constant reminder of that book I wanted to read 3 years ago that I still haven’t read. I’ll see but mostly I have as much fun making sorting and reorganizing lists of books I want to read as I do actually reading books.

Other than books and reading:
Our good weather continued and it was nice to get out after work a few times to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine. I hate the fall time change because it means that soon I’ll be leaving for work in the dark and coming home from work in the dark. I do get to see the occasional spectacular sunrise over Mt. Hood from my office downtown but really that’s not enough of a bonus to make up for the short winter days.

trees near Beaverton library

In the meantime the trees have been gorgeous this fall (mostly because we haven’t had the usual fall rain and windstorms to blow them all off the trees.
Trees by Beaverton Library

I saw this on the porch of my nail salon and just loved the way the sunshine was hitting it.

pumpkins and leaves

The lighting during my late afternoon walks this week has been wonderful.

sunlit fern

Hope you’re having a great weekend!


Wordless Wednesday #210

>> Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fall leaf
click on image for larger version

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Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang

>> Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Boxers by Gene Luen Yang Saints by Gene Luen Yang
Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Genre: Historical Fiction (Graphic Novel)
Series: A two volume set
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: Boxers – 325, Saints - 170
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Two volumes that portray the opposite sides of China’s 1900 Boxer Rebellion.

Why I Read It:
I have been addicted to this series from the very first book and the only reason I’m not reading them faster is that I want The Hubster to read them along with me.

The Book:
This is actually a two volume series that is sold both separately and as a set.

From the publisher:
In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful.

But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.

My Thoughts:
If you only read one volume of this work you’re missing out. They really should be read together because as the back of both books says, “Every war has two faces.” One volume of this two-parter does not tell the complete story

In Boxers, Little Bao sees his culture and way of life mocked and abused by foreigners and missionaries seeking to replace his religion with a new one. He sees his family and friends abused by what are known as ‘The Foreign Devils”. He becomes a leader in the “Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist” who set out to destroy not only the foreigners but also the ‘secondary devils’ (the Chinese Christians).

In Saints, a young girl is known only as “Four-girl” because after three previous children died in infancy her grandfather didn’t see the point in giving the new baby a name. She doesn’t really feel like she is a part of her family and learns to put on a ‘devil face’ to avoid interaction with others. When she finds acceptance and the offer of a new name among the Chinese Christians and missionaries she feels like a part of something for the first time in her life.

There are elements of magical realism in these and although that’s not something I seek out or necessarily enjoy in my books it works here. Little Bao is guided by the spirit of an Chinese leader and Four-Girl who is baptized with the name Vibiana communicates with the spirit of Joan of Arc. Both young people are seeking to do what their hearts tell them is right for themselves and for their country but from opposing sides of the same events and whether one or both will survive the conflict is uncertain.

I enjoyed the way that the two stories were intertwined despite being in two separate volumes. Vibiana appears occasionally in Boxers and Bao shows up here and there in Saints. There are a handful of events that are in both volumes but there are also completely separate stories. Yang manages to do an excellent job of making both sides of the story sympathetic.

This period of China’s history is one that I’m not all that familiar with but after reading this excellent set of books I definitely want to learn more.

The artwork is primarily sepia and gray tones with occasional flashes of color particularly to indicate the magical portions of the story. There is plenty of bloodshed and some pretty brutal fighting and execution scenes.

I’m very glad I got on the library waiting list early when I heard about these book. They’re well done and definitely leave the reader with much to discuss and ponder.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5


Weekend Update October 20, 2013

>> Sunday, October 20, 2013

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
This was a week in which my opportunities to read came in small doses. This was both frustrating and beneficial

It was frustrating because last week I started The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly and I’m loving it. Tom Franklin’s writing is not something I want to consume in small bits here and there. He’s a writer whose work I want to savor and immerse myself in so my only reading in that book has been the few times I had time to read for more than just a few minutes.

The benefit to having a lot of shorter opportunities to read is that for me that is perfect for reading graphic novels for my October Graphic Novel Reading Binge.

I finished up Homelands (the 6th book in the Fables series) and liked it a lot. There were definitely some crucial moments in that one.

I also read a wonderful two volume set of graphic novels by Gene Luen Yang. Boxers and its companion volume called Saints tell the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900. As the back of the books say, “Every war has two faces”. Each book is told from the viewpoint of a young person on a different side of the rebellion. Some of the same events are seen from both sides. There’s an element of magical realism in these which is usually not my favorite thing but in this set of book it works quite well. I don’t know a lot about that period of Chinese history but this set targeted to young adults has made me want to learn more.

On audio I’m still listening to The Golden One by Elizabeth Peters. As always. my time with Amelia Peabody and her family is thoroughly enjoyable and a nice mix of adventure and humor. I love Barbara Rosenblat’s narration of this series. Her talents were highlighted earlier this week when I listened to a party scene. She had to switch between male and female characters and a wide variety of accents within a short time frame and I never lost the thread of who was talking.

Other than books and reading:
We have been enjoying some amazingly beautiful weather for October. It’s been sunny and while a bit chilly in the mornings there’s been no need for jackets in the afternoon. Without our usual storms blowing through the trees and leaves have been gorgeous.

I went out yesterday and had fun taking some photos of leaves.
(as always - click on the images to see full size)

yellow maple leaves in the sunmorning sun through red maple leaves

red and green leaves

Maple leaf on evergreen

Can't close without a bit of Abby antics  . . .

Abby on the couch
Shhh . . . don't tell them I'm here. I'm not supposed to be on the couch.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!


My Life According to Books 2013

>> Saturday, October 19, 2013

This is my third year of participating in this fun annual event hosted by Pop Culture Nerd.

Every year she provides a list of incomplete sentences that participants must complete using titles of books they’ve read during this calendar year.

It’s always a lot of fun to play around with the titles I’ve read and see what makes the most fun (and sometimes even sense) to complete the sentences. Some are easy and others take a bit of thinking to find something that works.

If you’d like to join in, head over to Pop Culture Nerd’s blog to give it a whirl.

Here is My Life According to Books 2013

(titles link to my reviews)

My to-do list looks like: KILLER AMBITION (Marcia Clark)

If a peeping Tom peeked into my bedroom, he'd: see me CRASHED (Timothy Hallinan)

If Martians meet me, they'd think: SHE GOT UP OFF THE COUCH (Haven Kimmel)

My doctor is always telling me: FEVER (Mary Beth Keane

The weirdest thing that happened this past week: LITTLE ELVISES (Timothy Halinan)

I often daydream about: BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (Truman Capote)

The government shutdown makes me: LORD OF THE SILENT (Elizabeth Peters)

If I win the lottery, I’d: buy THE TERRA-COTTA DOG (Andrea Camilleri)

My superpower is: VOODOO RIVER (Robert Crais)

I knew I was a book lover when: it was THE LONG WINTER (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

My blogging experience has been: LIFE AFTER LIFE (Kate Atkinson)

I hope you decide to join in the fun. I love reading the lists other people put together.


'Salem's Lot: Illustrated Edition by Stephen King

>> Friday, October 18, 2013

'Salem's Lot: Illustrated Edition by Stephen King

'Salem's Lot: Illustrated Edition by Stephen King

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: ‘Salem’s Lot originally published 1975, this edition 2005
Pages: 594
Source: LIbrary

The Short Version:
The sleepy village of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine has some bad history and things are about to get much much worse.

Why I Read It:
I re-read this for the first time in years because I did a guest post about it for Jenn's Bookshelves about the first book that terrified me.

The Book:
From the publisher (about ‘Salem’s Lot:

Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem's Lot in the hopes that living in an old mansion, long the subject of town lore, will help him cast out his own devils and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods and only one comes out alive, Mears begins to realize that there may be something sinister at work and that his hometown is under siege by forces of darkness far beyond his control.

This Illustrated Edition also contains a new introduction by the author, two short stories related to the original novel, and a selection of scenes deleted from the original manuscript. It also has what is described as “the lavishly creepy photographs of Jerry Uelsmann”.

My Thoughts:
Parts of this review were posted earlier this week on Jenn’s Bookshelves as part of her Murder, Monsters and Mayhem theme month. She let me guest post about “The First Book That Terrified Me”.

When I decided to finally re-read this after at least 30 years I found this special edition at my library so I decided to read it rather than my original Literary Guild edition that is still on my bookshelf.

Yes, it's still creepy. It didn't scare me as much as I'd remembered but it's also many years and many other vampire books later.

I think one of the reasons that this book creeped me out so much and stuck in my memory as a scary one was because it was my first real exposure to vampire lore. I later went on to read Anne Rice's Interview With a Vampire and a couple of the sequels and in recent years I finally read Bram Stokers Dracula and the Sookie Stackhouse series. I've successfully avoided those sparkly vampires from Washington. ‘Salem’s Lot has always remained the scariest of the vampire stories in my mind.

The thing about 'Salem's Lot that's different from those other stories is that in the others the vampire story is peripheral to the setting. The majority of society goes on and lives their lives and the vampires do their thing while only directly impacting a small portion of the general population. In 'Salem's Lot the whole town is destroyed in a matter of days after the arrival of Barlow. Only a handful of people get away successfully. The evil is able to devour the town because everyone knows everyone. The friend and family connections make the town that much more vulnerable and allow the evil to take over. That’s the part that is still so darn scary to me. The stronger the personal connection the more vulnerable the potential victim.

I enjoyed reading King’s introduction and afterward in this edition. I also read and enjoyed both of the short stories. One for the Road takes place a few years after the events of the novel and this one made me shiver all over again. An out of towner gets his car stranded in a blizzard just outside of Jerusalem’s lot and doesn't understand the reluctance of the locals to help him get the wife and daughter he left in the car.

The other short story Jerusalem’s Lot takes place in 1850 and gives a slightly different history than the novel but still just as creepy and scary.

I kind of skimmed through the section of deleted scenes. I figured if they were deleted it was probably for good reason and frankly I wasn't that interested in them.

The illustrations are odd and slightly creepy black and white photographs but they really have nothing to do with the story. If you’re a Stephen King fan I’d recommend reading this edition for the introduction and the two short stories but the rest of the added features just aren't that fabulous.

4 stars Rating 4/5


Wordless Wednesday #209

>> Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fabulous Fall Day
(no edits at all just cropped it)

Fabulous Fall Day
click on image for larger version

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I'm Guest Posting at Jenn's Bookshelves Today

>> Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Today I'm guest posting over at Jenn's Bookshelves as part of her Murder, Monsters and Mayhem theme month.

She asked "What was the first book that terrified you?" I didn't have to think long. 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King was clearly that book for me.

Check out my guest post over at Jenn's blog today and come back here later this week for my full review of the Illustrated Edition of 'Salem's Lot.


Fables Vol. 6: Homelands by Bill Willingham et al

 Fables Vol. 6: Homelands by Bill Willingham et al

Fables Vol. 6: Homelands by Bill Willingham et al

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)
Series: #6 in the Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 190
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Jack acts like a jerk, Boy Blue makes a clandestine trip to the Homelands and back in New York, a trusted member of the Fables family is revealed as a spy.

Why I Read It:
I have been addicted to this series from the very first book and the only reason I’m not reading them faster is that I want The Hubster to read them along with me.

The Book:
This volume 6 is a compilation of issue 34-41 of the comic series.

Spoilers for previous books in the series are inevitable but I won’t give away things about this particular volume beyond what is on the cover.

From the back of the book:

Having beaten back the Adversary's first advance into their world, the residents of Fabletown must now prepare themselves for the full-scale war that is sure to follow. For one particular Fable, this means skipping town to launch a new career as a venal Hollywood mogul--a path he hopes will be paves with gold and immortality. For another Fable, though, it means a journey down a much more dangerous road--one that winds through the Fables' old Homelands into the very heart of enemy territory, where the mystery of the Adversary's identity will finally be revealed.

My Thoughts:
It’s no secret that I enjoy the heck out of this series. The concept of favorite fairy tale characters living incognito in New York with the non-human characters at an isolated farm upstate is brilliant. Add in the touch that Prince Charming has three ex-wives (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella) and it’s just a lot of fun. Then throw in the idea that an evil adversary who ran them out of their homeland and is still trying to destroy them and you’ve got a great adventure and thrills to add to the fun.

This time around there are three major stories. Jack (of the Beanstalk, Nimble and other stories) has left town with stolen treasure and is making a new life for himself in Hollywood but is he revealing too much about the Fables? Will he be allowed to continue? This was fun and since I know that Jack gets a spin-off series soon it sets up why he’s not in New York any longer.

The second and primary story in this volume is Boy Blue’s secret trip back to the Homelands. He’s determined to destroy the Adversary and rescue his lost love Red Riding Hood. This story took some really interesting turns and introduced some interesting new characters who I’m presuming will be around and causing trouble in future volumes.

Lastly is an interlude to catch up on what’s been happening in New York in the meantime. Mowgli (of Jungle Book fame) makes an appearance. He’s not happy to see his panther friend Bagheera locked up because of participating in a failed revolt at the Fables farm a couple of years ago. He wants Bagheera freed but he has to strike a deal which frankly has me anxious to pick up the next volume in the series.

The artwork in this volume is the work of multiple artists but Mark Buckingham simply excels with the work in the sections about Boy Blue's adventures in the Homelands. Multiple new environments and many new characters are so well done and interesting that I kept going back to just revisit the artwork after reading the story.

If you haven’t tried graphic novels yet, pick up the first one in this series. It’s called Legends in Exile and I’ll be truly surprised if you don’t want to continue with the series after reading it.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5


Weekend Update October 13, 2013

>> Sunday, October 13, 2013

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
It was another less than spectacular reading week for me. I was busy many evenings and also busy enough at work that lunchtimes were short. All of that meant less than optimal reading time for me which makes me cranky.

I did end up starting The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly. I've only read the first couple of chapters so far but I’m hooked.

On audio I’m listening to The Golden One by Elizabeth Peters. I don’t often binge read authors or series but I’m planning on continuing and finishing the last few books in the Amelia Peabody series back to back. I just enjoy them so much,

My October Graphic Novel Reading Binge continues.

I’m caught up with the SAGA series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples and will be waiting for issue #15 to be available.

I plan to read more of the series High Crimes by Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa The first issue began near the summit of Mt. Everest and at the end had introduced some characters and situation that have me quite curious about what happens next in this thriller series.

I read the first in the Runaways series by Brian K. Vaughan. He is definitely one of my favorite comic writers. I enjoyed the first one in the series (Pride & Joy) enough that I've picked up the next two in the series from the library already.

I’m partway through the 6th book in the Fables series. I hope to finish Homelands today. The Hubster is in the middle of the 5th book in the series so I need to finish Homelands so I can pass it along to him.

I've got several other graphic novels out from the library and if this week works out to have more reading time than last week I’ll be much less cranky.

Other than books and reading:
Yesterday was all football all day at our house. Oregon played at Washington and we had friends over to watch the game.
I made The Pioneer Woman’s Baked Ziti for lunch and it was delicious. It was also enough for lunch and then again for dinner later. After the Oregon game we just continued to watch football the rest of the afternoon and evening. It was a fun day with good friends, good food and lots of football.

A few random photos from my week:
I headed out to the library earlier this week expecting it to be a dash in and out trip because of the rainy weather but just about the time I got there the sun came out and I ended up taking a nice walk around the neighborhood before I went home.

Sunny day at Beaverton library

I did manage to get some catch up time on my various cataloging tasks.

First the books needed to be added to my Library Thing account and my tracking spreadsheets.

Book stack
Then I had to catch up on logging in several months of wine purchases into that database I keep on my ipod touch so that The Hubster could get them stored away in the ‘wine cellar’ (aka the space under the stairs).
Boxes and bottles of wine

This piece of sidewalk art is in front of a cupcake shop. It just made me smile.
Sidewalk Art at Saint Cupcake

Hope you’re having a great weekend!


The Runaways Vol. 1: Pride & Joy by Brian K. Vaughan

>> Friday, October 11, 2013

The Runaways Vol. 1: Pride& Joy by Brian K. Vaughan

The Runaways Vol. 1: Pride& Joy by Brian K. Vaughan

Genre: Science Fiction, Superheroes (Graphic Novel)
Series: #1 in the Runaways series
Publisher: Marvel
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Short Version:
A group of teens find out the secret their parents have been keeping is that they are a group of super villains.

Why I Read It:
One of my graphic novel mentors (Kailana at The Written World) suggested this as a new series for she, Beth Fish Reads and I to try.

The Book:
This volume 1 is a compilation of issues 1-6 of the comic series.

From the publisher:

At some point in their lives, all young people believe their parents are evil…but what if they really are? Meet Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico — whose lives are about to take an unexpected turn. When these six young friends discover their parents are all secretly super-powered villains, the shocked teens find strength in one another. Together, they run away from home and straight into the adventure of their lives — vowing to turn the tables on their evil legacy.
My Thoughts:
I'm beginning to believe that I have a predisposition to like pretty much anything by Brian K. Vaughan. This is the third series of his that I've started and while they are all quite different I really do enjoy them all.

I liked this first volume of this series enough that I've already picked up the next two volumes from the library.

As I expected from a Marvel series this borders on the periphery of the costumed special powers hero world populated by the likes of The Avengers and the X-Men. The series was developed to appeal to a young adult audience and to manga fans. While there are elements of the artwork that are similar to manga and the book is published in a smaller paperback like most of the manga graphic novels on the library shelf it's different than typical manga book I might see on the bookshelf.
I enjoyed the story quite a bit. The kids make a startling discover about their parents and then even more startling discoveries about themselves. There was plenty of action even though the beginning of a series is naturally a lot of introducing characters and setting up the beginnings ot the ongoing story.

I liked all of the kids and particularly how they were protective of the youngest of the group. I liked the moments of humor too. This first volume did a good job of setting up the story yet leaving lots of questions open and as a result I already checked out the next two volumes from the library.

The artwork is a blend of a typical Marvel superhero comic and some elements more common in Japanese style comics. It’s sometimes a bit confusing at first to figure out who is who in the large cast of characters but that didn’t last long once I sorted it out.

It’s a fun series aimed at a young adult audience yet fun for adults too.

4 stars Rating 4/5


Wordless Wednesday #208

>> Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fall has arrived

Fall leaves
click on image for larger version

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here


Mortal Bonds by Michael Sears

>> Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mortal Bonds by Michael Sears

Mortal Bonds by Michael Sears

Genre: Suspense
Series: #2 in the Jason Stafford series
Publisher: G.P Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 343
Source: copy provided by the publisher

The Short Version:
Financial investigatot Jason Stafford deals with his autistic son, his evil ex-wife, and people trying to kill him all at the same time.

Why I Read It:
I loved the first Jason Stafford book because I liked Jason and adored his son. When I had the opportunity to read the second in the series I didn’t have to think about it for more than a nanosecond..

The Book:
From the publisher:

William von Becker ran one of the largest privately held investment banks in North America, until the bottom fell out, and the whole edifice was demonstrated to be a fraud.

After von Becker dies in prison, financial investigator Jason Stafford is hired by his family. There is still a lot of missing money out there, he’s told, and they want Stafford to find it before the Feds do—and certain other parties, some of whom are nowhere near as scrupulous in their methods. Bad things start happening to the people Stafford talks to. Soon bad things are happening to him as well.

Making it worse, his treacherous ex-wife has come to town, ostensibly to visit their young son. Stafford suspects there’s more to it than that, but even he has no idea how much that visit is about to change all their lives—and send him off to the next chapter of his life.
My Thoughts:
I never expected to enjoy something that I have seen described as a ‘financial thriller’ but thanks to Michael Sears I’m beginning to think it might become my favorite sub-genre.

Yes, Jason Stafford is a financial investigator and yes he spent time in prison for some shady trading but he never cheated his clients. His first efforts at redeeming himself in Black Fridays captivated me and his renewing his parental relationship with his young autistic son simply captured my heart and wouldn’t let go.

In this installment of the series Jason is once again on the trail of complex financial misdeeds perpetrated by the instigator of a huge Ponzi scheme. His family has hired Jason to track down some missing funds but he doesn’t wholly trust their motives. That’s smart because it doesn’t take long before people start dying and Jason has to worry about keeping himself and his son alive.

Some of the financial details put me in the “OH , Look! Over there . . . something shiny!!” mode but it didn’t keep me from enjoying the heck out of the story. There’s plenty of suspense and danger but there are also just wonderful moments with Jason and his son. The Kid is a great character and I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

4 stars Rating 4/5


Weekend Update October 6, 2013

>> Sunday, October 6, 2013

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I finished reading Mortal Bonds by Michael Sears. I enjoyed this second in his Jason Stafford series just as much as the first. I know ‘financial thriller’ seems like an odd description but it fits and the book is great. It’s a thriller but with a soft side also due to the parts of the story about Jason and his autistic son.

I haven’t decided for sure on my next print book but it’s most likely going to be The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly.

On audio I finished listening to Lord of the Silent by Elizabeth Peters (narrated by Barbara Rosenblat). I had such a good time with another Amelia Peabody book that as soon as I finished it I immediately began listening to the next book in the series – The Golden One. I rarely binge read a series or author any more but I may just finish out the audios of the Ameila Peabody series back to back.

Before I start another print book I’m taking some time for some graphic novel and comic reading. As I’ve said, October will be a Graphic Novel Reading Binge month for me.

I simply cannot wait for the next trade paperback collection of the Saga series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I’ve been getting the individual issues to read on my ipad. I have discovered that I really enjoy reading these on the ipad. The resolution of the screen and the ability to zoom in when I want to is great.

I also started another digital comic series on my ipad. I heard about High Crimes by Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa from Chelsea Cain on Twitter. She said ‘if you like thrillers, you’ll love this comic book”. I read the first issue yesterday and I’m looking forward to continuing the series. It starts out near the summit of Mt. Everest and at the end of the first issue introduced an element that is going to make this a very interesting crime story.

I’m not only reading digitally. I started the next book in the Fables series yesterday. Homelands is the sixth book in the series and I’m excited to see what’s next. The last book was a bit of a transitional one in the story and it looks like the action will pick up a bit in this one.

My new print graphic novel series is one I’m reading with BethFishReads and Kailana at The Written World. We’re testing the waters together in another series. This one is also by Brian K. Vaughan. Clearly he is one of my favorite comic writers. The series is from Marvel comics and is called The Runaways. It’s about some teenagers who discover that their parents are evil super villains.

Other than books and reading:
Well, this happened this week.

I was really surprised that it only took a couple of times with tempting her onto the treadmill with her favorite shoestring for that to happen.

A few random phone photos from this week
sunrise October 2, 2013

Sunrise Wednesday was amazing. As I was driving to the park and ride lot I could see it starting to get a little pink and in the few minutes it took me to get to the transit center and out of my car it developed into this which only lasted for a few short minutes. I was glad the timing worked out so I could capture it.

I was challenged the other day to take a series of photos with the theme of “Looking Up”. This one was my favorite.
Looking up

Today The Hubster is running the Portland Marathon. I’m headed out to mile 21 on the course to take his belt that holds his water bottles because at that point he’ll be done with it. It gives me the chance to cheer him on and also getting rid of the belt will make him lighter for the last five miles. I won’t be able to see him finish but I’ll be able to give him some encouragement at a good point on the course.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Hope you’re having a great weekend!


Audiobook – Lord of the Silent by Elizabeth Peters

>> Friday, October 4, 2013

Lord of the Silent by Elizabeth Peters

Lord of the Silent by Elizabeth Peters

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #13 in the Amelia Peabody series publication order, #15 in story chronology order
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2001 Recorded Books (Book originally published 2001)
Length: 16 hours, 12 minutes
Read by: Barbara Rosenblat
Source: Library

The Short Version:
In 1916 Egypt Amelia Peabody Emerson and her family hunt for treasure and the identity of criminals while trying to stay alive.

Why I Read It:
This is one of my favorite series and my friend at Beth Fish Reads and I planned to listen to it close to the same time (her review is here).

The Book:
From the publisher
It is the autumn of 1916, and war has cast its long shadow across Egypt. Cairo is filled with soldiers, and the ancient tombs are filled with treasure hunters. Amidst this chaos, the Emersons have come for their yearly dig. When Amelia Peabody Emerson discovers a fresh corpse in an antique tomb, she knows this season will be a most intriguing one.
My Thoughts:
Note on series order: I read this one out of publication order because I’m reading the series in order of the story. You can find the chronology here.

By now it’s no secret that I love this series and I can’t imagine experiencing it in any other format than the audio version narrated by the wonderful Barbara Rosenblat.

There are so many ongoing storylines extend throughout the series that it’s really difficult to even mention much of the plot without getting spoilery. I think it’s best if I just hit some of my random thoughts and a few favorite passages that made me back up and listen again.

I enjoyed this entry in the series a lot. After some major revelations and key changes in character relationships in the previous book I wasn’t sure what would be next for the Emerson family.

There was adventure and life threatening situations, of course, with plenty of humor along the way.

Told mostly from Amelia’s viewpoint which over the course of the series I’ve learned is does not exactly make for unbiased narration. There are sections (described as from “Manuscript H” that tell the parts of the story that take Amelia’s son and his wife away from Amelia’s direct observation. The transitions between the major narrative devices are not new and by this point in the series are familiar and smooth.

There were a couple of surprise reappearances of characters from earlier in the series that I hadn’t expected to see again but I was glad to see how it worked in the story.

As I said earlier, one of the things I love about this series is that Amelia continually makes me laugh. I’ve already shared some quotes in some recent Weekend Update posts but these are some additional quotes that made me giggle:
"What shall we do, then?"
"Wait," said Emerson. "Someone is bound to attack you sooner or later, it happens every year."
The children had been gone for almost a week when I decided Emerson's laissez-faire approach was not going to work. No one had attacked us. It was extremely vexing . . .
There were several domestic matters to be dealt with before we could leave for Luxor. I had always envied male police officers and detectives their freedom from such distractions; Mr. Sherlock Holmes, for example, never had to condern himself with ordering meals, settling disputes with contentious servants, or coping with small sulky chldren and large sulky cats.
Amelia’s son Ramses has gone from a character who annoyed me in the early books (when he was a child) to a romantic lead as the series continues. I never would have expected that he would become a favorite character. I can’t say THE favorite character because frankly I have so many favorite characters at this point in the series

I truly adore Barbara Rosenblat narration of this series. Over the years she has taken her characterization of Ramses from an annoying toddler to an even more annoying young child to an adult who is downright sexy. All the way she has kept his character consistent, yet growing and developing throughout the series I still maintain that I would probably not enjoy these books as much if I read them in print.

This continues to be one of my favorite series to experience via audio but you really need to start at the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank.

As for me, I've already started listening to the next book in the series.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the narration

SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.


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