If you want to help…

A very easy — and extremely enjoyable — way to help Puerto Rico as it struggles in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria is to buy Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “It’s Almost Like Praying”, which is available wherever you buy your music. (I got mine from Amazon here but that’s only one place you can find it.)  Read this article at Forbes to learn more about it and to watch a youtube video.

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September Reading

I didn’t get as much read last month as I do sometimes.  We were traveling and visiting family for two weeks, and I just didn’t read a lot then. But here is what I managed to read:

  • Applied Ethics: The Philosophy of Right and Wrong by Isabel Gois and Christopher Woodward was an interesting book that may be useful to me in the class I teach each spring on critical thinking. We do a unit on ethics, and I am always looking for new materials to incorporate. This book takes various ethical questions and looks at them from different ethical standpoints. If you are interested in that kind of thing, you might find the books interesting.
  • The 9th Hour by Claire Stibbe was a mystery that I really should not have read. It was supposed to be set in Albuquerque, but it just didn’t work for me. Nothing made it seem like Albuquerque at all. The main character, a transplant from London, seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. Reading this book, I discovered that you can’t just say a book is set in a particular location — you have to convey a sense of that location. If I didn’t know Albuquerque at all, I might have liked the book more. It was a finalist for an award, though, so maybe I am just not getting something. The story was good, overall, so you might want to give it a try.
  • Back to Lazarus by Judy K. Walker was a very enjoyable book. An investigator is hired to discover why a man, in prison for murdering his wife 24 years before, suddenly commits suicide. The story was a good one and kept my interest throughout. Some things were a little confusing — like why the Public Defender’s office was so willing to help the investigator — but overall, I liked it a lot.
  • No Place to Die is the first book in a new series by Jaden Skye, author of the Caribbean Murder series Death by… I was hoping more since this is at least Skye’s second series. But, sadly, I was disappointed. The main character here is similar to the female lead in the other stories, but the story itself seemed even less well-developed than those of the other series. I don’t think I could be persuaded to read any more books by this author.
  • Cold My Heart  is the first book in the Lion of Wales series by Sarah Woodbury. This  is a story if King Arthur that was very different from what I usually think of.  I enjoyed it a lot.
  • Footsteps in Time by Sarah Woodbury is the second book in her After Cilmeri series. I enjoyed this book every bit as much as Daughter of Time, the first book in the series. I find myself becoming as obsessed with Wales as Ms. Woodbury appears to be! The basic idea, time travel from present day United States to 13th century Wales, was intriguing. The characters are very appealing. I really recommend these books!
  • Glorieta Pass by P.G. Nagle tells some of the story of the Civil War in New Mexico. The book is well-written, and the characters are memorable. I enjoyed the book, and I learned a lot from it. I knew that New Mexico thought it should be given statehood because of its contribution to the War, but I didn’t understand why until I read this book. There are others in this  series, and I hope to read them all.
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte was a long, difficult book. It was written as correspondence between a man who is in love with the tenant and his friend, but the letters are interrupted by the inclusion of the diary of the tenant before going back to letters. None of that was very well set out, so it was a little confusing at time. The story is one of domestic abuse and the toll it can take on everyone involved. I have to say I enjoyed the book, but it wasn’t without its struggles.
  • The Education of Brother Thaddius and other tales of Demon Wars by R.A. Salvatore was probably my favorite book last month. The stories were excellent, and I was very happy to be back in the Demon Wars world. If you like fantasy, I cannot recommend Salvatore’s Demon War books enough!

So that was it last month. Let’s see how this month goes!

More August reading

I only read three books of speculative fiction:

  •  The Remnant Keeper by Robert Scott-Norton was a fascinating story. Jack’s job is to look into the last moments of murder victims.  It isn’t a great job sometimes, but this case turns out to be a lot worse than he expected. There are some slightly gruesome details — like eyeballs coming out of heads — but otherwise I had no complaints. This is the first book in a series, and I will probably try to read the next one.
  • Song of Edmon by Adam Burch is set on the planet Tao, which is  divided into two distinct parts populated by two distinct groups: Daysiders and Nightsiders. Edmon is the child of a peaceful Daysider and a ruthless Nightsider. He struggles to find his place in the world and to fulfill his destiny. There was something about the book that made it unique. I can’t really put my finger on what it was, but it felt fresh and new. I recommend this book a lot.
  • Daughter of Time by Sarah Woodbury was another excellent book.  This is the prequel to the After Cilmeri series. Meg is a modern woman who suddenly finds herself in Wales in the 13th century. She falls in love with a man, the Price of Wales, and the story is about them coming to terms with the differences between them. Along the way, they must deal with Llywelyn’s world and his life as prince. To top it all off, Meg knows that, according to history, he is soon to be killed. While the ending isn’t particularly happy, I will be reading the other books in the series.

I also read A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott D. Southard. It is a reimagining of Jane Austen’s life, with a decidedly optimistic bent. It reads a lot like a Jane Austen novel, a fact that will delight some readers and probably drive others crazy. Overall, I really enjoyed it. Disclaimer: I am a fan of Jane Austen and her books, so I am definitely prejudiced!

I think that concludes my reading for August. I didn’t read as much as I have done sometimes, but that’s life!

See you soon with September’s reading!

August reading, part 2

Finally, I’m back!

I read five mysteries last month:

  • Shaman Winter and Jemez Spring by Rudolfo Anaya are the last two Sonny Baca novels, and I loved them both! I have to admit that the last one was less of a mystery than the first three, but I still included it here because the series is definitely a mystery series. These books, like the first two in the series, offer wonderful insight into more traditional life and traditions in New Mexico. The books are worth the read on that level, if nothing else. But, as I have said, the the mysteries are excellent and the writing is even better. I cannot recommend these books enough.
  • Fame is a Killer  by Meredith Potts was a quick read and, as such, an OK one. It was a fun read. An actress has just had her show canceled and her boyfriend breaks up with her on the same day. No wonder the police think she might be the killer! I am glad I read it, but I wouldn’t have been wiling to put a lot more time into it than I did, though.
  • 52 Steps to Murder by Steve Demaree took me months and months to read. I have gone on to read others in the series and enjoyed them, but this first book just bugged me. The main characters seemed more like caricatures than real people. But I finally persevered and finished it. The story was a little convoluted for me, but it was a decent mystery. I really recommend that you skip this books and start with one of the later books, like Murder at the Art and Craft Fair perhaps.
  • The Mad Monk’s Treasure by Kris Bock was a decent story, but it didn’t really impress me. Part of the problem for me, as crazy as it might sound, is that it was set in New Mexico. Normally that would make me like the book more, but in this case it worked the other way. What I learned from this is that I only like the books set here in here that are set in identifiable places. This book could have been set in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, and probably any other state in the union and nothing would have had to change. So if I look just at the story, it was an OK book. But I wanted something more!

So that’s it for right now.

August Reading, a beginning

I am so far behind with this that I started to post my September books rather than the August ones! Fortunately, I remembered before I posted them all in error!

I read one non-fiction book, The Plot to Hack America by Malcolm Nance. It was a very interesting book. Most of it seemed familiar because I have been following the news, but it becomes really amazing when you realize he wrote the book before the election last November. Regardless of your politics, if you are a citizen of the U.S., this should concern you a great deal.  The issue is not whether or not Trump’s election was legitimate but rather how and to what extent Russia interfered with our electoral process.

The only historical fiction I read was The Call of the Canyon by Zane Grey. It was a good story, as his usually are, and well written. A young, well-bred city girl travels west to bring her fiance home. He fled there after the Civil War in an attempt to heal, and she thinks that he should now be ready to return to what she considers the real world. He, of course, isn’t ready to leave, so she returns home without him — only to discover she is no longer at home their either. I really enjoyed this book!

The only short fiction I read was Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson. It was a very interesting story — as all Sanderson’s are. The God-Emperor Kairominas rules everything. Of course, he has a nemesis who causes problems from time to time. But at the moment, his biggest problem is that he is being forced to choose a woman from another world to have dinner with. Ah, if only it were that simple! There are a number of twists and turns along the way, and I definitely wanted to continue reading until the end — maybe even after the end!

So this is a taste of what I read last month. I will be home tomorrow and can finish this up over the next couple days.

(Edited 9/19/17 to fix typos and insert links)

Sorry…

In case you were wondering what happened to my August reading report, I want to assure you it will be coming. I have been traveling and Internet access has been intermittent. I’ll be home over the weekend and will get it posted as soon as possible after that. 

In case you were wondering…

After wondering for more than a week, I finally went to the Tor.com ebook club site a few days ago to see if I had missed this month’s email announcing the free book. Come to find out, they are taking a break until sometime in 2018. When they are back up and running and I receive an email announcement, I’ll post the link here.

July reading, part 3

OK, here’s the last of my reading for last month:

I read two books I classified as “other”:

  • Georgiana Darcy’s Diary  by Anna Elliott was a wonderful story set in the world of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Georgiana, Mr. Darcy’s sister, refuses all attempts by her aunt to get her married off. She is, of course, in love with Colonel Fitzwilliam. The story will appeal to any fan of Jane Austen, I think. It was a fun read.
  • Honeymoon for One by Lilly Zante is the story of a woman who cancels her wedding after her fiance backs out 6 weeks before the wedding. She decides to go on her honeymoon, though. Hence the title. It was a fun story. It reminded me somewhat of the movie French KissIf you liked that movie, you’ll probably like this book!

I read four shorter works:

  • No Rest for the Wicked by Adam Croft is one of the free books I got from Mr. Croft for subscribing to his email list. It was an unsettling story — more thriller than I really like to read. It was, though, a very good story. It just wasn’t for me.
  • Danger by Brandon Sanderson is one I got throughHumble Bundle. I haven’t been able to locate a link to it anywhere. It was another unsettling story, but I loved it. It is one not set in some fantastical world — which makes it creepier. If you can find it, give it a try!
  • One Hundred Ablutions is by Jacqueline Carey, author of Kushiel’s Dart. It was a good story. Sort, but good. Dala is selected to be slave — an honor, supposedly. It doesn’t work out quite the way anyone planned, though. I am still not a short story fan, but I enjoyed this.
  • Ozoni and Onsens: A Daydreamer Detective Novella by S.J. Pajonas was a fun story that I got from signing up for the author’s newsletter. A romantic New Year’s getaway turns into a disaster, but it ends up right where it should have: at home with family. I enjoyed it a lot.

So that;s it for July. I am off to a decent start in August, so we’ll see how it goes!

July reading, part 2

More reading…

I read one non-fiction book, as usual. After the Prophet by Lesley Hazleton was the excellent story of how the two main divisions in Islam came to be. I knew the story in broad outline, but this book offered more detail and gave me a much better understanding of what happened. It was a fascinating book, and I highly recommend it if you are interested in understanding the religious underpinnings of what is going on in the world today or if, like me, you are just interested in understanding different religions.

I only read three speculative novels. In my defense, one of them was over 800 pages, but…

  • Blood Charged  and Shattered Past by Lindsay Buroker are part of her Dragon Blood series. Blood Charged is the third book in the series, and Shattered Past is actually a stand-alone book set in the same world. Both books were excellent! Buroker’s characters are what make her books so great for me. Yes, they go exciting places and do exciting things, but her characters are so alive and so wonderful that I cannot help but get sucked into their stories. I cannot recommend these books — or any of Buroker’s books — enough!
  • Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey was a story of political intrigue like no other I’ve ever read. Phedre is sold into slavery as a child and eventually sold to a man who trains her to gather information on his political enemies. Secrets are valuable, and Phedre is master at obtaining them. This book, over 800 pages, is more like 2 books in my mind as there is a definite turning point in the story that would have made a logical ending point for the first book. The author widely did not take the easy way out and do this, though. I think the book is richer because it is told as one grand tale. This is not a book for children or teens due, but it is definitely an excellent book!

I also read two historical novels:

  • Son of a Duke  by Jessie Clever is a historical romance. Eleanora Quinton is head housekeeper to a society family. She is known for planning every single detail of whatever event her employers are hosting. Her entire reputation is thrown up in the air by the murder of a man at one of those events. There is a duke and a duke’s son involved, of course. They are not exactly who they seem to be, though. It is a spy story, after all! This was a fun read.
  • The Drifter by William W. Johnstone is a Western, plain and simple. Frank Morgan was forced to leave town many years ago, but he returns when he hears that the mine owner is having trouble. Turns out she was his wife. He takes on the job of Marshall and protects the town from the gangs that have been plaguing it. There is no happy ending here, but there is a lot of integrity. I wouldn’t want to read a steady diet of Westerns, but I enjoy them from time to time. This was definitely a good one!

OK, that’s all for now. Back later!

July Reading, part 1

I did lots of reading last month, and it will probably take me several days to report on it here. But let’s get a start on it today!

Mysteries included the following:

  • The Gray and Guilty Sea: An Oregon Coast Mystery by Scott William Carter was a good story that I have had sitting on my Kobo for a long time. I am not sure why I didn’t pick it up before now. Oh well…  Garrison Gage is a private investigator from New York who ran away from it all after his wife was murdered and he was injured. He heads for the Oregon coast, about as far away as he could get. He has no interest in investigating anything, but after he discovers a dead girl’s body at his feet as he walks the beach, he finds himself sucked into trying to figure out how she ended up there. As I said, the story is a good one.
  • Sacrifice is the third book in Carolyn Arnold’s Madison Knight series. It was a good story. A rich man’s son is found dead. Madison suspects the father, but she is met by a lot of opposition from the Chief of Police. To further complicate things, the Secret Service is investigating the father. I have mixed feelings about Knight as a character, but this story was definitely worth reading.
  • Torch Ginger by Toby Neal is the second book in her Lei Crime series.  I read the first one quite a while ago, and I enjoyed it, so I finally decided to read the next one. As you will note if you continue reading this post, I read the third, fourth and fifth books in the series this month, too, so I must have enjoyed it! A missing husband leads Lei to uncover a string of murders. She is eventually able to solve them, of course, but not without a lot of problems along the way!  It was a good story, and I recommend it.
  • Requiem by Celina Grace is the second book in her Kate Redman series. I enjoyed it a great deal. This time the murder victim, a young woman, leads Kate to question her own brother’s possible involvement. The case is a complicated one, of course, but Kate is able to solve it.
  • Black Jasmine  by Toby Neal is her third Lei Crime novel. Reviews on Amazon are mixed, of course, but I enjoyed it. This book brings Lei’s relationship with Michael, her former fiance, back to the forefront. Many of the negative comments about the book focused on that element rather than the mystery. I liked watching them work through their relationship, so I didn’t mind the pages devoted to that. (I didn’t like the ending, though!) As you can see below, I am still reading the series!
  • In Broken Ferns by Toby Neal, Lei has moved on to the FBI. As someone who always struggled to follow orders, this didn’t seem like a good move for her, but she didn’t ask me! The FBI is called in to investigate a robbery; a light aircraft was stolen from its rich owner. The guy’s dog was taken, too. Who would do that? Turns out it was someone who loved dogs and wanted to use the aircraft to steal from the rich and give to the poor. While I didn’t really like reading about Lei’s  struggles within the FBI, I really enjoyed her involvement in solving the case.
  • Twisted Vine by Toby Neal is probably my least favorite book in the series so far. That had more to do with the topic, suicides, than anything else, I think. I began to worry about one of the characters, Sophie Ang, in a way I have never worried about a character in one of Neal’s books. In spite of that, this was a good book. I would recommend trying to read these books in order, of you can, because I don’t think this would be a good starting point.

That’s all I have time or energy for today! See you later!