Category Archives: miscellany

The catchall category!

Lost in sweet reading

I’ve been reading Romance novels for 2-3 years. They are fun, usually quick, reads and they have happy endings. Some are the traditional historical romance but I’ve also branched into the paranormal sub-genre (werewolves and vampires and demigods, ooooh, sigh). This all started when I found the DVD Lost in Austen at the library. Loved it and watched it 4-5 times before I returned it. The progression then went from re-reading some of Jane Austen’s novels to Austen-related books: sequels, variations, modern day adaptations, and so on. That (and my Nook) led me to Romance in general.

Book cover
Recently I won a giveaway on Goodreads for Sweet Madness, a Regency era romance, by Heather Snow. I rate almost all my reading on Goodreads but I haven’t written a lot of reviews. I did for this, seems only fair after winning the book.

The story is not a typical Regency romance. The hero, Gabriel Devereaux, served in the Napoleanic wars and suffers from battle fatigue (now known as PTSD). The heroine, Penelope Bridgeman, married his cousin, who had his own mental issues and then died after only a few months of marriage. Penelope turned from her loss to studying mental disorders and helping soldiers with battle fatigue. As their story begins, Gabriel has entered an asylum after his issues have escalated and he’s started having episodes of mania with hallucinations and violence. Penelope commits to saving Gabriel, convinced that he is not becoming truly insane, and their feelings and connection grow.

This is a lovely book. It’s not all sweet: it deals with things that are harsh and heartbreaking. But that is all balanced, actually overtaken, by warmth, decency, generosity, and, of course, love.

The story has depth. This is about two people who, while still young, each had hard, tragic experiences, and then worked to move on with their lives. They followed their instincts and found ways to cope. They’ve done much good helping others but in doing so have neglected their own healing. It’s together, as a couple, helping and caring for each other, that they will now begin to fully heal.

And the romance is well done. Penelope and Gabriel are both strong, intelligent, and admirable people. Their romance never feels forced or false; the author shows us its natural progression from the very start of her story.

This is the third book of a series but the first book I’ve read by the Heather Snow (definitely not the last). It never seemed like I was missing anything at all in the story jumping into the series at this point. The story grabbed me from the start and held me til the end.

Heather Snow’s website, so you can check out her series is here

a book reviewed: Pandora’s Succession

Book cover

And now for something different, at least here: a book review. I recently read Pandora’s Succession. It’s the first novel from Russell Brooks.

This is an spy/action/suspenseful thriller with some science (or maybe SF) thrown in. It’s not a genre I generally read; not sure it’s one I’ve ever read before, in fact. Don’t think it’s going to get me to start reading a ton of action thrillers now, but I enjoyed this ride. There’s a sequel in the works and I plan to be along for the fun then, too.

The story moves along quickly and is an easy read. Our hero is a super(b) spy type and very likable. He goes from one tense situation to another, sometimes getting out of a jam on his own, sometimes with help. There are dastardly villain types, and they come from multiple opposing camps, which helps keep the action going and makes for a more complex and interesting storyline. A lot of research went into the development here: there are a technical details included, often helping keep the fantastic story plausible, though I found they made things drag a bit a few times, too. Mostly the story just moves right along.

I did notice a few glitches in the text; seemed like a word was missing a few times and in one spot seemed like a few words might be missing. I understand this is due to conversion errors when the Nook version was created, and it didn’t bother me, but just letting you know.

In case you are inclined to want a rating, I give this a 3.5 out of 5. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes&Noble as an eBook, and while poking around on the author’s website, I found that there are buttons to buy four formats on the author’s website under the Store link.

Minor disclaimer: the author is one of my Twitter connections, and I suppose I might be predisposed to like the book, but I did enjoy the read. Besides, most of our conversations have been about cats, not his writing.

reverb10: party down

Okay, I signed up for #reverb10. It’s the now annual event, the continuation of #best09 from last year. A prompt a day, all month long, to contemplate 2010 and reveal 2011. In the way of my world, the evening after I signed up, I discovered a new Twitter book club and I joined in for that, too. So this will be a busy month.

December 9 – Party Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

My favorite gatherings this year have been game nights. A set of my friends gather, usually at my place, for a long evening playing board games and sometimes card games. One of the number is a game collector and enthusiast and he brings generally not-well-known, often foreign games to play. We generally go into the wee hours of the night. Lots of rum and cokes, pots of tea, pizza, chips, and pretzels are consumed each time.

The games are good ones. The rules may or may not be complicated, but the gameplay is almost always satisfying—even games with simple rules can make for challenging play. I can’t say I have a favorite kind. There have been betting games, map games of exploration and conquest, travel games, trump/card games, and so on. The game collector is a shrewd opponent and wins the most often but not always. One member of the group has strange strategies (or no strategies sometimes, just playing chaotically) and including him makes for most interesting play and outcomes.

I always have a lot of fun on game night. I don’t care if I win or not. I get upset if I think I played poorly, but winning isn’t the goal for me: fun is. The challenge of the game and playing well is it. My friends care more about winning, or at least not coming in last. I get that, but seems to me, that if you have a good time with friends and have fun playing, no matter how well you do, then you’ve won.

reverb10: brisk moments

Okay, I signed up for #reverb10. It’s the now annual event, the continuation of #best09 from last year. A prompt a day, all month long, to contemplate 2010 and reveal 2011. In the way of my world, the evening after I signed up, I discovered a new Twitter book club and I joined in for that, too. So this will be a busy month.

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

This one is hard, very hard. I mean, I can think of one moment vividly but it’s not a nice one. I accidentally poured boiling water on my hand a few months ago. It’s still healing. That definitely stabs my memory, but I’d rather it didn’t. So let’s not go there.

Nice moments are so much better, don’t you think? Some very nice times stand out, but they aren’t vivid memories. I recall them in swirling pastels, not streaks of bright colors.

I was reminded just a few days ago of times I feel invigorated and full of life. Brisk walks. I don’t walk nearly enough these days. I walk to do errands at work daily but most of the time it’s more of a stroll with company. Last Friday I was out on my own and temps were low, so I walked fast. And I noticed how great I felt. I was locked in my own world (that’s how I walk solo), so I can’t tell you the details. But I can recall the moment I noticed. I was walking by a parking garage on a dirty city street, nothing picturesque or quaint, no harmonious sounds, just street traffic in the distance. But the air was very brisk, the world was very crisp, and I felt good.

I used to walk a lot, long ago. I grew up in an area with dense population, no busing where I lived as the schools were not miles away. So I always walked to and from school and my walk was close to a mile for many years, over a mile each way a couple of years. For college, I lived in one of the dorms on the outskirts of a spread out campus and walked a lot each day, miles, back and forth between home and classes a few times a day, mostly long treks, not short bits that add up. But now I live in a town where I’m too far from work and from stores to walk to work and to run errands. I should take up walking as exercise and I have tried from time to time, but it never sticks. For years I walked my sweet kitties, taking my mostly indoor boys out for supervised outings several times a day. That was my walk time, but we mostly meandered around my lot and in the woods behind my house. I truly treasured those times and felt alive then, too, but they were not real exercise. And without my guys, I avoid going out where we used to go. Maybe last week was a reminder to move on and start walking again.

reverb10: not-writing

Okay, I signed up for #reverb10. It’s the now annual event, the continuation of #best09 from last year. A prompt a day, all month long, to contemplate 2010 and reveal 2011. In the way of my world, the evening after I signed up, I discovered a new Twitter book club and I joined in for that, too. So this will be a busy month.

December 2: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

In one sense, most things I do don’t contribute to my writing, not directly, because I’m not a writer. My background, my work, even my passion, isn’t for writing, at least not text (designing and coding software is my vocation, but that’s not what this post is about). Still, here we are, in a blog post, and this blog is, well, writing! So there you are: turns out I’m a writer.

This poor blog is neglected. I always intend to write more often but I never get around to it. There are things I need to do in my day that can’t be eliminated and things I want do in my life that won’t be eliminated. But I’m not so busy that I don’t have time to write a post for months on end. So what’s holding me back?

Well, there’s inspiration, as in the lack thereof. I can’t think of things to write. I know, the answer is just write, about anything or nothing or everything. But most times when I sit down to post, nothing comes to mind, not the nothing you can write about, but the nothing of a void…no words at all. I have to start collecting ideas, writing short posts about little things, finding “assignments” for myself.

Another problem is my sense of my writing. I read other people’s work and truly feel it’s not just better but so much better than mine. I need to stop thinking about that. After all, a little practice might help. And it’s one reason this blog is here.

“My fingers,″ said Elizabeth, “do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault—because I would not take the trouble of practising…”

—Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice