Plain Vanilla?

Plain Vanilla?Vanilla by Tim Ecott
on 2005-03
Genres: Nonfiction
ISBN: 080214201X
Pages: 278
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Goodreads
Amazon
three-half-stars
From the islands of Tahiti to the botanical gardens of London and Paris, "Vanilla traces the story of the vanilla plant and its secretive trade, from the golden cups of Aztee emperors to the ice-cream dishes of U.S. presidents. Vanilla has mystified and tantalized man for centuries. The only orchid that porduces and agriculturally valuable crop. vanilla can mask unpleasant tastes and smells, but also makes pleasant tastes stronger, smoother, and longer lasting. Because of its over four hundred separate flavor components. choosing premium-quality vanilla beans is as complex as judging the aroma and taste of fine wine. Vanilla finds its way into over half of all dessert products sold worldwide, from ice cream to chocolate mousse, as well as the finest perfumes., well-known brands of rum and vodka, and even Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Americans consume more vanilla than anyone else on Earth--a fact that has helped drive the price of vanilla beans and flavor extracts to an all-time high, and forced growers and traders to mount armed guard over their plants in the tropical jungle. The traders who travel the world in search of America's favorite flavor are a small and secretive elite. From Papantla in Mexico--"the city that perfumed the world"--to the South Seas, Madagascar, and the Indian Ocean islands, "Vanilla is a globe-trotting adventure that follows buccancers, aristocrats, and gourmets. all in search of the ice cream orchid.

Vanilla is my favorite scent.  I choose it for candles and air fresheners and perfumes and body washes.  I love vanilla flavored food and drinks.  My mother used to laugh at me because I’d go to ice cream parlors and pick vanilla out of the all the flavors.

Did you know:

  • Vanilla was first used in Mexico to flavor chocolate drinks?
  • The vanilla orchid can only be fertilized by a specific bee species in central America which made growing it anywhere else impossible until a young slave boy in Reunion figured out how to fertilize it by hand?
  • Vanilla is hard to grow but the real art comes in slowly drying the pods after they are picked?
  • So much money can be made selling vanilla that warehouses where pods are kept have to be constantly guarded so people don’t steal it?
  • Buying vanilla is mostly a cash business so it is not unusual for buyers to be robbed or murdered sort of like drug dealers?

My vanilla is from Madagascar, where most of the commercial crops comes from now.  In honor of this book I made some vanilla chia seed pudding to enjoy and added some extra vanilla to really appreciate the flavor that is so difficult to make.

About Tim Ecott

“Tim Ecott grew up in Ireland, the Far East and Africa. He studied Social Anthropology and then worked in the film industry before joining the BBC World Service. As a programme maker and correspondent in Africa he specialised in reporting from the Indian Ocean islands for more than a decade.

Based in London, Tim Ecott continues to contribute to BBC programmes, and his journalism has appeared widely in British and international publications.” from his agents’ website

Last Week in Review

Book Posts This Week

Library Scavenger Hunt

Why I DNF books

A Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

Get Over Yourself

Guest Posts

I wrote a post for Alexa about A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

 

Reading This Week

Committed: A Rabble-Rouser's MemoirCommitted: A Rabble-Rouser’s Memoir by Dan Mathews

 

“”Committed” is a bold, offbeat, globe-trotting memoir that shows how the most ridiculed punching bag in high school became an internationally renowned crusader for the most downtrodden individuals of all — animals. This irresistibly entertaining book recounts the random incidents and soul-searching that inspired a reluctant party boy to devote his life to a cause, without ever abandoning his sense of mischief and fun. “Everyone has a tense moment in their career that makes them wonder, how the hell did I get into this mess?” writes Mathews. “For me, it was when I was dressed as a carrot to promote vegetarianism outside an elementary school in Des Moines, and a pack of obese pig farmers showed up and peeled off slices of bologna for kids to throw at me.”

Listening To This Week

A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating OpportunityA Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity by Nicholas D. Kristof

 

“An essential, galvanizing narrative about making a difference here and abroad—a road map to becoming the most effective global citizens we can be.

In their number one New York Times best seller Half the Sky, husband-and-wife team Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn brought to light struggles faced by women and girls around the globe, and showcased individuals and institu­tions working to address oppression and expand opportunity. A Path Appears is even more ambi­tious in scale: nothing less than a sweeping tap­estry of people who are making the world a better place and a guide to the ways that we can do the same—whether with a donation of $5 or $5 mil­lion, with our time, by capitalizing on our skills as individuals, or by using the resources of our businesses.”

 

Garden Plan

That was what the back of my yard looked like. (I took this picture from a second story deck. There aren’t power lines near the ground.) It is horrible for gardening. There is English ivy coming from a neighbor’s yard that climbs everything. We’ve made progress in getting it off the big oak trees. It is part shade. I tried to plant a garden in the sunniest part and everything got eaten by varmints.

I decided to tackle it this year. I cleared out all the little scrub volunteer trees. I want to make this food producing so I took some inspiration from Paradise Lot and ordered some paw paw trees.

Paw Paws are native fruit trees that make a fruit that supposedly tastes like bananas and mangos. I ordered bare root, grafted trees.

They look dead.

They are about 5 feet tall so hopefully they will survive and give fruit in a few years.

I also got some roses this year. I love them and I found two sunny places in the front yard that should work for them.

The existing plants have really taken off this week even though it has been cold enough to see some snow flakes.

The hostas are insane and need divided.

I wasn’t even sure if the astilbes were still alive last week and now they look like this.

I’ve given up trying to plant other food in the back yard. I’m doing containers this year on the back deck because there is sun and it is safe.

The container on the left has kale and lettuce. The one on the right has strawberries. I left the strawberry one at the base of the stairs to the deck for one night and some nasty rodent pulled out two of the plants. I replanted and they are doing well now.

This is basil, lavender, and some cute decorative plants.

Get Over Yourself

Get Over YourselfGet Over Yourself by Jeremy Whitley
Also by this author: Save Yourself
on July 30th 2013
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Fantasy
ISBN: 098596524X
Pages: 128
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Goodreads
Amazon
three-stars
Princess Adrienne is back and she's bringing back her dragon Sparky and girl-blacksmith Bedelia! This time they're out to save the first of Adrienne's sisters, Angelica. Unfortunately, Angelica is the most beautiful girl in the whole kingdom and she knows it. Not only will Adrienne have to fight her jealousy of the attention Angelica gets, but she'll have to face Angelica's mysterious guardian. Meanwhile, Adrienne's father has hired a motley crew of bounty hunters to track down the knight he believes killed his daughter. What he doesn't know is that the knight he is after is Adrienne! Collecting issues 1–4 of volume 2, Princeless Book 2: Get Over Yourself is 100 pages of feel-good, girl-powered adventure for young readers or comic fans of any age.

Adrienne is back! Now she decides to rescue her oldest sister only to find that Angelica doesn’t want rescued. Why would she? A village of artists has set up camp around her tower because she is their muse. All she does is walk around all day and look beautiful.

It is up to Adrienne to convince her that there is more to life than that even if Angelica’s life does look pretty good.

The Princeless series continues to be a great, quick read celebrating the power of women.

A Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

A Murder of Crows by Anne BishopMurder of Crows by Anne Bishop
(Website)Series: The Others #2
Also in this series: Written in Red
Also by this author: Written in Red
on March 4th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
ISBN: B00DMCJRD4
Pages: 448
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Owned
Goodreads
Amazon
four-stars
Return to New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s “phenomenal” (Urban Fantasy Investigations) world of the Others—where supernatural entities and humans struggle to co-exist, and one woman has begun to change all the rules…After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more. The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murder of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader—wonders if their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or a future threat. As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now, the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

I loved listening to the audiobook of Written in Red so I immediately started listening to A Murder of Crows.  The world building in this series is amazing!  When humans started to expand from their origin points around the Mediterranean, they met the Terra Indigene – shapeshifters who are the dominant species on the planet.  The Terra Indigene control all the resources of the planet but allow humans to build some cities and use some materials in exchange for technology.  The alliance is very fragile though and now humans are starting to push for more.

Two drugs have appeared.  Gone Over Wolf causes increased aggression and Feel Good causes passivity to the point of not defending yourself if attacked.  Both drugs have been used in attacks against the Terra Indigene.

Meg is a prophet and the visions are coming more often.  She isn’t the only one.  The other blood prophets around the continent are seeing visions of blood and destruction.  War is coming.


The first book in the series was very insular.  It happened in the small community that Meg found herself in.  This book looks at the bigger picture.  At first that was a bit distressing.  I liked the insular story and wanted to know what was going on there.  But, seeing how Meg’s escape from the institution where blood prophets were kept caused ripples that are affecting the whole world was interesting.

We meet the Intuits, a subset of humans who have strong reactions when something bad is about to happen.  We learn how blood prophets are bred and controlled.  We see how the Humans First and Last movement is growing and how some people are taking it to violent extremes.

The Lakeside Courtyard now has a few trusted humans besides Meg working with them.  These people are now being attacked by other humans for being traitors to their kind.  At the same time Terra Indigene leaders from other areas are starting to come to Lakeside just to see how it is possible to deal with humans on an everyday basis.  Maybe there is hope for understanding after all.


I love this series so much that I had to force myself not to get the next book immediately.  There are only three out right now and I want to space them out a bit.  It isn’t fair to the audiobook I’m listening to now because I’m mad at it for not being this series!

About Anne Bishop

“New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop is the winner of the RT Book Reviews 2013 Career Achievement Award in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. She is also the winner of the William L. Crawford Memorial Fantasy Award for the Black Jewels Trilogy. Her most recent novel is Vision in Silver, the third book in Anne’s urban fantasy series set in a re-imagined Earth. When she’s not communing with the Others, Anne enjoys gardening, reading, and music. ” from her website

Why I DNF

I’ve seen a lot of posts around lately about people who always finish books they pick up.  They feel wrong if they don’t finish them.  I don’t have that problem.  I’m a ruthless DNFer (did not finish).  I don’t even need a good reason.  Here’s a few books I didn’t finish lately and the reasons why.

If you are a person who needs to finish every book, you may want to cover your eyes.

The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, #1)The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

I’m a huge Neil Gaiman fan but I’ve never read Sandman. I’ve heard forever about how good it is but I never got around to it. I finally picked up a book of the whole thing. It was heavy. It was boring. Yeah, I said it. I went through about 40 pages waiting for something amazing to happen and then I sent it back to the library.

 

The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern TimesThe Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times by Tristram Stuart

This one hurt. I was excited about this history of the vegetarian movement. But then it went on and on with English men fighting over what interpretation of Bible verses could mean that you should be nice to animals. I just wanted to slap them all and tell them that they didn’t have to justify compassion by jumping through semantic hoops. Maybe they could be just kind without the Bible condoning it? Finally, it irritated me so much I gave up.

 

Shadow Scale (Seraphina, #2)Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

This is the sequel to Seraphina, which I loved. This book was suffering from second book syndrome though. It was setting up the next story instead of having a compelling story of its own. I forced myself though 3/4 of it before I admitted that I just didn’t care what happened and I sent it back to the library.

 

Written in the StarsWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

This is a book about a girl being forced into a marriage and trying to get away from it. It should be upsetting but I was just annoyed by the parents. There is only so much stupid I can take and listening to a whole book of “You shame us, you horrible female child” was getting on my last nerve. It is 2015 in the U.S. Get over it.

 

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

I should have liked this book. It is urban fantasy but for some reason I couldn’t get into it. I knew it wasn’t for me when I wasn’t excited about listening to it when I was driving. I returned it to Audible. I think that is the first time I’ve done that.

 

 

The Private Papers of Eastern JewelThe Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley

This is based on the real story of a Chinese woman raised in Japan who worked as a spy. That should be good but in the forward the author talks about how she came across the story and wanted to tell it from the woman’s point of view to make her seem less thoroughly bad than the press described her. Yeah, that didn’t work. She was completely unlikeable which can work sometimes but not really in the whole “I was bored so I slept with my foster father because I could” way.


 

Maybe I don’t feel bad about not finishing books because I get them from the library.  No harm, no foul, just send them back and try something else.  Maybe I’d feel different if I bought books.

Do you finish every book you start?  What will make you put down a book?

 

 

Library Scavenger Hunt

Stefani at Caught Read Handed has a library scavenger hunt going on. I didn’t get them all but here’s what I found at the main branch of our library.

  • Your library
A view from the second floor
I’ve never gone to a library with its own parking garage before.
  • Library Card
My poor dying library key tag!
  • Old School Card Catalog (we know that not all libraries have one of these, so take a picture of the catalog on a computer instead!)
This is a special sight! Usually the catalog computers aren’t working. There are only 1-2 on each floor. The fastest way to search the catalog is on your phone on the library website.
  • An audio book
Part of a row of audio books
  • A DVD
Somebody really liked Argo
  • Fun library furniture
The furniture is boring but the place is full of weird art.
  • A large print book
Ken Follet books are even heavier in large print.
  • Flyer for an upcoming event
One of the signs around the library.  Not really upcoming though since I took this on April 18.
  • A fun display
This is a books about food display. Hey, those are aprons! I swear I thought they were boxer shorts until typing this caption and I was totally confused.
  • A book from the 800 non-fiction section (a book categorized in the 800s of the Dewey Decimal System)
Let’s not dwell on how impossible it is to find anything by number in this library since nonfiction is on 3 floors and not in numerical order. You can’t even ask because no one knows what floor anything is on. My major pet peeve about this library is this but I’m not dwelling.
  • Newspaper/Magazine
One of the walls of magazines on the first floor seen from the second floor
  • A graphic novel
  • Find a book about libraries or with the word library in the title
Two-for-one!
  • Find a book with a girl in a dress on the cover
  • Find a book that’s green
  • Find a book with an author who has the same initials as you
  • Find a book with a number in the title
All kinds of numbers
  • Find a cookbook
Rows of cookbooks
  • Find a book with a picture of someplace you would like to visit
See the POP on the cover? That means that nonfiction book is housed in the fiction section which they call Pop Culture. Confusing!
  • Find a book with a one (1) word title
  • Find a book with a duck on the cover
From the Raising Poultry section

Last Week in Review

Book Posts This Week

None of the Above – A high school senior finds out that she is intersex.  That means that she is genetically male but appears female.  Her life falls apart when her whole school finds out.

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules – A group of Swedish pensioners decide they’ll have a better life if they were in prison getting taken care of so they decide to commit a crime.  Who know it was so hard to get arrested?

Save Yourself – A princess decides that she isn’t going to wait around to be rescued by some knight

 

Reading This Week

Vanilla: Travels in Search of the Ice Cream OrchidVanilla: Travels in Search of the Ice Cream Orchid by Tim Ecott

 

“From Papantla in Mexico-“the city that perfumed the world”-to the Indian Ocean islands, Vanilla traces the story of the vanilla plant and its secretive trade. From the golden cups of Aztec emperors to the ice-cream dishes of U.S. presidents, Vanilla has mystified and tantalized man for centuries. The only orchid that produces an agriculturally valuable crop, vanilla can mask unpleasant tastes and smells, but also makes pleasant tastes stronger, smoother, and longer lasting. Because it has over four hundred separate flavor components, choosing premium vanilla beans is as complex as judging the aroma and taste of fine wine. Vanilla finds its way into over half of all dessert products sold worldwide, as well as the finest perfumes, well-known brands of rum and vodka, and even Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Americans consume more vanilla than anyone else on Earth-a fact that has forced growers and traders to mount armed guard over their plants in the tropical jungle. The traders who travel the world in search of America’s favorite flavor are a small and secretive elite. Vanilla is a globetrotting adventure that follows buccaneers, aristocrats, and gourmets, all in search of the ice cream orchid.”

Listening to This Week

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)Soulless by Gail Carriger

 

“Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.”

Book summaries from Goodreads

 

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The RulesThe Little Old Lady who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
(Website)on 2014
Genres: Fiction
ISBN: 9781447250999
Pages: 454
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Goodreads
Amazon
three-stars
79-year-old Martha Anderson dreams of escaping her care home and robbing a bank. She has no intention of spending the rest of her days in an armchair and is determined to fund her way to a much more exciting life-style. Along with her four oldest friends - otherwise known as the League of Pensioners - Martha decides to rebel against all of the rules imposed upon them. Together, they cause an uproar with their antics: protesting against early bedtimes and plastic meals. As the elderly friends become more daring, their activities escalate and they come up with a cunning plan to break out of the care home and land themselves in a far more attractive Stockholm establishment. With the aid of their Zimmer frames, they resolve to stand up for old aged pensioners everywhere - Robin Hood style. And that's when the adventure really takes off--

I picked up this book purely because of the title. I loved the Swedish books called The Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden.

The people in this book are stuck in a horrible nursing home being run by people who are constantly looking for new and devious ways to cut more costs. When watching TV one night, the group of residents watch a documentary on the rights of Swedish prisoners. They realize that the law says they have to be treated better in prison than in a nursing home. It is time to get arrested!

That’s easier said than done. None of them have ever committed a crime before and they want to do it right. Too bad all their planning means that they get away with a huge theft and they can’t seem to get themselves arrested.

Nothing is going as planned for the pensioners so they get more and more daring to show the world that you have to pay attention to old people because they are capable of all kinds of trouble!

I didn’t like this book as much at the ones previously mentioned but it was cute. As it went on it got more farcical but I liked the ending.

About Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg is a Swedish author who also is a maritime archeologist. She has written books about archeology and historical fiction.

Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin

Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley and M. GoodwinSave Yourself by Jeremy Whitley
Also by this author: Get Over Yourself
on May 2nd 2012
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Fantasy
ISBN: 9781450798945
Pages: 118
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Goodreads
Amazon
four-stars
Collecting the first storyline of the multiple Eisner Award–nominated and multiple Glyph Award–winning series, follow the adventures of Princess Adrienne, a princess who’s tired of waiting to be rescued. Along with her guardian dragon, Sparky, they begin their own quest in an all-ages action adventure designed specifically for those who are tired of waiting to be rescued—and who are ready to save themselves.

In the opening pages you see a young girl being read a bedtime story about a princess locked in a tower. A blond haired prince slays the dragon guarding her and rescues her.

The girl is outraged. Why are the princess’ parents so angry at her that they lock her in a tower? Where do you even get a dragon?

It turns out that this girl is a princess and before she knows it she is locked in a tower with a dragon to guard her. She is not pleased. Before long she decides that she isn’t going to stand for this and is going to rescue herself. She befriends her dragon and rides off to rescue her sisters from their towers.

Her absence from the tower doesn’t go unnoticed. Neither does her attempt to rescue one of her sisters. She is wearing armor made my her new friend Bedelia, a dwarf who is tired of having to pretend that she doesn’t know how to make armor. Together they have made proper armor for women that focuses on protection more than appearances.

I loved the idea of a graphic novel upending the conventions of fantasy and fairy tales. As an experiment I let Z read it. She is an absolute Disney addict and lives all things princesses. I didn’t know if she would like this or be mortally offended.

It turned out that she liked it too.

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

None of the Above by I.W. GregorioNone of the Above by I. W. Gregorio
(Website)on April 7th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
ISBN: 0062335316
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Owned
Goodreads
Amazon
four-stars
A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she's intersex . . . and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

Kristin was 18 and had never started her period.  She was a runner and attributed hard training to her lack of menstruation.  She went to a pediatrician and had never had a gynecological exam so she had no idea that she had no uterus and two internal testes.  She is confused and ashamed when she finds out and her first instinct is to hide from everyone.  When she does finally decide to tell a few of her friends, the news is leaked to her whole school with horrible results.

This book addresses a lot of issues facing a person with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. That means that although the chromosomes are XY the body doesn’t respond to the testosterone produced so the person develops the physical characteristics of a female.

  • If you have testicles that are producing testosterone, can you continue to compete in sports as a female?
  • When and how do you tell someone you are interested in dating about your condition?
  • Since intersex is relatively unknown, how do you explain it to people and should you have to?
  • How do you respond to bullying from people who don’t understand your condition?

The main goal of this book is to give information about AIS.  Sometimes that information giving can get in the way of the story but it is necessary.  I found the parts about sports interesting.  I had read articles before about the lengths that are gone to when trying to prove or disprove that athletes are female.  It can be humiliating.

 

 

About I. W. Gregorio

“I. W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. After getting her MD, she did her residency at Stanford, where she met the intersex patient who inspired her debut novel, None of the Above (Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins). She is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books™ and serves as its VP of Development.” from her website

Last Week in Review

Book Posts This Week

The Shadow of the Wind – Why are all the books by a Spanish author being destroyed?

10 Reasons to Love Written in Red – Werewolves and vampires and PONIES!

Books for the End of the World – What books would you recommend to reboot civilization?

Born to Rule – Five granddaughters of Queen Victoria became queens themselves.

Learning the Secret Language of Cats  – Understanding cat behavior is a key part of keeping them healthy

 Around the Internet

Best Books of the Decade – I’ve only read 7 of the 100 listed and DNFed 3 more.  What about you?

One of the books on the list is Emperor of All Maladies.  It’s one of my favorites and now is the inspiration for a PBS documentary.  Watch it here.

Reading This Week

None of the AboveNone of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

 

“When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned–something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?”

Listening to This Week

Murder of Crows (The Others, #2)Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

 


The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murders of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader—wonders whether their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or of a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.”

Book summaries from Goodreads

Muslims : a rebuttal

I unfriended someone on Facebook.

Part of the problem with having undergone radical mindshifts in your life is that you are friends with people who still believe what you used to. In my case I have a few redneck, so-called Christians who like to put Jesus stuff on my wall. I tolerate them but tend to block anything that is the Gospel according to Fox News. This particular person has posted some anti-immigrant stuff before and I couldn’t figure out why she was so angry. When she posted this I put a brief response and then unfriended. Now I wish I hadn’t.

This is the response I wish I would have left on her message before I unfriended.

Muslims My Ass…
I want to shake the guy’s hand that wrote this…
Have you ever seen a Muslim hospital?

The whole concept of hospitals started in Egypt. Arabic physicians were doing amazing medicine long before European physicians stopped accusing people of witchcraft. Are there any Muslim-run hospitals in the U.S.? No, but there are plenty of Muslim doctors.

Have you heard a Muslim orchestra?
Have you seen a Muslim band march in a parade?

Marching bands are based on location usually. Does your church have a marching band? Why does this even matter anyway?

Have you witnessed a Muslim charity?

Islamic Relief USA? Also check out this article that says that Muslims give more to charity than Christians.

Have you shaken hands with a Muslim Girl Scout?

Nope but to the best of my knowledge I’ve never shaken hands with any Girl Scout. Mostly I run away when they try to sell me cookies. There are these girls though.

Have you seen a Muslim Candy Stripper?

I don’t generally check out strippers. In case you were referring to Candy Stripers, when was the last time you saw one of those? I’ve spent a good bit of time around hospitals and never seen one.

The answer is no, you have not. Just ask yourself WHY ???

Actually, I just proved you are wrong and I’m asking myself WHY ??? you are so willfully ignorant.

Barack Obama, during his Cairo speech, said: “I know, too, that
Islam has always been a part of America ‘s history.”

AN AMERICAN CITIZEN’S RESPONSE
Dear Mr. Obama:
Were those Muslims that were in America when the Pilgrims first landed? Funny, I thought they were Native American Indians.
Were those Muslims that celebrated the first Thanksgiving day? Sorry again, those were Pilgrims and Native American Indians.

Um, Muslims didn’t beat the early British colonists here so they don’t count? Ok, sorry Irish folks and Italians, you are out too.  Does this mean that the Spanish get to keep Florida now because they beat the British there?

Can you show me one Muslim signature on the: United States Constitution?
Declaration of Independence ? Bill of Rights? Didn’t think so.
Did Muslims fight for this country’s freedom from England ? No.

“From 1774–1783 there were at least six people with Islamic names who fought in the Revolutionary War as colonial soldiers. One of them was Yusuf Ben Ali, also known as Joseph (Benenhali) Benhaley, who fought with General Sumter in South Carolina. After the war, General Sumter took Joseph Benhaley with him inland to Stateburg where they settled down. Joseph Benhaley’s name appeared in the 1790 census of Sumter County. Revolutionary records also show that there was a Bampett Muhamed who was a Corporal in the Revolutionary Army, from 1775-1783 in Virginia. Francis Saba was listed as a sergeant with the Continental Troops in roll 132, 1775-1783, and Joseph Saba was listed as a Fifer in the Continental Troops roll 132, 1775-1783.” from here.

Also remember that many of the Muslims in the U.S. at the time were from Africa and were enslaved. That’s a minor impediment to political action.

Did Muslims fight during the Civil War to free the slaves in America ?
No, they did not. In fact, Muslims to this day are still the largest traffickers in human slavery. Your own half-brother, a devout Muslim, still advocates slavery himself, even though Muslims of Arabic descent refer to black Muslims as “pug nosed slaves.” Says a lot of what the Muslim world really thinks of your family’s “rich Islamic heritage,” doesn’t it Mr. Obama?

Hum, in about 2 seconds of Googling I found this – “In 1860, Muhammad Ali ibn Said (1833 – 1882), known as (Nicholas Said) arrived in America as a free man. Muhammad was born in the Kingdom of Bornoo, West Africa near Lake Chad to a well-educated merchant family. Said was kidnaped and enslaved when he was 16. His first slave master was an Arab named Abdel Kader who took him to Tripoli and Fezzan. Muhammad was then sold to Alexander Menshikov, an aide to the Russian Czar, then to Nicholas Trubetzkoy with whom he traveled to many places during his years of slavery from Russia, Rome, Persia to France. In 1860 he left Liverpool, England with a man from Holland to travel to Boston, New York, Kingston, New Providence, Toronto, Quebec, and other places in North America as a freed man.

In 1861 he arrived in Detroit. Shortly afterward he found a teaching job and in 1863 Muhammad enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts colored regiment and became a Civil War hero. He served faithfully and bravely with his regiment as Corporal and then Sergeant in the South. Near the close of the war he was assigned, at his own request, to the hospital department, to learn some knowledge of medicine. His Army records show that he died in Brownsville, Tennessee in 1882.”  Uh oh, Muslims in the hospitals again!

Where were Muslims during the Civil Rights era of this country?
Not present.
There are no pictures or media accounts of Muslims walking side by side with Martin Luther King, Jr. or helping to advance the cause of Civil Rights.

Ah, Hell NO! This is where I lost it. For everything else you need a few seconds with a search engine to find the answer. It takes the tiny bit of effort. But this? Seriously?  There have even been movies in case you don’t read.

From this website

I slapped this picture up as my response and left. I can’t decide if it is worse if people are just this woefully ignorant or if they think African-Americans aren’t “real” Muslims or if they are just assholes.

Where were Muslims during this country’s Woman’s Suffrage era?
Again, not present. In fact, devout Muslims demand that women are subservient to men in the Islamic culture. So much so, that often they are beaten for not wearing the ‘hijab’ or for talking to a man who is not a direct family member or their husband. Yep, the Muslims are all for women’s rights, aren’t they?

I want to go on a tirade about intersectionality of race and sex and voting rights and how the run up to the Amendment was mostly well-off white women fighting white men because no one of color was encouraged to vote even if they were technically allowed, but the writer missed Malcolm X in history class so I’ve lost hope.

Where were Muslims during World War II?
They were aligned with Adolf Hitler. The Muslim grand mufti himself met with Adolf Hitler, reviewed the troops and accepted support from the Nazi’s in killing Jews.

The Pope was a fan of Hitler’s too. 

Over 15,000 Arab Americans fought in WWII.

Finally, Mr. Obama, where were Muslims on Sept. 11th, 2001?
If they weren’t flying planes into the World Trade Center , the Pentagon or a field in Pennsylvania killing nearly 3,000 people on our own soil, they were rejoicing in the Middle East . No one can dispute the pictures shown from all parts of the Muslim world celebrating on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other cable news network’s that day. Strangely, the very “moderate” Muslims who’s asses you bent over backwards to kiss in Cairo , Egypt on June 4th were stone cold silent post 9-11. To many Americans, their silence has meant approval for the acts of that day.

Where were the Muslims? Some of them were dying. Here’s a list of the Muslims who died that day. There were Muslim first responders too.

And THAT, Mr. Obama, is the “rich heritage” Muslims have here in America ….
Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to mention the Barbary Pirates. They were Muslims.
And now we can add November 5, 2009 – the slaughter of American soldiers at Fort Hood by a Muslim major who is a doctor and a psychiatrist who was supposed to be counseling soldiers returning from battle in Iraq and Afghanistan .

Also, don’t forget the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15.2013 was done by 2 Muslim Brothers. That, Mr. Obama is the “Muslim heritage” in America

EVERY AMERICAN AND CANADIAN MUST READ THIS !!
Be sure to SEND IT TO ALL.
Muslim Heritage, my ass.
And if you don’t share this message,you are part of the problem!

I hope sharing this doesn’t mean that I’m no longer part of the problem.  I’d love to SEND IT TO ALL especially those who obviously haven’t paid attention to history.

Learning the Secret Language of Cats by Carol Teed

Learning the Secret Language of Cats by Carol TeedLearning the Secret Language of Cats by Carol Teed
on 2013
ISBN: 1771410175
Pages: 234
Format: eARC
Source: Book Tour
Goodreads
Amazon
three-stars
Exploring the mind of the cat, Dr. Teed describes what can be learned from understanding this most mysterious of creatures. She explores the body-mind-soul connection and notes that what feeds the mind and soul is often deficient in the modern world we have constructed for ourselves and our cats. These deficiencies then become written on the body. She feels a more integrated body-mind-soul approach to care for our felines is what is needed now for the modern cat. Describing cats as motivational or inspirational speakers who can teach us how to live a life worth living, Dr. Teed relates how she observed first-hand, time and time again, the positive power of the cat to affect change in small spheres. And she reflects on what an amazing thing it would be if we were all a bit more cat-like. In her words, every household can benefit from a cat.

One of the most frustrating parts of my job is trying to explain cats to people who don’t want to listen. People think that cats should be happy to live in a house with people and dogs and other cats just like dogs are. Cats are not like dogs.

My first line of questions when someone brings in a cat for urinating outside the litter box is – “Has anything changed in the house that might have upset him? Are there any other pets in the house? Do they get along?” The answers are always, “No. Yes. They get along great! Sometimes they play rough but other than that they love each other.” Then we start going deeper into what is going on in the house.

Stress is a major cause of illness in cats and people don’t recognize a stressed cat when they see one. That’s why I was excited to read this book written by a veterinarian about understanding cats.

This isn’t a “how to take care of your cat” book. It is written partially as a memoir of her experience in practice, using stories of patients she treated to illustrate points. It talks in a conversational tone about nutrition and behavior and illness. I also appreciated the section about how vets are not out to steal all your money.

I wish all cat owners would read this book to start to understand what their cat is trying to tell them. It would make the life of the cat and the humans they live with so much better.

iReadBookTourLogoMedium_zpsa6c672f6

Born To Rule by Julia P. Gelardi

Born To Rule by Julia P. GelardiBorn to Rule by Julia P. Gelardi
(Website)on February 7th 2006
Genres: History, Nonfiction
ISBN: 0312324243
Pages: 496
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Goodreads
Amazon
four-stars
Julia Gelardi's Born to Rule is the powerful epic story of five royal granddaughters of Queen Victoria, who reigned over the end of their empires, the destruction of their families, and the tumult of the twentieth centuryHere are the stories of Alexandra, whose faith in Rasputin and tragic end have become the stuff of legend; Marie, the flamboyant and eccentric queen who battled her way through a life of intrigues and was also the mother of two Balkan queens and of the scandalous Carol II of Romania; Victoria Eugenie, Spain's very English queen who, like Alexandra, introduced hemophilia into her husband's family---with devastating consequences for her marriage; Maud, King Edward VII's daughter, who was independent Norway's reluctant queen; and Sophie, Kaiser Wilhelm II's much maligned sister, daughter of an emperor and herself the mother of no less than three kings and a queen, who ended her days in bitter exile.Using never before published letters, memoirs, diplomatic documents, secondary sources, and interviews with descendents of the subjects, Julia Gelardi's Born to Rule is an astonishing and memorable work of popular history.

I love women’s history so I was excited hear about this book.  I was only familiar with Tsarina Alexandra before reading it.

All of these women spent a lot of time in their childhood in England with their grandmother, Queen Victoria. Each of them learned from her what it meant to be a monarch. They tried to follow her example in a changing world – sometimes to their detriment.

 

Marie Alexandra Victoria (Missy) was born to an English Duke and a Russian Grand Dutchess in England. She married Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania. During World War I she worked as a nurse and then was a negotiator for her country with the Allied Powers to gain land for Romania. Men loved her. She always had new admirers. Her son King Carol II was a horrible human being who seemed to delight in tormenting his family by banishing them from Romania and contact with each other.

Alix Victoria Helena Louise Beatrice of Hesse was born in Germany to Princess Alice of Great Britain and Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse. After a long and determined courtship, Nicholas of Russia got her to agree to marry him. They had a happy marriage but they weren’t great leaders. She was very shy and was thought to be arrogant by the people in the court who she avoided for being fake. Her entire family was killed in 1918.

Sophia Dorothea Ulrica Alice (Sophie) was born in Germany to Victoria, Princess Royal of Great Britain and the future Emperor Frederick III. She married Constantine of Greece against the will of her brother, Kaiser Wilhelm. He hated her and worked against her but the fact that she was related to the Kaiser was held against her in Greece during World War I. She was thought to be a spy. The Greek royal family was exiled and then returned several times.

Maud Charlotte Mary Victoria was born in London and was the youngest child of Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark. She didn’t want to be a queen and happily married Prince Charles of Denmark who was not going to become King of Denmark. However, when Norway gained independence from Sweden they chose to have a King and selected Charles who took the name Haakon VII. She probably had the happiest life because no one was trying to kill them or overthrow them.

Victoria Eugenie (Ena) was born in Scotland to Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry of Battenberg. Princess Beatrice was Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter who was assigned to keep her mother company so Ena grew up with the Queen. She married Alfonso of Spain and survived her first assassination attempt on her wedding day. The marriage fell apart when two of the couple’s sons were born with hemophilia. Alfonso blamed her for infecting the royal line. The Spanish monarchy was exiled during her reign but she was instrumental in negotiating for the reinstatement of her grandson, King Juan Carlos.

This book was very confusing to me at first. Each of the women have their full birth names, their nicknames, and the names they take as Queen. The author uses the names interchangeably sometimes in the same paragraph. It took a while to figure out who was who. The book is written chronologically and all the girls stories are intermingled. There is a family tree at the front of the book that really helped.

It got easier to understand once they all got married and went to different countries. Then I could keep them straight.

About Julia P. Gelardi

Julia P. Gelardi is an independent historian specializing in European royal history from the Victorian era to the present.

Books For The End of the World

I read an article about people complying a library of books that can be used to rebuild civilization. There were a lot of suggestions for books that taught about philosophy and history. That’s not necessarily what I’d want to see in the library. Here’s my list.

A Short History of Nearly EverythingA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

“In Bryson’s biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand — and, if possible, answer — the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds.”

That seems like it would be a good start.

Wind Power for DummiesWind Power for Dummies by Ian Woofenden

 

“The” consumer guide to small-scale wind electricity production!Maybe you’re not T. Boone Pickens, but you can build your own home-sized wind-power empire right in your back yard. “Wind Power For Dummies” supplies all the guidance you need to install and maintain a sustainable, cost-effective wind generator to power your home for decades to come.”

I’m the practical sort. I’d like a copy of the entire For Dummies series. That would be a help.

Cooking with Fire: Techniques and Recipes for the Firepit, Smoker, Fireplace, Tandoor, or Wood-Fired OvenCooking with Fire: Techniques and Recipes for the Firepit, Smoker, Fireplace, Tandoor, or Wood-Fired Oven by Paula Marcoux

 

“Cooking with live fire goes way beyond the barbecue grill. Rediscover the pleasures of a variety of unconventional techniques, from roasting pork on a spit to baking bread in ashes, searing fish on a griddle, smoking turkey, roasting vegetables in a fireplace, making soup in a cast-iron pot, baking pizza in a wood-fired oven, cooking bacon on a stick, and much, much more. Includes 100 recipes for everything from roasted rabbit to fish chowder and baguettes.”

Somebody better know how to do this before we all starve.

Silent SpringSilent Spring by Rachel Carson

 

“Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet reverberated powerfully throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.”

So we don’t go around killing off all the animals again.

The Fifth Sacred Thing (Maya Greenwood, #1)The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

“Imagine a world without poverty, hunger, or hatred, where a rich culture honors its diverse mix of races, religions, and heritages, and the Four Sacred Things that sustain all life – earth, air, fire, and water – are valued unconditionally. Now imagine the opposite: a nightmare world in which an authoritarian regime polices an apartheid state, access to food and water is restricted to those who obey the corrupt official religion, women are property of their husbands or the state, and children are bred for prostitution and war. The best and worst of our possible futures are poised to clash in twenty-first-century California, and the outcome rests on the wisdom and courage of one clan caught in the conflict. “

I’d love to have the new civilization set up like the ideal city in this book.

–All descriptions from Goodreads

 

What books do you think should be on the list?

10 Reasons to Love Written in Red

10 Reasons to Love Written in RedWritten in Red by Anne Bishop
(Website)Series: The Others #1
Also in this series: Murder of Crows
Also by this author: Murder of Crows
on 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
ISBN: 0451464966
Pages: 433
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Owned
Goodreads
Amazon
four-half-stars
No one creates realms like New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans. As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg's Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others. Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she's keeping a secret, and second, she doesn't smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she's wanted by the government, he'll have to decide if she's worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

Why You Should Love This Book

1. A werewolf and a vampire manage a bookstore.

2. A human gets a job sorting mail. I’ve always been fascinated with mail sorting. Honestly. It seems like magic to me that mail gets where it is supposed to go. I would love the job of sorting mail.

3. The Ponies! The ponies deliver the mail if they feel like it. They come and get baskets full of mail. They are described as having grumpy faces. I love grumpy-faced ponies. The human started giving them treats. More ponies come and some try to get more than their share of treats. When they think the treats aren’t as good as yesterday, they get sassy. This was every day of my life with my grumpy-faced pony.

4. The narrator has a strange combination of little girl and very soothing qualities to her voice. I want her to narrate ALL THE BOOKS!

5. The names of the stores owned by the Others are great. Howling Good Reads, A Little Bite (coffee shop), Run and Thump (gym), etc.

6.  The Others can appear human but they don’t understand humans.  They base their interactions off what they’ve seen in books and movies.  They have to learn firsthand that things like “Is it that time of the month?” are not appropriate.

7.  The wolves learn to appreciate dog beds and treats even if they don’t want to admit it.

8.  The crows are gossips who don’t give correct change because they don’t want to give away shiny things.

9. Seriously, don’t mess with the ponies.  Angry ponies are destructive ponies!

10.  There is some great world building here.  Humans are not the dominant species on the planet.  They are allowed to live places through agreements with the Others and those agreements can be revoked at any time.  Human cites have been wiped out when the Others are angered.

About Anne Bishop

“New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop is the winner of the RT Book Reviews 2013 Career Achievement Award in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. She is also the winner of the William L. Crawford Memorial Fantasy Award for the Black Jewels Trilogy. Her most recent novel is Vision in Silver, the third book in Anne’s urban fantasy series set in a re-imagined Earth. When she’s not communing with the Others, Anne enjoys gardening, reading, and music. ” from her website

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafonThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
(Website)Published by Penguin Books on 2004
Genres: Fiction
ISBN: 0143034901
Pages: 486
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Goodreads
Amazon
three-stars
Barcelona, 1945—just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him.  Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.

I had a hard time getting into this book.  The language is beautiful but the plot just wouldn’t stick.  I’d put it down and then wouldn’t remember any details the next time I tried to read it.  If I wasn’t reading this for a read-a-long, I would probably have given up on it.

My first favorite passage was this one.

“These people who see sin everywhere are sick in their souls and, if you really press me, in their bowels. The endemic condition of the Iberian saint is chronic constipation.”
Every time she heard such blasphemy, Bernarda would make the sign of the cross five times over. Later, at night, she would say a prayer for the tainted soul of Mr. Barcelo,who had a good heart but whose brains had rotted away due to excessive reading, like that fellow Sancho Panza.

Then, about halfway through, it got interesting.  The mystery of what happened to Julian Carax kicked in and I wanted to know what happened.  It turned around for me with Fermin.  He was a street person taken in by Daniel’s family to work in their bookstore.  He has a mysterious past and a way with words and ladies.  I loved listening to him talk and he liked to talk a lot.

“People talk too much.  Humans aren’t descended from monkeys.  They come from parrots.”

In the end I liked the book but wish it told more about the Cemetery of Lost Books.

About Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a Spanish novelist. Born in Barcelona in 1964, he has lived in Los Angeles, United States, since 1994, and works as a scriptwriter aside from writing novels.

Sunday Post

Bookish Posts This Week

Taking Flight – A war orphan from Sierra Leone becomes a ballerina.

10 Books Added to My TBR list

How Books Lower Your Stress Level – It isn’t the way you think.

Somewhere Inside – The story of Laura Ling’s captivity in North Korea

Crazy Rich Asians – Think Asian Danielle Steel

Around the Internet

There’s a #ReadingMyLibrary Challenge going on. I’m signing up because there is a scavenger hunt at the end of the month. Check it out here.

Listening To This Week

Written in Red (The Others, #1)Written in Red by Anne Bishop

“As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.” From Goodreads

I’m loving this book. I’ll finish it on the trip to and from my parents’ for Easter. I’ll probably get the sequel immediately.

Reading This Week

Born to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen VictoriaBorn to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi

“Here are the stories of Alexandra, whose faith in Rasputin and tragic end have become the stuff of legend; Marie, the flamboyant and eccentric queen who battled her way through a life of intrigues and was also the mother of two Balkan queens and of the scandalous Carol II of Romania; Victoria Eugenie, Spain’s very English queen who, like Alexandra, introduced hemophilia into her husband’s family—with devastating consequences for her marriage; Maud, King Edward VII’s daughter, who was independent Norway’s reluctant queen; and Sophie, Kaiser Wilhelm II’s much maligned sister, daughter of an emperor and herself the mother of no less than three kings and a queen, who ended her days in bitter exile.” from Goodreads

I’m about halfway through this book. World War I has just ended. Alexandra is dead and some of the others have lost their thrones.

Shadow Scale (Seraphina, #2)Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

“The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.” from Goodreads

I don’t remember a lot of details from Seraphina except that I really liked it so I hope I can remember enough to read this sequel.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin KwanCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
on May 20th 2014
Genres: Fiction
ISBN: 0345803787
Pages: 527
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Goodreads
Amazon
three-stars
When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country's most eligible bachelor.   On Nick's arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

This book requires some major suspension of disbelief. You’ve been with a man for 2 years and somehow you’ve never found out anything about his family? You never Googled him and found out about him? You’ve never asked anything? Right.

I’d have been equally disturbed to find out that his family didn’t know that I existed even though we had been dating for two years.

But, if you let all that go, this is an entertaining book.  Think of it as Danielle Steel set in Asia. Everyone is super rich and plotting to get richer except for the heroine who is above all that of course.

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