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My Soul to Keep (African Immortals, #1)My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Jessica thinks that her husband David is perfect. He is caring and strong and smart. He’s written the definitive textbook on Jazz and he teaches Spanish for fun. He’s amazingly accomplished for a man as young as he is.

But David is hiding something. He isn’t young. He was born in Ethiopia 500 years ago. He’s part of a group of men who were made immortal in a secret ceremony and he’ll do anything to keep it a secret, including murder.

This book drug for me a bit in the middle but then picked up towards the end when Jessica finds out about David. 

Jessica ends up having a very different view on immortality than David does. This book is the first of a series and I think I’ll read the next one to see how the conflict between them plays out.

Linking up to R(eaders) I(mbibing) P(eril).







Gutenberg's ApprenticeGutenberg’s Apprentice by Alix Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Historical Fiction

Peter Schoeffer is about to become a master scribe in Paris when his foster father, Johann Fust, calls him home to Germany to meet an “amazing man.” The man is Johann Gutenberg and he has created a machine to make books without the use of a scribe. Fust is funding the venture and wants Peter in the workshop as his eyes and ears even though it means turning his back on everything he has been trained to do.

This is the story of the making of the Gutenberg Bible.

ransomcenter1_small Image from the Ransom Center

Gutenberg was a foul-tempered man who did not have a head for business. Fust was a bookseller who could see how this could revolutionize the world if they could get it to market without the Catholic church seizing the press for their own use and if Gutenberg didn’t bankrupt him along the way. Schoeffer is stuck in the middle.

The city of Mainz at this time was in the midst of huge political turmoil which complicated everything. That was one thing that slowed down this book for me. The politics are complicated and I got lost a few times in all the fights between the guilds and the church.

I thought this book captured the secrecy and intrigue of bringing a new technology to the world.


The Unexpected Earl

The Unexpected EarlThe Unexpected Earl by Philippa Jane Keyworth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Regency Romance

Six years ago Julia Rotherham was jilted by her fiance, Lucius Wolversley. She was never given an explanation. Now he has appeared unexpectedly at her younger sister’s coming out ball and acts like nothing never happened. Julia is furious and Wolversley is acting like he has no intention of disappearing again now that she wants him to leave.

If you are a regular reader here it may seem odd that I’m reviewing a romance but Regency Romances are my guilty pleasure. My grandmother was a fan. She had a subscription to get a few books a month. She got my mother and I into reading them. In her honor we are planning a trip to England next year. We will be going to Bath because everyone does in these books. We will go to the Pump Room like everyone in the books must. Hopefully we will get to do something so scandalous that our reputations may never recover.

I haven’t read a Regency in a while so I jumped at the chance to review this book for the book tour. At first it seemed like the plot was going to get mired into “I like you but I think you don’t like me” but there was a plot twist about halfway through that reenergized the book. I liked the interaction between the main characters. The dialogue was witty. That’s important in a genre that uses a lot of the same plot points over and over. (I am happy to report that two characters went from London to Bath and one went to the Pump Room while he was there.)



Saturday Snapshot

Last Saturday I watched a parade before resuming my Quilts of Valor duties at Brimfest.

This needs to be filed immediately under Things That Are Not OK.

In case of further confusion, this is what pulls a carriage.

Sky parade

Trains that drive on the street

One of the veterans that we presented a quilt to later that day

Police dogs

Grown up majorettes

And, I’m not sure about this one.

Every Banned Book Week we all get together and decry the stupidity that leads to banning books in schools.  But I got to thinking this year.  Is there ever a time when book banning was the right thing to do?

Obviously anyone who tries to get a book banned thinks that they are doing the right thing.  Are they ever right?  Who decides?

The best example from history that I could find is a book called The Mirror of the Polish Crown.  It was published in Krakow in the early 1600s by Sebastian Miczyński.  He was a conspiracy theorist and he just knew that the Jews were the cause of all the world’s problems.

Here’s an excerpt from History of the Jews in Russia and Poland, from the Earliest Times until Today by Simon Dubnow.

They banned the book and hot tempers settled down until the book got out anyway and got people all riled up again. Is that any different than banning books now that tell people how to make bombs and carry out terrorist attacks? Is there ever any knowledge that is too dangerous to be put out for public consumption?


We See a Different Frontier: A Postcolonial Speculative Fiction AnthologyWe See a Different Frontier: A Postcolonial Speculative Fiction Anthology by Fábio Fernandes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Short Stories

This book is a collection of stories about colonialism and cultural imperialism from the point of view of the people being taken over.  If history is written by the winners, this is the other side of the story.

I’m not a huge fan of short stories.  I don’t seem to understand most of them.  I always feel like I’m missing something.  One of the stories in here that I was enjoying suddenly discusses that the one character’s name is a pun and that’s the huge AHA moment in the story.  I don’t get it.  It’s been days now and I have no idea what it is supposed to mean.  That sort of takes away from the reading experience.  They should have a footnote that says, “If you are a bit slow, here’s what we mean by this..”

My favorite stories in the book were:

Them Ships by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – This is a story about a person who is not at all upset that they’ve been taken over by aliens because it was better than how they lived previously.

Lotus by Joyce Chng – Global flooding has produced a world of boaters who live through bartering.  But what happens when some boaters come across an unexpectedly rich source of food and water?  Will it start conflict all over again?

Fleet by Sandra McDonald – Guam was been cut off for years when two Russian sailors are found.

Forest of the Night by Gabriel Murray – A tale of a tiger in rural England


Quilting Wednesday

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

So after my husband decided to stay in the land of the living, I turned my focus to an event that we had been preparing for. There is a small town festival near here that has been turned into a huge veterans’ event because of their police department’s Facebook page. Basically, the Facebook page is crazy popular. I think it is the 3rd most popular police Facebook page in the country. The police chief decided to focus the festival on veterans and invited everyone to come to it last year. This year it is bigger.

Quilts of Valor had a booth for 4 days and did a public presentation with the police chief on Saturday.

We were supposed to present 17 quilts. I’ve been scrambling for quilts so I was glad to pick these up from the Purrfect Quilters on Wednesday night.

At our booth we had info for quilters and info for people to nominate veterans for quilts.

Here are some pictures from the presentation.

Remember that I said that this was a social-media driven event? I posted those pictures to the police Facebook page and they have gone all over the place. They’ve been shared like crazy. People have been joining the Quilts of Valor Ohio Facebook page. Over 1/3 of the page likes are now from this weekend. The album page of these pictures have been seen by over 42,000 people. The requests for quilts are starting to roll in.

During it all I managed to do some sewing. I picked up my hexagon quilt again. I haven’t done any hand sewing since I gave myself tendonitis in my hand. I sewed together the third row and my hand got a little sore but it was management by just doing a little at a time and changing the way I hold the pieces together.

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So, how was your week?

If I told you about the last 10 days, you may not even believe me. I’m not sure I believe me and I was there.

It started last weekend. I took the husband to a trail ride that I was judging. I’ve been doing this longer than I’ve had him but he’s never been to one. I usually fly to events but because of weirdness of geography and flight patterns it ended up being faster to drive to this one so I took him along. I was worried because he has severe food allergies and we were going to be in the woods. I had him take his epipen but he was fine and had a good time.

Sunday night we were halfway home when we stopped at Panera and had cross contaminated food. He started to react as soon as we left the restaurant. He took the epipen and seemed better. I was driving down the interstate when he started to get bad again.

“My lips feel funny.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you want me to call an ambulance?”
“I’ll be dead before they get here.” Read that last line in the style of Scarlet O’Hara to get the full effect.

I decided to call anyway so I was on the line with them being directed towards a hospital at high speed while looking for the lights of the police and ambulance that were heading towards me. Eventually they found us and got him into the ambulance. He was minimally responsive and had a very low blood pressure. The police led me to the hospital. We were there until 2 AM getting him stabilized. I was making calls to try to get the next day off work which is tricky when we have 2 offices and 4 vets and one them is very pregnant and lives 2 hrs away, one is in France, one just picked up her parents who came to see her for the first time in 6 years from Korea and who have never met her children, and one is me stuck in an ER in rural Ohio.

He was released at 2 AM and then I had to drive 3 hours home. We got home at 5:30 AM which was 24 hours and 30 minutes after I got up on Sunday morning. I collapsed in the guest bedroom because I knew that since he had been sleeping all night he would get up in a few hours and want to chit chat and it would be a waste of the previous night to kill him.

Tuesday – I’m heading to work and get pulled over going 24 in a 20 mph school zone at 10:30 in the morning. If the stupid kids aren’t in class at 10:30 they deserve to be hit. I’m especially amused after my high speed pursuit of police on Sunday night. All this is the day that the husband starts getting sick again.

Wednesday – My plan for the day is to go to work and then go to a quilt guild meeting to pick up some quilts they are donating for an event this weekend. The husband is sick. He dehydrates easily and often needs IV fluids when he is sick. At 7:00 AM I decide to show the compassion that makes me Wife of the Freakin’ Year. “Look, if you think you are going to need fluids you need to go to the hospital right now because I don’t have time for this any later.”

I get him in the car with some cash. I drop him off at the ER door and tell him to have a nice day. The cash is so he can catch a cab home later. These things take hours. I did go back and check on him before I went to work. I’m not totally heartless.

So, he’s alive and well right now. Tomorrow I’ll pick up talking all about the festival I went to this weekend for Quilts of Valor which was a bit insane.

Saturday Snapshot

Last weekend I was judging a competitive trail ride in Tennessee.

These pictures were taken as the horses and riders came to the top of a hill that was over a mile long. They were climbing up bare rock for most of it. I was at the top to make sure that the horses were good to continue.

Linking up with West Metro Mommy Reads.


Throne of the Crescent Moon (The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, #1)Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed


Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” is tired. He’s been fighting supernatural evil all his life and he doesn’t see any way to retire. He has an apprentice who is a fierce fighter but he doesn’t have Adoulla’s magical skills. His former partners are all out of the business so someone has to stick around to fight. Then the one true love of his life, who he lost because of his inability to step away from the job, contacts him because her niece was murdered by monsters.

I really liked the premise of this book. I liked the idea of a main protagonist who is old and broken down but who is all that is left. I liked the other characters too. There is a fighter who is devoted to his religion but is starting to see that there may be more grey areas in life than he likes. There is a girl who can take the shape of a lion. There is a powerful magician who ages with every spell he casts and his wife who makes potions.

I found this book on a list of fantasy books that take place in a non-European setting. The world is fantasy Arabic with deserts and ancient cities.

With so much to like about this book, I was disappointed that the story never became a page turner for me. There is a lot that is really good here but somehow it never came together into a tight story. However, I read the synopsis of the next book in the series and it sounds good too so maybe I should give it a try…


Sultana’s Dream



Sultana’s Dream is a science fiction short story first published in English in 1905.  It was written by Roquia Sakhawat Hussain, who was a Muslim feminist living in Bengal.  She started the first school for Muslim girls which still exists today.

In Sultana’s Dream a woman has a dream that takes her to Lady Land when men are kept secluded in a reversal of the practice of purdah common at her time.  The women of Lady Land have dedicated themselves to scientific research instead of war and are keeping the men out of the way so they don’t cause trouble.

You can read Sultana’s Dream here.

Stevenson's TreasureStevenson’s Treasure by Mark Wiederanders

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Historical fiction

In 1879 Robert Louis Stevenson was a chronically ill, wannabe travel writer who had only published a few essays, when he met Fanny Osbourne in France. She was an unhappily married American who was in France to get away from her husband and who was mourning the death of her young son. Louis was immediately infatuated and when she returned to California, he decided to try to find a way to follow her.

I didn’t know anything about the life of Robert Louis Stevenson besides the fact that he wrote Treasure Island. This book covers the years leading up to the writing of that book. I was fascinated by Louis’ unfailingly (and sometimes irrationally) upbeat personality no matter what was going on in his life. The love of his life is married and lives on another continent in a time when travel is incredibly hard? No problem. He is so sick that he has to take time out of travel to recuperate with whatever stranger he happened to collapse on? Why let that stop you? Your intended is married and has no idea you are about to show up on her doorstep? No big deal.

If that type of personality is interesting to read about, I think it would be crazy-making to live with. I admire Fanny for trying to keep some type of order in the midst of the chaos.

If you are interested in the lives of writers, I definitely recommend this book. Would you like to win it?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Saturday Snapshot

Last week we went to a fair. I’m cynical about fairs having spent a large portion of my life on fairgrounds. I hate fair food. (Seriously, live on it for a week at a time and come back and tell me if you still crave it.)

But, the husband likes a fair and Z wants to ride rides. This led to us wandering around looking at animals while Z complained about how much she hates stupid animals. Good times. I think all the animals that only have a few days left to live are absolutely depressing. I petted a pig for a while and apologized for humans being barbaric. He’s been murdered by now.

There were horses and they get to survive a fair.

These are the nicest stalls I’ve ever seen on a fairgrounds.

Dairy cows at fairs are false advertising. I worked on dairy cows. They are never this clean.

This guy makes his living by letting kids ride him and posing for pictures.

There were stuffed animals of course.


Inés of My SoulInés of My Soul by Isabel Allende
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Historical fiction

Ines de Suarez was born in Spain where she married a charming man who abandoned her to make his fortune in the new world. Realizing that there was no future for her as a poor abandoned woman in her village, she traveled to Venezuela. She used the excuse of being a devoted wife looking for her husband but, in truth, she didn’t care if she ever found him. She worked as a seamstress and a cook. Eventually she met Pedro de Valdivia and became his mistress. When he decided to try to colonize Chile, she went with him.

One of my goals for the Travel the World in Books read-a-thon was to read a book about a place that I hadn’t read about before. I’m weak in South America so I googled historical fiction in South America and found this book. I didn’t know anything about the founding of Chile. Any books about this time and place can be hard to read because the Spanish were just so horrible. This book doesn’t gloss over the horrific treatment of the Indians. It talks openly about how the Spanish were famous for lying when making promises.

I found Ines fascinating. She did what needed to be done but what isn’t always considered important by history. She and her native servant talked to locals in each area they passed to learn about healing plants that grew nearby. They did the doctoring during battles. She had the ability to douse so they could find water. She is known for founding institutions. She started hospitals and other services that you need to make a city from scratch.


Quilting Wednesday

Would you look at this? Actual quilting going on at my house.

There has actually been tons of boring quilting all summer. It has been my summer of backs. I’ve been making backs for a lot of Quilts of Valor tops that I had donated and sending them to quilters.

We have a big presentation coming up next week and I got worried about our quilt count. I wanted some backup quilts so I pulled out this giant star and started quilting it. I did some straight line quilting, some meandering, and used this stencil with hearts surrounding a star on the corners.

Sorry for the black on black picture but you get the idea.

I worked for days on this. I was dedicated. Then I realized that we were fine on quilts and … I haven’t done anything for a few days. Yep, I’m an emergency kind of quilter.


Spine Poetry Challenge


Today is the Spine Poetry Challenge. I didn’t think I’d be able to do this. I don’t have a lot of physical books at my house. I get mostly library books and ebooks but I managed to make a few.

Ines of My Soul (Chile, Peru, Panama, Spain)
Walks Around Akron (Ohio USA)
Making Money (fantasy)

The Visitor (USA)
Raising the Stones (fantasy)
Echoes (Ireland)
The Lost Symbol (USA etc)
Beauty (fantasy)

An all USA one but one from all different areas.

A Walk in the Woods
In His Steps
I’m a Stranger Here Myself


Guttenburg’s Apprentice (Germany)
Courage Under Fire (USA)
Matters of the Heart (USA)
Destiny of Gold (USA)

Fitness Tuesday


My goal for this week was to go for a 2.5 mile walk every day.  I did that and sometimes managed to go for more.  My hip is feeling good most of the time so I think I can get back into some normal workout routines soon.

I’ve also been doing the #sizedoesntmatter yoga challenge on Instagram. Here are a few of the photos.


Reading Week in Review


Travel the World in Books has kept me busy. I did posts for East Asia, South Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, and Everywhere Else.

Reviews Posted:
Alienated by Melissa Landers
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbot
White Tiger by Kylie Chan
Red Phoenix and Blue Dragon by Kylie Chan

I also made my book map for 2014 that is now living on my sidebar.

Reading Right Now

Inés of My SoulInés of My Soul by Isabel Allende

“Born into a poor family in Spain, Inés, a seamstress, finds herself condemned to a life of hard work without reward or hope for the future. It is the sixteenth century, the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and when her shiftless husband disappears to the New World, Inés uses the opportunity to search for him as an excuse to flee her stifling homeland and seek adventure. After her treacherous journey takes her to Peru, she learns that her husband has died in battle. Soon she begins a fiery love affair with a man who will change the course of her life: Pedro de Valdivia, war hero and field marshal to the famed Francisco Pizarro.” from Goodreads

Red Phoenix (Dark Heavens, #2)Red Phoenix by Kylie Chan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Blue Dragon (Dark Heavens, #3)Blue Dragon by Kylie Chan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Urban fantasy

These are the second and third books of the Dark Heavens series that started with White Tiger.

The household of the god Xuan Wu know that he will only be able to continue holding human form for a bit longer. His goal is to have his child Simone able to defend herself before he has to leave to regenerate for several decades. The capture of a half Shen child would be quite a coup for an ambitious demon.

As the final battle gets closer, Xuan Wu’s fiance Emma and his bodyguard Leo prepare for life after his departure.

After I read White Tiger I wanted to see where the story would go so I picked up the next two. The weaknesses of the first story were amplified in these ones.

There wasn’t a lot of character development. I still can’t quite figure out why all these humans and magical creatures are so dedicated to keeping Simone safe. I mean, she seems nice enough but nothing special. There are other half Shen children in the battle to protect her so it can’t be just that she is half god. At the end of the third book you finally see her use some powers and it is pretty cool but it takes a long time to get there.

The series doesn’t really have a lot of closure. There are 5 more books that are considered two new series with the same characters.


Everywhere else



In a Sunburned CountryIn a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the first Bill Bryson book I listened to on audio and it is my all time favorite. I learned that everything in Australia is actively trying to kill you.


Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of ThemMoby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When the writer Donovan Hohn heard of the mysterious loss of thousands of bath toys at sea, he figured he would interview a few oceanographers, talk to a few beachcombers, and read up on Arctic science and geography. But questions can be like ocean currents: wade in too far, and they carry you away. Hohn’s accidental odyssey pulls him into the secretive world of shipping conglomerates, the daring work of Arctic researchers, the lunatic risks of maverick sailors, and the shadowy world of Chinese toy factories.

Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone BeforeBlue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before by Tony Horwitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two centuries after James Cook’s epic voyages of discovery, Tony Horwitz takes readers on a wild ride across hemispheres and centuries to recapture the Captain’s adventures and explore his embattled legacy in today’s Pacific. Horwitz, a Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of Confederates in the Attic, works as a sailor aboard a replica of Cook’s ship, meets island kings and beauty queens, and carouses the South Seas with a hilarious and disgraceful travel companion, an Aussie named Roger.


Antarctica on a PlateAntarctica on a Plate by Alexa Thomson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imagine you are a young woman with a stellar career but an increasing dissatisfaction with life. Imagine that your idea of a remote location is the distance between a taxi rank and a shoe shop. How do you shrug off your growing ennui? Simple. You apply for the position of cook in the coldest place on earth: Antarctica.

Looking for even more recommendations? I belong to the Around the World in 80 Books Goodreads group. They have compiled a list of every book that people have claimed for every country. It is an amazing resource.


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