Heir of Ra – Book Review

August 3, 2019 at 2:52 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Ancient Egyptian artifacts, conspiracies, 10,000 year old biological nanotechnology… hand me my tin-foil fedora and “follow me, I know the way!” This book is FUN.

Heir of Ra is an action packed thriller, merging archeology, science fiction tech, and the mysteries of ancient Egypt. As an amateur historian (without a degree in the field to speak of) and wanna-be Egyptologist, the premise excites me to no end; but I’m not going to lie, I kept wanting to picture various characters as the “hair guy” with the bad tan on Ancient Aliens. In the end, though, Sasinowski’s writing shines through and doesn’t allow for that.

Although the book is categorized as young adult, the gentle nods to Edgar Cayce and vague feel of Frank Herbert’s White Plague, it seems like something more suitable for older, tired, adults with an hour or two to kill. Sure, the driving relationship is between a father and her young adult daughter, but I’m hesitant to restrict this title to the younger corner of a bookstore. Instead I want to share it with the Amelia Peabody and Lara Croft fan bases – which in theory should not be the same people, but there’s a Venn diagram for everything and Heir of Ra lands in this one’s center.

Still, it’s quick to draw in mythological sources to a modern day page turner, laced with a twinge of humor – not too far off base from a Rick Riordan series, just a little more grown up while staying appropriately clean.

I look forward to the inevitable screenplay and movie release.

To purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Heir-Ra-Blood-Book-One-ebook/dp/B07GDSK23D

P.S. The sequel was just released in June!

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Captains Courageous

May 23, 2019 at 3:44 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Title: Captains Courageous

Author: Rudyard Kipling

Length: 129 pages

Almost everyone hears the name Kipling and immediately thinks of The Jungle Books, myself included. I read all of The Jungle Books as a child, watched the various movie adaptations, and continue to enjoy them as new ones continue to be made. However, I honestly cannot recall if I had Captains Courageous as a child. I think I did, but the idea is so vague in my mind I cannot trust it.

So I read it as a 34 year old, just to make sure, joining the adventures of the overly privileged fifteen year old Harvey Cheyne as he grows into something that resembles a responsible man, denying his previous existence as a turd.

Published in 1897, it is full of nautical adventure, Victorian era Americanism, and all the qualities that Teddy Roosevelt would applaud – and he did applaud the book, vigorously.

Captains Courageous is a commonly overlooked classic. I can say this with authority having worked in a bookstore for 12 years being able to count on my right hand the number of times I’ve sold a copy. There are some books I’d run out of fingers in one day, so to get through 12 years with one hand tells me its rather neglected. Don’t be that reader, don’t neglect Captains Courageous. It’s too good to be forgotten.

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Robinson Crusoe

April 20, 2019 at 5:08 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

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Title: Robinson Crusoe

Author: Daniel Defoe

The only memory I have of my father reading to me is when he read me Robinson Crusoe. I was ten. I don’t remember why, of all the moments, he chose to read this particular book to me – when I was already reading at a post collegiate level on my own and had been for awhile – when my sister and my mother had previously done most of the read-alouds in our family. Maybe it was good timing with work, maybe he was excited I was interested in it, who knows? Neither of us remembers at this point, twenty-five years later, but what we do know is this: It mattered.

So it was a pretty big deal to me when in February of 2018, I found myself in the car on a cross country road trip to the Creation Museum with my daughter, my dog, both my parents, and began reading Robinson Crusoe out loud in the car.

Robinson Crusoe was first published on April 25th, 1719, and even though we know it to be a novel now in 2019, it still has elements that lead first time readers to believe it to be a true account of a man’s travels. It was mistaken as such during its early release, an intentional marketing ploy by Daniel Defoe, because even in the 1700’s, sensational stories are sold most efficiently if we think they’re real. Look at James Frey and his Million Little Pieces “memoir.”

The first edition of the book touted Robinson Crusoe as both author and protagonist, but now we know that Crusoe is merely a character. In my personal opinion, not even the best character, I have always been most drawn to Friday.

There are many things inherently wrong with Robinson Crusoe if you look at the story from twenty-first century eyes: Robinson Crusoe works hard and then God blesses him to become a king-like fellow. One, that’s just not how God works, and many 1700’s boys and girls were then encouraged to be like Crusoe with this lordship at motivation. Two, it highlights the slave trade, and if you ask most modern Americans they’ll tell you this is a story of white supremacy, white privilege, oppression of all others, etc. etc.

Despite these hang ups, I love it. I think it’s a story that starts conversations. We need to be having conversations with our kids. What makes a protagonist? What makes a hero? What’s right? How do you feel about Crusoe and Friday’s relationship? Do you think this is appropriate? Do you think its duplicatable? Should it be duplicatable?

Kiddo was only seven when we read this together, but I think she got a lot of out of it and it definitely gave us a better view of the 1700’s as we studied all aspects of history. We got to the travel the world through the eyes of an author who lived during the times, and whether his worldview was good or bad, right or wrong, Defoe described it all vividly.

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Peter Pan 360 – How to Take a 5 Year Old on a Girls Night Out

October 5, 2015 at 3:03 pm (Education, Events) (, , , , , , , , )

Kiddo is turning 5 this month and my best friend won’t be here the day of, so Mommy, Tia, and the Nugget did a birthday Girls Night Out a tad bit early.

We started with reservations at Bucco di Beppo, at the kitchen table.  I thought the kiddo would be riveted by the concept of hanging out in the kitchen and watching food get made and processed through the expo line. In the future, she informed me, she wants to sit in the real restaurant.  She ate pepperoni pizza, toured the whole restaurant, and inspected the restrooms, with no idea that this adventure was not the main event of the evening.

We took an after dinner stroll through Party City where she declined a new Tinker Bell costume because she was fully satisfied with her old one.  Practical and not-as-indulgent-as-I-thought kid I’ve got.

Finally, in the parking lot of Peter Pan 360 – the plan was revealed.

“So, because I’m not going to be here for your birthday, I wanted to give you your present early? Do you want it.” (I’m definitely paraphrasing my best friend.  This quote should not hold up in court.

She nodded profusely, despite the fact that she had been insisting to me all morning that birthday surprises could NOT happen on a day that was not her birthday. “YOU HAVE TO DO SURPRISES FOR ME ON MY BIRTHDAY IF IT’S FOR MY BIRTHDAY.”  That is a direct quote, screaming caps and all, from my daughter just hours before. And should hold up in court.  It also included some foot stomping.  I’ve never seen someone so upset at the very idea of getting a present too early.

“Do you want to wear your Tinker Bell costume?” One of us asked.

She shook her head no, but as it dawned on her that I had packed it in the bag that was sitting in the car to her left she quickly changed her mind.

I do not have pictures of my adorable child donned in a bright green fairy costume as we attended Peter Pan because she was too cool for school and uninterested in photography last night.  But I’m ok with that, we actually  managed to be the people who were completely IN the moment all night, and I love that.

So what’s this magical Peter Pan performance surprise we took her to?

[T]he theater is the world’s first fully 360-degree projected backdrop for a live, theatrical performance with the largest surround CGI (computer-generated imagery) venue in the world. There are 12 projectors that deliver 10 million pixels on 15,000 square feet. 400 square miles of virtual London were rendered and it took 100 computers four weeks to create the Hi Resolution images. If a single computer had been used, it would have taken 8 years to render the images. – http://www.theblondeblogger.com

And it’s in a circus style pop-up tent!

My precocious darling spent the first 15 minutes of the show asking me how they got the pictures on the ceiling. I tried to explain the concept of a projector but – thankfully – the show was too loud for us to communicate effectively (which also meant we weren’t disturbing the rest of the audience).  I was able to pull up videos online when we got home and tell her about it then.

Once understanding the mechanics of the show was put off for later, she really got into the magic of it all.  Her great critique is that Tinker Bell wears pink instead of green and this bothered her.  She insisted they needed her to play Tink and asked to go on stage – a lot – because, after all, Peter Pan needed her.  (I thought the performing Tink was pretty darn cool.)

There’s a 20 minute intermission about an hour into the show.  Popcorn and drinks were purchased, restrooms were visited I was pleased to discover the portable restrooms were real flushies and a thousand times cleaner than I anticipated. A little disappointed that they ran out of coffee.

After the show, there was a line for a meet and greet with a few of the actors, but being that little girl is still not quite five and it was getting late, we skipped that bit of fun.

Should it come to town again, we would do a repeat adventure in a heartbeat.

https://www.facebook.com/PeterPan360Tour?fref=ts

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A Cranberry Cove Summer

July 13, 2015 at 12:10 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Title: Casey of Cranberry CoveAuthor: Susan KotchUnknown

Genre: Teen Fiction

Publisher: Hibernian Publishing

Length: 207 pages

Ice Cream Parlours, boogie boarding, kayaking, sail boat racing, pizza, high school parties, and hunky life guards… mix some teen angsty romance in and you’ve got a cute beach read that is perfect for summer.  Susan Kotch delivers the perfect one with surfer girl Casey Whitman playing the role of Gidget.

Casey of10473070_810968012059_3950441201297687075_n Cranberry Cove is a fun read and my only regret while reading is that I wasn’t doing it in the sand, baking on the beach.  I love reading on the beach and Casey is a girl after my own heart – a sun-baking reader and go-getter who isn’t afraid to get dirty.
I’m looking forward to future adventures of Casey’s, but I’m hoping she keeps her head on straight and doesn’t turn into a ninny.  I’m also hoping she doesn’t leave her beach life behind in all the excitement of growing up.  Casey reminds me a bit of the Robin Jones Gunn Christy Miller series my older sister had on her shelf growing up, I think girls that like one series would enjoy the other.

Peaceful at Manhattan Beach

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Book Nerds Romp and Raise a Ruckus

April 20, 2015 at 3:03 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

I needed a vacation. I’ve been needing one for quite sometime, but it took a bit of time, planning, impromptu not planning, and selfishness to make it happen.

I went to Dallas for a few days, with the nervous approval of my husband, left my daughter with my mother; where I ate, drank, and was merry.  And got a tattoo.

The tattoo occurred toward the end, but was the plan from the beginning.

It went a bit like this…

We didn’t book a hotel.  It’s Dallas.  It was Tuesday.  We thought we’d find one.  And we did.  About ten hotels later.  Note to self, book a hotel no matter how silly your destination.  I truly never believed this until this trip.  I very much enjoyed the fact that in the last ten years, if I wanted a hotel and was somewhere, I just arrived and walked in.  Then again, I haven’t gotten out much in the last ten years.

Post Hotel Finding: My old college chums and my best friend since high school all crashed into one group and found ourselves at Goodfriend, a bar and grill with amazing fried pickles and ghost ranch, on the first evening.  There I discovered what I shall now always call fancy whiskey, although it’s actually a Classic Whiskey Sour.  This is not your Chili’s or dive bar Whiskey with sweet and sour – this involves egg whites and shaking and frothy latte like smoothness and basically heaven in a cup of whiskey.  This is also where we discovered that there was whiskey in the water.  Not literally, we just found it very easy to become happily plastered there.  Props to Matt, the owner, who is amazing.  And to the bartender who got me hooked on those Classic Whiskey Sours.

Moving on… The Double Wide.  Yes, that is the name of a bar.  Complete with toilet bowls serving as planters that provide extra seating.  I laughed, I cried, I was in a ridiculous bar with an appropriately fitting name, and strange men trying to talk to my friends who handled them much better than I would.  My response would have been “Go AWAY.”  But my friends are way more classy than I am and found themselves saying, “It’s been nice talking to you, but you’re crashing girls night.”

Wednesday, we got pedicures and ate Mexican food.  Margaritas, bookstores (The Lucky Dog), lots of coffee, a Ton’s Mongolian Grill Reunion dinner at 7:30 with even more college chums.  More bars –  Bowen House (way overpriced but I got some more whiskey in) and The Ginger Man (fun beer).  It was good to see old friends.

Thursday morning involved Cultivar Coffee and the most delicious vanilla latte I ever had.  There was a little hole in the wall taco joint across from it on Peavy called El Ranchito.  If I lived in that neighborhood, that’s where all my money would be going… to $1.50 homemade breakfast tacos.

And finally, some shopping, lunch and coffee, another bar visit (The Libertine) where I refrained because I was about to get inked, I found myself at Death and Glory Tattoo.  Where a very personable guy named Cole Alexander Davis was able to put Jane Austen’s words and handwriting on my arm forever.

“I am half agony, half hope.”

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It was a shockingly cozy experience. My last tattoo happened in a place that felt very clinical to me. The guy was nice, but I don’t remember his name. Here, I realized why people find the practice so addicting. It’s like finding a bar you love, or a coffeehouse you can’t live without. It’s not just about the finished product, or the drinks being made properly, it is very much about ambiance and whether or not you have managed to find a place that seems like home away from home. They have a delightful front porch and a cat that lurked but didn’t touch me. I could have stayed there for hours after, but we had more drinking to do.

One of the guys there said that people tend to tell them their whole life story. They know everyone’s business because they are sort of treated like bartenders and shrinks. I can see that. I was too awkward to take advantage of that ambiance, but I definitely loved it.

My lovely JJ got a tattoo with me.  It is also a literary reference to a poem that was read at her wedding.  “And then this moment…”  This is us, back at Goodfriend, being incandescently happy.

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Friday… we had more tacos and Cultivar. We visited the Black Forest Cafe and the Flagship Half Price Books. We drove the many miles home, mostly listening to oldies.

Thanks for my trip, Danielle. I know it was stressful, but it was also lovely.

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The Snail and the Whale

January 19, 2015 at 12:51 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I used to do a Weekly Low Down on Kids Books.  Well, I used to pretend to do them, and really they were haphazard and sporadic at best, but sort of happened a few times a month at least.

I’m back.  I’m back with a mission to share all the marvelous books we’ve been reading.  Because, well, we have been reading more than we’ve let on.  I know, our silence is stifling.

P1000708Title: The Snail and the Whale

Author:Julia Donaldson

Illustrator: Axel Scheffler

I bought The Snail and the Whale on impulse.  I’ve been trying to do less of that lately, but it was too darn cute and the kiddo had been working on a snail painting.  Plus, I was feeling a little bit guilty over keeping Christmas as sparse as I was.

A few new picture books seemed a good addition to a Jake and the Neverland Pirate lego set (the third set to polish off the Jake collection); but we purposely are trying to keep Christmas gifting simple… “What you want, what you need, what you’ll wear, and what you’ll read.”  Accumulatively, we’d like for her to get no more than 4 presents from each category once all the grandparents have pitched in.  Ideally I’d keep it to four items total, but I’m practical and I know the family members won’t let that fly.

P1000654So she got the rest of her desired lego collection, a Frozen tiara and tambourine, socks, new boots, and a handful of new picture books.  There were some stocking stuffers and some other odds and ends – a geode science project for her school work, new paints, a painting apron, some canvases – and they were given to her in waves, not all at once on Christmas day.  It gave her time to enjoy each gift before getting overwhelmed with another.  We enjoyed it.  She was spoiled without being spoiled.  It felt like a nice simple holiday, yet kiddo managed to get everything she’d asked for.

Although The Snail and the Whale feels like a summer book – crossing oceans, travelling the world, visiting islands – we were excited to read it while cozied up in blankets and pjs.  I can’t wait to read it to her at the beach once it warms up, though.

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Working on her Snail painting, which has an actual shell glued to the canvas.

After reading this book for the second or third time, I finally asked kiddo, “So what are your thoughts?”

Kiddo, age four, says, “Other kids should read it, that’s my thought!  But how about we put it where people can’t find it. So no one can tear it up.”

I think she was missing the point of the conversation.  We started talking about the illustrations and what she thought.  She likes the pictures, but thinks they got the font “mixed up.”  I think the font is appropriately cute, but she’s learning to read and I think some of the swirly snail words were hard for her to recognize.

The book, however, is wonderful.  The rhymes are fun, the pictures are fun.  It’s all about adventure, having courage, and taking care of your friends.  It’s definitely a great gift book for any little one, no matter what season.

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The Ice Sisters Cover Reveal

December 17, 2014 at 11:43 pm (Fan Art) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

The Glorian Legacy Series by A.L. Raine is about to begin.

Not long before it’s in print for you to read and enjoy!  For now, here’s the cover!

ALRaine book one

Cover art by Gershom Wetzel of Aoristos.

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Voyager

October 1, 2014 at 4:23 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

P1000526Title: Voyager

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Genre: Defies Genres, but most commonly found in Historical or Romance sections, sometimes Fantasy

Length: 1059 pages

Seriously, the first thing I exclaimed when I was done reading via illness induced three day marathon was “Holy Crap on a Cracker!”  Clearly I need to find new expletives.  That particular one was not worthy of the book it came on the heels of.

As always, Diana Gabaldon is fabulous and a wonderful storyteller.  Where I’ve usually plucked my way through her books, reading a little here and a little there as a fairy tale adventure before bed – this time I just plowed right through until I was done.

I picked up the third installment of Gabaldon’s book – a first edition mass market paperback from November 1994 that life threw in my lap somewhere along the way – after watching the new Starz series to date.  Putting Gabaldon’s story to film has been a long time coming, but it was worth the way.  I watched 6 episodes in a row, tucked neatly in my bed with a bag of jalapeno chips and lots of hot tea.  Don’t let me fool you, I’d been planning my all-day cave viewing for nearly two weeks, and it would have happened whether I’d been sick that day or not, but being sick definitely helped me get away with it.

See, I planned on writing a review for the show to accompany my other Diana Gabaldon related posts. But the show doesn’t really need one. They’ve done so well, in my opinion, and followed the story hook, line, and sinker. Although I find my fairly prude self fast forwarding through the sex scenes, I think the show is wonderful.

Especially awesome was seeing the author – Diana Gabaldon – pop up in The Gathering episode.  She has such a lovely and obvious face, I was so excited for her to be IN her own creation in that manner.

Naturally, when I ran out of episodes I sought out the next installment of the book – having started reading the series ages ago, but never finished. (I can’t finish it all at once, I have to savor it.)

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Fizz and Peppers Got a New Cover!

September 27, 2014 at 2:12 am (Fan Art) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Remember my obsession for Fizz and Peppers? Do you also recall my adoration for Bryan Collins?

You can imagine my squeals of joy when this happened:

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This second is my favorite. Munk really POPS!
fizz newest cover

Just thought I’d share and send two of my favorite people to promote some online love.

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