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Rivers and Gods: Good and Evil?

The Waterborn

By

Greg Keyes

A Net Galley review

This was a very different conception of a world and very imaginative. I was fascinated by the River and all the Gods and Goddesses both small and large – a very pagan view of the world and animalistic. The issue of the power given by the River was a new take on how gods choose who is to rule and the control that was part of the power that the water had to manage its own traffic and who could or could not perform activities on it.river

Somehow I found it also a bit creepy. And rather in the line of horror stories where people transform into …. other creatures anyway like zombies but here creatures related to the river such with octopus arms.  So there was a price to pay by the Emperor’s descendents for the power he had received and the river took that price as the child reached puberty.

The River here also could take a physical form – or at least the streams cold and could mate with humans, which is reminiscent, in some ways, of the Greek stories of gods and goddesses and how some are good and some are not and some demand a heavy price for what they offer. See Midas and gold for instance. So this story has these echoes.

We do have a hero and a heroine, who come from very different cultures and tribes, and who have a very different relationship with the River and its tributaries as a result. And it is their trials and tribulations that this book starts the saga with.

I am still divided in my mind whether I liked the book or found the River too creepy and thus didn’t. Either way it is a well devised story and well told. Note – I am not a Stephen King fan and I suspect that this book would appeal to them more than me..

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July becomes August: and Summer becomes Autumn

I always like to look and see what people have been saying about this time of year.

The flush of Spring has gone and the green has settled into a rich colour turning golden where it has been dry and sunny. The grasses have begun to flower and the peak of the garden flowering period has all but finished. So here is one quote which -almost-tells the story of our roses – except that the roses I am thinking of last slightly more than one day and are lilac and red not pink – our pink rose will carry on flowering into November or even December if there are few frosts!

“The serene philosophy of the pink rose is steadying.  Its fragrant, delicate petals open fully and are ready to fall, without regret or disillusion, after only a day in the sun.  It is so every summer.  One can almost hear their pink, fragrant murmur as they settle down upon the grass: ‘Summer, summer, it will always be summer.'”
–  Rachel Peden20150620_123407 20150620_123430

“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.”
–  Ada Louise Huxtable

And have you shed your clothes yet? It took me a long time this year but my winter jumpers have finally made it into the spare wardrobe and the summer t-shirts and swirly skirts have come out. Even sun-tan cream has appeared in our bathroom.

“Answer July—
Where is the Bee—
Where is the Blush—
Where is the Hay?

Ah, said July—
Where is the Seed—
Where is the Bud—
Where is the May—
Answer Thee—Me—”
–  Emily Dickinson, Answer July 

“August rushes by like desert rainfall,
A flood of frenzied upheaval,
Expected,
But still catching me unprepared.
Like a matchflame
Bursting on the scene,
Heat and haze of crimson sunsets.
Like a dream
Of moon and dark barely recalled,
A moment,
Shadows caught in a blink.
Like a quick kiss;
One wishes for more
But it suddenly turns to leave,
Dragging summer away.”
–  Elizabeth Maua Taylor

“In August, the large masses of berries, which, when in flower, had attracted many wild bees, gradually  complement their weight again bent down and broke their tender limbs.”
–  Henry David Thoreau

One of my favourite quotes is the following:

“A weed is but an unloved flower.”

Why? Because our garden is full of weeds – to other people that is  – we grow the wild flowers of the countryside and yes, we don’t ‘weed’ our beds completely and leave the flowers to range across the garden as they will. We love all the flowers in our garden but, and this is a big but, we don’t love ivy in our soil. Ivy is great on the garden fence but nowhere else. And we don’t love bind weed – it strangles plants – but we do love the ornamental version of it as it is not vigorous and we can train it where we like it. Not that I have got it to grow successfully in our garden yet.20150421_155314 20150620_123509 20150620_123535

And I totally agree with the following:

“All gardening is landscape painting,’ said Alexander Pope.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

I can’t paint with my hands any more due to arthritis and the ‘shakes’ but I can plan my garden like a painting and put this plant with that to make a pleasing whole both colour and form. That is why our garden is a riot of blooms. It is untidy in appearance until you look at the microcosm, where the plants blend harmoniously into each other and complement and enhance. The flowers of one bloom through the leaves of another – the clematis take their own route through the world – or do they? Sometime yes and sometimes no. Do we corrall plants into a space – sometimes but rarely – we allow them to spread their wings and achieve fulfilment in shape and flowers and bring the wildlife that we love to enjoy our garden with us. The hum of many bees. The flutter of many butterflies. The hop skip and jump of frogs and toads and stealthy swim of newts. The flashing bright colours of the dragonflies and damselflies as they hover over the ponds enchant with their jewels and the birds cheep and twitter and call in the hedges and the fledglings flutter off from their nest – 3 great tits this year survived (from 4 originally hatched).

For information about the Great Tit see :http://www.bto.org/sites/default/files/shared_documents/gbw/associated_files/bird-table-69-great-tit-article.pdf

 

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Organic Vegetables are best

Green Beans and Summer Dreams

By

Catherine Ferguson

Review for Netgalley

A light and feel good book where all ends well and happily but there are many trials and tribulations to go through first.

Here we have someone whose life and romances do not go well and being unemployed but owning a large garden thinks she can set up a business selling hervegetable-heart.jpg vegetables, just as she did when a child outside by the road. But she does not set up a road-side stall or even go to a market to sell her goods, rather decides that a box scheme whereby she delivers the vegetables to a customer would be the way to go.

Certainly boxes of vegetables are regularly being delivered all round the UK and I, myself, have a box of (certified) organic vegetables delivered to me on a regular basis.

In the UK you need to be certified as organic to sell your goods as being organic and this our heroine did not realise until told. So, although she grows her vegetables in an organic manner she is not certified and thus cannot sell her vegetables as organic. This is a serious flaw in her scheme until she finds an alternative supplier and so her delivery scheme grows despite a number of set-backs all of which are detailed in an amusing fashion here. She is a far from cynical or world-wise young women let alone having any business savvy, and thus many disasters befall her on her way to success.

What surprised me was that a: she did not set up stall also in a Farmer’s Market; b: she did not use her glut of crops to make her soups and jams and even chutneys, despite being told how delicious they were; and c: she did link up with her neighbour to sell her cakes and biscuits as additional items for her customers. I know that soups, jams and chutneys sell well in Farmer’s Markets from my own experience of buying them, and I don’t fret if they are not organic so long as they are local.

So chick lit at its best with a happy ending – which I had predicted from ye very first meeting of the two characters…

 

 

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What does it matter? Marine or Trucker? Legal or not?

Title: Yeager’s Law
Author: Scott Bell
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Publication Date: July 21, 2015
Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Abel Yeager is dead broke, down on his luck, and suffering from a serious case of what-the-hell-does-it-matter. His transition from active Marine to stateside long-haul trucker hit a wicked speed bump when his rig was involved in a wreck that claimed the life of a pregnant woman and laid him up for several months.

Back at work but deeply in debt, Yeager meets bookstore owner Charlie Buchanan in St. Louis and jumps at the chance to haul a load of remainder books to Austin for her. On the way south, a crew of truck thieves tracks his every move. But none of them know what Charlie’s ex has smuggled inside the book pallets, who he stole it from, or how far the owner will go to get it back. Charlie’s the first person Yeager has cared about in a long time, but as their bond deepens, so does the danger they’re in.

With enemy forces closing in, Yeager battles greed, corruption, and his own fatalism in a bid to hold true to Yeager’s First Law: come home at the end of the day.

Yeagers-Law-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

 

Author Bio:

Scott Bell has over 25 years of experience protecting the assets of retail companies. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice from North Texas State University.

With the kids grown and time on his hands, Scott turned back to his first love—writing. His short stories have been published in The Western OnlineCast of Wonders, and in the anthology, Desolation.

When he’s not writing, Scott is on the eternal quest to answer the question: What would John Wayne do?

 yeager

Author Links:

Goodreads

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A feather in his cap: Yankee Dudel and Independence

 

Written in my heart’s own blood

by

Diana Gabaldon

I wait with patience now, for each and every book in this series, and each time, there is the worry that it might be the last.

Once again, have we come to end of the story. But not to worry, having been reading her website and blog and Facebook page, I am now assured that the 9th book is being written and that if you really want, you can get daily spoilers from the text. I did think about this but then thought maybe not so much, as if I get really interested in the spoilers and then have to wait another few years – it takes around 4 for her to write the full nine‐course meal with wine‐pairings and dessert trolley. Or full-length book. Then I might get rather frustrated!

All are safe again but – we never did find out the full story of the daughter and her husband travails before they finally reached home – is there a book in that I wonder? And will they become the next hero and heroine of the saga as time moves on and a new American history can be developed with them and their children now they are all well and all together? We shall see – read the daily spoilers if you can’t wait to find out!

And by, jove, aren’t they all very lusty right into middle age and beyond…never missing an opportunity for some hanky panky.

Now that I’ve got all that off my chest what did I think?

Well, it is always surprising to me, how Gabaldon manages to write a book of some 800 or more pages and yet we have only moved on a very few years in people’s lives. Her books are always chock-a-block with rich descriptions and intense language. Yet her academic background is not in literature as you might imagine but in Quantitative Behavioural Ecology (PhD) and scientific computing. Now take your prejudices out of your pocket and look at them again, as at the same time as she studied the reasons why birds build their nests where they do, she also wrote scripts for cartoons and comics. And for 12 years she was an academic professor before giving it all up to become an author about Scotland and Scottish people to which she had no affinity. Unlike so many Americans she has no Scottish roots at all and at the time of writing her first novel had not even been to Scotland once. Indeed she was born in Arizona and still lives there.

She admits to taking an amount of novelistic license with her ‘history’ of the American War of independence including some of the actions and whereabouts of General Sir Banastre Tarleton, 1st Baronet, GCB (21 August 1754 – 15 January 1833) who was a British soldier and politician; and who is probably best remembered for his military service during the American War of Independence. He became the focal point of a propaganda campaign claiming that his men had slaughtered surrendering Continental Army troops at the Battle of Waxhaws also known as the Waxhaw Massacre. His first name – Banastre – was in fact a family surname which was given to him as is often the case, in order to remember that side of the family. This is still quite a common practice in the USA where we do see a number of rather unusual first names used (especially for girls we British think).

He was hailed by the Loyalists and British as an outstanding leader of light cavalry and was praised for his tactical prowess and resolve, even against superior numbers. His green uniform was the standard of the British Legion, a provincial unit organised in New York in 1778. Tarleton was later elected a Member of Parliament for Liverpool and became a prominent Whig politician. Tarleton’s cavalrymen were frequently called ‘Tarleton’s Raiders’. All this of course from the trusty Wikipedia site plus some others. See the picture of tarleton below as painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Quite a dashing young man don’t you think? And look – a feather in his cap!

220px-Banastre-Tarleton-by-Joshua-Reynolds

Now I did use my search engine quite a lot for this post as I so love it when people use unusual words. I have a bit of a thing about etymology…

So I started of course with looking at just what a ‘Dumpy’ chicken looked like dumpy chicken and then went on to actual language.

First on my hit list [I may well have missed some out that my readers are not sure of, but as I have read a lot of Victorian and historical literature I do know what a Macaroni is for instance – a dandy from Regency times in case you were wondering – and other terms which are not that common] was

  • Absquatulated. Now Gabaldon took a bit of a liberty with this one as apparently it didn’t come into common use until 1820/ 1830. It means to escape, flee or abscond. It is slang and is pseudo-latin.
  • Extravasation . Is to erupt, or an egress or passage out.
  • Peelywally. I was fairly sure I knew this as Scottish dialect but checked anyway and I was right – pale and sickly looking.
  • Cingulum . a belt or girdle. A cloth round the neck.
  • Banyan. A loose flannel undergarment from the Indies. OR a title of bravery. Take your pick on context.
  • Leporello. Nothing to do with lepers, but accordion or concertina pleated material.
  • Gorget. A piece of armour that protects the throat, later morphed into a crescent shaped piece of metal with a chain for officers to denote rank and regiment.

I also liked her use of the Scottish dialect and speech patterns and also the use of the Scottish spellings of words. One could really almost hear the characters speaking. Not having yet been able to see the TV series, I do hope they speak with a good broad accent!

I also checked on what type of drink Bunnahanhain was, I was fairly sure that it was whiskey and so it was, from Islay.

Now some of you may have already recognised Peleg if you read your and know your Bible, I don’t, but it appears that it means division as it was during his days that inhabitants of the earth were divide up between him and his brother. The sons of Eber.

I did also wonder what a trudging stream was, and couldn’t find any reference other than its use as trudging – being hard work to walk in and slow and difficult – we trudge when we are tired. So the stream was such a stream – one difficult and tiring to walk in.

Other words I checked on were: castrametation the laying out of an army camp; and yaupon holly which actually seems to mean tree tree – yaupon coming from the Catawban word for tree; and gigging which is practised in the Southern States – and is the use of a gig or 3 pronged pole to catch – yes – frogs usually.

So was this book all that I hoped it would be having waited to read it until I was on the Queen Mary (I had figured I needed something substantial to keep me from getting too bored as I knew I would be doing a lot of sitting around)? The short answer is yes. It was all that I hoped. Another 5 stars for Gabaldon. I guess more than anything it is her language that attracts me. The storyline is interesting of course, but that would only give it 3-4 stars. It is the language that makes it up to 5.

Oh and by the way, as I will write in my post about my visit to Boston I went on the Tea Party tour! So I know a little more about how the war started – sort of…

 

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