Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday 19

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at the Bermuda Onion where you "can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative!

Waiting on a conference call - so here are some random words from Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina that I wanted better images of in my mind.  

... onto the pristine sailor collar of her middy blouse, and thence, gravity having its inevitable effect, down the blue seersucker of her uniform's skirt to the floor.  

middy  /ˈmidē /  (plural middies)
1: informal A midshipman.
2: (also middy blouse) historical A woman’s or child’s loose blouse with a collar that is cut deep and square at the back and tapering to the front, resembling that worn by a sailor.

seersucker /ˈsi(ə)rˌsəkər/
A printed cotton or synthetic fabric that has a surface consisting of puckered and flat sections, typically in a striped pattern.
Origin: early 18th century: from Persian šir o šakar, literally 'milk and sugar', (by transference) 'striped cotton garment'.

So putting that together, it appears that the girls were wearing school uniforms that looked something like this (but sans the hat).

 Over the ten-foot granite wall that separated the sheltered young ladies from the bustle of London, the rattle of carriages and jingle of harness could be heard on the road, along with the voices of passers-by and the occasional distinctive chug of a new steam landau

originally a coachbuilding term for a for a type of four-wheeled, convertible carriage transferred over to automobile usage.

1909 Stanley Model R Roadster (source) Yes this really ran on steam - it was a Stanley Steamer
This is the closest thing that seems to still be a landau. 

Robert E. Wilhelm's 1918 Model 735B 7-passenger Touring Stanley Steam Car (source) - but this is more like what I keep picturing. This isn't a landau - this is a roadster.

"Twelve new variations of the mazurka are the rage this Season, and we have all learned them."

A lively Polish dance in triple time.
Origin: early 19th century: via German from Polish mazurka, denoting a woman of the province Mazovia.

I'm sorry but the thought of a ballroom full of that going on makes me want to giggle something fierce.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

Hosted by the Broke and Bookish the topic for July 29:

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

Ack I can't stand it !!! That ends in a preposition!   +++ Divide by Cucumber Error +++
Ten Authors From Whom I Own the Most Books ?

Ten Authors Who Take Up Way Too Much of my Shelf Space!

Hummm ... so here I am sitting with my laptop, a WiFi connection and some spare time, and the question for this week really involves being at home able to burrow around in my bookshelves. Well, I will do the best I can ...

The top spot is easy ...

1) Terry Pratchett - we have 41 Discworld books (I have read all but the most recent - Raising Steam), plus I have Johnny and the Bomb (I have read all three but I only own one), The Dark Side of the Sun, Strata, Good Omens, The Long Earth, and Dodger. I am also pretty sure I have Truckers, Diggers and Wings kicking around somewhere too. That makes at least 50 books from one author. Good grief!

2) Dame Agatha Christie, probably - she wrote tons of books, I have read lots of them - but I am not sure exactly how many I own. For me Christie mysteries don't actually have a lot of re-read value so most of time I checked them out of the library. On the other hand, I acquire books like ships acquire barnacles so I know that I have several I picked up at book fairs and the like. I can picture a bunch of them on a shelf so I am pretty sure there are at least 20 of them.

3) This one is rather embarrassing ...Edgar Rice Burroughs ... not just the Tarzan books but also the Barsoom series (the ones that people think of as the John Carter of Mars books), the Pellucidar series (At the Earth's Core etc.), the Caspak series (aka The Land the Time Forgot), and at least of couple of the Venus series as well. There are at least 40 of them. I read these books like candy when I was in high school. It probably warped my brain.

4) Andre Norton - I read these like candy in high school too. I have a bunch of them. At least 32 based on the titles I can remember off the top of my head. 

5) My husband has dozens and dozens of David Weber books - all of the Honor Harrington books and most, if not all of the related ones, the Safehold books and several others as well. There is a massive pile of them on the bookshelf upstairs - more than 30.

6) I know that I have at least 17 books by Donna Andrews - the Meg Langslow books and a couple of the Turing Hopper books as well. 

7) Somewhere in contention might be Sue Grafton - I was reading her Kinsey Millhone books for ages but at some point I stopped.  I know that she is up to W, but I have no idea where I left off - somewhere in the double digits.  I know that I stopped reading Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books fairly early on - there is only so much stupid that I can take at once and frankly I didn't like either Joe or Ranger - the triangle business was a major turnoff for me - or Stephanie after a while (her learning curve went flat).

8) Humm ... I have 15 Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter books. These I have re-read several times.

9) Oh yes - somewhere in the house is a big pile of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books. Like with Christie, I have absolutely no idea how many.

10) Of course! Barbara Mertz aka Elizabeth Peters aka Barbara Michaels- one author several names - lots of books.  I have two of Barbara Mertz's nonfiction volumes about ancient Egypt (they are excellent, if a little dated, scholarship), I have at least 19 Michaels books and at least 29 of the Elizabeth Peters books. 

So - authors with only 7 books or so, not even in contention. :)
Oh - if we include my son's collections - he had a bizillion Geronimo Stilton books. Any time there was a book fair we acquired more and more of them. I have no idea how many he has now on the shelves waiting for his little sister to be ready for them.

I am sure that once I finish this I am suddenly going to realize that I forgot someone entirely. I wasn't counting Shakespeare - he would be on the list if you counted each play individually but I have most of them in a Riverside edition (though I confess to owning several loose volumes as well) - actually, thinking about it he probably is a contender.

This was tough going based on memory. I wonder how well I did.

I just noticed that some people are counting multiple copies. I think that is cheating so I am not counting them. Otherwise Jane Austen would probably be on this list - I think I have six copies of Pride and Prejudiced alone. 

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer - mini review

Artemis Fowl 
by Eoin Colfer

Publisher: Viking Press
Format: paperback and ebook
Copyright: 2001
Pages: 277

Genre: Children's science fiction fantasy
Source: purchased

Summary from Goodreads:
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius—and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren't the fairies of bedtime stories—they're dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.

I read Artemis Fowl when it first came out and enjoyed it enough that I read the next two, but at some point I lost the thread and forgot to keep picking them up. Just recently, my son got interested in the book so I ended up buying a new copy for him. He loved it so much that I pulled my copy back out to re-read it. Now we both need the rest of them.

Artemis Fowl II is a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind who has basically been left in charge of his family estate, their hereditary criminal empire and his own life. His father is missing, presumed dead and his mother has not coped with that at all well. This leaves Butler, his bodyguard/mentor/butler as Artemis's only company/companion. It is an odd relationship. (Well, actually there is also Juliet, who takes care of Artemis's mother, but that relationship seems pretty detached.)   

The story involves a somewhat science fiction future level of technology combined with a fully fledged fantasy world with elves, trolls, gnomes, dwarves (Mulch was the source of much amusement for my son) - all re-imagined in new and interesting ways - especially if you happen to be a pre-teen boy.

I won't say much more about the plot - the book had been out for quite a while now so there are many other sources for that kind of info. It's a pretty good story, nicely engaging (even for an adult) and it kept my son totally engrossed until he had finished reading the whole thing. He read several bits out loud to me as well. Definitely a winner for my son. I find that I too would like to finish the series now that all of the books are out.

Really the only reason that I am writing this 'review' is that when my son picked up the book and expressed interest, my husband expressed reservations. He was concerned that the title character is cited as a criminal mastermind / evil genius and was worried that the book would promote inappropriate behaviors or endorse criminal/evil actions. Basically he was worried that it would contain a story that followed the sort of downward trend that we have seen in children's cartoons - lots of violence, protagonist centered morality, and ugliness (in action not looks) for the sake of shock value.

Having re-read the book and based on my vague memories of the next two, I can affirm he need not fear. There is much greater depth to Artemis's behaviors and actions - he is no cartoon 2-D villain. Plus, the concepts of good and evil, as well as confronting the costs of ones behavior are all themes in the book. Even criminal masterminds can have coming of age stories, right ?

I think this counts as a four and a half or possibly even five claw book for my son. It was a solid four claw for me as well.  We both look forward to the next books.        

BTW - you want the hard-copies of these books -  along the bottom of the pages are a string of symbols - these are in Gnommish, the language that Artemis translates in the story - and they translate into a message. You can use the deciphered sections from the book's text to figure out the substitution cipher. The covers of the first editions also have a coded message (see above). The code is not included in the Kindle edition, so you miss out that part of the fun.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

A peak into The Irish Game and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Sorry I am late for this weeks memes -  it was a bugger of a day.
For Book Beginnings on Friday, hosted by Rose City Reader ...

I am still on that stolen art kick, so here is the beginning of The Irish Game by Matthew Hart, a non-fiction retelling of the robberies (yes, plural) at Russborough House.

On the morning of August 27, 2003, two men in their forties drove up to an enormous mansion called Drumlanrig Castle, in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and paid six pounds apiece to take the tour. 

And for a completely unrelated fiction book this week ... I picked up my copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick as a violent reaction to something or another. Whatever you are reading, Philip Dick will probably be completely different from it. Starting on page 1 ...

A merry little surge of electricity piped by automatic alarm from the mood organ beside his bed awakened Rick Deckard. Surprised – it always surprised him to find himself awake without prior notice – he rose from bed, stood up in his multicolored pajamas, and stretched.

For The Friday 56 hosted at Freda's Voice page 56 of The Irish Game ...

Cahill drove ten miles to Manor Kilbride and, for reasons still unknown, jettisoned seven paintings in the grass.

From page 56 of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep...

In fact the girl did not even seem aware of it. Or maybe she did not understand was a cube of margarine was for. He had that intuition; the girl seemed more bewildered than anything else.

 And with that, I will leave us all awash in a sea of weirdness.

Have a good weekend :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday 18

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at the Bermuda Onion where you "can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative!

More random words - it was a very long day at work, but my instrumentation is back on-line! Woo-hoo!

I read Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer over the weekend because my son just finished it last week and was really excited about it ... so here are a few words that we investigated ...

Artemis had seen that look already, just before Juliet had suplexed a particularly impudent pizza boy.

A suplex is an offensive wrestling move where an opponent is lifted into the air and then heaved or rolled so that they are slammed onto the back. Wikipedia has a whole page of variations of the basic suplex. Apparently the term 'suplex' without additional modifiers refers to the vertical suplex where the opponent is picked up, held upside down and then thrown onto the mat. Here ...

If you don't understand from the description and photo, there are plenty of videos online for your perusal. And if you had ever asked me if I was going to have a picture of pro-wrestlers on my blog, I would have looked at you as if you had lost your mind. Go figure.

--- *** --- *** ---

He separated all the characters and ran comparisons with English, Chinese, Greek, Arabic and with Cyrillic texts, even with Ogham

Ogham (᚛ᚑᚌᚐᚋ᚜)
An ancient British and Irish alphabet, consisting of twenty characters formed by parallel strokes on either side of or across a continuous line. Origin: early 18th century: from Irish ogam, connected with Ogma, the name of its mythical inventor.

Read more about it here

--- *** --- *** ---

Now from The Irish Game by Matthew Hart I have ...

In its hold they found one thousand Romanian-made Ak-47 assault rifles, some million rounds of ammunition, 430 grenades, twelve RPGs (launchers for rocket-propelled grenades), more than fifty SAM-7 shoulder-fired ground-to-air missiles, assorted flamethrowers and antitank guns, and two tons of Semtex.

We already have plenty of context, but Semtex ?

Semtex is a general-purpose plastic explosive containing RDX (an explosive nitroamine) and PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate) used in commercial blasting, demolition, and in certain military applications. Semtex was popular with terrorists (like the IRA in the book) because it was, until recently, extremely difficult to detect. (Wikipedia has more).

--- *** --- *** ---

But he liked what he'd heard about the young Americans, and when Isabella and Jack showed up he wrapped a silk dressing gown around his baggy smock and, with a pair of spaniels padding at his heels, issued forth from his atelier

atelier \ˌa-təl-ˈyā\
A workshop or studio, especially one used by an artist or designer.Origin: late 17th century: from French, from Old French astelle 'splinter of wood', from Latin astula.

From Wikipedia "In the Titian Room, Titian's magnificent painting of Europa (1561–1562) hangs above a piece of pale green silk, which had been cut from one of Isabella Stewart Gardner's gowns designed by Charles Frederick Worth." Um, interesting use of a Worth gown.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Art Theft ... a book list

I just realized how many of these I have kicking around, so I thought that I would work up a list. It is going to take me some time to fill in more details, but I thought that others might also be interested. I am posting this outline and will be filling in comments and eventually some mini-reviews. If you have a book that you are curious about or think should to be added please post a comment.

Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft by Simon Houpt
• This book is a coffee table book with nice pictures that gives you a nice, easy to follow overview of several art thefts. Not deep, but broad and shallow. The photos are great.

Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman
• I remember this one as okay - having a somewhat messy time line and the ego of the author grated sometimes. I don't remember learning much from this one really but I will revisit it to be sure.

The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser
 • The break in at the Gardner is the museum theft - the largest one in history. The stolen works include Vermeer's The Concert; two Rembrandt paintings - The Storm on the Sea of Galilee (his only known seascape) and Portrait of a Lady and Gentleman in Black; A Rembrandt self-portrait etching; Manet's Chez Tortoni; five drawings by Edgar Degas; Govaert Flinck's Landscape with an Obelisk; an ancient Chinese Qu; and a finial that once stood atop a flag from Napoleon's Army (this last one is weird because they took the finial rather than the priceless Titian hanging near it). The paintings have never been found.

I was really excited about this book, but honest it was pretty disappointing. I remember the writing as not very good, the timeline confused and there were some factual errors. I finished it feeling no better informed than I had been reading about the robbery from other general books about the topic.

FYI - FBI has confirmed sightings of Gardner artwork
I would love for these paintings to be recovered, not for just for the paintings themselves but so that people will finally stop writing about it! 

The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick
 •I am re-reading this one now. Focused on the theft of Edvard Munch's The Scream (there are four versions of this composition - and more than one theft ). 

The Irish Game by Matthew Hart
 • I am reading this one too. It starts good but now I have to track down the book that I read about the first Russborough House robbery because some of the details I remembered didn't quite jibe with this version. Not sure if it is a faulty memory on my part or if the versions really are different. I have gotten well over the half way point and things have bogged down quite a bit. Still informative but the way it is written, it is becoming quite hard to keep track of some of the bit players.

Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum by Jason Felch
 • I just got my hands on this one. I will let you know what I think shortly.

 The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel
 •This is the one that the movie (apparently the really boring movie) was based on. Sadly, I honestly can't remember much from this book right now - the story has blurred into several other books at this point.

Making the Mummies Dance by Thomas Hoving
Not strictly about art theft, this book was written by the former Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both theft and forgery come up several times. I remember it as a fascinating read with lots of gossip, but oh lordy Hoving's ego got hard to take sometimes. Put me in mind of Zaphod Beeblebrox's If there's anything around here more important than my ego, I want it caught and shot now! 

Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger by Ken Perenyi
 •Oh dear, I don't remember this one at all right now. I will have to skim through it to refresh my memory.

I have more in my office that I will add later.

Fiction books that involve art theft or contested art 

Since I was a couple of fiction books that got me on this kick, I thought that it might also be fun to add some fiction books to this list as well ...

The two books that annoyed me were -

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Some books that I enjoyed more:

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. A sister and brother run away from home and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While there they become involved in an art mystery.

Elizabeth Peter's Vicky Bliss books all involve stolen art, attempted recovery and even an art thief: Borrower of the Night, Street of Five Moons, Silhouette in Scarlet, Trojan Gold, Night Train to Memphis, and The Laughter of Dead Kings (I confess, I have not read the last one yet. I have it but I keep chickening out.)

Hailey Lind's Art Lover's Mystery series:
Feint of Art, Shooting Gallery, Brush with Death, and Arsenic and Old Paint - they are a little silly and occasionally the protagonist lapses into TSTL behavior, but overall good fun. Hailey Lind is a pseudonym Juliet Blackwell used for the books she wrote with her sister Carolyn.

Harr, Jonathan. The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece. - I have to pull this one off the shelf again too.

Pears, Iain. The Immaculate Deception, The Last Judgment, The Raphael Affair, The Titian Committee, Death and Restoration, Giotto's Hand, and The Bernini Bust - I read all of these too. I remember liking them but at the moment can't remember a thing about them.

Perez-Reverte, Arturo. The Flanders Panel. I have read several of Perez-Reverte's books - I liked them overall but they started getting too repetitive (the mood and behavior if not the actual plot).

Sunday July 20

The Sunday Post The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Summer is going way too fast!

I did a review (rant really) about Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
last week and that got me into reading and re-reading nonfiction books about real art thefts. I have started working on a post that lists several of these books that I will be filling in with some comments and eventually some mini-reviews -Art Theft ... a book list. It is pretty sparse right now, but I will keep working on it.

The other review I did last week was for Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair - mini whatever.

I also did meme posts on ... 

Plus I am sure that everyone has already seen this but ... 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A peak into Chasing Aphrodite and To Say Nothing of the Dog

I am going to start with the nonfiction book again for this weeks Book Beginnings on Friday, hosted by Rose City Reader.

I am on a stolen art kick since reading Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett torqued me off so badly.  I have wandered though The Irish Game by Matthew Hart and The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick. Now I have gotten my hands on Chasing Aphrodite by Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino.

In the predawn light of a summer morning in 1964, the sixty-foot fishing trawler Ferrucio Ferri shoved off from the Italian seaport of Fano and motored south, making a steady eight knots along Italy's east coast. When the Ferri reached the peninsula of Ancona, Romeo Pirani, the boat's captain, set a course east-southeast, halfway between the dry sirocco wind that blew up from Africa and the cooler levanter that swept across the Adriatic from Yugoslavia. 

For my fiction choice, I am going with one of my standby favorite reads ... To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.  My copy has been read so many times it is disintegrating.

There were five of us – Carruthers and the new recruit and myself, and Mr. Spivens and the verger. It was late afternoon on November the fifteenth, and we were in what was left of Coventry Cathedral, looking for the bishop's bird stump.

I can't show you a bird stump, but here are the ruins of Coventry Cathedral ...

For The Friday 56 hosted at Freda's Voice page 56 of Chasing Aphrodite is not good - it is the last page in chapter 3 and a spoiler, so from page 57 ...

Sitting in the Getty's conservation laboratory was a seven-foot-tall marble Greek kouros, or statue of a nude young man. The face bore the vague smile that was a signature detail of the archaic period, the end of the sixth century B.C. The man's hands were pinned stiffly to his sides, with one foot slightly forward, in a pose Greek sculptors had borrowed from the Egyptians.

This might make more sense if you simply see the Getty kouros - it has bugged people for years!

Getty kouros
Anavyssos Kouros, ca. 530 BC.

If you look carefully you might see why the Getty kouros has long been contested.

And from page 56 of To Say Nothing of the Dog ... 

I looked at my watch. It wasn't there, and I squinted at my wrist, trying to remember whether Warder had taken it off me when she was trying shirts on. I remembered she'd tucked something in my waistcoat pocket. I pulled it out, on a gold chain. A pocket watch. Of course. Wristwatches were an anachronism in Nineteenth Century.

I had trouble getting the pocket watch open and then difficulty reading the extinct Roman numerals, but eventually I made it out. A quarter past X. Allowing for the time I'd spent getting the watch open and lying on the tracks, bang on target. Unless I was in the wrong year. Or the wrong place. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Weird Al Yankovic is AWESOME!

You must watch "Weird Al" Yankovic - Word Crimes on YouTube. I am still giggling! 

Yes - Weird Al" Yankovic does have a big dictionary. :)

Wondrous Words Wednesday 18

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at the Bermuda Onion where you "can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative!
Random words from The Irish Game by Matthew Hart just for fun ... 

There is scarcely a village in the republic that does not have its neat, white-painted Garda post with the blue light burning on the outside wall. 
 An Garda Síochána
The name of the national police service of Ireland - it literally translates as Guardian of Peace. More commonly referred to as the Gardaí ("Guardians").

--- *** ---

The hills were yellow with furze

another term for gorse. (well that is helpful!)
Origin: Old English fyrs, of unknown origin.

A yellow-flowered shrub of the pea family, the leaves of which are modified to form spines, native to western Europe and North Africa. Origin: Old English gors, gorst, from an Indo-European root meaning 'rough, prickly', shared by German Gerste and Latin hordeum 'barley'.

Ulex (gorse, furze or whin) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Fabaceae.

Okay - enough of that ... we need pictures !

I always knew that gorse was a thorny bush, but I had no idea about the yellow flowers. Wow!

This is gorse, sans flowers ...

 Ouch !!!

"At once dreamlike and real, elliptical and quotidian," one critic wrote, "Vermeer's luminous canvases freeze and magnify time ..." 

--- *** ---

1: ordinary or very common
2: done each day
Origin:  Middle English via Old French from Latin quotidianus, earlier cotidianus, from cotidie 'daily'.

In which case it is really the world elliptical that isn't making sense here ... 

So ... in terms of verbiage (rather than shape or possession of ellipsis ...)
3. (of speech, literary style, etc)
  1. very condensed or concise, often so as to be obscure or ambiguous 
  2. circumlocutory or long-winded 
So I assume that the critic is calling the paintings both obscure and common but in elliptical language.

Well,  given the complex symbology of Vermeer's paintings, all hidden in views of ordinary activities, that makes sense - but what a pompous way to put it !

--- *** ---

This time he was sentenced to two years in St. Conleth's reformatory in Daingean, County Offaly, an institution staffed by priests and brothers of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. 

From Wikipedia:
Oblates are individuals, either laypersons or clergy, normally living in general society, who, while not professed monks or nuns, have individually affiliated themselves with a monastic community of their choice. They make a formal, private promise (annually renewable or for life, depending on the monastery with which they are affiliated) to follow the Rule of the Order in their private life as closely as their individual circumstances and prior commitments permit.

"Oblate" is also used in the official name of some religious institutes as an indication of their sense of dedication.

Oh, dear. I also realize that the St. Conleth Reformatory School was not a good place to be - worse than I realised (I will simply say child abuse and scandal - if you want to know you can look it up.) Now I have some sympathy for Martin Cahill (aka The General), but not that much - he was a truly awful person.


I will close with a photo of Russborough House - aka the scene of the crime (twice!) - just because it is much nicer to think about then that last word.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair - mini whatever

Games of Command 
by Linnea Sinclair

Publisher:  Bantam Spectra Book

Format: ebook  
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 560

Genre: Science fiction romance
Source: purchased ebook 
Summary from Goodreads:
The universe isn’t what it used to be. With the new Alliance between the Triad and the United Coalition, Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian finds herself serving under her former nemesis, biocybe Admiral Branden Kel-Paten–and doing her best to hide a deadly past. But when an injured mercenary winds up in their ship’s sick bay–and in the hands of her best friend, Dr. Eden Fynn–Sass’s efforts may be wasted.

Wanted rebel Jace Serafino has information that could expose all of Sass’s secrets, tear the fragile Alliance apart–and end Sass’s career if Kel-Paten discovers them. But the biocybe has something to hide as well, something once thought impossible for his kind to possess: feelings . . . for Sass. Soon it’s clear that their prisoner could bring down everything they once believed was worth dying for–and everything they now have to live for.

This book was recommended to me so in the midst of a surfeit of children's books, I thought a grownup book would be a nice change of pace.  Unfortunately, um, not the kind of chance of pace for which I was looking. For the first half of the book, I was quite enjoying it.  I liked the friendship between Sass and Eden, I like some of the world building - though it was a little too dependent on overuse of made up jargon. I am totally on-board for a good space opera with a side dose of romance.

Things were going really well, then at what I think was roughly the midway point, the story took a left turn and stopped both making sense and being interesting to me. We had this lovely cast of characters, lots of things going on - intrigue, suspense, who to trust ... then bam - down to two pairs - all eyes on overcoming obstacles for love. Sigh. I did read the whole thing, but really - not for me. 

So - if romance novels with a science fiction theme are your thing - this book will totally float your boat. I now know it was nominated for a Rita. However, for me - this was a two and a half claw experience (the first half was three and a half; the second half a two or less).

Top Ten Favorite Movies or TV Shows!

Hosted by the Broke and Bookish the topic for July 15 is: Let's talk about other types of stories! Top Ten Favorite Movies or TV Shows! (can break it down to top ten favorite romance movies or comedy shows etc. etc.)

Gonna be totally random here with self inflicted categories (and with the disclaimer that all of this is subject to whim ;) ...

1) Favorite Christmas Movie: The Lion in Winter. After all, how can you help but feel jolly with quotes like:

Eleanor: How dear of you to let me out of jail.
Henry II: It's only for the holidays.


Henry II: Well, what shall we hang... the holly, or each other?


Henry II: The day those stout hearts band together is the day that pigs get wings.
Eleanor: There'll be pork in the treetops come morning.

2) Favorite movie based on an absurdest play: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

Guildenstern: We're still finding our feet.
The Player: I should concentrate on not losing your head.

Guildenstern: I don't believe in it anyway.
Rosencrantz: What?
Guildenstern: England.
Rosencrantz: Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then?


Rosencrantz: Do you think Death could possibly be a boat? 
Guildenstern: No, no, no... death is not. Death isn't. Take my meaning? Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can't not be on a boat. 
Rosencrantz: I've frequently not been on boats.  
Guildenstern: No, no... what you've been is not on boats.

3)  Favorite movie that is simply absurd: Noises Off!

Dotty: Oh, yes, dear. Everything's all nice and paranormal here.


Dotty: And I take the sardines. No, I leave the sardines. No, I take the sardines.
Lloyd: You leave the sardines and you hang up the phone.
Dotty: Yes, right. I hang up the phone.
Lloyd: And you leave the sardines.
Dotty: I leave the sardines?
Lloyd: You leave the sardines.
Dotty: I hang up the phone and I leave the sardines?
Lloyd: Right!
Dotty: We've changed that, have we, dear?
Lloyd: No, dear...
Dotty: That's what I've always been doing?
Lloyd: I wouldn't say that, Dotty my precious.
Dotty: Well, how about the words, dear, am I getting some of them right?
Lloyd: Some of them have a very familiar ring.

4) Favorite children's movie: Ack too hard !  Something by Hayao Miyazaki - umm ... How about My Neighbor Totoro

or Spirited Away ... or The Cat Returns (which also sort of counts for this category)

5) Favorite Hayao Miyazaki movie that I can't watch with the kids until they are much, much older:  Princess Mononoke

6) Favorite Beatles movie ... this is a tie between Hard Days Night and Yellow Submarine depends on my mood really.  The kids love Yellow Submarine.

Ringo: Hey, I wonder what'll happen if I pull this lever.
Old Fred: Oh, you mustn't do that now.
Ringo: Can't help it. I'm a born "Liver-pooler."
Old Fred: Oh! Frankenstein!
Ringo: Yeah, I used to go out with his sister.
Old Fred: His sister?
Ringo: Yeah, Phyllis.
Reporter: Are you a mod or a rocker?
Ringo: Um, no. I'm a mocker.

7) Favorite Guilty Pleasure  - oohh hard one! - For some silly reason I have always enjoyed How to Steal a Million 

Simon Dermott: [to Nicole] Okay, you're the boss. Just do as I tell you.

Simon Dermott: Why must it be this particular work of art?
Nicole Bonnet: You don't think I'd steal something that didn't belong to me, do you?
Simon Dermott: Excuse me, I spoke without thinking.

Charles Bonnet: American millionaires must be all quite mad. Perhaps it's something they put in the ink when they print the money. 

 8) Favorite Jackie Chan movie - another tough one, right now it would be Armour of God II: Operation Condor (though this one changes lots). 

Right - quotes are clearly not the emphasis here ...

9) Favorite Obscure Romantic movie: Truly, Madly, Deeply 

Alan Rickman - oh sigh!  He is so lovely in this movie.

Nina: Your mother!
Jamie: You think every cloud looks like my mother.
Nina: This one really does look like your mother! Look: eyes, nose, eyebrows... brilliant!
Jamie: My mother has not got a beard!

Nina: Parents alive, Gloucestershire, teachers. Him geography, her history. So holidays it would be "Dad, where are we? Mum, have we been here before?" 

10) Favorite movie based on Cyrano de Bergerac: Roxanne

Roxanne Kowalski: Nobody had a coat?
C.D. Bales: I thought you said you didn't want a coat...
Roxanne Kowalski: Why would I not want a coat?
C.D. Bales: You said you didn't want a coat!
Roxanne Kowalski: I was being ironic.
C.D. Bales: Oh, ho, ho, irony! Oh, no, no, we don't get that here. See, uh, people ski topless here while smoking dope, so irony's not really a, a high priority. We haven't had any irony here since about, uh, '83, when I was the only practitioner of it. And I stopped because I was tired of being stared at.


C.D. Bales: I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream - and I hope you don't find this too crazy - is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, "Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!" That would be bad. 

And I don't think I can do a list like this without The Princess Bride - that would probably break some kind of rule.

The whole movie is a quotefest!