A blog for people who don't want to spend all their free time in the real world. After all, we live and work there. Escape the mundane with books, travel, and writing.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Penguin the Magpie by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive


Such sad, heart-wrenching content, but beautiful and touching too. The pictures are so very sweet. And I think the message at the end from Sam is important for its honesty and hard advice. 

I read it straight through in one sitting, something I very rarely do, even with short books. 

A strong 4 stars, almost 5  

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

This was a very good book, though I think it would have been even better as a novella. There's not quite enough to fill a novel, but it's too much for a short story. Of course, novellas don't sell...[sigh]. Anyway, if it were shorter, some of the first part could be trimmed, because it gets a bit samey. With too much repetition it's easy to lose impact. For example, Lib's snide skepticism and anti-religious thoughts eventually stop being culturally interesting and start coming off as just plain mean-spirited. The hints of various truths are too numerous, leading to a loss of impact when Lib figures out a couple of things that we—the readers in her head—have all known for a long time. In the last third or so of the book, these problems disappear and the story wraps you up in its tension and suspense.

It is a very, very interesting concept, a very interesting catch-22, a very interesting historical setting. We get a great feel for the time and the very small world some of these characters inhabit.

The writing is very good.

Now, this is very subjective, and not a deal-breaker for this book, but here's my issue with—for lack of a better word—Hollywood. Not every book has to have a romance! Romance is fine, but it's not the only thing interesting to read about. A book can be complete—and sometimes even stronger—without the protagonist having a romance This is one of those cases. The story is about Lib and Anna. The romance feels quite tacked on. It kind of works in the very end, but there could have been a similar and just as satisfying ending without the out-of-character love story. Others will certainly disagree.

The last few chapters are very good—and I'm one who usually prefers middles. The book is disturbing and thought-provoking and eerie...yet strangely heart-warming. I really did enjoy it.  A strong four stars.  I'm guessing that if Donoghue had felt free to write it exactly as she wanted, without any regard to what would sell, it would have been five stars.

I'll read more of Emma Donoghue in the future.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Black Widow Eating a Spider

There are many things I love about Arizona...in the winter.

There are a few things I like about Arizona in the summer.

This is neither:


It's what I believe to be a male black widow spider with a now-dead scorpion trapped in its net.  The scorpion looks green-white because I'm shining black light on it in addition to regular light.  This was in my garage last night.  Very, very interesting.  But also a bit nightmarish.

And click here for the video:  https://youtu.be/4IM7_5-Jxwo




Thursday, July 6, 2017

Amazon Giveaway

Until Thursday night, July 13, 2017, you can enter for a chance to win a Kindle copy of my book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide.  

Click here to enter:  https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/76034327196b88cf

If you're too late, never fear.  You can still buy it at a budget price here:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XPYP75F

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunset Crater Volcano, Arizona

We just stopped here on the way to somewhere else, and it was awesome:

Sunset Crater's aa lava trail, where you get to walk right through the lava field:


The cinder cone, only about 900 years old:



There are various trails and many interesting interpretive signs around the national monument.  What I found most interesting was the progression of recover, still very obvious with such a "young" volcano.

Plus, it's connected to Wapatki National Monument with very cool Native American ruins.  See my next post.  :)

For more planning info, check out their website:  https://www.nps.gov/sucr/index.htm