Monday, March 28, 2022

The Wonders of Death Valley

Yes...Death Valley has snow-capped mountains in the first week of March.  I couldn't believe the variety.  I'll attempt to show a little of that now.  All pictures are mine, taken from March 7-10, 2022.

Resorts with green grass and fountains:

Multi-colored, wind-smoothed hills:

Salt flats at 282 feet below sea level:

Surreal sunsets:

Outdoor mining museums and ruins:

Slot canyons:

Sand dunes:

Bighorn sheep:

Giant charcoal kilns that have stood for nearly 150 years:

Pinyon-juniper forests with snow along the trail:

Views of the valley floor 9000 feet below:

Wildflowers taking advantages of whatever road run-off there may be:

And yeah, possible death if you don't buy enough of that $8.75 gas when it's 120 degrees Fahrenheit:

I went at the beginning of March--probably one of the best times to go--and spent four full days there.  It wasn't enough.  I'd love to go back sometime.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

How to Steal a Dog, by Barbara O'Conner

Continuing my book reviews from 2021:

I really enjoyed this:  cute, sad, touching, happy, with good messages and lovable but imperfect characters.  Good pacing, good writing, important social topic, darling dog.  What's not to love?

4.5 stars.  I will definitely read more by Barbara O'Connor.

And isn't the cover darling?

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Wicked Bugs, by Amy Stewart (Young Readers Edition)


More book reviews from my 2021 reading list:

When I put this on hold at the library, I didn't realize it was the young reader's edition.  By the time I realized, I was ready to read it and I liked the illustrations, so I didn't exchange it for adult version.  I liked this so much that I think I'll read the adult version when I'm in the mood for something like this in the future.

Organization:  great
Scientific explanations:  great for kids without being condescending.
Writing:  very good
Stories and details:  great and often terrifying.
Illustrations:  beautiful in a slightly creepy way

Just to be clear: the terrifying things are the parasites and diseases and live worms that you can only pull slowly out of your body over the course of two weeks.  The spiders and scorpions are downright cute by comparison. 

Some people might want the science to go a little deeper, but I was content with it.

What a great book.  Plus…it gave me tons of ideas for science fiction stories.  Highly recommended…though maybe not for the squeamish

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

96 Miles, by J.L Esplin

I'm behind on my book reviews, so here's from last year:

I loved this:
  premise, execution, writing.  It was all great.  Characterization, plot, pacing…I really have nothing to critique.

I did wonder why it didn't occur to these desert-savvy kids to sleep under shelter during the hottest part of the day and walk all night.  They were on a long straight highway, which would have been super easy to navigate in the dark.  This would have conserved a lot of energy.  More importantly, it would have conserved water in the form of sweat not lost. 

That said, I was absolutely delighted that finally, FINALLY, someone wrote a desert novel that points out that the desert is NOT boiling hot in the day and freezing cold that same night.  The temperature swings are bigger than most places, so a warm day can be quite chilly at night, and deserts can freeze….but not in the middle of summer!  John set all his readers right.  Yay!!!  Thank you, J.L.Esplin.    

Recommended for anyone, but especially those who love survival tales, kids working together against big problems, and stories of the love between siblings.

Now I have to read everything else by J.L. Esplin. 

Absolutely five stars  (and I don't give many five-star ratings to novels)