Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Am I the only person who, upon finding a half-used jar of something in the fridge -- something possibly growing unpleasantries, as it's been hidden behind everything else for far too long, will not be able to face the proper disposal method of cleaning out said possibly stinky jar and recycling the glass, and yet will feel too guilty to throw it away, hence returning it to the fridge for later?
Please tell me I'm not the only person who's ever done this before.

(PS. It's only two jars right now.  I will face them by the end of the week; I promise.)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Kentucky Brown Grass

Utah went from a super-warm and dry winter to the wettest May in recorded history.  But then summer hit.
Hot and dry.
But, as I noticed driving about to run errands a couple of days ago, a lot more people have been following the local water guidelines than in past summers.  All around, the grass is greenish-brown, as people water just enough to keep the grass from dying completely.  I even passed a cemetery that was far less than lush.  And that's good.
Brown is in in SLC.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Random Pretty Flower Pics

I seem to take a lot of flower photos.  This may be because I like to go walking in Red Butte Garden (where there are no dogs allowed, so one never steps in poop or is disturbed by raucous barking).  And plants, of course, are always willing to pose for the camera and never get upset about where you post their likenesses online. :)
I thought I'd share a few of my spring flower photos with you today.  The only editing I did to these was to add my "by line."  No colors have been tampered with; Mother Nature did just fine on her own.  And I didn't even crop these!
(Remember to click on the pics to enlarge them.)

Extreme close up of a pansy.

This is a flowering tree.

Here's a climbing rose.

I apologize that blogger is not scratch and sniff.  :)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Most Mysterious

I just had a look at my reading list so far this year.  As of today, I've read 84 books -- and 54 of them have been mysteries.
Hmmmm.....  I'm beginning to detect a pattern here. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Little List of Steampunk For Your Reading Pleasure

I love steampunk -- when it's done right.  And what do I mean by that?  Well, I mean that it's actually set in the age of steam.  I'm good if there's a bit of paranormal involved.  Or clockwork.  But if it's all magic, then it's not steampunk, as far as I'm concerned.  Plus, the book should not be set before 1800 nor after 1900  (although Scott Westerfeld's steampunk WWI series is so good, I'll make an exception for it.).

So, if you like steampunk, I have some suggestions for you, both for things you should read and things you shouldn't bother to pick up.

Steampunk for Adults:

1. All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen.
This is my favorite steampunk book ever.  It is NOT a series (for a change!).  It mixes 12th Night with Victoriana and steam in a wonderful way.  It has no direct sex, but many mentions of it are made.  I think it would be suitable for mature teens, but I wouldn't put it in my classroom for fear of repercussions.
2. The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger.
This is too spicy for school, but it's pretty tame for adults.  (This is no 50 shades of steam.)  This series has paranormal in it, too -- and it's hilarious.
3. Gears of Wonderland by Jason G. Anderson.
Alice gets an action/adventure, guy-friendly makeover with this tale.  And it's a bit violent, but most teens should be fine with it.
4. The Hounds of Autumn by Heather Blackwood
This is rather a steampunk, female Hound of the Baskervilles.  I liked it very much.  It has one or two adult references.
5. Prudence by Gail Carriger (sequel to come)
This is set some 20 years after the Parasol Protectorate.  It would be suitable for most teens, but there are hints that book 2 (Imprudence) may be spicier.
6. Doktor Glass by Thomas Brennan
Not bad.  Adult characters, violence, and plot

Steampunk for YA:
1. The Etiquette and Espionage series by Gail Carriger
These are prequels to The Parasol Protectorate -- and they're hilarious
2.  The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld
WWI steampunk with 2 protagonists.  Masterful and a good way to get boys to accept a book with a female protagonist.  Again, there is that hint of 12th Night.
3. Ripper by Stefan Petrucha
Mostly action/adventure. Mildly steampunk.  Good book
4. The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
Steampunk Charlie's Angels.  Pretty good, although it tries a little too hard to be multi-cultural and feels stilted
5. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Not bad.  Desert island survival stuff
6. This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (has sequels)
This is sort of steampunk and sort of alchemy.  It's really set too early to be steampunk, as it reimagines what Viktor Frankenstein's early life might have been like.
7. The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer
The steampunk is great; the plot and character development are filled with holes and inconsistencies.
8. The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
Sort of steampunk, mostly not.
9. The Fever Crumb series by Philip Reeve
Steampunk, but dark and depressing
10.  The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent
Heavy on the magic, mild on the steampunk.  Plot predictable.
11. A Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina
Meh.  She tried for Oliver Twist in reverse.  The steampunk is pretty good, but the plot feels contrived.

Don't bother with these:
1. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
This was so poorly-written I could barely get through it.  Garbage.
2.  The Iryn Worm Affair by Lillith Saintcrow
Awkward plot.  Too much magic.
3. The Golden Compass series by Phillip Pullman
The first one wasn't bad, but then he tried to write a kids' version of CS Lewis' creepy outer-space mythology, only in reverse.  The three books build up to what should be a totally apocalyptic battle between God and the forces of evil -- and then it just peters out into nothing.  It is the LAMEST battle ever.  Seriously, the crap that Stephenie Meyer wrote into Breaking Dawn (yeah, I trudged through that slime) is more gripping.
Also, I cannot really tell why people say this series is steampunk.
4. Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
I tried for a week to get into the first one of these -- and I could not.  I could not figure out what was going on, and I could not care two bits about the characters.
I have no clue why these books are selling so well.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I'm Still Surviving

Three years ago Sunday I had a parotidectomy to remove a tumor on my jaw, a tumor which turned out to be low-grade mucoepidermoid carcinoma.  Things were a bit scary for awhile: my saliva glands didn't heal properly and I got a huge spit-blister below my ear; then it became apparent that my nerve endings had become confused and so I would sweat on the outside of my jaw in one spot instead of salivating inside my mouth.
Today the doctor told me that my having reached 3 years with no sign of the cancer's spreading means I've got about a 90% chance that it won't ever come back.  If I'm still this good in another two years' time, I will be considered virtually "cured."
*knocks on wood so as not to tempt fate*
Yes, I still have a big ol' Frankenstein scar down my neck from where the skin was peeled back, but it's faded now.  Yes, I still have one dime-sized spot on my right jaw where I sweat every time I eat certain foods (chocolate-- always with chocolate) instead of salivating inside my mouth.  But the tumor has not grown back, nor has it (apparently) spread to my thyroid or lymph nodes.
*knocks on wood yet again*
Things are looking pretty hopeful. :)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Book Review: Bushel Full of Murder by Paige Shelton

This summer, Becca is looking forward to selling her delicious jams and preserves, but things are changing fast at the farmers’ market. A fleet of food trucks has arrived for a two week visit, peddling cupcakes, tacos, chicken wings, and more—including a gourmet hot dog  truck operated by Becca’s own cousin, Peyton.

Tensions between truck operators and market vendors over their required licenses reach a crescendo when the town’s  business  manager is murdered. With Peyton already under suspicion of stealing money and a secret recipe from the restaurant where she worked in Arizona, the cops start grilling her as their prime suspect. Now it’s up to Becca to clear her cousin and find out who at the market gave themselves a license to kill…

There is a reason why Paige Shelton is my favorite cozy author.
Bushel Full of Murder is the latest in Shelton's Farmers' Market series, but Shelton works enough backstory into the plot that a casual reader should have no trouble following the current mystery.
Oh, certainly, this book follows the typical cozy pattern: single female with a love interest/ hot cop deals with a murder by being nosy, even though the police try to keep her out of the investigation, and, after a climax scene wherein she does something dumb and gets into a very risky situation, she gets the murderer to confess and helps the police capture him/her.  All cozies are like that now.
But I'm a cozy junky, and I can firmly state that Shelton's cozies are a step above average.  She gets the editing done right, for one thing.  The mere fact that the woman can spell "Farmers' Market" correctly (making it plural possessive) is a huge sign.  The POV works (it often doesn't in cozies).  The pacing works.  The backstory makes sense.  Her protagonists are never idiotic.
Bushel Full of Murder is no exception.  Becca, the protagonist, is very realistic and likable.  In this installment, Becca's flighty younger cousin has been accused of several crimes, and she's being followed by a cop from Arizona.  But when the cousin ends up being right at the scene of a murder, things don't look good.
Shelton fleshes out Becca, her cousin Peyton, her twin sister Allison, the murder victim, various other suspects, and the hot cop.  There are no cardboard characters here, no hint of RL Stine's completely interchangeable characters.  In fact, Shelton's characterization skills are on a par with those of many successful crime writers, rather than just those of other cozy writers.  I wouldn't be surprised if someday Shelton tried breaking out of the cozy mold and writing a less patterned mystery or crime novel.
So, should you read Bushel Full of Murder?  Well, do you like cozies?  This is a light, quick read with no blood or guts.  The red herrings are just right, the pacing is perfect for a beach read, and the characters behave like real people.  A serious mystery this is not.  If you're looking for light, you cannot do better than Shelton.  Give the series a try.  (If you want to read the books in order, you'll need to begin with Farm Fresh Murder.)