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review 2017-12-17 09:16
The Great Quake
The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet - Henry Fountain


When I was eleven years old, the big Sumatra earthquake and following tsunami on Boxing day shook the world with its devastating power. However, it also shook my interest into geology and tectonics. So when I came across The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet I was immediately curious.

I have to admit that I was completely unaware of this earthquake, although its significance became clear very quickly, with the new techniques that had been developed recently even if the human and material loss was relatively low due to it happening in a scarcely populated area.

Henry Fountain gives a rather complete overview of the different aspects surrounding the 'great quake', looking at it from many different points of view. However, I thought rather a lot of the book was filled with human interest stories which somehow made it feel a little overdramatic. It also took a long time to get to the actual quake and its aftermath. However, I thought it was an interesting book and I would definitely recommend it to those interested in earth quakes and geology.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing me with a free book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2017-12-17 02:42
It's what's on the inside that really counts...
On the Third Kiss - George Loveland

As Donna Tracey, Drag Queen extraordinaire Sebastian Bennett works hard and he’s looking forward to a well deserved vacation with his boyfriend and the love of his life Elliot Bolton in the Gran Canarian or at least he thought he was until he came home to find Buster his chihuahua alone with nothing but a note telling him that Elliot needed a break and was going on their vacation with someone else…which this is bad enough right? But no Elliot didn’t stop there. Needless to say, Sebastian is devastated…hell, I was devastated with him.

 

Feeling like his world is crumbling Sebastian turns to the one person he can rely on pub manager and friend, Javier Reyes-Martinez. Javier doesn’t hesitate to step-up offering Sebastian support, friendship, a shoulder to lean on…whatever he needs.

 

When Christmas day rolls around and Sebastian decides that if he’s not going to be in the Gran Canarian that he might as well go home to his family he doesn’t hesitate to take Javier with him and it’s in the midst of a broken heart and being with his family who mean the world to him that Sebastian begins to realize that maybe Javier could be more than a friend…maybe, he’s what Sebastian really needs in his life.

 

I loved how things played out between Sebastian and Javier. Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that Seb was slow on the uptake but it did take his mother, his sister, his uncle with dementia…no seriously Seb’s uncle had some surprising moments of lucidness and imparted so pretty good words of wisdom and then there was Buster…that was one seriously smart chihauhau with really good taste in men and there might have been a few other people dropping hints before darling Seb finally got a clue but in his defence…douchebag boyfriend…screwed him over…so he might not have been seeing things as clearly as he should have.

 

On the flip side Javier may have known how he felt about Seb but he also cared about him enough not to push. He knew that Seb was a bit of an emotional wreck and he wanted to give him some time and space.

 

‘On the Third Kiss’ was a sweet holiday, friends to lovers story by a new to me author, whom I’m looking forward to reading more from in the future.

 

*************************

An ARC of ‘On the Third Kiss’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-12-17 02:05
Sometimes it's the family that you make that truly gets you...
Foxglove Copse - Alex Beecroft

'Foxglove Copse' is the 5th book in the 'Porthkennack' series. I haven't read all the books in this series and while I hope to do so at some time I'm really enjoying being able to pick and choose the ones I read without feeling like I've missed anything in the ones that I do chose to read.

 

This is actually my first time reading a book by this author and I really enjoyed this story. Sam Atkins had the life...the money, the home, the job all the material things that are often taken as signs of success but for Sam the price that he's paid for this has been extracted from his heart and soul and when he finds he can no longer pay that price he runs. Divesting himself of his material gains he begins to live the life of a wanderer and six months into his vagabond life he finds himself on the road to Porthkennack. It's a road that not only leads him to the place he'll ultimately call home but the man who will help him begin to heal.

 

Whatever flaws this story may have contained were by far outweighed by the heart of this story. 'Foxglove Copse' is more than a love story it's a story about love. I know it seems like semantics but love is probably the most complicated four letter word in any language and while it has can be defined by just a few words there can be a zillion different meanings and in this story we get to see some of those meanings through the eyes of Sam a man whose family has abused him mentally and emotionally leaving him floundering for a place to seek shelter and call home until he meets Ruan.

 

Ruan is a man whose family loves him unconditionally. Ruan knows what it's like to have that surety that no matter what he will always be loved...he will always have a shelter from the storms that life may bring his way. 

 

Together Sam and Ruan discover that home is where the heart is and both men realize that they can trust each other to protect their heart. But there's more to this story than just the romance between Sam and Ruan there's a mystery because someone's trying to scare Ruan's Aunt Jennifer and as things escalate Sam and Ruan get drawn into the heart of events whether they want to be or not.  People are being stalked, harassed and bullied...people that Ruan cares about, people that Sam is beginning to care about. Somehow events at Aunt Jennifer's farm are connected to things even more sinister and if Sam and Ruan are going to have a future than they need to work together to figure out what's happening and why.

 

While I love a good mystery and this one was more than a little interesting what enchanted me the most about this story was Sam. For Sam this was about more than falling in love. This was Sam's second chance...his chance to find himself and reclaim the part of him that he believed was gone. His faith and confidence were shaken to the core if not non-existent and while Ruan may have helped him. In the end if was Sam who had to dig down deep and believe in himself again if he wanted a chance at a life with Ruan and the promise of home and family that it offered and Ruan came to realize that in Sam, he had a partner and that together they could shelter each other from life's storms. 

 

Equally as important is the role played by family and community in this story. Ruan's parents are loving and supportive of their children which is a real contrast to Sam's family, whom we only get glimpses of through Sam's conversations with his mother and yes, I am using this term loosely and then there is Sam's sister and I'll just say here yes, I wanted to slap-a-bitch here. Seriously she opened her mouth once in this book and it was one time too many. 

 

In the end yes, the mystery gets solved but it's Sam who made me love this book so much. It's seeing him go from a broken man who ran from his family...from an environment that was robbing him of his heart and soul to a man who found love, who was finding himself again and who was creating a family for himself the kind of family that would love him and believe in him...a family that would always have his back. This was the story that enchanted me.

 

'Porthkanneck' is quickly becoming one of those places that I enjoy visiting and I'm sure I'll be going back again soon.

 

*************************

A copy of 'Foxglove Copse' was graciously provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-12-16 20:10
Find a comfortable spot and settle in
The Dragonbone Chair - Tad Williams

Disclosure:  I obtained my copy of this book from my local public library.  I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with him about this book or any other matter.  I am an author.

 

(Trigger warning: Some animal cruelty.)

 

My house is cold this morning, cold enough that I had to turn on the heat for a while.  After making a couple of early trips to the studio -- 30 strides from my back door and 30 strides back -- I was so chilled I went right back to bed just to get warm again.  I used the time wisely: I finished the last 100 pages of The Dragonbone Chair.

 

As mentioned in previous status updates, I first read this series well more than two decades ago.  A few details remained in my memory along with the basic plotline, but 98% was as new as if I had never read it.

 

Had there been a decimal rating, I might have gone with 4.75 stars, but I backed it off to 4 1/2 because it wasn't quite up to the full five, for a couple of reasons.  And I'm going to hit those reasons first.

 

The saga is set in a medievalish earth-like world, with castles and kingdoms and kings and princesses. . . . and a medievalish church that too much resembles medieval christianity.  The monks and priests and bishops, churches and cathedrals, saints and relics, rites and writings are creepy and weak.  Pagans give lip service to "God" and "His son" the holy Usires Aedon (aka Jesus) who was martyred by hanging upside down on the "Execution Tree."  Instead of the sign of the cross, believers make "the sign of the Tree."  The whole Aedonite religion seemed forced and almost silly, right down to holidays called "mansas" like Christian "-mas" and the wearing of jeweled or golden or wooden "tree" symbols around the neck like a crucifix.  Williams offers no opinion of christianity in his creation, whether for good or ill, so it seems kind of pointless and lazy.

 

Other than that, the world-building is fine and relatively consistent in terms of the various kingdoms and rivalries and languages.  Some of the human groups/ethnicities are vaguely teutonic, some are vaguely celtic, some a little more original; none, however, seem to reflect Asian or African or other non-European groups.  The only exception is the "Black Rimmersmen," who seem to be bad guys, but they haven't played enough of a role in this first volume to determine what the designation really means.

 

The non-human races are kind of stock, though the use of the troll Binabik as one of the good guys is a nice change.  The Sithi and Norns are vaguely elvish on the Tolkien model; the giant Hunen are rather like hairy Middle-Earthling cave trolls.

 

The cast of characters is huge, and this makes keeping them straight a bit difficult, even with the full listing at the end of the book.  Where Tolkien introduced the various groups more or less one at a time as the Fellowship passed through their lands, Williams brings all of his onto the stage at once.  The ensuing war encompasses virtually all of the vast uber-kingdom of Osten Ard, so the action shifts between the Erkynlanders in Erchester, the Hernystirimen, the Nabbanai in Nabban, the Rimmersmen from Rimmergard, and so on.  As some of the main supporting characters change allegiance, the whole thing becomes a bit confusing, and I suspect that will continue through the succeeding volumes.

 

The main character, Simon, is your typical young male who has greatness thrust upon him.  Orphaned at birth, he's been raised by the chambermaids in the great castle of the Hayholt in Erchester.  Still in his teens, he gets swept up in the mighty and magical machinations of the High King Elias, whose quest for power is only thwarted by his brother Prince Josua . . . and mysterious bits of mythical lore.

 

By the end of The Dragonbone Chair, we've got lots of guys, one evil woman super villain, one possibly evil woman, and one princess who keeps disappearing.  Women aren't well represented.  This might not have bothered me nearly as much 25 years ago as it does now.

 

Okay, those are the negatives, the things that brought the rating down.  The positives were that the writing is delicious, and there's lots of it!  (There are also a surprising number of typesetting errors, but I've found that to be a frequent problem with paperbacks from the 1980s, and I don't know why.)

 

If you're a lover of the long, long, long epic fantasy, this is a pretty good example, with better world-building and stronger characterizations than others.  Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series had more and maybe better female characters, but I lost interest in that after about seven volumes.  I haven't tried the Game of Thrones books yet, though I have them.

 

I've only read the first few pages of the next book, Stone of Farewell, and I remember far less about it than I did about The Dragonbone Chair, so we'll see how it goes.  I think it's even longer.

 

 

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review 2017-12-16 19:05
Review: "Draakenwood" (Whyborne & Griffin, #9) by Jordan L. Hawk
Draakenwood (Whyborne & Griffin Book 9) - Jordan L. Hawk

 

~ 4.5 stars ~

 

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