Wednesday, May 29, 2013

One Last Break to Go Out of Town for Work......

I seem to be interrupting our regularly scheduling programing quite often this year.  So for that, I apologize.  As of yesterday I am out of town, training for my new job.  I'll be back in town for good the evening of the 7th, but I'll need a few days to catch my breath.  I appreciate you guys sticking by me as I keep leaving the blog on the wayside.  I promise that as soon as things settle down, I'll be back posting on a regular basis.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sight Reading by Daphne Kalotay (Giveaway Included)

Synopsis From Back Cover:

On a Boston street one warm spring day, Hazel and Remy spot each other for the first time in years.  Under ordinary circumstances, this meeting might seem insignificant.  But Remy, a gifted violinist, is married to the composer Nicholas Elko - once the love of Hazel's life.

It has been twenty years since Remy, then an ambitious conservatory student; Nicholas, a wunderkind struggling with a masterwork he cannot fully realize; and his wife, the beautiful and fragile Hazel, first came together and tipped their collective world on it's axis.  But as their entwined stories unfold from 1987 to 2007, from Europe to America, from conservatory life to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, each will discover the surprising ways in which the quest to create something real and true - be it a work of art or one's own life - can lead to the most personal of revelations, including the unearthing of secrets we keep, even from ourselves.

I'm a pretty picky reader.  I know what I like, and I definitely know what I do not.  I will rarely agree to read a historical fiction book, mainly because the misses have vastly outnumbered the home runs.  The same goes for what some would consider family drama fiction.  I know that's not the proper term for what I'm talking about, but I hope you get the point.  It's that segment of literature that focuses on one family, normally over a extended period of time.  The book will detail, sometimes in painful detail, their travails and successes.  It will put their relationships, both internally and externally, under a microscope that can make a mote of dust look like HAT-P-1.

For whatever reason, I rarely ever get into this type of book.  I'm not sure what it is, but I tend to find myself nodding off half way through a paragraph, drool running down my chin.  The only reason I was interested in reading Sight Reading, was because of the author.  I read Russian Winter by her back in 2011, and despite it being in a genre I normally don't like, I ended up really enjoying it.  I figured it would be nice to see if lightning could strike twice.  And while you normally don't want to get struck by lightning even once, I'm glad Daphne Kalotay was able to do it twice for me.

Where I would normally find such a story to be plodding and tedious, Daphne Kalotay is able to keep the pacing at a fairly decent rate, without sacrificing the story or the character development.  There wasn't even a page or two where the story started to bog down and turn into molasses.  Part of her talent lies in creating such wonderfully complex characters, that you fall in love with them so much, you don't really pay attention to the rate at which their lives are being altered or stuck in a rut.  I may not be saying all of this that well, but I hope you get my meaning.

Not only was I not bored by the lives of Hazel, Remy, or Nicholas; I wanted more of it.  I would have gladly read another few hundred pages of their lives as they revolved around each other and those close to them.  I wanted to see what happened after the wedding.  I want to be able to check in with them, years after the events in this book.  I want to know that they will continue to evolve and keep together as what can only be described as a true family.  I would love to be able to invite them over for tea.  But since I can't, I'll settle for rereading this book at a later point in time.

I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read/review this book.  Please visit the tour page to read other reviews.

The wonderful group at TLC Book Tours have generously offered my readers the chance to win a copy of this book for themselves.  The giveaway will last until 11:59 pm, CST, on 6/7/13.  You must be a resident of the United States to enter, and all you have to do is leave me a comment with your email address.  

Monday, May 27, 2013

My Spring Walk Down the Arkansas River, West Bank

As I promised last week when I posted some of the pictures I took on my walk downtown along the river, I'm back to share the pictures I took on the second half of that brief jaunt.  I really didn't pay too much attention to the pictures in the days that followed the walk, well other than the ones I posted on Facebook.  But looking at them again, getting these posts ready, I'm really realizing how much I don't utilize living this close to the river.

I don't walk it nearly as much as I should, nor do I go and just hang out.  There are some wonderful areas to meander along, plop a seat, and read for a while.  I guess it's just been so hot outside the last few years, the last thing I wanted to go do was walk in the heat, then sit it in.  When it's hot outside, give me air conditioning, over the scorching misery waiting outside.

With no more chitter-chatter from me, here are the pictures (some of them) that I took as I walked back home.

A picture of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium from the bridge I used to turn around.

Another picture of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.  The stadium was built in 1935 and has been home to the Wichita  Wranglers and is now home to the Wichita Wingnuts.  Since the beginning it has hosted the National Baseball Congress World Series.

View of the bridge I crossed on from the west bank of the Arkansas River.

What I find interesting about the west bank is that the shore line isn't finished, it's been left rough.  Not sure why they finished off the edging on the east bank, but not here.

View of Century 2 Performing Arts and Convention Center.


This is, what I'm assuming anyway, a water feature, but I've never seen water in it.

View of a small segment of down town Wichita.

Canadian Goose

Sitting area in front of the Broadview Hotel.  Not sure why I didn't take a picture of it as I walked past.

Next three pictures are of the bank and some trees going up a small rise in elevation from the river bank.

I never remember what kind of duck this is.

I think this is a view of where they have a troll hiding away, but to tell you the truth, I have never seen it myself.  It's supposed to be a grate with a troll face on it.

The next nine pictures are of Exploration Place or of the views you can see from it.

The next four pictures are off a nature area they built around Exploration Place.

The next six pictures are of outdoor sculptures they have placed in the playground area outside of Exploration Place.  There is also a miniature golf course but I did not take any pictures of it.

View of the Keeper of the Plains after leaving the area around Exploration Place. 
Pretty sure this is a different snake than the one I saw on the other side of the river, but I 've never seen a snake eating a fish before, so I had to take the picture.

Another view of the Keeper of the Plains.

Stairs leading up to the pedestrian bridge so I could go back home.

View of the river, north of the bridge.  I have actually never walked that section.  Maybe someday I will.

Keeper of the Plains

The front rocks have gas jets in them that allow them to light up with fire after dark.  I think they only light them for a few minutes each night.

And the journey ends.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Legends told of how the evil God Torak had coveted the power of the Orb of Aldur, until defeated in a final battle.  But prophecy spoke of a time when he would awake and again seek dominance over all the world.  Now the Orb has been stolen by a priest of Torak, and that time was at hand.

The master Sorcerer Belgareth and his daughter Polgara the arch-Sorceress were on the trail of the Orb, seeking to regain it before the final disaster.  And with them went Garion, a simple farm boy only months before, but now the focus of the struggle.  He had never believed in sorcery and wanted no part of it.  yet with every league they traveled, the power grew in him, forcing him to acts of wizardry he could not accept.

 With Queen of Sorcery, the second book in The Belgariad series, the action is starting to heat up and we are starting to meet some of the world's movers and shakers.  We meet Ran Borune XXIII, the Emperor of Tolnedra, and are joined on their quest by his daughter Ce'Nedra, who will play a huge part in Garion's life later on down the road.  We also are introduced to Salmissra, the Queen of Nyssia.  She decided to kidnap Garion in order to seduce him to her side, needless to say Polgara wasn't too happy about it and she changed Salmissra's life for forever after.  I wouldn't count either one of these rulers to be the good guys, but they are not on the side of Torak either.  They have their own agendas, most of which will not line up with our questers.

We also get to meet two new members of the quest, Mandorallen who is a Mimbrate knight running from a broken heart, and Lelldorin, a Asturian archer.  Needless to say Mimbrates and Asturians aren't the fastest of friends, so there is a lot of tension between the two of them.  Both of them are great characters, as are most of the questors.  My only complaint about the members of the quest is that other than Durnik, they are all nobility.  Every single one of them, including Garion (though he doesn't know it yet) have noble blood coursing through their veins.  I would have liked to have more of them be a little more common, but since that's not the case, I can deal with it.  I love them all, especially Silk and Hettar.

We do learn more about the individual members of the quest.  Silk is a master spy, Hettar can talk to horses, Barak is some sort of werebear, and Ce'Nedra is part Dryad.  Now I know some of you make be shaking your heads just about now, but this is fantasy.  Questers have to be more than they appear to be.  It's part of the rules.

Most importantly though, this is the book that Garion realizes that he is more than he ever though possible.  He is in fact one of those who are destined to become a sorcerer, whether he likes it or not.  And he really doesn't like it.  When he is forced, through magic, to kill Chamdar, a Grolim High Priest, Garion rebels at what he's done.  He feels betrayed and lied to his whole life, and doesn't want the power or the responsibility that comes with it.  He doesn't want to be know as Belgarion, he wants to be the simple Garion.  Little does he know he has more surprises in store for him.  Including one that will really change the way he sees himself.

Other Books In The Series:

Pawn of Prophecy

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Spring Walk Down the Arkansas River, East Bank

A few weeks ago I shared a few pictures on Facebook of a walk I took in downtown Wichita, along the Arkansas River.  I live less than a block from the river, but I don't get down there very often.  Most of the time it's too hot in the summer, or I'm just too busy getting other things done.  The last few years, because of the drought we have had, there hasn't been much water in the river as it goes through downtown, so it was nice to see water in the river once again.

I'm going to share most of the pictures I took, but not all of them.  I took way too many that day, and I'm not sure any of you would have the patience to scroll through such a large post.  Today I'm going to show the pictures I took as I walked south along the east bank.  Sometime next week I will share most of the pictures I took as I walked back home, along the west bank.

Started the walk at the Keeper of the Plains.


Next three pictures are of Exploration Place, which is a kids science museum. 

Memorial to the U.S.S. Wichita, Word War II Heavy Cruiser.

Up those stairs sits the War Memorial Park.  I'll be taking pictures of that at some later point in time.

Not sure what this is from, but it just sits there on the bank.

Next four pictures are of one of the many vehicular bridges crossing the river.

Next six pictures are from a sitting area along the river, including a raised space further back.

Loved the color contrast between the tree and the near by shrubbery. 
The root system of the tree. 
The plaque giving the name of this sculpture and artist was missing.

River bank in front of the Hyatt.


Snake sitting on a reed in the river.

Next two pictures are of the waterfall feature in front of the Hyatt.

View from the bridge south of the Hyatt where I turned around to walk back.