Jan 31, 2012

Alasandra's Reading List ~ January

  1. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini - read the review here.
  2. The Hour Glass Witch by Paige, Alisha (read on my Kindle from the Kindle Owner's Lending Library) For a free book I can't complain. A light hearted and fun read.  After angering her half-sister (Aphrodite) Clio, the Muse of History is sent back in time as punishment by the angry Goddess.
  3. Locked On by Tom Clancy - Realizing his puppet President Ed Kealty in going to lose the election to Jack Ryan Sr., Paul Laska attempts to use a scandal centered around John Clark to bring him down. In order to protect President Elect Jack Ryan Sr and The Campus John Clark sets out on his own to discover who is behind the plot. Captured and tortured Clark is rescued by the Russians who need him to resume command of Rainbow 6 and foil a terrorist plot to nuke Moscow.  In exchange they will expose Laska's plot to destroy Ryan by fabricating stuff against Clark. In the meantime Jack Ryan Jr and Dominic must stop a nuclear bomb from going off in Pakistan. But Jack Jr has his own potential bomb waiting in the wings as his new girlfriend is spying on him for the other side.
  4. Side Jobs by Jim Butcher - A collection of short stories relating to the Dresden Files. Harry Dresden is a very loveable wizard with a biting wit and a White Court Vampire for a brother. 
  5. Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher - GREAT BOOK!!!! It all starts with Tavi  (an Aleran) neglecting to bring the sheep in before dark because he ran an errand for a pretty young girl. Tavi plans to sneak out early to go after the sheep, but his Uncle (Bernard) intercepts him and goes with him. They are attacked by a Herdbane (big nasty bird), Tavi's uncle manages to kill it with his fury but not before he is grievously injured. Before losing consciousness Bernard instructs Brutus (one of his furies) to take them home.  Realizing the Herdbane's mate and the Marat of the Herdbane Clan (the Marat are savage cannibals who belong to clans named after the animals they partner with) with it, will catch up with them before they can reach safety Tavi draws them away from his Uncle. Caught in a killer storm Tavi hears Amara's call for help and goes to her rescue. Amara is fleeing from Fidelias and his henchmen (Aldrick and Odiana) who are traitors to the First Lord of Alera. Amara was also sent to Calderon to foil Fidelias' plot to destroy the First Lord, whatever it may be. Tavi, Amara and Fade (Isana's slave) set out to warn Garrison of a Marat invasion.  Captured by Kord ( a really stupid Aleran bully), they are rescued by Bernard and Isana (Tavi's Aunt), who hold Kord and Fidelias off with Amara's help long enough for Tavi and Fade to flee. Tavi and Fade are captured by Doroga (Headman of the Gargant Clan) who gives him a chance to tell the Marat that the Alerans are not an enemy. By saving Doroga's daughter during the trial he also wins his help in saving his family (The Gargant Clan and The Horse Clan will fight against The Herdbane Clan and The Wolf Clan) .  Fidelias' plot is foiled but the dagger proving that the Lord of Aquitaine is behind the plots remains in his hands. First Lord Gaius rewards those who fought off the Marat invasion. Tavi is sent to the Academy under Gaius' patronage. Questions remain who are Tavi's parents? (I suspect Isana is his Mother not his Aunt and that his Father was the Princeps) Who is Fade?  (Tavi seems to think he might be Araris Valerian, although Isana insist Araris Valerian died 15 years ago whoever he is Fade's mission seems to be to protect Tavi, and he knows the identity of Tavi's Father.). Looking forward to Book 2 where I hope some of my questions are answered.
  6. Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher - Confirmation that Isana is his Mother although that bit of information hasn't been revealed to Tavi yet, also the conversation between Miles and Gaius at the end of the book strengthens my suspicions that the Princeps is Tavi's Father. Fade's identity as Araris Valerian is revealed to a select few. This book begins two years after Book One and Tavi and Fade have been brought to the capital where Tavi is attending the Academy. If you remember that really nasty thing that bit Kitai  (Doroga's daughter) in Book One well it is back. The Vord have awakened and three Vord Queens have escaped the Wax Valley to build nest. Doroga and two thousand of his people destroyed one nest but only two hundred of his warriors survived. Doroga goes to Count Bernard for help destroying the remaining nest in the Valley but warns him that one of the Vord Queens was tracking Tavi and is headed for the capital. Isana is sent to the capital to secure help in destroying the Vord. Kitai has also been sent to the capital of Alera in order to understand Tavi's people better. Gaius falls unconscious due to exhaustion, in order to protect the Realm Killian (Head of the Cursors), Miles ( Fade's Brother and Gaius' personal bodyguard) and Tavi come up with a plan for Tavi's friend Antillar Maximus to double as the First Lord. Unable to reach the First Lord Isana attends a party at Lord Kalare's in order to seek a way to Gaius. By the time Tavi learns of his "Aunt's" presence in the city Kalare has already sent assassins  to kill Isana. Fidelias manages to save her life and talks her into meeting with Lady Aquitaine. In exchange for Isana's support Lady Aquitaine agrees to save Bernard and Tavi from the Vord.  The Canim are plotting with Lord Kalare and the Vord to assassinate Gaius. Tavi and Kitai manage to carry a warning to the Citadel minutes before the Canim and Vord attack. Killian is mortally wounded, Mile's is severely injured and it looks as if they will be overcome by the Vord and the Canim when Fade charges into battle. He manages to keep the Canim and Vord at bay until the Knights can arrive. But one Canim slips past Fade to kill the First Lord but Tavi using the First Lord's sword manages to kill it before it can harm Gaius. Gaius awakens and takes charge, and determines to live long enough to buy time in hope's that Tavi will one day be able to use furies and prevent a war of succession. 
  7. Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher - Gaius Sextus sends Tavi to work with Magnus (the Historian who believes Alerans once didn't have furies) in order to keep him out of the upcoming trouble with Kalare. Magnus (who is also a cursor), Max and Tavi (Tribune Scipio) are sent to join the First Aleran Legion, consisting of volunteers from every city (new idea). Tavi was sent under an assumed name as an officer. When they get there Max discovers his Step-Mother and half-brother are there. His Step-Mother tries to kill him but Max manages to survive and Captain Cyril stands up to Lady Antillus (Kalare's sister) to protect Max. Tavi determines to find a way to punish her for her treatment of Max and steals Lady Antillus' purse. Inside the purse he finds a bloodstone (which will later save his life). Cassius (Max's half-brother) confronts Tavi about the theft in order to protect him from Lady Antillus and Tavi beats him to a pulp before realizing that he wasn't trying to kill him.The Canim Ritualists send a lightening bolt to destroy the command tent putting all the officers out of commission except for Tavi and the First Spear Valiar Marcus ( Fidelias), which leaves Tavi in command. Meanwhile Fade has been sent to Ceres to protect Isana. Rook attacks Isana and Fade is mortally wounded saving her life. Amara captures Rook and learns that Rook is only working for Kalare because he holds her daughter hostage. Amara promises to help save Rook's daughter and Amara, Rook, Lady Aquitaine, Bernard, Aldrick and Odiana set out to rescue Kalare's hostages. Isana risk her life to save Fade's and discovers his love for her as well as hers for him.  Tavi manages to prevent the Canim from invading Alera and saves Marcus' life. Marcus (Fidelias) realizes WHO Tavi is and when Gaius Sextus approaches him Marcus (Fidelias) tells him that even without furies Tavi should be acknowledged as Gaius Sextus' heir. and agrees to work for Princeps Octavian (Tavi still doesn't know who he is). To Tavi's surprise he is able to use a fury to turn his light off and on and it totally blown away when Kitai can do the same.
  8. Captain's Fury by Jim Butcher - Fade (Araris) convinces Isana to tell Tavi who his Father was. Gaius has asked Tavi to keep Senator Arnos in check for three months while he deals with Kalare. Unfortunately things quickly get out of hand. Arnos has Tavi arrested for TREASON. Tavi escapes with help from Araris, Isana, Kitai, and Ehren and heads to the capital in order to break Varg (Canim Leader) out of the Grey Tower. He then brings Varg back to the front in time to save the Aleran troops from annihilation by the Canim who are lead by Varg's son. And in order to broker a peace with the Canim Tavi announces his identity as the Princeps and challenges Senator Arnos to a dual. Meanwhile Gaius had Amara and Bernard help him get close enough to Kalare's land for him to cause a volcano to erupt wiping Kalare out. After speaking with his Grandfather Tavi sets out to help the Canim return to their homeland and fight the Vord. 
  9. Enemy in Blue, Debut Novel of Derek Blass - In the interest of full disclosure I was asked to do a review by Derek Blass and was gifted with an ebook on my Kindle Fire. Fast paced thriller with lots of action, see my review here.






Jan 30, 2012

Enemy in Blue, Debut Novel of Derek Blass

On a scale of 1 to 10 I give it a 5.

I would have liked to have seen more character development. From the brief character sketches provided there seemed to be several characters (perhaps too many characters was part of the problem) that I would have liked.  Unfortunately the plot moved at such a breakneck pace I never felt as if I had gotten to know any of the main characters or the motivations for their behavior.

The plot was so full of holes you could drive a semi through it. While I don't doubt that a police officer would shoot an unarmed man  laying on a couch (after all they have no problem slaughtering family pets), I sincerely doubt he would do so in front of a cameraman and a disapproving cop. Police brutality occurs in the dark and around those who either tacitly approve of the misbehavior or who will not question it. The fact the officer was not relieved of duty and asked to hand in his gun after the shooting until an internal investigation could be completed (which is standard operating procedure) underscores the unreality of the situation. Max's (the cameraman) behavior is also unrealistic. Realizing that Shaver will come after him for the tape he physically hands it over to someone else. Now Max was clever enough to email the file to himself so why wouldn't he email it to Sandra. One also has to question why Max didn't email the file  to as many news agencies as possible and upload it to You Tube. After all once the file was out in the public domain it would have been impossible for Shaver to suppress it and killing Max would have been even more stupid then it was.

Blass shows promise as a writer. Hopefully on the next book he will take the time to develop his characters more fully so the reader feels like he/she knows them and will do more research so the plot will be more plausible. The ending leads me to believe that Cruz with Sandra by his side will be investigating "the list" implicating Chief Edwin Colgate. Perhaps some of the other characters from this book will also be playing a role. I really hope I get the chance to know them better.

This is one of the first books I read on my Kindle Fire so that may have played into the low marks I gave the book. I am still not completely comfortable reading e-books and prefer a hard copy. In the interest of full disclosure Derek Blass provided me with a free copy of the book for review.



Jan 26, 2012

Would the Religious Right Elect the Founding Fathers?


Five founders who were skeptical of organized Christianity and couldn't be elected today read more here.

Jan 20, 2012

Jackson County, MS Aniamal Shelter

First I want to thank John McKay for hosting the meeting and Troy Ross and Barry Cumbest for taking the time to attend.

I am troubled that the animal shelter plans to implement a fee for owner surrenders. While in theory since according to the shelter 50% of the animals in their care are owner surrenders this sounds like a sound plan for increasing revenue, I am afraid the unintended consequence may be more abandoned pets.

I was heartened to see the number of people raise their hands in support of a spay and neuter program that would provide low cost spaying and neutering to those who do rescue, TNR (trap neuter release) and senior citizens even if it meant a tax increase. It was also suggested that a licensing fee for breeders be implemented and that the fee could be dedicated to spay and neuter programs so a tax increase would not be necessary.  The Hard Rock is also willing to do fundraisers for the animal shelter. There was also a great deal of support for a Humane Society like the Humane Society of South Mississippi located in Gulfport instead of the county run animal shelter.

Current criticism of the animal shelter included the lack of oversight. Far to many people stated that animals were not checked for microchips, that owners were not allowed to view the animals kept in back and that pets were mistakenly euthanized without their owners having a chance to rescue them. It was also brought up that the animals are kept in deplorable condition and are not properly groomed.

There was a demand that the shelter allow people to foster animals, and that they work with rescue groups so the number of animals euthanized could be lowered. Many people mentioned working with transport groups who rescue animals from the South to take them to the North East where there is a large demand for adoptable pets. Supervisor McKay suggested starting a Friends of the Jackson County Animal Shelter but learned that there was already a friends group.

 It was also suggested that a Trust Fund dedicated to the animals and their welfare be established so people could donate directly to the animal shelter and that Supervisors commit to not using donations to offset money budgeted for the shelter.

Jan 18, 2012

Stop SOPA


Here is a bill in Congress that will affect your rights on the web and will censor all web sites, blogs, etc. In a nutshell :

SOPA explicitly states that companies will be liable for everything their users post. Sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, Wikipedia, or any sites that allow user generated content CANNOT exist under these laws. Immediately after this bill is passed, you will see the media mafia (MPIAA, RIAA, etc) replacing websites like Wikipedia with commercialized encyclopedia software. Mainstream media outlets will not cover this bill because they are the ones lobbying for it.

If you want to know more - Google created a doc to read and inform - SOPA for Dummies.

WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN AND STOP THIS BILL FROM PASSING!
To help you do this stop by Fight the Wall or American Censorship and find out how to connect with your Representative!
Hat Tip Cats of Wildcat Woods.

Tell Congress to Stop the Bill NOW.

Jan 13, 2012

Spinach Salmon Bundles

2 tubes (Large) Crescent Rolls
4 salmon fillets (6 oz each)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 oz. Pub Cheese (cheddar jalapeno)
chopped spinach (canned, drain well)

Unroll crescent dough and separate into four rectangles; seal perforations. Spread with cheese, place salmon fillet in the center of each rectangle; sprinkle with pepper, top with spinach. Fold dough over fillet and pinch edges to seal. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake @ 400 for 20-25 minutes.

Jan 11, 2012

If you kill your spouse in Mississippi just ask Barbour for a pardon

Unlike most governors and presidents who have used their pardons to correct miscarriages of justice Governor Barbour has used his power to pardon convicted KILLERS.

Mississippi governors’ clemency powers are absolute, granted by the state Constitution, and can’t be appealed. Governors in most other states -- and the president -- have similar powers. But most grant pardons after people have served their time or when there are serious questions over whether justice was served in a conviction, not to release those convicted of violent crimes, a national pardons expert said.

Read more here: http://www.sunherald.com/2012/01/10/3678925_p2/barbour-pardons-more-than-200.html#storylink=cpy

Governor Barbour seems particularly fond of pardoning men who killed their spouses.

Jan 8, 2012

Attention Book Lovers

I have been asked to review Enemy in Blue, Debut Novel of Derek Blass. Will post the review soon, so be looking for it. I plan to start reading the book Tuesday, if life doesn't interfere.