Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pirated Blogrolls

Lynn over at Violins & Starships has put in a whole lot of efforts into creating a very impressive collection of blogs and websites that seems worthy of exploring.
I've explored a few and want to go back to look at others, so rather than just bookmarking her page I figured I'd share it HERE.

That of course got me to thinking - who else has well thought out, neatly indexed blogrolls I might pirate?

There are
Education Blogs
Garden Blogs
Idaho Blogs
LDS Blogs

Do you have any favorite blogrolls to recommend?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Cruising the Blogosphere...

Saturday morning is Pancake morning at Casa Piranha.

I've enjoyed a lazy morning, sipping a cup of Good Earth herbal tea and exploring the blogosphere for a bit. Here are a few of the gems that impressed me...

1. Dan over at Black Owl has an EXCELLENT piece on the dearth of critical thinking in the retail world during holiday shopping...(which is endemic throughout the year, and not just in retail, I am afraid.)

2. Ruth over at Upstream Downstream shares some words on assumptions about guilt and innocence and our jury system...

3. Violins and Starships offered up a great clip of Elvis singing "Blue Solstice" to entertain my Pagan friends.

4. And just for grins, David over at Nephite Blood, Spartan Heart, shared some positively hillarious pictures that made me laugh.

5. Sergio over at Space Time Chronicles wrote a lovely piece on censorship from the perspective of a scientist. That one is an older piece from 2009, but isn't that the beauty of the blog world? It's still there to discover.

I LIKE being able to find cutting edge words about what people are pondering RIGHT NOW - the immediacy of this form of media has much appeal. But at the very same time I occassionally enjoy sampling the thoughts of various writers whose blogs have since languished or who may not have updated for quite some time.

Do you have any favorite dead blogs - words that resonated with you and maybe made you sad that the writers have ceased to publish?

Friday, January 07, 2011

A New Read - Earl of Darkness

I just received a brand spanking new book hot off the press from the author - "Earl of Darkness" by Alix Rickloff.

From the Publisher:

The magic she tries to hide . . . Born a lady, but reduced to surviving in the slums of Dublin, Catriona O’Connell has been hired to steal a mysterious book from Aidan Douglas, Earl of Kilronan. But Cat is secretly Other, an age-old mixture of Fey and human—something Aidan recognizes immediately when he surprises the lovely young burglar in his library, about to steal a magical diary.. . . is the magic he desperately wants. From the moment Aidan sees her, Cat’s spirited beauty enchants him, but her uncanny abilities are what he truly needs, for Cat can understand the mystical language in the diary he inherited from his murdered father. So Aidan makes an offer: translate the book or be thrown in prison as a thief. And as Cat slowly deciphers each page, she and Aidan are drawn together by passion . . . and into the violence of the Other world that is the Kilronan legacy. Can they defeat those who seek the book, or are their lives in even greater danger than their hearts?


•Pub. Date: December 2010
•Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
•ISBN-13: 9781439170366
•ISBN: 1439170363

You can see an excerpt from Chapter 1 HERE to get a taste of what I'm about to read.

I'm intrigued, hopeful, apprehensive, as I get ready to peruse the pages of this new book by an unfamiliar author - admittedly a genre I seldom dabble in. It's sort of like going to a fancy dress up party where I don't know any of the other guests. I may have a smashing good time. I may feel awkward and out of place. Who knows? But I'm ready to jump in and see if it is a fit.

Thanks ever so much for the book Alex - I will let you know what I think...

Monday, January 03, 2011

Book Review - Kisser by Stuart Woods

Have you ever finished reading a book and wished you had back the six or eight hours it took you to slog your way through it? Kisser, by Stuart Woods, was that kind of book.

This is the 17th novel in the Stone Barrington series, and frankly, I was disappointed and embarrassed for poor Stone. While none of the books could ever be accused of being overly cerebral, the earlier volumes were at least reasonably entertaining and inoffensive. I recall reading a few years ago that were actually quite fun, although I usually got tired of hearing what Stone Barrington was wearing.

This book had none of the charm or interest I recall from Woods' earlier works. It went from one scene of gratuitous sex to another with a sloppy plot, poor character development and insipid dialogue. As far as being the "exciting new page turner..." claimed on the dust jacket - not hardly.

I picked it it up because my husband had checked it out from the library and had it along on our recent trip to Salt Lake City. I'd mainly brought along serious stuff and was in the mood for a diversion. I thought this book could provide some fun escape. I should not have bothered. At two or three points I almost put it down because I didn't like the language or the ridiculous sex scenes. However, I kept at it thinking that it would get better. It didn't. From the first page to the last, I never found myself able to engage with the story and there were several spots where it was just plain weak writing. I felt like Woods let his audience down and did a disservice to an established character.

I was determined I was not going to make any New Years resolutions this year. I think I'm going to change my mind. It's going to be a long time before I will be willing to pick up any novel by Stuart Woods (if ever), but more importantly if I ever pick up another book by ANYONE that appears this lame in the first 50 pages I will put it down and never look back. This book was a complete waste of time.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Book Review - LUCKY by Alice Sebold

I just finished listening to the audio book "Lucky" by Alice Sebold. I have to admit, had I known what the book was going to be about, I would have passed. However, having very much enjoyed her highly acclaimed novel "The Lovely Bones", when I saw her name on the CD case of this one sitting on the library shelf I scooped it up without much looking. I knew Sebold to be a writer with the capacity to craft incredibly powerful word pictures, whose sentences riveted me. I was very much looking forward to another one of her tales.

However, it became apparent in the first five minutes this was no novel. It is, in fact, her harrowing autobiographical account of having been brutally raped by a stranger at age 18, of the trial that convicted her assailant and all the many ways that having been so savagely violated impacted her life. She didn't flinch with words in describing exactly what happened to her. She describes the brutality and degradation of the attack in infinite detail. Yet she also does not over sensationalize her experience of being a "victim" of a violent sex crime. She relays her experiences in matter-of-fact report which she reads nearly dead-pan, with all the passion and inflection of Joe Friday.

Sebold's skill with words served her well as she wove her story. I was particularly impressed by the balance with which she gave back story vignettes of her childhood and about her family, just enough to portray a clear picture of who the 18 year old virgin was that was attacked that day that forever severed her life into a grim dichotomy of before and after. By having a picture of who she was as a daughter and as a sister, seeing what she was like in high school as well as getting glimpses into her freshman college friendships it allows the reader to more fully comprehend the split between the "before" Alice Sebold and the after.

Where the book fell down some was towards the end where she brushes around a period of her life that seemed equally significant. She alludes to much with shadow images she never quite brings into view. Particularly because of the unscathing detail of the earlier parts it made the later sections feel something between rushed and deliberately vague, which I found unsatisfying.

Overall though, this is a very powerful, well written book. It's not for everyone as it does have extremely graphic descriptions of her assault which could be a painful trigger for anyone with their own baggage of trauma history, which sadly includes far too many people. However, those willing to bear witness to the horrific part of Sebold's experience that accounts for the first few pages will be drawn in and captivated by her descriptions of coming to terms with that event - how it changed her and how she made sense of her life in the aftermath.

MOST people will not experience what Sebold did. However, sexual violence is far from a rare occurrence in this country.

A website from Ohio University reports that "In the United States, 1.3 women are raped every minute. That results in 78 rapes each hour, 1872 rapes each day, 56160 rapes each month and 683,280 rapes each year. 1 out of every 3 American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. The United States has the world's highest rape rate of the countries that publish such statistics. It's 4 times higher than Germany, 13 times higher than England, and 20 times higher than Japan."

As horrific as it is for a woman (or man, for that matter) to have to experience, too often that experience is made worse because of the negative social perceptions and stigma associated with it. In the book "Lucky" Sebold describes what it was like being looked at as "the girl who was raped" and the degree to which she internalized the view of being damaged goods.

This is a powerful book to read because it is incredibly well written. It is an important book to read because it takes an unscathing look not only at the ugly crime of rape, but also on the social and legal responses to that crime.

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