Saturday, February 28, 2009

IIIIII-Ron-YYYYYY! (That Spells Irony)

Today on Discovery Channel, they're doing a bit of a boring documentary on the state of things in China. The biggest economic growth in China is coal mining. Thousands of workers break their backs in the mines, breathing bad air and risking their lives to provide for their families, because the coal mining industry is just booming over there. It's one of the reasons they are growing economically, and economic growth is a top priority in China. In 2006, 47 miners died in the U.S of mining related accidents. 47,000 miners died the same year of mining related accidents in China.

This is all very sad to me, especially when I think of the families-wives and children who must worry that their husbands and fathers may not return. It's not just a dangerous field in China, it is a dangerous field in the U.S. Yes, the death rate was smaller here, but so is the amount of workers in such a field.

What I happened to find truly ironic about this, however, was that in the middle of a commercial break during this documentary outlining the atrocious conditions of mining, a certain commercial popped on. Maybe you've seen it. Obama, with his usual charisma and crowd of worshipers cheering him on, is calling for a "change." No more relying on outside countries for our fuel sources, no! Instead, we should concentrate our efforts on trying to find a way to use COAL as our fuel, instead of oil. It could create jobs for thousands! It could stimulate our economy!
Tell me I'm not the only that has just compared our President's intentions with those of Communist China's. . .

Friday, February 27, 2009

Another One Closed

Number 5 of the Jaz Parks series has come, and of course I had to grab it for a read. The only one I (accidently) haven't read is the second one, but I fear I'm too far ahead to turn back now. In One More Bite, by Jennifer Rardin, Jaz travels with her crew of three to protect, surprisingly, one of the bad guys. An evil head witch in the cult of Scidaire, an ancient goddess of evil, is being targeted by an assassin who uses snakes as her main form of weaponry. Lots and lots of snakes.

And although Jaz can hardly stand protecting the bad guy, allowing said bad guy to die would alter the balance of powers between the cult, the Weres, and the Vamperes. So she must identify and eliminate this assassin before its too late, whilst keeping herself and her crew protected from the spirits of Scotland while she's at it!

A fun read. I love all the books in this series, and when I read the title of this one, I feared the worst. An ending to a fun series with an awesome heroine. Not so! There is another to look for ahead! Happy me!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In My Stacks

Yet another book completed, and in so little time. It wasn't a tough one, however, so the boost in ego that I might have felt from finishing two books in such quick succession is not present. :/
What's a Ghoul to Do?, by Victoria Laurie gives a look into the life of a sassy ghost buster/ psychic medium with a sassy assistant and an awesome African Grey parrot pet named Doc. Since Victoria Laurie is herself, allegedly, a psychic medium, she writes from that viewpoint, which gives a fascinating insight into how those gifts really work, if you believe in that sort of thing.
In this first novel of her Psychic Eye mystery series, M.J is contacted by a doctor who does not believe his grandfather committed suicide, as the police have ruled. While investigating, she must solve other foreboding mysteries, such as why an agitated female spirit who has a habit of pushing things, and people, around is still on this plane of existence, not to mention why the good Dr.'s not-so-good father is running around town, causing mischief and generally being secretive, all while avoiding being killed by a mystery man for no reason she can see.
Like a said: a short read. But a good mystery, especially for those who like a more paranormal slant on their stories.

Monday, February 23, 2009

On My Shelf

I finished off another book in the Mercy Thompson series (a series that I actually started fairly close to when IT actually started, which hardly ever happens to me). The book is the newest release, Bone Crossed, and it did not disappoint!
Mercy is being targeted by the local vampire seethe, which just adds to her worries when she also has to think about what it means to be an Alpha werewolf's mate. While she fights the inevitable, romantically and magically speaking, she gets out of dodge, hoping to facilitate negotiations between the Pack and the Seethe, i.e. not get in the way.
Conveniently, an old college friend shows up and asks for her help in getting rid of a ghost which is dogging her 10-year-old son, and so she heads out in hopes of helping the mischievous poltergeist move on, only to discover she has fallen into the territory of a vampire that makes the local seethe look tame, and things aren't what they seem at all.
I waited for this book for months, and was Irish-jigging excited to find it. Definitely worth a night of full-steam-ahead reading!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Dog's View on Politics

I took my dog outside this morning, not for a full on walk yet, just to do some business, and we came upon a giant sign affixed to the fence of my apartment complex for a local guy running for some sort of office or other. It was giant, it was bright, and it hadn't been there before. My dog looked at it out of the corner of her little chocolate brown eyes, crab-walked a bit around so that we were on the far side of the sidewalk, and continued on. On the way back down the same sidewalk to my apartment, she did the same. She refused to look straight at it, and gave it a wide berth.

Amen, Sophie, amen.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

On My Shelf

I'll admit, I "borrowed" a book from my sister's shelf. P.I. on a Hot Tin Roof, by Julie Smith. Lately, I've been watching a lot of thriller/mystery TV shows, specifically Bones, as well as Monk, Psych, and Burn Notice, and all of those combined have put me in the mood for some great mystery novels. When I saw this particular book had been left on my sister's shelf at home, I picked it up and started reading.
The P.I. mentioned in the title is Talba Wallis, a whip-smart private investigator by day and New Orleans-famous poet by night, who goes undercover in order to get her friend, Angie, off the hook for something she had been framed for. But things get complicated when the man she is investigating turns up dead, and his fiance hires her to find the killer. The case has many twists and turns, which I really enjoyed, because sometimes I know "who-dun-it" before the book really gets to that point, so finding one that kept me guessing until the very end was a real treasure.
Things I didn't like about the novel, however:

1. Talba is kind of weird. Especially her alter-ego, Baroness de Pontalba.

2. The author, who is white, is writing about the life of a black woman. I felt often that she was over-compensating for the lack of experience she had in that field, and I was a little annoyed that anytime someone of a Caucasian descent was introduced, they were automatically labeled as racist, especially if they were middle-to-upper-class.

3. I KNOW it was a New Orleans based book, but the accents and bad grammar were KILLING me.

All in all, I'd recommend this book, if only for the good mystery it provides.

Friday the 13th

Little known fact about Geek Girl: I am superstitious. Not in any crazy, out there kind of way, but certain things alarm me. You won't catch me stepping under a ladder, or opening an umbrella inside, because seriously, why risk it? So of course I was dreading Friday the 13th. I waited for most of the day for something to go wrong, some sort of sign that bad luck was upon me. But it never happened, thank goodness!
I made it through the day, problem-free, which makes me wonder if it's trying to loll me into a sense of security and the BAM! hit me with some bad luck. Anywho, here are some facts about Friday the 13th, gleaned from that great little website that librarians love and hate, Wikipedia.

1. The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia. (That's me!)

There is no written evidence for a "Friday the 13th" superstition before the 19th century. (This gives me pause. An ancient superstition holds more sway for me than does a newer one.)

3. However, it can be traced back through oral traditions, as according to author Charles Panati, one of the leading authorities on the subject of "Origins."
The actual origin of the superstition, though, appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil - a gathering of thirteen - and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week.
So, there you have it, some facts and lore. History, even, to back up why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky. Some say, in these modern times, that it is merely a combination of the unlucky number 13, and the unlucky day, Friday. Either way it gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What's On My Shelf

I recently completed the book The Mercy Seller, by Brenda Rickman Vantrease. Some may recall this author from her previous book, The Illuminator, which I have yet to read. The Mercy Seller follows the lives of two main characters, Anna and Brother Gabriel, during the uprising of the Lollard cause. Anna, who believes that man needs no mediator to God and that all should be able to read the Bible in their own language, instead of the Latin that the Church decrees by law, goes through unimaginable hardships because of her faith. In fact, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to put the book down because it was so sad, or continue reading because her character, strength, faith and wisdom was so inspiring. Brother Gabriel, who is given the job of finding those guilty of heresy and supporters of the Lollard cause, comes into contact with Anna, thus setting an entirely different path for himself than he ever could have forseen, and going through a few trials of his own.
In the end, I finished the book. If you happen to pick the book up yourself, you should do the same.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chick Lit Faze

So the second book that I've read so far, is Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella. If I read one book of a certain genre, it usually gets me started on that particular genre, so much so that I stay on it for a while. Now, I know that it has been a week since I actually updated my blog, but it's not because it has taken a long time to read this book. I have another book that I am also almost finished with, and it is decidedly heftier. When I finish that one (almost there!), I will definitely update with that one as well.
Anyway, back to the first book mentioned. I had high hopes for this particular book, mainly because Sophie Kinsella happens to be one of my favorite chick lit authors. But the character in this book was annoyingly naive and matierialistic. I understood all of the parts of describing her anxiety, and her need for distraction, which she finds through shopping, but when the bills start to pile up and she does nothing to stop the cycle, I slowly became frustrated. My opinion of the main character dropped even lower when she discovered that her best friend and flatmate's cousin is the fifteenth richest bachelor in Britain. During the first part of meeting the cousin, the main character describes him as annoying and creepy, yet when she discovers that he is rich, she begins to plan how they'll fall madly in love, and . . . just ugh. The ending redeems the novel somewhat, but all in all, not one of my favorites.