Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hey, What is This Stuck To My Shoe?

Hey, this is not about Library Thing, my beloved Library Thing! It's some sort of sticky Glue, Get Glue in fact, via today's Tuesday Thinger question from Wendi's Book Corner

Questions: Have you gotten Glue yet? If so, how do you like it? Do you follow Glue Genie on Twitter? Won anything in their quizzes?

This week we are exploring something totally different and un-Library Thing - we're looking at Glue!
What is Get Glue? From their Website:

Developed by AdaptiveBlue, Glue enables you to connect with your friends on the web around the things you visit online. Glue is powered by semantic recognition technology that automatically identifies books, music, movies, wines, stocks, movie stars, recording artists, and more. Glue works hard to make it easy for you to find out what your friends think about things you're visiting online.

My dear readers, if you have read any of my posts, I might let you guess the answer to this one. Well? Any idea?

The answer is no. Yes folks, once again my rather anti-social head rears itself.

I can remember when I first read about Get Glue on someones blog or Twitter, I thought it sounded awful, one of the worse ideas I had ever heard. Shades of Big Brother and Peeping Tom all rolled together. The idea of all this information being collected and available out there just seems so unnecessary, so overboard. I really have no desire for everyone I know to see what I am buying or what I think of everything I see or purchase online. And to tell you the truth, I really don't have any interest in your opinion on everything either. Does that sound a bit harsh? ...well maybe...lol

Once, years ago, I used to read People magazine. Then, one day, I realized that knowing what Brad Pitt had for breakfast or what plastic surgery some actress was having was contributing absolutely nothing positive to my life. It is just more noise, more stuff, filling up every moment of the day. Again, is it just me, or don't you just want to be quiet, unplugged from the world sometimes? I certainly feel no need for more input into my brain.

But, you might say, you have a blog, you post reviews of books. Isn't that the same thing. Well, no, it is not in my opinion. Maybe it is the "semantic recognition technology that automatically identifies books, music, movies, wines, stocks, movie stars, recording artists, and more..." Does that not sound just a little creepy? I must say that it does to me...it's just all too much.
"The Network That Sticks With You", looking over my cyber shoulder as it were? No thanks.

Being online, on a blog or a social site like Facebook or Twitter, is revealing. We can't forget that what is on the internet is public, for anyone to see, and will remain out there, in some form, forever. We sit in the privacy of our homes, writing it, read it, so maybe it seems rather private. But it is not. But on a sight where we post or comment, we can control what is said and reveal what we want and say, or not say, what we want. It is bad enough that people, for whatever reason they want, be it to sell us something or something more sinister, already scan and search these sites. At least we retain a degree of control over it. But "semantic recognition technology...automatically identifies"...like I said, too Big Brother for me.

Also, and maybe it is just me again, but all this stuff, all this interaction is just too much. Too much information, too much input, too much data coming at us from every side. 24 hour news, every aspect of the lives of today's 'celebrity' drilled into our brains, the need to be always online, in touch, part of the network, plugged in.

No, no Glue for me thank you. Ok, hey Bandit, help me put my soap box away, will ya?

...now Bandit...I always have time for a bit more Bandit! And here he is, finishing that ice cream from last week. I have two words for you Bandit...Grecian Formula!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Let Me Count the Ways, or NOT...That I Muse on Monday

Time for my Musing Monday...this time actually on Monday because of that job thing again last night. So let's see what this weeks question is from Just One More Page...

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about mid-year reading…

Now that we’ve come to the middle of the year, what do you think of your 2009 reading so far? Read anything interesting that you’d like to share? Any outstanding favourites?

Yes, we have reached the middle of the year, and many see fit to take stock on what they have read so far. How many books read, how many pages, how many reviews, how many rated 5 stars or 1 stars. They have calculated how they are doing on the many challenges they are taking part in, what books they plan to read in the next quarter....all sorts of facts and figures. I'm not going to mention any names {{{cough...Jenners cough, cough}}} and while I admit there is some very appealing and even admirable in all those nice neat statistics, I do not partake.

I pay no attention at all to what I read!
I have no reading 'goals' at all. No a one.
So there! ;-)

Why you may ask? Don't I go on about how I love all the nice neat statistics that I can find listing my books on Library Thing? Why yes, my dear readers, I do. But that is different...because!
See, I don't want to think of my reading as having to meet some goal, whether set by me or some sort of challenge. I don't want to count or measure how many books I read or compare it to anyone else's numbers. Yes, because I know I will most likely fall short of many, being neither a very fast nor very committed reader by some standards. I will name no names again {{{cough...Nise, with her 144 books read cough, cough}}}. Part of me would hate to count them and then be sure of my more feeble efforts...lol

But most of all I don't examine what I read because I want my reading to be nothing but fun and amusement. I have noticed, since writing a blog, that there is a danger of my reading and my blogging becoming, in my mind, a sort of job. An obligation, a task. And if I felt that way, I would stop.
So, I will not be counting or examining my last 6 months of books, or the next 6 or the year as a whole, ok? No challenges for me, thank you.
Not that I am defensive or anything...nope...lol

As to my favorites so far...ok, I will go back and look at that. But just for you all...
For most amusing, I very much liked "There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell: A Novel of Sewer Pipes, Pageant Queens and Big Trouble". Quite funny. For two that I know I will pick up and look at again and again, Hello, Cupcake and Timeless Toys, both beautiful books that will always bring a smile to my face when I pick them up. And finally, for the two books that I totally enjoyed and would recommend to anyone looking for a good book... The Help and The School of Essential Ingredients. Both excellent books that I thoroughly enjoyed.
And that is enough retrospection for me. :-)

Ok, time for another Great Alaska/Yukon Adventure picture. Or two.

..a big, rather scary critter, that got a bit too close...

and some cute, baby ones, first day out of their den...awwww

Friday, June 26, 2009

review of Sworn To Silence

Sworn To Silence by Linda Castillo (Minotaur Books, ISBN 031237497)

With the publication of the newly released Sworn To Silence, we lovers of police procedurals and thrillers have what is hopefully the first in an exciting, solid, new series.

When on routine patrol, Officer T.J.Banks finds the horribly mutilated body of a young woman abandoned in the snow, most believe that the serial killer that terrorized the rural Ohio community of Painter's Mill 16 year ago has returned. After killing four young women, the killer simply stopped, disappeared, while the police had few clues to his identity. But Chief of Police Kate Burkholder believes that she knows better.

As more girls disappear, the small town is racked with fear. The victims include both Amish, who make up about a third of the population, and their 'English" neighbors. While the town council is concerned about the competence of the new Chief, anxious that the tourists that visit will be scared away, Kate Burkholder is in a unique position to investigate a crime in this community. Raised in one of the local Amish families, she choose as a young person to leave the religious community, moved to the city, became a police officer and is now back as the chief. Though shunned by her family, she and they share a secret and a unique perspective on the deaths.
"Is he back Katie?"
The question startles me, but I know I'll hear it again in the coming days. It's a question I don't want to ponder. But Issac remembers what happened 16 years ago . I was only 14 at the time, but I remember, too. "I don't know."
But I am lying. I know the person who killed that girl is not the same man who raped and murdered four young women sixteen years ago.
I know because I killed him.

Do not be concerned that quote is giving too much away, because that is revealed very early in the book. But there is much more to be learned about Kate and the events that shaped her many years ago and how it all ties into what is happening in the present day.

Sworn To Silence is a fast paced, well written thriller that held my attention from the opening line to the very last page. The bucolic setting, with a good bit of information about the Amish, is certainly a positive feature. The book introduces us to some excellent characters as well, including the flawed but intelligent Chief, a budding romance with the dark and very troubled FBI Agent John Tomasetti and a well portrayed and often amusing supporting cast. I hope if this becomes a series for Ms. Castillo, and I certainly hope it does, we have not seen the last of T.J, Mona, and Glock. You have to love a character named after a high quality semi-automatic handgun! I will warn you that there are some very strong, even gruesome scenes in the book, but personally I think that adds to what makes this a compelling and very enjoyable book.

Check out these other reviews...
On My Bookshelf
Julie's Jewels
Book Reader's Heaven
The Novel Bookworm

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'd Rather Have a Burger Please!

I have mentioned, have I not, that I was on a trip recently, haven't I? Yes, I think so...lol
Well, somewhere on the journey, I was presented with the chance to eat escargot, a chance i passed up by the way. I assume it was on the cruise ship, because, quite honestly, the restaurants in the rest of Alaska lean more toward fish and chips. Which is a very good thing in my mind, especially with a nice beer, maybe an IPA...yes....

But, back to the escargot. Before they crawl away. Since, of course, escargot are more commonly known as snails. Those creepy, nasty looking things that you might have in you garden, waving their little horned heads at you. Never ate them, never plan too, and this account of a snail 'feast' in the Irish Times, while quite amusing, reminded me why.
A short time before she left for home, we had our first shower of rain in two months. The snails, surprised by this good fortune, came out of their hiding places in battalions to graze on the lawn.

“Escargots!” said Danyele in raptures. “They are so delicious, specially with the butter a la Bourguignonne.

“But you can’t eat those snails,” I said. “They’re ordinary snails, not like the special snails you get in France.”

“It makes no matter. These are les petits gris. We cook them in Corsica all the time. It is very mad not to eat escargots. They cost you nothing except the butter, and they are very well.”

Well, anything for peace. We collected a box of snails and left them overnight, hoping to starve the harm out of them. I, for one, went uneasily to bed. Next morning the brutes, instead of being shyly curled up in their shells, were rampant and entwined round each other in what was, probably, a farewell embrace. I have rarely seen a less mouth-watering sight...

I put them into a basin with a handful of salt, a dash of vinegar, and some water. When I came back, two hours later, the snails were in their shells (dead, I presume), and the basin was filled with drifts of congealed slime.

Bon Appetit..lol

Now, another pic from the trip. Met this much larger critter in Denali National Park, where I am sure she is very happy not to be on anyone's dinner plate.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's All About ME...and Library Thing!

Yes, it is Wednesday, and not even early Wednesday, but I am just now doing my Tuesday Thinger. Well, I blame Wendi, who was late posting the question this week over at Wendi's Book Corner. Ok, she has some excuse about being away, on vacation or something...lol

Actually, that is not the real reason. I was just working, and I think my boss might have an issue with me blogging at work. So, better late than never! Let's check out this week's question about my favorite site in the whole world, the beloved Library Thing!

Questions: What areas of Library Thing do you find confusing or frustrating? The team at LT seem to be continually updating things at the site. Is there anything in particular that you would like to see updated or changed?

I can't say that I find anything very confusing. Well, no more than I am generally confused in real life. I have zero sense of direction and so am often lost. I have a real problem remembering right from left...always have, always will. Have considered (ok, not seriously) having a BIG R and L tattooed on the back of my respective hands. So, do I get a little lost on occasion when wandering about LT...yes, but I think that is mostly me. Now, I am not sure why, but I get totally lost on Goodreads. Ever time I wander over there, I totally forget how to enter new books for example. But I blame Goodreads, not me.
Mostly just because I love Library Thing and my love is true and exclusive. :-)

Looking at a few other answers, it seems a number of people have an issue with 'finding' friends on Library Thing. Well, I don't have that problem, but maybe just because I have never tried. See, for me, LT is all about my books. And me. Me and my books. Neat, organized, tagged, organized lists of my books. Other people are only important in how they relate to my books. Reviews, recommendations, discussions of books I own or might like to own. I don't use LT as a social site,although I do belong to and participate in several groups there to a small degree.
Gosh, does that sound anti-social? Yes, but only because I am actually rather anti-social. My books and I and my imaginary kitty Kitty are quite happy with the wonderful Library Thing.

Ok, there is one thing I would actually like to see changed. I would like to see it look a little more snazzy. Not going overboard, with bookshelves or stuff like that. No, that would be too much and the only 'too much' I want is the number of books I own. I know that minor changes have been made in that regard and there have been some discussions about a new 'look' and I think that would be nice. Yes, it is superficial, I know. But that is just me, a superficial, anti-social soul, wandering about in a slightly confused state. :-)

And now, our weekly Bandit picture, another from his trip to the Ocean City boardwalk a few week ago. I have been told the cone was banana and strawberry.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

a review of Murder on the Yukon Quest

Murder on The Yukon Quest; An Alaska Mystery by Sue Henry (Harper Collins, ISBN 9780380788644)

Yes, I think I may have mentioned that I returned a short time ago from a trip to Alaska, both the coast and the interior and the Canadian Yukon Territory. Yes, I believe I have...lol
And I hate to say it folks, but I am afraid that my readers, both of you, may have to put up with some Alaska related books in the near future. I will try to make it up to you by posting a few photos that may have some tie in. So we will start with a mystery book purchased on the trip, my personal weakness where books are involved. I promised myself I was not going to buy any more books on the trip, since as I approached the end of it, I had bought about 6 and was really getting concerned about the weight of my luggage. But when I saw this one in the bookstore, I could not pass it up. I had read a number of Sue Henry's book before with their Alaska setting and their dog musher heroine Jessie Arnold and her Alaska State Police boyfriend and I have always found them an entertaining read. On the Alaskan Railroad trip up from Anchorage to Denali, I passed through the town of Wasilla, not far from where Jessie and her dogs live. You might also recognize the name of the town as the home of another woman in the news quite a bit in the last year or two, yes, the governor of Alaska.

Then, while in the Fairbanks area, we had a chance to meet the musher David Monson, the widower of Susan Butcher, the famous four time winner of the Iditarod dog race. We saw his kennel there and a team of his sled dogs in action, pulling him on a motorless ATV as they do in the summer for training. I was also very happy to be able to get an autographed copy of the children's book Granite, about her wonderful lead dog, that he and Susan wrote...but that is for another day.What was most interesting was how much these dogs love to be teamed up and run and how amazingly strong and fast they are. And of course, how terribly cute the puppies are!

But most of all, I had to buy this particular book because it has as it's backdrop the Yukon Quest race and I was, for the later part of the trip, in the very Yukon Quest territory. The 1000 mile dog sled race is run every February from Fairbanks Alaska, over the Top of The World Highway, to Dawson City, famous for it's Gold Rush history along the Yukon River and finally ending in Whitehorse, Canada, reversing direction of the race every years. From the official web site, "The Yukon Quest Trail follows historic Gold Rush and Mail Delivery dog sled routes from the turn of the 20th Century. Once the transportation “highways” of the Northern frontier, the Yukon Quest Trail now only comes alive during February when the frosty breath and haunting howls of hundreds of sled dogs return to these historic routes. Dog teams consisting of one human 'musher' and their 14 canine athletes, travel for two weeks, racing across some of the last pristine wilderness remaining in North America."
See, I was in every one of those places! I was, in fact, at the Yukon Quest headquarters at the old train station in Whitehorse. How could I possible pass it up? Although, as I have said, I rarely read on a vacation, I was done this one before I got on the plane back home.

While I love the characters in Ms.Henry's books, the plots, quite honestly, tend to be a wee bit predicable and if you have read a few of them, the path that this installment takes will not be a huge surprise. In the midst of the race, one of the musher is kidnapped and held for ransom, and our heroine is drawn into the drama when the kidnappers demand that she alone deliver the money on one of the most dangerous legs of the trek. There will be wild weather, brave, intelligent dogs and dastardly deeds without question with an always entertaining cast of characters.

But for me, the most enjoyable part of the books in this series has always been their setting in the wilds of Alaska and all the fascinating knowledge they give about the sport of dog racing and the history and culture of dog sledding in Alaska. I will give my opinion then, with just a little bit of first hand knowledge, that Henry gets the feel of this background just right. It was very interesting to read a story set in the very places you are visiting and following the same route that you were driving every day...granted in a comfortable vehicle, in the mild and green landscape of summer instead of the frozen rivers, blizzard blown mountains and -40 degree temperatures of the book. That part we can only imagine, with Henry's skillful help.
Alaska is a wild and mysterious place, full of huge mountains, countless rivers and vast amounts of land that makes a wonderful setting for an entertaining mystery.

Monday, June 22, 2009

more books...more books...Musing Monday about more books

Let's start our week by checking out this weeks musing question from the desk of Just One More Page... Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about library borrowing…

Do you restrict yourself on how many books you take out from the library at a time? Do you borrow books if you already have some out? Do you always reborrow books you don’t get to?

Yes, The Library. That loved and most admired place, that rarely visited place, the library.

I have written about my very early, very happy memories of the public library system. The library is a wonderful place, a wonderful resource and if I needed any books, I would be there in a flash. They make is so easy these days, even putting the catalog online, letting you check to see if they have the book you want, seeing if another branch might and reserving it if the book is out at the moment, even calling when it comes in. Short of dropping it at my door, turning to the first page and making me a cup of tea, with a cookie, there is nothing more they could do to make it a more pleasant experience.

But...that is assuming that I was in need of books and I can assure you, I am not. My more than three week/book non-reading vacation has made that situation even more extreme. I have ARCs on hand that should have been read and reviewed weeks (or months) ago. And of course, I just had to visit several bookstores on my trip, with excellent sections of Alaskan fiction and non-fiction and it just seemed rude to leave the store without buying something.
A simply equation- On Hand ARCs + vacation purchased books + ARCs delivered while on vacation + the Towering TBR pile = No Need For Library Books.

Now that being said...I did visit the library a few months ago to take out a book that I had read reviews of and very much wanted to read. I believe I wrote about that trip. I came home with not only the book I went to borrow but two books from the Book Sale table (hey, they were like 25 cents!)and had to use huge amounts of self control (..and I have so very little!) in order not to borrow several other new books I saw on the shelves. Painful.

I admit it.
I am a book addict.
I have a weakness for buying books, even when I am in no need of books and may already have more on hand than I will ever read in the near future.
I like to own them.
I like to have them.
And while the library is a wonderful place...they WANT THE BOOKS BACK! So that is another issue, library-wise. No need for books, no desire to give them back...so, no visits are planned to the library on a regular basis in my future. Now if...a big IF...if I borrow a book from the library, it would be given top priority in my book universe. One book taken out, to read at once, no reborrowing needed. But I have no plans to visit the library in the near future. Not until the day I am all caught up on my reading.

At least that is what I tell myself. :-)

...and now, a Whale Tail picture and a glacier picture from my trip that has nothing at all to do with my post!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Collections!! What a Happy Day on Tuesday Thinger!!

If yesterday was Monday, this must be Tuesday. I miss those mats in the elevators telling you what day it is, so I am a little confused. But I do know if it is Tuesday, it must be time for Tuesday Thinger and time to see what is going on over at Library Thing! So, from Wendi's Book Corner"
...some wonderful news from the Library Thing Blog!

You can now add books to different collections and then view just those collections! Some of the pre-designed collections include: Wishlist, Currently Reading, To Read, Read But Unowned, and Favorites. Then of course you can add your own collections too!
Questions: Have you explored the new Collections feature? Do you plan to use the new Collections? Are you going to add any special collections? If so, what are they?"

Oh my, I leave for a few weeks, and the holy grail of Library Thing has appeared! This has been perhaps the most anticipated feature among many, many members, long discussed on various threads. It was promised and promised, "literally years in the making", and at last, it has appeared!

I will most certainly use it, but I will have to give careful consideration to exactly how. This is nothing to rush into, because LT is all about the organization. Nice, neat, lovely collections...
I know for sure it will not be some sort of read/unread thing. While, as I have said before, I am not intimidated by my rather large TBR pile, I am not sure that I want that collection staring at me all the time. Also, I tend to forget to move them from one to the other as you would know if you saw my Goodreads list...useless.
Now that "Read but not owned one" is good, for library books or books I gave away or that left me in various ways. It might save me looking for a book in my house that I know I read but can't seem to find anymore. Afterall, LT is all about helping me keep track of my books.

But that all will take some thought. And many happy hours fooling around with it.
What I must say is that, as is usually the case with Library Thing, I am very happy that they have left it so open, left it up to you to personalize it and use it however you want to.

As Tim, our fearless LT leader, has said, it is still a work in progress and no doubt the various ways to use it will be happily discussed and debated in the various threads and more features added...and I will be checking them out.

Oh, more lovely neat lists.....

...and now a picture of Bandit, on his first visit to the Ocean City boardwalk...

Monday, June 15, 2009

My, Oh My, It's Monday!

I think I have mentioned that I have been gone the last three weeks on the Great Alaskan/Yukon Adventure...GAYA!
Well, I am back. And although I have not finished unpacking my suitcases yet (and still have hope of finding a few items that went missing in the course of visiting about a dozen towns) if I don't get back on the blog train soon, I may never muse again. What a loss that would be for the world, so let's check out this weeks Musing Monday question, from the desk of Just One More Page!

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about award winning books…
Do you feel compelled to read prize-winning (Giller/Booker/Pulitzer etc) books? Why, or why not? Is there, perhaps, one particular award that you favour?

No, I do not feel compelled to read prize winning or best selling books...or any specific books at all really. In fact, let me tell ya all a secret. At times, I do not feel compelled to read anything at all. Yes, it is true. I hang my head in book blogger shame.... :-(

Now, don't get me wrong. I love to read. Books have always been a huge presence in my life..and I do not just mean the very big physical presence that they have now assumed in my house. No, I have received great pleasure in my life from reading and no doubt will continue to until the day that I give up these earthy restraints.

But...while on vacation, I did very little reading, which is usually the case for me while on vacation. I brought no books with me. I started a book that was loaned to me on the cruise ship, but once setting foot on land, read not another word of it.
What has this to do with the question you might ask? Well, actually nothing. I just thought it was a bit bizarre....lol
In my defense I did visit any number of bookstores and at various spots bought about 8 books, two of which I read while flying, here and there, my purchases limited only their weigh in my suitcases. You will find a picture of a bookstore in Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory, on the left and a bookstore in Anchorage on the right, which I think claims to be the largest in Alaska.

As to not feeling compelled to read award winners and such, well, I will fall back on my previous statement that I firmly believe that life is too short to read books that you do not love. And sadly, it is my experience that a book winning an award or being a bestseller is no guarantee that I will like a book. Why, I am not sure, but it has been my personal experience that many of these books are not my cup of tea. Words like pretentious, boring, bizarre come to mind regarding several I have read in the last year or so. You will not find the reviews on my blog because, holding to that life is too short thing, I never finished them and if I don't finish, I don't review.

Now, granted, that is not always the case. There are a number of award winning/best selling books I have read and loved, but bottom line, it is just one more piece in the puzzle of what books I might pick to read. I don't look forward to the various awards, I don't follow who won, I am not greatly moved by seeing mention of the award on the book jacket, no more than any other number of factors.

Now, if you have been good enough to read this, your reward will be what I think is a nice photo of the Queen of the Mountains...Mt.Denali or Mt. McKinley, depending on your point of view on such matters. Let me say, the picture does not do her justice, but I tried my best!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

a review of Timeless Toys

Timeless Toys- Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them by Tim Walsh (Andrews McMeel Publishing, ISBN 0-7407-5571-4)

“Welcome to a celebration of classic playthings and a tribute to the people who brought them to life. Timeless Toys is a toy trip of epic proportions and a delightful look back at many childhood favorites.”

I love toys. Not the cheap, silly ones you will so often find in the mega toys stores of today, things to be played with for a few minutes before they break or the player looses interest. No, dig a little deeper, maybe search the bottom shelf and you may be lucky enough to find a few of these classics that Mr. Walsh documents in this delightful coffee table book and hours...years...of fun will be guaranteed.

I will admit it. I have a Mr. Potato Head. In fact I have two sets, the regular and a special Disney edition. I have a Slinky...I have the same Etch-A-Sketch that I played with as a wee caite. I have a Jenga set, minus on wooden block my now departed doggie Maggie ate and a couple of Pez dispensers in a drawer somewhere. I still love the smell and the sight of the lovely neat rows of a brand new set of Crayola crayons (I have a tee shirt from the tour of their 'factory' in Easton PA) and we will not discuss the Silly Putty incident from when my niece was a wee one herself. But let me just say, I did NOT tell her to put it on the keys of the TV remote! Neither will we count the number of teddy bears that reside in a few hidden corners of my house...but I will state that nothing beats the classic Steiff bears.

Mr. Walsh has chosen 75 classic toys and games from 1900 up to the 1990's and given us a behind the scene look at them. Who invented them, changes made in them over the years, how they were marketed. Do you know the real story behind the invention of the Frisbee? Well, if not, this book will let you in on it.
In picking the toys, they had to have sold at least 10 million pieces, been on the market at least 10 years, been invented by an identifiable person outside of a major toy company...and have had significance to Tim and his friends...lol. Many of the back stories are fascinating and the photographs are excellent. I certainly could not produce anything like them but I will treat you to a few quick snaps of a couple of my treasures, all of which are featured in this book, as are all the ones I admit to still owning.

As I said, if you look around your local toys store, you will still find a number of the toys from this book available, because they are still being produced and still for sale, as much fun today as they were decades ago. Lionel trains, which debuted in 1901, still delight many a child...both young and old ones. Crayolas from 1903, Lincoln Logs and Radio Flyer wagons from about 1920's, Candy Land, Clue and Monopoly from the 1930's are still very popular and I think always will be. What I found so interesting was how many of these toys that were invented decades ago are toys that kids still ask for today...because they are fun! And learning more about them is fun too!

If any of those items make you think back to your youth, Timeless Toys will be a book that you will enjoy. I doubt anyone could open this book and see some of the great photographs and read some of the great stories behind the fun toys they spent hours with and not smile and you will smile for hours as you page through this book.

Many thanks to the great review of this book at Find Your Next Book Here that forced me to buy a copy.

Available From Amazon

Thursday, June 4, 2009

"Fly Me To The Moon...."

If you have a spare $10,000 and want to make your last trip a really long one, here is an idea you might consider. From a story on Space.com,
The general public may soon have the chance to rest in peace on the moon, at least briefly. Houston-based Celestis, Inc. has announced plans to launch cremated human remains to the surface of the moon as soon as 2009.

A small portion — 1 gram — of the encapsulated cremated remains of one person can be sent to the moon for $9,995. The price includes the option of watching the launch, an inscription of the deceased's name on an accompanying plaque, and complimentary scattering of the remainder of the remains at sea near the launch site.

"We are pleased to schedule these Luna Service missions, to extend our leadership in the commercial space industry, and — most importantly — to serve our global community of families and loved ones wishing to honor the life of a special person," said Charles M. Chafer, Celestis founder and president."

In their news release on their web site, they orginally said the service would be available in 2009...but it seems now they are saying
“Celestis announces our agreement with Odyssey Moon Limited and Astrobotic Technology, Inc. to launch payloads containing human cremated remains to the surface of the Moon as soon as 2010."
I guess their customers are not actually in a rush, unless they are waiting on ice. Or unless they hoped to do a tie-in with the new Star Trek movie release. Afterall, this is the same company that launched
“24 flight capsules into Earth orbit aboard a Pegasus rocket. Celestis has conducted six memorial spaceflights serving people from 14 nations, including Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry,,,and beloved Star Trek actor James Doohan (“Scotty”)."
Maybe they should have held out for the Moon landing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

a review of Hello, Cupcake!

Hello, Cupcake!: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson (Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 978-0618-82925-5)

If you would like to be the hero of the next children's birthday party, or your next seasonal family gathering, do I have a book for you! Yes, Hello, Cupcake -Irresistibly playful creations anyone can make, is that book. You show up with a plate full of these cupcakes, these fantastically decorated cupcakes in an amazing and fun filled variety of themes for very occasion, and without question, jaws will drop and your kids will have a new hero.

In my day, when my niece was a kid, I was quite the cake decorator if I do say so myself. No bragging, just a simple fact...lol
But cake decorating can be a lot of work and rather nerve racking, to say the least. One good idea about these cupcakes is their smaller, more manageable size. And the fact that the authors break down each creation into clear and rather easy steps, spelling out exactly what materials you will need.

Surprisingly, the steps and the materials are not as complicated as you might think, looking at some of the final products. Not a baker...no problem. Feel free to use a box mix, although the authors will give you a few tips and adjustments to make the most of that box. Making frosting a hassle? Well, although they give several homemade recipes, all the projects seem to assume you will use canned frosting and some insist on it for certain properties it has that will work better for a particular use. All the tools you will need are clearly spelled out and I think most are things that you will have on hand. All the supplies they use are explained and again, most are readily available and they also give a list of online suppliers.

Where this book really excels is in the very, very clever use of variety of everyday, edible materials. Candies and cookies, with a little cutting here and there with a knife, become nose and wings and scales of an alligator. Mini doughnuts, fruit crew strips, caramels and jellybean and colored sugars all become recognizable, once they point them out. Once they break down each creation, it seems clear and pretty easy. Some simple...once they show us...and clever techniques to use that frosting.

You really have to look at the excellent photographs in the book to see some of their great ideas. And there are so many great ideas, page after page of them, that there is something for everyone, young and old. And it is impossible to pick a favorite...the corn on the cob cupcakes, with kernels of little jellybeans, all in neat rows and topped with a squished fruit chew candy pats of butter and black and white sugar salt and pepper...oh, I love that one. The panda bears..the sharks...the penguins, the bowling pins, the wedding cake of cupcakes...the elegant black and white ones, the Christmas wreath, cover in lovely mint leaves dipped in melted white chocolate....oh, the spaghetti and meatball cupcakes with Ferrero Rocher chocolate meatballs and grated white chocolate 'cheese'...so cute. Some are very simple, some a bit more complicated, but very one is really great! Did I mention clever? Yes, I think that I did...lol...and the photographs are excellent.

If you want to be the center of attention at the next party, this is a book you just have to pick up.
And you might also want to check out their website at www.hellocupcakebook.com to get an idea of what this book holds in store for you.

Available From Amazon

The Queen of the Mountains, Denali

We are in Denali today, in fact, I am off on the National Park Service drive into the park in just a few minutes. Yesterday we came up on the train from Anchorage, and a lovely drive it was. Those big double decker, glass domed passenger car with a restaurant downstairs. Just a little different than the means of transportation people coming up here, looking for gold or just a new life, had a century or a century and a half ago.

...as I was reading in a book I bought yesterday. Yes, I think you may get a few reviews of some Alaskan related books in the future. Now he issue is carrying them home.

Well, now that I found the wifi hot spot here at hotel, I will try to get back to you before we leave tomorrow and tell you how it went...the tour and my ATV trip this evening!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Do you Miss Me...I Missed My Musing Monday

Did ya all notice I posted no Musing Monday last week? Well, I didn't because I was on a cruise ship, heading up the coast of Alaska and the Internet connection on the ship was SOOOOOO slow, it drove me nuts.
But I am in the Anchorage today, so I thought I would drop in again with a muse. So what is today question?

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about sticking with it…

How much time (or how many pages) do you give a book that you aren't really enjoying before you'll set it aside? If you're reading it for a book group discussion, or for review, will you give it more of a chance then, say, a book you're reading for your own interest? Why, or why not?

Back when I first started blogging, I read a very good line of advice on another blog, that life was too short to spend it reading a book you don't want to read.
I must say, I have a hard time giving up on a book. I respect books and I respect authors and the work that put into a book. Especially one that I have excepted for review. When I do that, except a book, I feel a commitment. And yes, I will most likely give it more of a chance than one I am just reading on my own.

But...honestly, it only goes so far. Some books are just very, very poor. Several of them have been self published books, but a few were books published by major publishers. Sadly, I have found, that is not a guarantee of quality. Some are just bad. Badly written, badly edited.
Some, are just not my cup of tea...and yes, life is too short to force yourself to read something that you hate.

How long to I give it? It depends. Maybe 50-60 pages on average, which I think is fair. Then I put it aside and go on to other things. I always tell myself that I will go back to it, but it reality, I have my doubts that I every will. Poor is poor...and I am not changing my cuppa tea at this point in life.

And that TBR pile is getting no smaller...

Well, I must go. A am off to a day of fly fishing tomorrow, on some remote stream or lake that we will fly into. So I need my rest.

Anyone wish that they were here too? I am sure there is room on the wee plane.