August Reading Log

I host a book reading log swap on Swap Bot, in the group Carpe Librum, and to keep my emails from getting lost, I just post it here. July’s reading log is available here, if anyone wants it.

I ended up reading 7 books, well 5 books, and most of 2 others, as well as parts of a few more. I’m saving the unfinished books for next month though. The 5 books I read were all fiction, and the 2 others are non fiction. I confess, I got buried with the 2 non-fiction books, it’s a lot of information to take in. But, I read enough of them that I consider them finished this month.

Fire – Kirstin Cashore

I’m still out on whether I like this one or not. I really liked Graceling, Katsa was an excellent heroine, and it was an interesting story. Fire is a thicker book, and a slower story. I’m not sure I like it as well. Fire is a human monster, who at the beginning of the book, has no interest in using her powers, which include getting into human’s minds. Because she has the gift of being able to see into other’s minds, she eventually travels to the capital city to help find out who’s trying to kill her and bring down the nation. Then things get more complicated.

I don’t want to say this book is predictable, but in a way it is. You know Fire is going to have to learn to use those powers she hates. You know something’s suspicious about her father’ suicide. You know she can’t settle down and marry Archer, and you know who she’s going to end up with in the end. I will say that Cashore takes her time revealing these things, but by the time you get to the reveals, you have them figured out, so they lack punch.

Archangel Protocol – Lyda Morehouse

I found this book in high school, quite by accident. I stumbled across it in a bookstore while I was in my speculative science fiction phase, and snapped this one up. I loved this book back then, although I didn’t care as much for the next 3 books. Sadly, the books didn’t do all that well, and so they went out of print. I eventually packed my copies away, and couldn’t get to them. Then Lyda started selling the books in ebook format, so I bought this one.

If you like cyberpunk novels, or old hard boiled detective mysteries, then you’ll love this book. If you hate books involving religion, then you’ll hate this book, because it’s at the heart of the novel. The characters are interesting, Deidre is deeply flawed, but interesting. Rebekah is quick thinking, and fascinating in her own right, and Mouse, and Mouse’s Page, they’re both fantastic. Mouse is probably the most interesting character in the entire series. Well, him, or Page.

Divergent – Veronica Roth

I re-read Divergent for the book club, and it’s been a while since I did. Unlike Insurgent (the second in the trilogy) I actually like Divergent quite a bit. Beatrice, or Tris as she becomes known, is an interesting character, because she’s not very nice. She’s selfish, impulsive, and stubborn. She comes from a faction where she’s supposed to be selfless, and through the book she wonders if bravery is a form of selflessness. Sometimes I wonder if she’s truly brave or selfless, or she just doesn’t want to have to face up to other people’s emotions if she’s selfish.
The world Roth built for these novels is interesting, and I wish there had been more time to explore it before the climax of the book. The world changes then, and then again at the end of Insurgent, so you don’t get a lot of time to experience the complex world the book begins with. I have this gripe about a lot of dystopians.

Great American Short Stories – Barnes & Noble
I picked this book up for a swap for reading short stories. This is a Barnes & Noble bargain book, so don’t expect to find it on Amazon. But, if you have a nook, or the ability to convert ebooks, it’s only $2.99 on Barnes and Noble.

This novel has a bunch of great stories: Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; Mark Twain’s Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County, Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell Tale Heart, The Fall of The House of Usher, and The Purloined Letter; O. Henry’s Ransom of Red Chief and The Gift of The Magi, and many, many more. The good side of this? Lots of short stories, low price.

The downside? Not all of them may be to your liking. I found some interesting, and some boring. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was one I didn’t particularly enjoy, because it’s a lot of back story and description for what amounts to very little actual plot.

Brie Learns the Art of Submission – Red Phoenix

I tend to end up reading an erotic novel every month. So far, I haven’t been all that impressed, although I did like that I got the entire 9 part series for a few dollars. I read it over a couple days, it’s kind of popcorn reading.

If you like graphic sex, and you don’t object to your protagonist having multiple partners, then this book is worth checking out. One of my biggest complaints with today’s erotics market is that the protagonist (I can’t call her a heroine) finds “The ONE” and that’s the only one she wants to sleep with or be with, and so that’s all that happens. In this book Brie has multiple partners, and while they’re recycled throughout the book, it’s nice to see the different sides of each person she’s paired with.

In the end, I found this only okay, because there are a number of flaws within the book. I’ll avoid any graphic details, but one thing Red Phoenix does is use first and last names for Brie and the other 2 subs in the training school. Brie calls them by their first names, the dominants call them Miss Last Name. I can’t keep the last names straight. Also, I know this was 9 novelettes, and it reads like it. Sometimes, even within the same novelette, it feels like I was reading a “Last time, on Brie learns…” Seriously, one chapter weeds the class from 6 to 4, and the next chapter brings it up again. Minor editing could have made this read easier.

Brie’s fixated on “Sir” throughout the entire series, and he’s obsessed with her. They have an illicit encounter, and then the school wants to be rid of her, because they feel she’s the problem. Sir has almost no accountability, and he’s essentially the headmaster. Also, to make it obvious Brie is supposed to be with Sir, Red Phoenix makes the other possible doms she’s thinking of pairing off with have major flaws: flaws that don’t really appear until the very end of the novel. They’re perfect until the last chapter, maybe 2.

My other big gripe? I’m not well versed with the Dom/sub world, but I seriously doubt that a 30 minute interview is enough to commit to a dom, especially without a contract or other things taken into account. It’s like she’s supposed to float off into happy sub wonderland with the perfect Dom, and I just don’t buy it.

Aquaponic Gardening – Sylvia Bernstein

I don’t garden well. Part of that is because of a lack of time, and part of it is a lack of space. We have 2 raised beds here, but my grandmother insists on planting them, and her idea of planting is 800 tomato plants, a pumpkin, and a green pepper. So the beds are taken over by tomatoes and the pumpkin, and she brings in green peppers, which no one eats.

A friend from high school started a non-profit that helps kids, and one of their programs is called Oasis in The Desert, where they created an aquaponics farm in Zimbabwe. He was talking to me about it, and about how if properly managed and set up, an aquaponics farm of a square acre can produce massive amounts of fish and vegetables for a community.

This got me looking into aquaponics, because I see it being very useful, not just for my household, but for everywhere. My girlfriend and I eventually want to have a small homestead, where we had a garden, bees, chickens, fruit trees, and other things, and supplied a lot of our own food. Learning aquaponics is the first step for us.

This book is great, but I confess I’m in over my head. This is a great “aquaponics 101” book, and it covers all the important points. I don’t know if it goes into detail enough, but I think it will give me a lot to think about and study up on while I assemble the parts for my aquaponics farm. I want to raise koi!

The Beekeeper’s Handbook – Diana Sammataro

Did you hear about the 50,000 bees that died in Wilsonville, Oregon this summer? I know that Target parking lot, I’ve shopped there, and I deliver right around the corner, to a Sysco. The dead bees made an impact on me.

I’d considered keeping bees a while ago, but I’m not in a position to do it, yet. I remember a hive being somewhere when I was a child, and while it’s not here anymore, I still would like to bring the bees back. Part of it is to help with colony collapse disorder and the loss of bees that we’re experiencing all over the world. Part of it is to be independent, to have honey that I can enjoy. Again, it’s the homesteading idea.

This book is fantastic, and full of information. It’s a lot of technical info though, and I admit I had information overload multiple times. However, it covers EVERYTHING you’d need to know to get started, and it’s organized well.