The Spectral City- Leanna Renee Hieber

9d1fc91068eab07596931447351434f414f4141Eve has always been able to see ghosts. Her childhood was colored by their presence, but she’s grown into her power as a medium, and even gained some associates that help her with her work. But as women in the late 19th century, it’s hard to be taken seriously, especially when one is talking about using ghosts to help solve crimes. When Theodore Roosevelt gives her his backing, they’re able to form their own precinct within the NYPD, using their ghostly contacts to help solve, and sometimes prevent, crimes.

Just as the precinct is up and running, Maggie, who’s Eve’s most reliable ghostly contact, disappears. The other ghosts can’t get a sense of her at all, and everyone is distraught to find her gone. At the same time, they have a complaint lodged against them by a family that they have never heard of, for supposedly sending their ghosts in to disturb them. If you’ve read enough mysteries, it’s pretty clear the two are connected, though the way to that connection is good storytelling.

I enjoyed this book. I’m not sure I feel like it was wrapped up quite correctly, but I can still see that there’s more that needs to be explored in future books, so I’ll chalk that up to style rather than sloppy writing. I like the characters, and the set up is definitely promising.


Ruin and Rising – Leigh Bardugo

93fa8047c13c3f7596a614b7141434f414f4141Alina and Mal have escaped the Darkling’s invasion of the Little Palace, and know that they need to search for the final of the three amplifiers that will allow Alina full use of her power. They think that the firebird that has that amplifier can be found in the valley where they both were born, and orphaned. But first, they have to find their way out of the underground cathedral where they’ve been sort of imprisoned by their sort of allies, and get back in touch with Prince Nikolai.

I was pleasantly surprised by how this trilogy wrapped up. Alina and Mal’s star-crossed lovers theme was starting to get a little too well developed, and I was a little afraid of where that was going to go. The big finale sort of went where I had feared, but then was able to wrap things up into a neat little bow in a way I had not expected. Kudos to the author for finding a way to stay true to her magic system, and still end with a happy ending.

I’m happy the author is still playing with stories in this world – it’s an interesting magic system and society she’s set up, and while I think it’s a good thing that Mal and Alina’s story is mostly wrapped up, I’m glad the world-building goes on.

The Prophecy Con – Patrick Weekes

6eeb362ada915cc59714b676a51434f414f4141This book has the same madcap dash through time that the first book in the series had. Loch’s crew is fresh off saving the world when another crisis is thrown at them – this time it’s a stolen book, at the same time the neighboring Empire just might throw its undead army at the Republic.

It turns out there’s also some wider forces at work, with the missing Ancients possibly manufacturing a return to this world that they left many centuries ago.

I think my biggest impression of this book is “fast paced”. The whole thing felt like a dead run. There are some fun character moments – the interactions are what I enjoyed in the last book – but maybe not as many in this story.  It’s been a while since I read the last book though, so it’s hard for me to tell.  I guess my main lesson here is that I need to try and read books in series closer together.

Thoughts on Writing

A good friend of mine recently took a week off and rented a cabin out in the woods entirely by herself. She realized she hadn’t been taking much time for herself, and decided to take the week to give her some time to do the things she wants to do more of and doesn’t have time in real life. One of those is writing.

This really resonated with me. When I was younger, back in the days before widespread home computers (I think about this on occasion, and my mind is boggled, but that’s a side issue), I used to write recreationally. I had spiral bound notebooks full of stories. My hand writing was actually legible. I continued this into college. While I did work my tail off when I was in college, I still had the free time a child has, and I took advantage of that to write. After my sophomore year, that happened on my own personal computer that I bought with that summer’s earnings. I dabbled in fan fiction. (Not sure if it’s still available online – that particular fandom is pretty dormant.) I had a couple different ideas for novels that I have chunks of written. (For fiction, I’m not a very linear writer – I come up with scenes, write them out, and figure out the joins later.) I got a faculty nomination to be a tutor in our writing center, which I’ll be honest, was one of the most flattering awards I got in college. But the point is, I wrote all the time.

I miss it. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that my writing dropped off, but it wasn’t that far into my working career. I’ve always had office jobs, so I’m on a computer all day. I pretty much never write longhand anymore, and my handwriting has definitely suffered for it. I have moments where I get into a bit more – when I first started this blog, I used to write more detailed posts, especially around travel. But I’m more likely just to post pictures from my travel days now.

So what can I do about it? First thing – I need to make my home computer desk more ergonomic. I’m typing this today during a break at work, because I have a desk here that has been perfectly customized for all my ergonomic needs, and I can sit here and type for hours (I’d really prefer not to, of course, but I could). My desk at home is a little too high for long term typing. It’s fine for formatting pictures and paying the bills, but I can really feel it after I’ve even just composed a longer than average email. It’s not an automatic desk, but it can be adjusted. I need to do that.

I also need to commit to writing more at home. I need to get back to doing at least one longer form entry about a trip, even if I then do several separate posts that are mostly pictures. I also need to commit to figuring out something I can write about longer form at least once a week. I’ve got two blogs going – I should be able to accomplish that between the two of them. This seems like baby steps, but it should at least get me back into a habit, and if I can do that, we’ll see where I can go from there.

The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch

309f15235ee3cdc59764d376967434f414f4141I don’t know what it was about this book, but I had the worst time getting into it. It’s taken me months to get through it. I did get through it, because it’s actually a really interesting story, but I would put it aside for weeks at a time before I could get into it again.

Locke Lamora is a thief – from a young age, he was part of the gangs in the seedier side of Camorr. He had the fortune to be sold to a priest named Chains. It turns out he was using the temple as the front for his own small gang of young thieves. These stories are told in interludes to the main story, where Locke is now in charge of the Gentleman Bastards. They’ve made their living stealing from the peers of Camorr – thinking that no one is the wiser to how much they’re really hiding in the cellars beneath the temple of Perelandro.

The meat of this story is a challenger to the head of Camorr’s criminal underworld – Capa Barsavi. The Gentleman Bastards have always nominally owed allegiance to Barsavi, and Locke has a particular relationship with Barsavi’s daughter Nazca. When she’s killed in the opening salvos in what turns into a war with the new player – things start to get complicated.

This is one of those stories that has plots on top of plots, and absolutely nothing is what it seems. It’s incredibly smart, and I really enjoyed it when I was trucking along. But then I’d have to put it down again, and I’d have the worst time getting back to it. It was just so odd.   There are two more books in the series, but I’m not going to be in a hurry to read them since I had such a weird experience with this one. Which is a shame, because I’m sure they’ll have as many interesting twists and turns.

Mount Washington – Sargent’s Purchase, NH


Spur of the moment on Thursday, since we both had Friday off, and the heat is coming in, we decided it would be fun to drive up the Mount Washington Auto Road.   It was sunny and quite warm at the bottom, but we drove into pea soup fog (it was fog lights and hazards for everyone driving) at the summit.     So I’ve been to the top of Mount Washington, but I can’t say I’ve seen much of it.

We scoped out the Alpine Garden path on our way down.   One of these years, I need to get there in mid-June when everything is blooming.   But I did at least get to see Diapensia, which is one of the unique alpine plants you can only find in a few places in New England like Mount Washington, so that was pretty cool.

Once Upon a Kiss – Althea Kontis

f9e595e1861d549596d31327341434f414f4141This is an anthology of fairy tale retellings with a romantic bent. Like many anthologies, some are definitely better than others (I only gave up on one – it was so blatantly a rip off of the Disney version of that tale that I just couldn’t keep going).

It was a good, light read for a summer’s day – definitely recommended if you’re a fan of fairy tales.

Knitting Notes


This is the Immie Tee by Carrie Bostick Hoge, using Quince and Co Tern in the Buoy colorway.    I’m making this for the younger niece, since yellow is her favorite color in all the world.     I’m doing the age 4 version, but in the called for needle size (I normally go up a size because I’m a tight knitter).    M’s almost three, but a bit of a peanut, so I’m trying to split the difference of making it big enough she can wear it for a while, but not too big.

I partially cast this on because I’ve run out of steam on the Salal sweater again.   Which is pretty sad considering I just have the neckband left.   But I’ll also need to reinforce the button bands.   Which will be a good test of that technique, but I’m so not in the mood.   At least I’ve proven I have enough yarn to actually finish this sweater.    Maybe I’ll pick up steam again when it gets a little more like sweater weather.

Garden Notes

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I feel like I’m a little behind in garden updates, but things were just kind of starting for while, and then it got hot.   So things are really chugging along at the moment, but I’m not necessarily sticking around to get pictures.   It’s more quick weeding, watering, and getting the heck back out of the sun.

I’ve had a couple different harvests of greens.    The flowers are just finally starting to take off.    And the squash are going gang busters over here in the side garden.    They’re overwhelming my current trellis system.

Strangely the peppers don’t seem to be doing as well in the community garden as the side garden – I’d thought it would be the opposite.   And the nigella I thought was lost have produced four seeds pods in the the poor little plants I’ve managed to keep alive over here.   So I just might get enough seed there to plant for next year.  (I will be direct sowing if I do that again.)