Bookshot #140: The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear

Normally, I don't include the bedtime books I read to the Eldest Spawn on the blog. But after several Redwall books and some 'mice/badger/small furry animal' fatigue set in, we decided after The Bellmaker to switch it up a bit and find something else to read to him that he would hopefully enjoy. The Missus and I did some googling, looked around and the Missus found The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear on Amazon and we both thought it looked interesting enough that we decided to give it ago. Turns out, 13 1/2 lives fills a lot of book, because this bad boy was 704 pages long. 704 pages. So, I figured, I was going to read (along with the Missus) a 704 page book out loud, it was a feat worthy of a book review.  When the title says 13 1/2 lives, it more or less means it. Each 'life' constitutes a part of the book and they range in length from the eminently reasonable (Life #8, the 1/2 Life at Peace) to the insanely long and interminable (Life #6, parts of Life #13). B

Serial Saturday #22: Six Months Later

Mei-Shan walked down to the path toward the bookstore on the north end of Matsu with a spring in her step. It had taken six months, but the debriefings were over. The Secretary was free to begin a new life wherever he felt like it. Her bosses back in Taipei were pleased with her- they had a mountain of new intelligence to pour-over. She had the satisfaction of having pulled off their highest level defection in decades and Beijing so far- appeared to be none the wiser. She pulled the teal green front door open and heard the familiar tinkle of the bell as she stepped inside. Waiting for her in this usual spot behind the counter was Mr. Xu. "It's about time," he said with a smile. "Hello to you too, Xu," Mei-Shan replied. "What is that supposed to mean?" "I mean the debriefers left last week and if I have to sit through another day of intensive discussions about tea, I might lose my mind," Mr. Xu replied. "Tea?" "He wants to open

The Arrows of Defiance: New Cover Announcement

 Big news, sports fans: Book One got a shiny new cover and a new paperback edition and now it means it's time for Book Two to get its moment in the sun. The Arrows of Defiance is longer and taught me almost immediately several things about writing sequels. First of all, it's damn hard to do. Making sure names, dates, everything stays consistent- it would be a nightmare for an author who had a few books and a contract under their belt, but for little old me just trying to finish the story I started in The Prisoner and The Assassin ? It put me off writing sequels for the foreseeable future, at at the time- but who knows at this point. I may get ambitious. This was the book where my characters really began to come alive for me- I know that sounds strange, but I think a lot of writing can get lost in world-building and info-dumps and story and plot holes- but you can have the best story in the world and it won't matter at all if your characters aren't real.  So, The Arrows

Mixology Monday: Prickly Pear Mule

So, we're going a little outside the box this month with Mixology Monday, because I randomly got gifted some prickly pear vodka and some prickly pear syrup, which begs the question: what the hell can you do with prickly pear vodka and prickly pear syrup? Well, for a start, prickly pear mules. I had one lonely can of Ginger Beer kicking around in the fridge and so, it seemed like a match made in heaven and this is what it ended up looking like this: Ain't that pretty? I got to admit they look extremely striking. The first recipe I followed pretty strictly- and used 6 oz of ginger beer and I don't think it was quite enough-- the syrup was still kind of pronounced and well, syrupy- but the second one I cashed the ginger beer and not only was it well-balanced, but the syrup was constrained and the ginger wasn't going crazy either so it ended up being really nice.  Here's the recipe I adapted : 2 oz prickly pear vodka 1.2 oz prickly pear syrup 4-6 oz of ginger beer lime

Serial Saturday #21: On A Beach In Kinmen

Shan was tense. She was nestled on top of the shiny new International Bank Building on the edge of the channel between Xiamen and Gulangyu. She watched as the ferry moved out into the main channel, heading north to its destination and Tongyi Wharf. "Target's moving," Mei-Shan's voice came over the radio. "Heading for the bow." "Acknowledged." Shan caught sight of him then, moving toward the bow, looking pensive as if he wanted the breeze to relieve his mind of its troubles. His minders made to follow him, but he waved them away and found a spot on the railing where he leaned out over the water. "Do you have a shot?" "Affirmative." "Then take it." Shan settled herself and then pulled the trigger. She watched as the bullet slammed into him and sent him over the edge of the rail. She saw him claw for a moment at the railing and then he fell into the water with a splash. ~~ Pei-Shan and Wei-Ting were driving out toward Nan

Knowledge Boost #3: Democracy In America, Part One

Tocqueville is one of those great titans of political science that I've never actually sat down and read. I gravitated more towards comparative politics than the domestic side of things, so I never really had a reason to- but if you're going to have two degrees in political science, there are some books like Democracy In America or the Federalist Papers that you should probably sit down and read- so I grabbed a copy of the former and dove right into Part One. All four hundred and eighty-nine pages of it. Here are my thoughts: What strikes me about Tocqueville is how prescient he seems. There's a lot of: "the more things change, the more things stay the same" in volume one of this book. Largely based on his experiences visiting America in 1831, the most striking declaration comes right out of the gate in the introduction, where he proclaims that "A new political science is needed for a totally new world." I think we forget that our emergence as a nation

Tiki Tuesday #7: Mai-Tai

Well, I'm having issues with Blogger on the old Apple at home because I thought that I had published this post yesterday and, save for a block quote issue that irritated me to no end, everything appeared to be hunky-dory and fine. But when I went to check the post this morning, it turns out that I had flung a big voidspace of nothing into the ether. So you're getting a shiny, new, updated, and technically on Wednesday and not Tuesday edition of Tiki Tuesday. What are we drinking to ward off the bitter arctic chill of the Midwestern Tundra this week? I was tempted, oh so tempted to whip up a Hot Buttered Rum- which yes, there is a recipe in Smuggler's Cove - which is surprising because as a Tiki book, you wouldn't think you'd need hot buttered anything in the tropics, but there you go. However, looking at the Tiki-Explorations we'd done so far, I decided to circle back and correct a shocking oversight on my part and take a sip of a Tiki Icon- and what should be j