30 September 2011

Review: One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire

Note: References to plot from previous books.

The Book:

October Daye is settling in to her new role as a countess in Faerie, she is dating again, and all seems relatively calm. So of course it is time for things to go wrong.

The children of the regent of Saltmist have been kidnapped and the Queen of the Mists stands accused. In three days the Fae of land and sea will go to war, unless Toby can find the missing boys. While there are those who will stand in the way of Toby, there are others who will always stand with her.

But in a time of war, not everyone survives.

28 September 2011

Review:Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

The Book:

Welcome to Mythos Academy, where teenagers are being prepared for the world not only with a first-class education, but with the skills for battle and magic. When a student is murdered and a magical relic stolen, Gwen Frost is determined to find out who is behind the deeds. Especially since she was supposed to be the victim.

21 September 2011

Review: Pay Me In Flesh by K. Bennett

The Book: 

Mallory Caine just wants to live her life quietly, at least as quiet as a lawyer in L.A. can. Being hit on by lascivious judges, pursued by an ex-boyfriend and having a killer roaming the streets is not helping in that department.

But then, neither is being a zombie.

18 September 2011

In My Mailbox (20)

Welcome to In My Mailbox! Hosted by The Story Siren, it is a way to showcase books received for review or won, picked up at the library, or purchased in the last week. Or four. Titles link to Goodreads.

I am thrilled that I received two boxes from Kensington Publishers now. I have lots to review and share with you all!

Pay Me In Flesh by K. Bennett. Lawyers don't have souls - especially if they are zombies.
Highland Bride by Hannah Howell. Gillyanne Murphy knows that men will battle for her Scottish lands, so she quickly chooses one, but the battle continues for her knight's heart.
It's Always Been You by Victoria Dahl. Aidan York mourned the woman he loved and lost ten years ago, but what happens when he discovers her alive and well? What is she hiding?
Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep. Gwen Frost does not have the same heritage as the rest of the mythic-born students and Mythos Academy, but she is determined to find out the truth behind the murder of one of her classmates.

Let me also add I just picked up two of Estep's Elemental Assassin series, Web of Lies and Venom (#2 & #3, holding to my tradition of not quite reading things in order!) from the library this weekend. Kick-ass character and world-building.

Mistress By Marriage by Maggie Robinson. A whirlwind marriage leads to the brink of divorce. Yet if Caroline was no good as his wife, does Christie expect any better with her as his mistress?

Frozen Stiff by Annelise Ryan. Mattie knows they don't find many murders in her small Wisconsin town, but the beautiful woman found dead is known to at least one person - her love interest, Steve Hurley. As is the weapon that killed her.

Happy Reading!

17 September 2011

Beauty Marks

If you haven't guessed from my blog title by now, or haven't been around the last couple of years, I have a few tattoos.

Not a huge amount, but each one has a mental picture, a moment, a memory behind it. Each one etches a piece of history -- my history -- onto my skin.

After getting my first color tattoo a couple years ago one of my goals this year was to get a new one. I knew that I wanted to start on my other arm, and that it would be color, and have something to do with nature. That was about all I had for a while. However, inspiration struck in the form of a story about leaves in fall, and with my autumn lady gracing my left shoulder, falling leaves certainly seemed appropriate for the the right.

I found a sketch image online of aspen leaves on a branch, but knew I just wanted the leaves themselves. So with that in hand I headed back to the place that did my other tattoo, and while the previous artist was not available, another was the next day. So back I went on a Sunday afternoon. The artist remembered my sessions from a few years ago, and we discussed what I wanted. I decided to start with three leaves - as three is my life number and one that keeps its Rule upon me. It will definitely be added to later on.

As gorgeously green as they can be through the spring, it is the fall that makes me smile, so I knew that those would be the colors I would have. He laid out a range from bright gold to burgundy, along with the tools of the trade. With a whir of the motor, the needles began to trace my skin. An hour and a half later, I was done.

Another marker along my Path.

12 September 2011

In The Land of Tomatoes

I wonder if I will ever grow enough tomatoes to satisfy my canning urges this time of year? Probably not.

The last couple of weekends were spent canning tomatoes in various forms. Last year I made a successful, if watery, batch of ketchup, and I knew that this year I wanted more. So, I was able to get hold of a canning flat (these are tomatoes that the farm will not sell as individuals having marks, bruises, etc.) and launched into ketchup mode.

This time I decided to skin the tomatoes by dunking in boiling water, then in ice water. This was pretty successful. It was also pretty time-consuming. Next came the slicing. I took out some of the juice and seeds so that it would not be quite as watery, but I knew that I would be cooking it for a lot longer than the directions say. Once the tomatoes cooked down some, I added the vinegar and spice bag, and kept it cooking until it reached a stage I considered acceptable. Then into jars and a water bath. I made a few small one-cup jars to hand out to friends, and another four half-pints to keep at home. It is good, although I think the cloves make a stronger statement than last year. There is almost a "holiday" taste to the ketchup. Some people may get turned off by the seeds, however you really do not even notice them.

Labor Day weekend was tomato sauce. My girlfriend was nice enough to get tomatoes from her locale. I was also introduced to using a pressure canner for the first time.

One of two batches of tomatoes washed for processing.

First was a hunt for accessories. I have a KitchenAid mixer, which I adore. I also have several attachments for it, including the meat/vegetable grinder. The one thing I do not have is the strainer, which is necessary to get the seeds out completely. A run to different stores came up empty, so we decided to do a two step approach: chop the tomatoes and run it through the grinder, then put that through my food mill (which I used for my sauce last year).
This was my job most of the evening. 

The mill got the seeds out.

I totally approve of this process, since we already had the equipment and it really went faster with the food grinder doing a lot of the work. However, I was really glad to have two bodies in the kitchen, because processing 30 lbs. of tomatoes this way still takes up a large chunk of time. Besides cooking, of course.

Reduced after about eight hours. 

Our 30 lbs. of tomatoes garnered us 8 half-pint and 9 pint jars of sauce. Sadly, one jar did not fit in the canner during our two sessions, so I ended up freezing that jar.

My new pressure canner

A lot more sauce than we were expecting.

Cooling - you could hear the pops as the seals took.
The next big job will be applesauce, which I will try both canning and freezing this year.

07 September 2011

Review: Firestorm by Radclyffe

Note: An abridged review is also available at The Lesbrary.

The Book:

Things can get hot when you are a smokejumper. Mallory James leads a crew of men and women who risk their lives to face out-of-control forest fires and rescue climbs. When rookie Jac Russo, a woman with a reputation larger than the Montana mountains, joins the training unannounced, the two women are immediately up in arms around each other. Yet Mallory soon discovers that while she may be known as "Ice" to her crew, her desire for Jac can make anything burn.

04 September 2011

Reality Bites (of the snippet sort)

Craziness has abounded the last couple of weeks after my August vacation. There was my wonderful break, then oodles of work and meetings and catalog design and web pages and on and on. Then the niblets arrived back and school was put underway. I feel like I am just sitting down at the computer for the first time and actually have something to say. Before now, I have started and stopped a couple reviews and blog posts, but I am here, once again, to fill your feed!

I spent a lovely week in Maine once again at the In The Company of Women Conference at Ferry Beach in Saco. Ferry Beach is a Unitarian Universalist camp and conference center. This was my second year attending, this time as a co-facilitator for my Women Loving Women track. It was an amazing week of sharing and songs, dancing and games. It touched my spirit, kept a smile on my face, and located my heart once again. I am honored that next year, not only will I be going back again, but I will be one of the coordinators for the ITCW Conference. The trust, love and faith these women place in me fills my soul.

Back to work with our impending migration to the Evergreen system and my duties as President of the Digital Commonwealth this year. I have been spending time assisting with training and creating promotional materials for our libraries. Next week I will be doing short demo videos for staff. Of course I have to get back to my other blog, The Plugged-In Librarian, not only for CPD23 but also for all the ebook news that seems to be coming down the pipe. Look for some catch-up posts there also.

Of course it is school time once again! Both of my children entered new schools this year, one into high school. The way it is working this year actually has both of them out of the house before 7:30, which means I get home just after 4. I get to be home when my son's bus arrives. My daughter has been walking home from soccer tryouts, which I am so proud to say that she made it on the team. This was her goal for the last year, after seeing their setup at the fall open house, and it is wonderful to see her reach for what she wants.

There has been homesteading around the house too! I just made some laundry soap, canned ketchup last week and plan to do tomato sauce tomorrow.

Of course we cannot forget the books and yarn (and there was some ink too!) I am looking forward to sharing the details these coming weeks.