Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Favourites - Your Favourite Biography

Friday Favourites - a chance to rave about a favourite reading/book related topic each week.

Sometimes you just want a chance to rave about some favourite aspect of reading that doesn't really come up during regular blogging posts - that's what this is about. I'm willing to bet that at least some of those will come up one week or another.

This week I'm asking what your favourite biography is.

My answer:
Little Princes: One Man's Promise To Bring Home The Lost Children Of Nepal 
Conor Grennan

The product description:
In search of adventure, 29-year-old Conor Grennan traded his day job for a year-long trip around the globe, a journey that began with a three-month stint volunteering at the Little Princes Children’s Home, an orphanage in war-torn Nepal.

Conor was initially reluctant to volunteer, unsure whether he had the proper skill, or enough passion, to get involved in a developing country in the middle of a civil war. But he was soon overcome by the herd of rambunctious, resilient children who would challenge and reward him in a way that he had never imagined. When Conor learned the unthinkable truth about their situation, he was stunned: The children were not orphans at all. Child traffickers were promising families in remote villages to protect their children from the civil war—for a huge fee—by taking them to safety. They would then abandon the children far from home, in the chaos of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.
For Conor, what began as a footloose adventure becomes a commitment to reunite the children he had grown to love with their families, but this would be no small task. He would risk his life on a journey through the legendary mountains of Nepal, facing the dangers of a bloody civil war and a debilitating injury. Waiting for Conor back in Kathmandu, and hopeful he would make it out before being trapped in by snow, was the woman who would eventually become his wife and share his life’s work.
Little Princes is a true story of families and children, and what one person is capable of when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. At turns tragic, joyful, and hilarious, Little Princes is a testament to the power of faith and the ability of love to carry us beyond our wildest expectations.
I first wrote about this book back at the beginning of 2011. That review is here. Since then, it's stayed as my favourite biography read to date. In fact I rather want to read it again. I haven't been able to stop talking about and recommending Little Princes either.

The biggest thing about Conor Grennan's book and why it's stayed in my head so long I think is the way it reminds me that we ordinary people can do something good in the world if we set our minds to it. Essentially, that's what he does in the events that became the book Little Princes.

I also loved the kids we meet throughout the story, even though over the course of the last year and a bit since I read Little Princes, I find that I can't remember their names anymore. Despite that, I remember reading about them and the way they were reunited with their families.

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home The Lost Children of Nepal is possibly my favourite biography. What's your favourite?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book Rambling: Teen Books

In the past year or so I've noticed a bit of a trend within the teen books section of the bookstore: Authors I've seen in the regular fiction section are starting to come out with teen books now: Philipa Gregory, Sherrilyn Kenyon, David Weber, and Elizabeth George are only a few of the authors names I've seen.

Many of them are newer books, but a few have been writing for the teen market for a while now, like Mercedes Lackey who's onto the third book in her Shadow Grail series which started with Legacies. Or, James Patterson, known for the Maximum Ride series and some other teen novels such as Daniel X.

What kind of puzzles me though is the way that some of the books tie into the authors' other books. Sherrilyn Kenyon's the first author that comes to mind for me with this. She's better known for her paranormal romance series concerning the Dark Hunters. This is where I get somewhat surprised, and I'm trying to figure out what market she's appealing to.

I certainly wouldn't recommend the Dark Hunter books to teens at all, but Nick, the main character in this series is also a character in those books - this series concerns his teen years before we see him as a Squire to the Dark Hunters. At the same time, I feel like this series contradicts that one. I just don't see any place for zombies and the like in the Dark Hunter series as I know it, but that seems to be the main topic of the Chronicles of Nick novels. On the other hand, I have to admit - I haven't read any of the Chronicles of Nick series. Maybe someone who has can enlighten me.

The author that comes to mind as having done a really good job tying a teen series into an existing world is David Weber. Instead of trying to use an existing character, he's working with a time-period much earlier in the world and a character we don't know very much about - Stephanie Harrington, the discoverer of treecats. A Beautiful Friendship, the start of this series maintains the feeling of the main series, and is interesting to readers of that series, and would also work to attract new readers.

Why turn to teen books though? There've been spin-off books before in the Honor Harrington world, and some of Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books were shelved as teen/young adult at the library even though they're classed as fantasy in the bookstore. Is it that they have a particular story to tell which best fits that medium? or is more likely that there's a market for teen fiction right now?

What do you think is the answer? All I know is that I like some of these books, and the David Weber ones especially seem to be missed by adults who like science-fiction and his other books. Heck, if I hadn't been in the regular habit of checking the upcoming books by some of these authors, I'd have missed out on some very good stories!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Favourites - Your Favourite Historical Figure?

Friday Favourites - a chance to rave about a favourite reading/book related topic each week.

Sometimes you just want a chance to rave about some favourite aspect of reading that doesn't really come up during regular blogging posts - that's what this is about. I'm willing to bet that at least some of those will come up one week or another.

This week my question is really two questions: The first, the one that the title asks is "Who is your favourite historical figure?" However, the alternate question, and one I'm also interested in the answer to is (This was the question I'd meant to ask in the first place, I think) "Who is your favourite historical figure to read about?"

I can see there being two very different answers to those two questions.

My answer to the first question changes on a regular basis. I don't think I have any real "favourites" just interests that change from time to time. At the moment, I'm reading all I can about Alexander the Great, but who knows who my focus will change to next.

In terms of reading about, generally referring to fiction, I have to say my favourite historical figure is Cleopatra - especially as written by Jo Graham in her novel Hand of Isis. There's something about her that captures my imagination - but I'm not just limited to fiction. I've also quite enjoyed reading Stacy Schiff's biography Cleopatra: A Life, although to be honest, I've yet to finish the read.

I think throughout the years, a lot of people have agreed with me on this one - including such notables as Shakespeare. And yet, we don't really know all that much about her - only things said by her opponents really. Could that be part of her allure?

Who's your favourite historical figure, and if the answer is different, who's your favourite historical figure to read about?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Favourites - Your Favourite Book From August

Friday Favourites - a chance to rave about a favourite reading/book related topic each week.

Sometimes you just want a chance to rave about some favourite aspect of reading that doesn't really come up during regular blogging posts - that's what this is about. I'm willing to bet that at least some of those will come up one week or another.

This week it's my usual question for the first week of a new month: What was your favourite book last month?

My answer:
I have a fair number of books to choose from to answer this question this time. August was one of the best reading months I've had in a long time. I'm going to go with No Sailing Waits And Other Ferry Tales: 30 Years Of BC Ferries Cartoons by Adrian Raeside. I haven't laughed as hard as I did when I was reading those in a long time. Actually, I'm still laughing at the memory of some of the cartoons as well. They're that funny - at least if you're familiar with the issues involved. This one might honestly be more of a local-type book.

The amusement was only increased by my recent re-exposure to the BC Ferries system in the past month as well. Ferry waits and all. Although, the Sunshine Breakfast is no more - still I think I remember actually enjoying the Sunshine Breakfast. Maybe I was in the minority?

Regardless, this was my favourite read for the month of August. What was yours?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I Thought The Labour Day Weekend Was Supposed To Be A Holiday

Or "Why I Haven't Been Reading". Instead, I've been busy.

We went away for the weekend, and I haven't worked that hard in a long time, but I had an incredible amount of fun at the same time. Some of my relatives have a farm, and they're in the process of replacing a barn. The destruction has started. We moved the last few things out, and cut back the blackberries that had taken over the outside of two sides of the building. That was a fun job, considering the thorns were going through everything - including skin. I've bathed my two cats and gotten less scratches.

Once the blackberries were removed, then the true destruction started. Out came the crow-bars and the hammers. By the end of the afternoon, everyone had gotten the metal siding off of the two sides and some of the interior braces out, as well as the floor boards. There was also a wasp's nest discovered, although nobody got stung. The actual structure got left for another day (and perhaps some professionals to remove).

I ended up being coached through driving the tractor with the trailer full of trash from the barn most of the way to the burn pile. Given that it's a much slower-moving vehicle, with no other traffic around, I found it less terrifying than attempting to drive a car.

When not doing any of the above - which also included helping to medicate one of their horses - I had either my drop spindle or my spinning wheel going.

That was Saturday. Sunday was a bit of an easier day - slept through the morning chores unfortunately. I'd kind of wanted to participate. Still, got to groom both horses and help to give them a bit of a work-out before cleaning out the paddock and feeding them. Then it was time to go home again and back to the city - taking with me a big bucket of blackberries for jam as well as a couple of dozen farm-fresh eggs.

Monday ended up super-busy as well, though not with working-type things (at least not until really late). After we got home from everything else though, I still had a big bucket of blackberries to deal with and they were starting to go. So, from about eleven until one thirty this morning, I was busy making blackberry jam. Turned out I had just enough berries for the recipe, but the recipe also ended up making an extra jar's worth of jam. Absolutely delicous.

And the trend is continuing even though the weekend is over. This morning, I ended up making a batch of soda bread to eat with the jam. It deserved to be spread on something a bit more special than mere store-bought sliced bread.

All in all, in the past four or five days I've gotten maybe ninety pages read from any novels, and something like thirty from one of my indexing books.


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