Monday, December 31, 2012

Touch of Power

Touch of Power –by Maria V. Snyder

Fiction – Fantasy
396 pages
Footnotes/Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes

This is my first book by Maria Snyder, and I found it very enjoyable. I was looking for escape, and I found it. What I wasn't looking for was romance, but I found that, too.

Avry is a Healer, the last of her kind. Healers, in Avry's world were empaths, that would take the injury or illness into themselves to heal the sick, but of course, that would leave the Healer in a sickened or injured state until they healed. Fortunately, they were fast healers.

When the Plague swept the earth, people blamed the Healers, and hunted them down and killed them, because the refused to admit they started it, and refused to treat the plague victims, as they could not heal themselves.

In hiding for years, Avry is a sucker for kids, and every so often, she heals a sick one, then must leave before people figure out she's a Healer. This time, she blew it, she had to rest to overcome the illness she brought into her, and because of the bounty placed on her, the village turns her in for the money. She will face the guillotine soon.

Or will she? I mean, that happens in the beginning of the book, so we know, don't we, that there will be a rescue, but who rescues her? A man who wants her to heal his Prince, who is held in stasis, and has the Plague. A man Avry knows and hates and who, if she goes along with it, will kill her. What is a girl to do?

This book is fun, and it's pure, unadulterated brain candy. There are Death Lilies and Peace Lilies, but who can tell the difference before they're eaten? There is intrigue, double crossings, and magic.

The sequel is due out this coming March (2013) and it will soon be downloaded to my Kindle once I see it. In the meantime, I'll try a couple other of her books....

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Always Looking Up

Always Looking Up: the Adventures of an Incurable Optimist –by Michael J. Fox

288 pages
footnotes/endnotes: No
illustrations: Yes (b/w photos)
suitable for eReaders: Yes

Remember the old saw, "I used to complain because I had no shoes, and then I met a man who had no feet"? Well, Rainy Day complains because she has to get up in the morning and feed the critters (before they find and dine on her toes), and then she read Always Looking Up. After reading the struggles Mike Fox has to go through to get out of bed, Rainy Day will try not to complain so bitterly that the critters can't/won't get their own breakfast! For those of you who have spent the last decade or so living in a cave, or under the ocean, and don't know -- he has Parkinson's Disease (PD).

This memoir is not in chronological order, it is in sections about what he values – Work, Politics, Faith, and Family, with a Prologue and an Epilogue. This bothers some people, but Rainy Day had no problem with it.The Prologue is important, don't skip it;-)

It covers the time since his previous book, Lucky Man, and is a very entertaining read. This isn't a 'coming of age' book, but it is a 'finding myself' book. He describes how he finds humor and happiness in the most mundane things, and how he is living a happier and more satisfied life.

Michael J. Fox has long been one of Rainy Day's faves, and she thinks he has just moved to the top of that list. She loves an optimist, and thinks there is nothing sexier than an intelligent and optimistic man. Michael J. Fox is both!

This book could have easily gone into the Why Me/Poor Me category, instead it is a testament to his ability to find the humor, and the good, in life that cloaks him fwith the ravages of a horrid disease.

Michael J. Fox is an actor, a devoted husband of more than 20 years, a loving father of four, and an activist. He lives with PD as an incurable Optimist.

Buy this book. Read this book. And the next time you're feeling grumpy about lack of shoes, or having to get out of bed before you're ready, remember Mike, and Muhammad Ali, and all the other people out there living with PD.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Writing Life -- by Annie Dillard

The Writing Life –by Annie Dillard

111 pages
footnotes/endnotes: No
illustration: No
suitable for eReaders: Yes

You will probably find this listed, somewhere, as a How To Write book. It is. And, it isn't. It is a memoir of how Annie Dillard writes, how she goes into bare bones existence in order to force the words, the sentences, the pages, from her brain to her fingers to the page. She doesn't tell us how to write a book, she shows us how she writes a book.

She claims to abhor the process of writing, and probably does (who is Rainy Day to question that?). But, does she have a choice? Really? Writing is something those who do, must do. It is hard, lonely work. At the end of a day of writing one's wrists hurt, their back hurts, their fingers are cramped, and yet, the next day, a writer sits down and starts the process all over again.

Annie Dillard is a writer, and Rainy Day could easily become envious of Ms. Dillard's ability to find and string the right words into the perfect ribbon of sentence and then weave those ribbons into story. Fortunately, Rainy Day is not the envious sort, and understands the agony Ms. Dillard goes through to create her perfect art.

If you are looking for a book on how one person writes, this book is perfect. It may just be the book to chase you into another art form, and that is fine. If you want a list of directions – First, get paper, then get pen, then...this book is not for you. It is about writing, and the life of one writer. Inspiration at it's best.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Spenser Novel

Painted Ladies – A Spenser Novel –by Robert B. Parker

Number of Pages: 291
Footnotes/Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReader: Yes

Rainy Day hasn't read a Spenser novel in a long time, and went to bed last night to snuggle in with the doglet and cat and begin the book. It was a couple hours later, when she finished it, that she turned off her light.

Her biggest complaint is that there will be few, if any, more Spenser novels, as Mr. Parker is now deceased (With luck, there may be enough notes in his files for someone to write a few more?). Her second biggest complaint is that Hawk was merely mentioned, not an active participant in the story. Rainy Day really likes Hawk.

Spenser novels are what Rainy Day calls 'brain candy' – pure, unadulterated fluff; calorie-free confections; or, if you prefer, escape. And Painted Ladies did not let her down.

The book opens, along with Spenser's office door, with a new client who hires Spenser to protect him as he makes the exchange of ransom money for a priceless art object. Spenser fails, and the new client is blown to smithereens along with the priceless objet 'art. Or is it? And why are 'they' trying so hard to kill Spenser?

Those of you who like to read these kinds of stories, and figure out who done it early on, will possibly be able to do so. Rainy Day doesn't like to try to figure it out; she likes to be surprised. Which is a good thing, because she would be wrong more often than not.

For a bit of light reading, you just can't go wrong with a Spenser novel!

Mr. Parker, you and Spenser will be sorely missed!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Write Fast, Not Good

From Idea to Story in 90 Seconds: A Writer's Primer –by Ken Rand

89 Pages
Footnotes/Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes (but harder to use a pen for margin notes or a highlighter;-)

Rainy Day attended a writer's conference a while back, and noted there were several books on the Door Prize Table, a couple of which she really, really wanted. Well, her name was called first, and she thought she would get to pick her book, ohboyohboyohboy, was she ever excited. She got up to the table to claim her prize and was handed From Idea to Story in 90 Seconds: A Writer's Primer. Not, she hastens to tell you, one of the books she had her eye on!

However, Rainy Day spent time, several years ago, doing volunteer work with Shanti, and one of the things they emphasized was to 'trust the system' so she decided to trust the system, and excitedly accepted her book, put it in her purse, and forgot about it. (She has a big, black purse, and the book is small, dark, and slender – easily lost in the cavernous bag;-)

The other day, she found the book, while waiting for the Dentist to call her. And she started reading it. She was not happy at the interruption of her reading. She had trusted the system, and discovered somewhat belatedly, she got the bestest book on the table. She doesn't even remember the ones she thought she really, really wanted.

This is a 'how to' book every Writer and Wannabee Writer should have on their desk. Not their bookshelf, unless the bookshelf is within reaching distance of their chair. Ken Rand is a writer who presents his theories, practices, and ideas in a humorous and accessible way.

Where do you get your story ideas? Try the grocery store. At one end find your antagonist, at the other end your protagonist. (Grocery shopping for Rainy Day may never be the same again, she might actually enjoy it a tad, now;-)

Got Writer's Block? The solution is on pages 42 and 43.

Want to write with a partner? There are some things you really need to know, and Ken Rand tells you how -- or expect failure. (It's a Right Brain/Left Brain thing times two.)

If you are an established author or a beginning writer, this is a book that should be in your library. Trust Rainy Day on this one! Buy this book. Read it. Write!