One Giant Leap…

Fifty years ago, today, man walked on the moon.

buzz aldrin vintage GIF by US National Archives

So put down the mini computer that you hold in your hand and just think how mind-blowing it is that FIFTY years ago two men walked on the moon.

People designed and built a machine to keep men alive in space. People figured out all the crazy variables involved in space flight. People did this at their 9-5 job in a time before:

  • soft contact lenses
  • airbags
  • 9-1-1

They put man on the moon and brought them home…alive! That one step is proof scientists, mathematicians, engineers, pilots, and explorers can accomplish anything. Apollo 11 .

I had planned to share reviews on four stories to celebrate the anniversary of the lunar landing. I managed to get Hidden Figures and The Martian up on the site. I am still reading the other two! And these reviews will be up soon. (A Man on the Moon is 600 pages long. This will take time.)

Keep reading. Keep learning. And keep striving to branch out and explore all the world, and space beyond, has to offer. Happy reading!

Lindsay

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Island of the Sequined Love Nun

Island of the Sequined Love Nun

by Christopher Moore

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Take a wonderfully crazed excursion into the demented heart of a tropical paradise—a world of cargo cults, cannibals, mad scientists, ninjas, and talking fruit bats. Our bumbling hero is Tucker Case, a hopeless geek trapped in a cool guy’s body, who makes a living as a pilot for the Mary Jean Cosmetics Corporation. But when he demolishes his boss’s pink plane during a drunken airborne liaison, Tuck must run for his life from Mary Jean’s goons. Now there’s only one employment opportunity left for him: piloting shady secret missions for an unscrupulous medical missionary and a sexy blond high priestess on the remotest of Micronesian hells. Here is a brazen, ingenious, irreverent, and wickedly funny novel from a modern master of the outrageous.

Here is the setting: I am standing in the airport waiting for my flight on a bleak January evening. The pit of my stomach aches with the unnecessary stress that always accompanies the holidays and, thankfully, the airport bar is open. I shoot a whiny text to my best friend expressing my despair of not having a funny tropical book to get me through family vacation. She’s a gem and readily suggests Island of the Sequined Love Nun. I curse spotty wifi and download the book (I didn’t even read the book blurb) while sitting at the airport bar waiting for a shot of tequila. Guys….it turned out to be the perfect read to pull me out of my grumpy slump!

I am not providing a summary; the one above is perfectly vague and tantalizing. We are just going to jump into the review. I loved it. I mean…WWII flight exploits, Cargo Cults, live nose art, and perfectly detailed flight scenes…is there any question why I enjoyed this story?

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It helps Island of the Sequined Love Nun also provides a complex plot, well developed characters, and tons of laughs. First: the characters are well rounded with each having individual flaws, positive qualities, and obvious personal growth. (Well. Except for the villains; however, they are delightfully crappy). Second: the setting is so effortlessly perfect. One minute you’re reading about Tucker traipsing through the jungle and the next you can taste the island grog and feel a bead of sweet roll its way down your butt crack. Moore is a quirky master of his craft.

HOWEVER….this is definitely the type of book you have to be in a specific mood to read. That is really going to be the only negative comment I have about the story. I mean there is a talking fruit bat and a holy poker game. It’s hilarious; it’s wacky. I picked up Island of the Sequined Love Nun because I desperately needed an easy laugh and it immediately delivered. But, I didn’t finish the book in one reading. I put it down and read something else when I experienced a change in mood. I picked it back up when I was ready to laugh again. And I enjoyed it!

This is the story I would recommend for those needing a funny, laugh-out-loud read to start off a beach vacation. It helped me get through the stress of a family vacation and frustrating time at work. I turned that last page (figuratively since I read it on my Kindle) while at the beach enjoying the perfect Florida spring weather. It was equally enjoyable on a sunny beach and gloomy airport. So read it!

Let me know if you’re a Christopher Moore fan and please share your summer reading list! Happy Reading!

Lindsay

2018 Reading Review

I fell quite short of my reading goals in 2018. You may ask…am I disappointed in my reading performance? No 🙂

See…2018 was a good year. A year that found me struggling to take on new hobbies, rediscover old passions, and push myself through some rather strenuous personal growth. Sadly, my reading volume just didn’t keep up with the rest of the year. The good new is I read some fun books and am looking forward to 2019’s reading list! So without further ado……here is my 2018 Reading Review.

Total Books Read

Goal: 50       Read: 22

Nonfiction Books Read

Goal: 12      Read: 6

 

Mystery: 12

NonFiction: 7

 

Historical Fiction: 3

Paranormal: 1

mphpc

ReRead: 3

Do Not Finish: 1

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The Titan’s Curse

The Titan’s Curse

By Rick Riordan

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3)

IT’S NOT EVERYDAY YOU FIND YOURSELF IN COMBAT WITH A HALF-LION, HALF-HUMAN.

But when you’re the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.

Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive…

The Titan’s Curse is the third novel of Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I’d say this is my favorite novel but then I read book four; this series gets better and better with each book! 

The Titan’s Curse involves some of our favorite characters from the last two books and introduces a number of new demigods to root for. Readers will meet Thalia, the daughter of Zeus, Zoe Nightshade, Artemis’ right hand woman, and mysterious siblings, Bianca and Nico. 

The story follows Percy and crew on a quest to save Annabeth, who is a captive of Luke and the army of Chronos. We get to see a different side of Percy, as he struggles to work with stubborn Thalia and deals with his fear of losing Annabeth. The Titan’s Curse brings us characters who are slowly maturing as they age and Riordan is amazing at providing these characters with realistic strengths and flaws. His character development is the main reason I keep reading these stories! Plus, readers get to meet Artemis, Apollo, and Annabeth’s dad!

I don’t have any complaints with The Titan’s Curse, but I will add that I did not like Thalia. I found her to be way too hot-headed for my taste and it made her arguments with Percy seem petty. But don’t let that stop you from reading because I did love her in the end!

Who else loves the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series?

Lindsay

Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice

by Julie Garwood

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Fresh from her incredible smash-hit historical romance Shadow Music, New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood returns to contemporary romantic suspense with this wonderfully sexy, exhilarating blockbuster. Filled with sizzling passion and breathless adventure, Fire and Ice features a feisty heroine whom Garwood’s devoted readers already know and love from her hugely popular novel Murder List.

Sophie Rose, a tough and determined newspaper reporter, is the daughter of Bobby Rose, a suave, charming, and handsome gentleman who also happens to be a notorious big-time thief sought by every law-enforcement agency in the country. When the major Chicago daily where she works insists she write an exposé about her roguish father, Sophie refuses, quits her job, and goes to work at a small newspaper. Far from her one-time high-powered crime beat, she now covers local personalities such as the quirky winner of several area 5K runs whose trademark is goofy red socks.

Those red socks with Sophie’s business card neatly tucked inside are practically all that’s found after runner William Harrington is killed near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, seemingly the victim of a brutal death by polar bear. The Alaska cops want to know why Harrington carried Sophie’s card. With an unerring nose for a good story, she heads north. What Sophie doesn’t realize is that on her journey from Chicago to Prudhoe Bay, danger follows in her wake. After one attempt on her life, she’s been assigned brash but sexy Jack MacAlister as a bodyguard by the cautious FBI. Amid great peril and deadly intrigue in the unforgiving Alaskan terrain, she and Jack form an uneasy alliance sparked with sensual attraction. But they will soon be fighting more than their growing passion for each other. Powerful forces will stop at nothing to prevent the exposure of the sinister conspiracy Sophie and Jack are about to uncover.

This will be my last winter romance thriller for a while. Nothing wrong with the story; I’m just tired of certain genre traits. And because of this I’m starting off with a negative point. I don’t like to do it but this one point was holding me back from sharing this review.

Fire and Ice is a well developed novel with an intriguing complex plot, but I probably wouldn’t have finished it if I wasn’t listening to the audio book. It’s because of how the main character, Sophie Rose, was handled. I really like Sophie despite not sharing her love for designer items. I like her spunk and her stubbornness. Garwood spends the entire novel insisting Sophie Rose can take care of herself. Sophie has a sharp tongue and is a gifted writer. She trusts few people so she falls in love slowly while remaining a firecracker in the bed. Sophie demands to have her own gun when being attacked in the Alaskan wilderness. She even punches a guy who slaps her. Sophie is an awesome woman, and yet; she still constantly comes off as a damsel in distress. Time after time she is rescued by Jack. I would have liked Sophie to fight back. I just wish she had tried to pull the trigger or threw a couple more punches. Nope, she still had to be saved by the rugged man which is a prominent romance staple. This is why I’m taking a step back from the genre.

Now that my mini rant is over….I feel I should point out that I’m just being picky so on to the positive points. Fire and Ice includes a number of interesting storylines that will please mystery readers. First: there is the mystery of what happened to William Harrington. This takes our two leads, and readers, from the Chicago to the wilderness of Alaska in search of answers. Second: the Alpha Project…and that is all I will say about that one. You need to read it for the rest of that intriguing mystery. Third: the fate of Kelly’s Root Beer! This keeps the story grounded and provides a humorous background for all the drama and violence. All three mysteries are well developed and written in a way that leaves you yearning for answers.

I definitely recommend Fire and Ice for readers looking for a complex romantic mystery. Sophie and Jack were both fun characters to watch fall head over heels with each other. And the supporting characters are all well developed, allowing readers to feel like they are tagging along with Sophie on her adventures.

Has anyone else read Fire and Ice? Any Julie Garwood fans out there?

Lindsay

Ice

Ice

By Linda Howard

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’Tis the season for mistletoe and holly, Santa . . . and suspense. And the gift that keeps on giving is Ice: premier thriller author Linda Howard’s breathless tale of a man, a woman, and a battle for survival against an unforgiving winter–and an unrelenting killer. Oh what fun it is to read.

Gabriel McQueen has only just arrived home on holiday leave from the service when his county-sheriff father sends him back out again with new marching orders. A brewing ice storm, and a distant neighbor who’s fallen out of contact, have the local lawman concerned. So he enlists Gabriel to make the long haul to the middle of nowhere, and make sure Lolly Helton is safe and sound. It’s a trip the younger McQueen would rather not make given the bitter winter weather–and the icy conditions that have always existed between him and Lolly.

But there’s no talking back when your dad is the town’s top cop. And there’ s no turning back when night falls just as Gabriel arrives–and discovers that the weather outside isn’t the only thing that’s frightful. Spotting strangers in Lolly’ s home–one of them packing a weapon–is all it takes to kick Gabriel into combat mode. And his stealth training is all he needs to extract Lolly from the house without alerting her captors. But when the escape is discovered, the heat–and the hunt–are on. And the winter woods are nowhere to be once the ice storm touches down, dropping trees, blocking roads, and trapping the fleeing pair in the freezing dark.

So my books of choice the last few weeks have been arctic romantic thrillers….don’t ask me why. Just go with it!

Ice was the perfect book to get me fired up for winter weather. I listened to the audio book and the short gripping passages left transfixed during my drive and frustrated upon parking.

The main characters, Gabe and Lolly, aredecently  developed and relatable. Both must deal with their past and budding attraction for each other while also attempting to survive the icy Maine wilderness.  I enjoyed reading Lolly’s introspection about her personal growth since childhood and I loved that they stuck battling both the elements and two drug addicts. I like that Howard had the bad guys be simple meth addicts. I feel that too often these type of stories try too hard to make the villain over the top, like a professional thief, spy, or professional killer. I am pleased Howard opted for a couple that are too high on drugs to feel pain and too greedy to care about survival. She perfectly captured the frantic thinking of their drug addled minds, the intense self obsession of the addict, and their insane ability to survive the elements thanks to the drugs.

Lily and Gabe’s struggle to survive the ice storm is intense and its good Lolly isn’t an outdoors and survival guru. This makes her character even more relatable for the majority of readers.

Their relationship was a little awkward, which makes sense in this situation but I felt that Howard was trying to keep it steamy while the characters are fighting for their lives against drug addicts and the weather. It’s good they don’t have instant love and romance, but it still felt a tad awkward at times. Ice is a tad repetitive as well, especially during Lolly’s moments of introspection. Yes, I know that our minds tend to be repetitive when we are focused on our insecurities and future, but it was a little too much for my liking.

Ice was a great book to read during my work commute! I enjoyed the short survival thriller and recommend the book if you enjoy the genre. You’ll definitely enjoy the frantic escape attempts through icy Maine. Happy New Year’s Eve!

Lindsay

Letters Home: 1944-1945

Letters Home: 1944-1945
Women Airforce Service Pilots
by Bernice ‘Bee’ Falk Haydu

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In February of 1944 Bernice Falk was accepted into the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II (WASP).  Her mother saved the letters Bee wrote home describing her training and tour of active duty.  They tell a fascinating storyof her military experiences and some of the problems she had to overcome in order to become and remain a professional pilot.  She explains how aviation and piloting continued to be an important part of her life while rearing a family who all learned to love flying.  She also chronicles the WASP struggle to be recognized as veterans during her term as president of their organization.

I was having a difficult time finding a book to share after finishing my thesis last week and starting Camp NaNoWriMo this week. I wanted something uplifting and inspirational for the 4th of July and then I remembered a gem that holds a cherished spot on my shelves.

I purchased my copy of Letters Home from Bee Haydu at the EAA Airventure Fly-In in Oshkosh, Wisconsin a few years ago.  I was inspired by the eighty year old woman and her flight stories.  Letters Home is a collection of personal letters from Bee to her mother during her flight training with the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs.  The WASPs were ferry pilots for the United States during World War II and Bee includes informational passages about the WASPs, World War II aviation, and the role of female pilots.   She provides readers with a detailed description of life during the early 1940s, when these women were fighting against social norms to fly.  Letters Home documents how Bee followed her dreams into the sky and the life of flight that followed.

Her story is an inspiration to me because I am a fellow female aviator, but I believe non-pilots would enjoy this spunky woman’s story.  I have been blessed to speak with Bee Haydu on multiple occasions, and have heard more stories each time.  Haydu and her fellow veterans are part of America’s greatest generation and her story is a perfect read on America’s Independence Day.  Letters Home can be found on Amazon and please visit the WASP Museum to learn more about the daring female pilots of World War II.

Let me know if you have any questions about the WASPs and aviation.  Happy Fourth of July everyone!

Lindsay