Author Archives: lydias

Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I’m going to assume that this week’s prompt is asking us to make a list of book titles that are unique and attention grabbing. Everything on my list is something that grabbed my attention so thoroughly I had to pick it up and read the blurb as soon as I spotted its title. Since most of them are still on my TBR, I won’t go into detail about them this time.

1. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, #1) by Seth Grahame-Smith

2. The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin

3. Fairy Tales Written by Rabbits by Mary A. Parker

4. Never Slow Dance with a Zombie  by E. Van Lowe

5. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Two story library with a painted vault ceiling

6. Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

7.The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1) by Catherynne M. Valente

8.Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

9. Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don’t Float: Classic Lit Signs on to Facebook by Sarah Schmelling

10. Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs

Characters I’d Never Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner

Pumpkin pie, forks, and a decorative gourd sitting on a Thanksgiving supper tableHappy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian readers!

Last year I wrote about the characters I’d want to invite over for a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.

Since then, I’ve gotten some hits on my site from people who are wondering which characters shouldn’t be included on a Thanksgiving dinner guest list.

Honestly, I could happily make small talk about how unpredictable the weather can be in October or why pumpkin pie is so delicious with 99.99% of the people and characters out there. There are plenty of ways to gently guide a conversation along to lighthearted topics if you don’t have much in common or know each other well.

It would take a lot for me to refuse to share such a hospitable and inclusive holiday with someone…especially if they don’t have anywhere else to go!

With that being said, even I have my limits. Here are the characters who would never be invited to my house for Thanksgiving dinner.

1. Dolores Umbridge from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. 

Why: She was a violent, cruel person who did a deceptively good job of hiding that part of her personality from authority figures and anyone else who might have stopped her.

2. The Borg from Star Trek

Why: As cool as it might be to have some body parts replaced by machines, I do not want them to assimilate me or the other guests against our will. Former members of The Borg like Seven of Nine who simply want to eat some food and discuss human culture would be welcomed in my home.

3. Heathcliff from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights 

Why: Like Dolores, Heathcliffe was skilled at putting on the facade of being a good person while doing quietly terrible things to his victims behind the scenes. This is something I simply can’t sweep under the rug.

4. President Snow and President Coin from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy 

Why: Does anyone actually want to spend Thanksgiving with ruthless dictators who have repeatedly sent innocent people to their deaths? If so, I’ve never met such a person.

This list was pretty short, but I felt that I’d be repeating myself if I added anyone else to it. Basically, the behaviours that would make me exclude someone on Thanksgiving are limited to things that would also be bright red flags the other 364 days of the year. The vast majority of people would never behave this way, so my list of folks who could join me for a special holiday meal will always be miles longer than the ones who will have to make other plans that day.

Which characters would you never invite over for Thanksgiving dinner?

Choosing to Survive: A Review of Powdered Souls

Title: Powdered Souls, A Short Story: They Decided to Survive (Snow Sub Series Book 1)

Author: Dixon Reuel

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: 2019

Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance

Length: 22 pages

Source: I received a free copy from Dixon

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: People together in close quarters – fraternization naturally follows.

A military VR trainer, wanting to keep her relationship with a fellow scientist hidden, must pass a security inspection in her lab by the vicious Atlas Crusade that has swept to power.

When the leader of the security team demands an unusual VR request in her lab, Prof. Meliss must decide between keeping her lover safe, or secretly undertaking a consciousness swap that could end the Crusade’s five-year long relentless rule. A rule that has co-opted all scientific research to aid their global expansion, rendering Prof. Meliss and Prof. Lauren expendable, as legions of other researches wait to step into their lab if either woman dishonors the great Crusade.

Science and the military aren’t always a good match for each other.

Virtual reality is one of those topics that always makes my ears perk up when I see it mentioned in a science fiction blurb. There are so many different ways to approach this idea that an author can do just about anything with it, and Ms. Reuel came up with a pretty creative take on why the military would be interested in developing a virtual world for their soldiers to explore. Their reason for paying for this research is something best discovered by readers for themselves.

The world building would have benefited from more development. I was confused by how the military seemed to simultaneously know everything that was happening in their research bases and yet also not know simple things about them like what sort of equipment they used or how their experiments were going. It’s totally possibly for a regime to act this way, but it would have been nice to know what the limits of their knowledge was.

Prof. Meliss, the main character, wasn’t given much opportunity to reveal her personality either. I’d struggle to tell you much about her as an individual or explain why she’d gotten into a relationship with her assistant, Dr. Lauren, knowing how dangerous that would be for both of them. A lot of this character development could be coming in future volumes, but it would have been helpful to have a better understanding of who she was and why they were willing to take such huge risks. I always like finding queer couples in science fiction, so I was disappointed with how their arc played out so far.

One of the few things I did learn about Prof. Meliss was that she could think quickly in a crisis. That’s the perfect skill to have when an army has descended onto your base and is breaking down the front door. The most interesting scenes in my opinion were the ones in the beginning that described how she reacted to this invasion.

Since this was both a short story and the first instalment in a series, I was definitely not expecting the character development or world building to be perfectly ironed out. But I would have liked to see at least a few sentences spent explaining how this militaristic society works, why relationships between scientists and their assistants were punished so harshly, and what the military was and wasn’t capable of. Getting thrown into a new world is amusing, but I needed more answers about what was happening before the final scene wrapped up.

With that being said, I saw a lot of promise in this tale. There were hints about how climate change had affected the lives of ordinary people in this futuristic world that I’m incredibly curious to learn more about.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books That Did a Great Job of Explaining Science to Non-Scientists

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Three DNA strandsI’ve mentioned my interest in science in previous posts here. There’s nothing like finding new books about various branches of science that were written for people who are not experts on the topic.

All of these titles were good reads that I’d recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about their subject matter.

 

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson

Branches of Science It Covers: Medicine, Public Health, and Sociology

This is one of those books that made me very grateful to grow up in a time and place when vaccinations, antibiotics, and clean water exist.

 

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown

Branches of Science It Covers: Astronomy

Since I’m currently reading this book, I won’t provide any commentary on it yet other than to say that it’s as educational as it is humorous. Scientists are still debating whether to designate Pluto a planet again, but it never stopped being a planet in my opinion. Ha!

 

Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be The Only Humans on Earth by Chris Stringer

Branches of Science It Covers: Biology and Paleoanthropology

Longterm readers might remember my never-ending fascination with how and why the various types of humans evolved over time. Every time a new book comes out on Neanderthals, Archaic humans, or any other closely related species, I simply must read it. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to actually meeting the people that eventually lead to the birth of modern humans.

 

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Doidge

Branches of Science It Covers: Neuroscience, Medicine, and Psychology

Is anyone else fascinated by neuroplasticity? It’s been a while since I read this, but I do recall being surprised by how much the human mind can adapt when accidents, injuries, or other issues cause damage to it.

 

American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree by Susan Freinkel

Branches of Science It Covers: Botany, Mycology, and Ecology

The American Chestnut is a tree that has been driven nearly to extinction by a fungus called the chestnut blight. Since this was published, there have been a few signs of hope for this species. My fingers are crossed that scientists will find a way to keep it alive either by killing the fungus or figuring out a way for the remaining American Chestnut trees to no longer be so susceptible to it.

 

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.

Top Ten Tuesday: Character Traits I Love

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Wooden figurine posed to look as if its grieving, despondent, curious, and happy. This was such a fun and easy prompt to do.

The stock photo attached to this post made me think of all of the different emotions the same character may show in the same story.

1. Intelligent

They don’t have to be geniuses, but I do enjoy reading about how bright characters see the world.

2. Warm and Affectionate

There’s something about characters with this personality that make them irresistible to me. I can appreciate many different types of flaws in a character so long as they start from this base.

3. Active

I exercise regularly and enjoy spending time outdoors. It’s nice to read about characters who are also into staying active.

4. Cautious

There’s something to be said for thinking things through before rushing into a possibly dangerous situation.

5. Quirky

I was about to put the term strange here, but maybe quirky is a little bit more accurate. Characters who wander off the beaten path of life are alluring.

6. Easygoing

While I  can and do also enjoy stories about people who can be high-strung, I generally prefer to read about folks who take a more relaxed approach to life.

7. Bashful

There aren’t enough books out there about folks who are quietly amazing but who will never be the life of the party. For example, I would have loved to read a chapter or two of Anne of Green Gables from Matthew Cuthbert’s perspective. He was honestly more interesting to me than Anne was because of how shy he was about sharing his feelings.

8. Innocent

Honestly, I’ve grown weary of reading about shady protagonists who may not be trustworthy. Retaining some innocence is a good thing no matter how old someone is.

9. Thrifty

That is, it’s nice when characters take care of what they own and are mindful of how they spend their money.

10. Creative

It doesn’t matter how that creativity is expressed. I’m always interested in reading about people who can take an ordinary moment in life and find the beauty in it somewhere.

 

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: What I’d Want on a Deserted Island

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Here are the assumptions I’m going to be making for this week’s prompt: The island has a climate that will not kill me with heat stroke, frost bite, or unlucky encounters with the wildlife when I arrive. I will have enough food, water, shelter, medicine, and other basic supplies… Read More