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Thu, Feb. 22nd, 2018, 12:17 pm
Another "Weekly" Book Review

With the frequency I've been posting reviews as of late, maybe I should start calling this the "Daily" Book Review.  Of course, once I do, something would happen and I would not post for several months.  I'll just leave it as is for the time being.  Hopefully I'll maintain a pace in which I get something up every week, or at least every couple of weeks.  (I'm thinking to start posting something each week from the Spokane Authors and Self-Publisher reviews... whether I've reviewed that particular book or not.)

Anyway, here is my take on another classic tale:
The Prince and the Pauper

By Mark Twain

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

         In 16th century London it comes to pass that a young boy from the slums is identical in appearance to Edward, the Prince of Wales.  By chance they meet, notice the uncanny similarity, and with typical boyish enthusiasm decide to switch places for a brief time.  Once they do, neither can convince others they are not who they are believed to be.
         The royal youth, now King Edward VI, finds himself wandering the countryside with a band of robbers and other neer-do-wells.  Tom, the poor boy from Offal court is treated with respect and honor as the King of England.  It takes the intervention of an adventurer returning to England and a confrontation during what should be the King's coronation to restore the two to their rightful places.
         While this reviewer read this classic tale only recently, it was familiar to him.  He had watched it on The Wonderful World of Disney as a boy roughly the same age as the two primary characters.  Revisiting the tale via the printed page rekindled half-buried memories of what had once been seen on the small screen.
         The story itself is exciting and progresses smoothly.  The only stumbling block noticed was the author's attempt to duplicate spoken 16th century English when characters were speaking.  It was often necessary to re-read certain quotes to determine the meaning or to make an educated guess as to what was said.  While it would have been unauthentic to have the characters speak in modern (19th century) vernacular, something less than full 16th century speech would have been appropriate and appreciated.
         The Prince and the Pauper is an old fashioned fairy tale with a touch of history woven in.  It's definitely worth the time needed to read it.

Something about revisiting old classic stories and also dredging up memories of TV shows from my child hood.

Thu, Feb. 22nd, 2018, 12:09 pm
Weekly Book Review

Feast or famine, it appears.  I can go for weeks of months without writing or posting a review, or I can get on a run and create and post multiple reviews within a few days of each other.  As I've mentioned recently, I have, of late been reading a few of the "classics."  Even though a review will not help or hinder sales, I enjoy the mental excercise of trying to provide a brief snapshot of what the story is about and offering my opinion of the work.  So here's the first of the last two reviews I've created.

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
         His parents having passed on, young David Balfour returns took his ancestral home near Edinburgh to claim his fortune.  His uncle, currently in control of the family fortune has other ideas, and has David abducted and sold into servitude in the Americas.  The vessel in which he is imprisoned and transported wrecks on Scotland's rugged northern shore.
         David is assisted on his journey through the Scottish Highlands by Alan Breck Stuart, rescued at sea prior to the shipwreck.  He is a Jacobite, an outlaw in English ruled Scotland.  It is his contacts and alliances with the Highlanders that allow the two to proceed on their trek.
         This is a typical adventure story as written in the nineteenth century.  Despite the obstacles faced, they is an underlying feeling that all will work out in the end.  This reviewer has been aware of the story since an early age, possibly via the movie from Walt Disney.  Various images and scenes from the film came to mind while reading, including visualizing David Balfour as portrayed by James Macarthur. (He might be better remembered as Danno on the original Hawaii Five-Oh.)  Despite some of the old-fashioned writing practices, the story becomes compelling and hard to put down.  Upon reaching the end, the satisfaction of reading another all-time classic becomes apparent.  It should be on everyone's reading list.

Sorry I don't have a cover image to go along with this.

Mon, Feb. 19th, 2018, 07:16 pm

Happen to be watching Olympics Ice Dancing.... currently the UK team/pair competing in the free Free Dance.  His name is Buckland and I can't help but wonder if he might be related to Lt. Buckland, first lieutenant of HMS Renown.  Doubt it...it's just my familiarity with C. S. Forester and the book, Lieutenant Hornblower coming through.

Cold might in Spokane... snow on the ground with crescent moon. I know it doesn't look like it here, but in real life it is.

Mon, Feb. 19th, 2018, 03:45 pm
Weekly (?) Book Review, Pt II

Feast or famine, I suppose with the way I end up posting book reviews.  I wrote the last one and this later in the evening via my tablet.  Did so while semi-watching television at a time when I'm generally not on the computer.  Gives me a little more flexibility.  This one is of a book by a Spokane area author, who however is not (yet?) a member of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers.
Not Self But Country

By David C. Perry

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

         This is a story of the Continental Navy during the American Revolution.  Based on real life events and historical figures, the story concludes with John Paul Jones commanding Bon Homme Richard in battle against HMS Serapis.
         The author deftly explores the relationships between many of the principal personalities, lesser known historical characters, and subtly introduced fictional individuals.  Of interest might be the career and switch in loyalties Richard Dale.  He also goes into some detail regarding more minor naval engagements and skirmishes.  The final battle is described in exciting detail as viewed from both ships engaged in the epic duel.
         Perry is a knowledgeable writer, well versed in naval operations during the age of sail.  However, this reviewer, also a sailing navy enthusiast, would dispute the author's description of HMS Serapis as a frigate.  This ship carried forty-four guns as did many frigates, but carried them on both upper and lower decks, while frigates carried guns on the upper deck only.
         Over all this is a well written story that blends history with exciting action and insightful views of the early United States.  It is well worth reading.  This reviewer looks forward to reading more historical fiction from David C. Perry.


Mon, Feb. 19th, 2018, 03:37 pm
Weekly (?) Book Review

So after a long hiatus, the Weekly Book Review is back.  For how long?  We'll just have to wait and see or perhaps I should re-title it.  The following review is of a book by an author I "met"  several years ago, courtesy of Live Journal.
The Vacant Throne

By Joshua Palmatier

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
               One time guttersnipe Varis is now Mistress of Amenkor.  Having survived famine and an attack by the Chorl, a mysterious race from across the western sea, she faces the challenge of restoring or replacing the throne.  Could there be a second throne with the same power as the one long in Amenkor?  And there is a concern that the Chorl are planning further incursions on the mainland.
         Palmatier continues his masterful world building, creating a place that seems real and believable.  The magic and supernatural aspects of the story fit right in and seem real.  He also is very adept at creating subtle and different personalities, as well as uniquely different cultures, which adds to the enjoyment of reading this tale.
         This is the final installment of the Throne of Amenkor trilogy, which is now available as a single combined volume.  He has written two other trilogies set in different regions, and perhaps at different times, on this same world.  This reviewer secretly hopes that maybe a future work will tie elements of these stories together.
         If you likes epic, believable, and well-written fantasy, this story, and others from the same author need to be at the top of your to be read list.  And for those who, like me, re-read books from time to time, The Vacant Throne is a prime candidate.

Hope you found the review informative and that you consider adding this to your list of books to be read!

Mon, Feb. 19th, 2018, 11:56 am
Birthday Wishes

Before I forget, I'll take time to wish nodbear a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  WISHING YOU THE BEST!  I truly appreciate your international, internet based support and friendship!

Coco sends along his wishes for a Happy Birthday!

Also learned earlier this morning that today would have been Dave Niehaus's birthday.  For those who are not Seattle Mariners fans, he was the broadcast "voice" of the team, from it's start back in the mid 70s until his untimely passing a few years ago.  He had a uniquely mellow and relaxing tone, and I know of people who would switch off the sound on the tv and turn up the radio if he was doing a radio broadcast of the game.  For fans, it always meant we were tuned into the right place when we could hear Dave's voice.  Even now, it evokes a bit of nostalgia when they do replays of famous plays and his voice can still be heard.  There is a life-sized bronze statue of him at Safeco Field, the Mariner's home ballpark in Seattle.  Fans often take pictures of themselves with the statue.

Mon, Feb. 19th, 2018, 11:42 am
Random Rants

Over time I've gotten into the habit of trying to work the crossword puzzles that appear in our local newspaper.  It has the New York Times crossword and one other.  As it turns out, I rarely complete the NYT puzzle, and almost always finish up the other.  As well, I've found that on certain days of the week, the one from the NYT is easier than on other days.  Sometimes I go all the way through all the clues and can only figure out a handful of them.  When I check the answers the next day it seems that I was thinking on different lines than the creator of that specific puzzle.

Recently, it seems, both puzzles have had a thing for the word "Elk."  This is fine with me, but so many times the clue is for multiple examples of the animal, plural in otherwords... and there are four spaces that require filling.  Obvious answer would be "Elks," but I've always understood that the plural of "elk" is "elk."  Just like there is one "moose," or seventy-five "moose."  To my brain, it's "Elks" only if talking about the Lodge with the same name.  Just one of those things that irks me to some degree... not saying I'm right, but relying as much as anything on memory and the way I've always heard (and used) it.

Likewise, I've spend most of my life hearing and probably using the word "towards."  When I had my first book edited, all instances in which I'd used "towards" were changed to "toward."  I complied, thinking I'd made a grammatical, usage, or spelling error.  (I did leave it at one point where it was part of a quote and I figured that individual might not be well schooled in proper speech.)  Later I learned that "towards" vs. "toward" was a US vs UK situation, much the same as "color" or "honor" vs "colour" and "honour."  Wish I'd known that back when I was going through the edits.... I would have left it as "towards," primarily because that's how I heard (and hear) it in my mind.

Additonally there seem to be words and phrases used today that just don't set right with me.  I get tired of people saying they are "gifting" something.  Shouldn't they be "giving?"  or "presenting?" or.... "gave" vs. "gifted?"  I also get annoyed when someone "disrespects" somebody.  Seems to me that one would show disrespect, or act with disrespect towards another.  (See, I naturally used "towards" without even thinking of it.)

Reading wise, I'm about 2/3s the way through Arthur Conan Doyle's Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Coco at his puppy training graduation a week or so ago.

Thu, Feb. 15th, 2018, 04:13 pm
More Snow!

We had a bit of snow over the Holidays, but as last month progressed in to February, it slowly disappeared, a week or so we were having some unseasonably warm weather, with temperatures in the high fifties... almost shirtsleeve weather. But, as it is still winter, that was bound to change. We lost the influx of warmer air sweeping in from the south, and found instead the western edge of the current Artic Blast. Temperatures dropped to what is more normal for this time of year. And it brought with it considerable precipitation. It was just cold enough to alliw it to fall as snow.

This is what we woke up to Wednesday morning... Valentine's Day. This particular photo was taken very early, around 7 am and so it is still somewhat dark. We learned later that within the local area, we set the record for the amount of snow falling on February 14th... over 7 inches!

Snow was pretty much stopped by noon and the cloudes began to scatter. By sunset, our skies were partially clear.

This was the view looking to the southwest at about 5 pm.

Today has been bright and sunny, although cold... got up to the freezig point and that was all. Weather guessers are saying a few more storms, rain or snow over the weekend, and then a few days of really cold weather... lows in the single digits.

Still, our cold spells are not what the hearty folks in Alaska face. Even so, over the past few days we were often showing about the same temperature as Fairbanks. No, weren't that cold... they were that warm.... mid 20s, and a time or two the were apparently a degree or two warmer.

More next time,
P. S. Coco loves the snow!

Sun, Feb. 11th, 2018, 02:20 pm

Big day yesterday. Coco "graduated" from his puppy training class. Truth be told, he failed the final "exam." However, he bribed the trainer with kots of sloppy wet kisses and unbridled affection, and so recieved his certificate of completion anyway. While he didn't do that well with the behaviors that were taught, he did great with the socialization aspects of the class. I've truly never seen a dog so eager to meet people (and other dogs). As soon as he realizes we are at the store (a large well-known pet supply store where the classea were held, his tail starts going a mile a minute, and he's trying to rush up to the nearest people, just knowing they'll pet him and make a fuss over him. And when actally in class he is so interested in the other dogs and their "parents," that he has a hard time trying to pay attention. With the way the training area is set up, people can look in over the side, and of course he sees those folks as well... further distracting him from the task at hand.

He is by no means a "dumb" dog. He has his own agenda and doesn't let anything interfere with it. His basic stubborness might also be charactaristic of his breed. Everything I find on dachshunds suggests that they are indeed independent and determined to have their way. So he may not be a dog who follows every command instantly, but he'll be one that succeeds because of his charm and personality. As long as he is so glad and excited to be around people, I don't think he'll have much if a problem.

Coco's graduation, complete with cap... no gown, however!

Finushed reading Twin's THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER a coyple of days ago. Seemed to match up fairly close with what I remember seeing on the old "Wonderful World of Disney" TV show, back when I was a kid. I think it was made in the early 60s and Guy Williams (tv's Zorro and later a star of Lost In Space) played Miles Hendon. Haven't started it yet, but earlier today I picked up a copy of THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by Arthur Conan Doyle... another from the fairly extensive collection in the basement. I remember reading this a long long time ago, as well as a couple other volumes of stories about the great detective.

Hope everyone has a grat week ahead!

Sat, Feb. 3rd, 2018, 01:57 pm

Not sure if I've mentioned it or not, but last fall the motorized recliner chair that Eva and Jessica got me for my Birthday a couple of years ago stopped working.  It just locked up about 1/4 the way into the reclining position.  The leg rest had come up just a bit and the back had dropped down slightly... to where it was uncomfortable and awkward to sit in.  So we contacted the store it was purchased through and there was a warranty on it.  So they sent out a repairman... whom we waited for for several weeks, with the times they scheduled us for often conflicting with other aspects of our life.

Well the repair guy comes, takes a look at it and agrees that it isn't working.  His decision is to replace suspected parts and he leaves, saying he will order parts.  Well that apparently doesn't go good with the store, so we hear from them that we can either get a check from them for at least a part value of the chair, or we can replace it with a like unit.  With all the dilly dally and delays that go on in this age of instant communication, my new recliner, fully functioning, I might add, was delivered early yesterday afternoon.  And yes, I did use the recline function later in the evening while watching TV.  However, I think the most welcome feature was that I can now return it to its full upright position.  That's nice if I happen to be snacking or eating from the coffee table.  With the in-op chair, the position of the back didn't bother me at such times... it was the leg rest being partially extended that was a real pain in the...

As mentioned last time I was here, I'm currently reading Mark Twain's The Prince and The Pauper.  I've also been taking Coco out for regular walks for the past couple of weeks, and lately I've discovered a connection.  Not to provide any spoilers for anyone who hasn't read (or seen the old Disney film) The Prince and The Pauper, but the two named characters trade places.  The Prince ends up in rags and amongst the rabble of London.  He indignantly insists he is the prince but no one believes him.  As I walk Coco up the street, it seems as if he has much the same attitude.  I've noticed that he'll bark at places where other dogs have barked at him, much as if he's saying, "I'm the prince of the dog world!  You better sound off and let me know you're there!  Announce your fealty to me!"  Just something in that little dog walk and attitude.  He'll also bark at any pedestrians that happen by.... but that's because he's cute and knows it and wants attention.  I'll be taking him to the 5th of 6 puppy training classes in an hour or so.  He'll get his share of attention there.  Whether or not he learns anything remains to be seen.  Even so, he's a great little friend and the walks we go on are good for me as well.

I ended up sleeping in a couple mornings ago so didn't get a chance to see the Super/Blue/Blood Moon in person.  That evening, however, our sky was fairly clear and as the moon rose into the heavens, it was still quite bright and impressive.  Took the following pic from just in front of our porch, looking back somewhat towards the house and and along the row of houses stretching down the block.

As always, more next time.  Getting close to the time to start getting ready to take Coco to class.

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