Category Archives: Random and interesting items

Winter is icumen in

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ram

And Winter is the Winter Sisters, Victory, Payton and Willow. Each with their own special gift and ability and each falling in love with a different soldier in the elite squad of Army, Navy and Airforce. Author Joanne Jaytanie.

The series I am reviewing contains 3 novels, the latest published being Willow’s Discovery, published this October, which I read first through NetGalley.

This series is far from finished as far as I am concerned, as although each sister now has a mate – there is so much more that can happen to other characters and in the story-line.

So yes, I started with Willow’s Discovery and was only a quarter of the way through when I realised I wanted to read the first 2 books as well. I could read the 3rd book first but it would have been better to read them in the correct order.

Now the story line of all 3 concerns DNA being manipulated to give us extra fierce soldiers –this isn’t a new idea. The concept of the formidable soldier is common in fantasy but for me what was new was that the characters were splicing wolf genes into the soldiers to make them bigger, stronger, and fiercer.

And two of the alpha males – yes they are all alpha males in this story as they are members of the elite squad mentioned above – have been experimented on with these wolf genes with very different results. But many of the males and females in this series have extra abilities and they haven’t had wolf genes added, and the question never answered (but it was raised) in the books is – was there some gene manipulation going on in utero?

Interestingly, I am now reading another series of books where again canine DNA is inserted into soldiers to make them fiercer – the fantasy series of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter and Fairest.

Having come across this idea by two authors I thought I would look into what was happening with canine DNA and why this idea had come to these authors. And to my surprise found that canine DNA was being used for disease studies in humans [see the articles from the dmm.biologists organisation; National Geographic; Genome Research].

It appears that dogs get similar diseases to humans with the same genetic and environmental factors involved. These genes relate to diet and digestion, and neurological processes and disease which have evolved parallel in both species due to living in the same shared environment. These shared diseases include obesity, OCD, epilepsy, and cancers especially breast cancer (cancer is twice as common in dogs as in humans), and retinal diseases including cataracts.

Dogs only share 84% of our DNA  as compared to chimpanzees – 98.8%, monkeys – 93% and mice 90%, but we share some 360 genetic disorders with them, even though some of these only occur in 40% of dog breeds such as the Doberman Pinchers with inherited narcolepsy which has enable scientists to understand the molecular mechanisms of regulating sleep. And the last item explains something about why these stories include Dobermans as they were clearly being used in the genetic research of the organisation.

And I also looked into Tollers as they were a new breed of dog to me. Not that that’s saying a lot as there are so many new breeds appearing at the moment…nova-scotia-duck-tolling-retriever

So the basic stories were about criminal behaviour, kidnapping, torture and unusual experiments and general mayhem and brave deeds by the alpha males with feisty females assisting using their special powers. A good mix of fantasy and war stories, with some organised fraud and crime thrown in for good measure.

I really enjoyed all 3 of these books and am inclined to give them all 5 stars.

Salary Theorem: Why Bankers earn more

Dilbert’s “Salary Theorem” states that “Engineers and scientists can never earn
as much as business executives and sales people.”

This theorem can now be supported by a mathematical equation based on the
following two postulates:

Postulate 1: Knowledge is Power.
Postulate 2: Time is Money.

As every engineer knows:
Power = Work / Time

Since Knowledge = Power
And Time = Money
Then Knowledge = Work / Money

Solving for Money, we get:
Money = Work / Knowledge.

Thus, as Knowledge approaches zero, Money approaches infinity, regardless of the
amount of work done.

Conclusion: The less you know, the more you make.

Simulate and activate your alternate

Simulation (Bk 2 in series): see PoP Travel

by

Tara Tyler

 

Would you really want life eternal? Just as when asked would I want to go to heaven, I think, hmm –might it not get boring after a while? Once you have done everything and been everywhere, what is there left to do? ‘Course if you are a megalomaniac you can always find some mischief – or can you?

This is really a story about cloning brains and robots and as I have been watching ‘Humans’ on TV, I can see the appeal of all the nice bodies you could have – imagine if you could sculpt away all your bad parts and improve all your good parts. I would be six foot tall, red-haired, slim and very athletic. I would have long slim legs with a nice thigh gap and my breasts would support themselves, I would definitely have a bikini ready body… oh well. I can but imagine what I would look like. But would I want to live that long? No, actually I wouldn’t. If you believe that every day could be your last, then you act as your best person. You do good rather than bad/evil. You assume that you may well die today/tomorrow and thus there will be no time to address your bad bits, no time to right those wrongs. Life eternal could definitely lead to selfish, self-absorbed, moralistically challenged people. You could use your clone (if you were still alive) to do your work, and to do all the things you don’t want to/ couldn’t/ wouldn’t normally, do. And this has got to be bad.

I sort of see why people might want to clone a beloved pet and this is actually now done – there is Britain’s first cloned dog – would normally cost £60,000 (!) but she won a competition for her.Britain_s_first_clone_dog

I found this book amusingly written but not as exciting or innovative as Pop Travel. I am giving this 3.5 stars – .5 for the humour.

 

 

Dear Agony Aunt: I really like this boy but…

Dinner for Two

By

Mike Gayle

A paperback!!! The first I’ve read in a while but was in a Turkish bath house and needed a physical book to read, so borrowed this one from my daughter.

========================

What do you do when you turn thirty, are married, have a cat, and your wife has a miscarriage, AND you lose your job as a pop music journo? Clearly you become an agony aunt for a teen girl’s magazine.

This book has a number of  ‘Ah’  moments – such as when Dave writes a letter to his 6 week old foetus, and his columns as the self-aware male for the women’s magazine are very well written, as are his responses for the Agony Aunt.

But then in real life,  Mike – the author – has been a music journalist; and then wrote himself for a teen magazine as the Agony Aunt. So he definitely writes from experience and his own self-awareness shows in this book.

The best book I have ever read that was written by a male for the chick lit audience. He nails it!

5 stars.

 

My New Year’s ‘Commitments’

It is that time again when every good person tries to make a list of all the things they intend to do differently in the new year that has just started.

No, I’m not going to list here all the physical and mental challenges I intend to take on – ‘cos there aren’t any.. other to try and keep as fit as I am now and to continue to lose weight and to keep on blogging as well as maintaining all the other things that I do…

I am just going to tell you about my reading challenges.

I have decided to go back to undertaking some Challenges from GoodReads this year. I last did this in 2014 when I ‘promised’ to read 125 books and actually read over 150.

This year I am going to it slightly differently though. I am going to participate in the:

Genre Challenge
January: Contemporary/Literary Merit
February: Romance/Chick Lit
March: Mysteries
April: Fantasy
May: Historical Fiction
June: Minority Studies/LGBT
July: Science-Fiction/Dystopian
August: Poetry/Plays
September: Travel
October: Horror/Thriller
November: Manga/Graphic Novels
December: Humour

And the To Be Read pile challenge.

Now you can have several levels of this but I am going to be cautious here and just say I shall read 10 books from my TBR pile.

I was also extremely brave this last weekend when I went into a bookstall and also a  Waterstones store on the same afternoon and didn’t buy one single book! Oh, the strength of will it took… The piles were laying there so temptingly and with so many new authors I wanted, but no, I must try and get through the TBR pile first and when that has been reduced I can buy. So 5 books from my physical pile and 5 eBooks must get read – at least. [Note my TBR pile is designated only as those books I have deliberately purchased at whatever cost].

I shall tag all these books under categories so you can check my progress, but also check out my GoodReads feed.

The Tigger’s 2015 in review: stats and more

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Now at the start of the year I made some a series of reasons why people should read this blog so that I could gain 1000 followers. I now have 385 that read this blog directly; 29 read through Tumblr; and 985 see my book reviews through my FaceBook page – https://www.facebook.com/elayne.coakes which does have other stuff on it too.

So what I said was:

  1. I don’t blog a lot about my health and moan about my family or the state of the union or be vehement about my politics or… I blog about a variety of subject matters that interest me and hopefully you, some of which, especially as the majority of my followers are from the US, may be unfamiliar to you;
  2. I write good grammatical English (UK spelling), properly punctuated, and I know how to use the apostrophe. I don’t usually write in stream of consciousness mode but nice precise paragraphs.
  3. I write about a good variety of subjects so you are very likely to find something to interest you in them  – from flowers and gardens, to crafts, to travel, to – in particular – books. Illustrated by my husband’s excellent photographs. As a European I get to a lot of countries you may wish to visit in Europe, but also have been to many more exotic locations such as China and India and these are  described here. More still to come on past adventures, but this year I shall be flying out to Boston and New York and cruising back on the Queen Mary 2; and also Ireland later in the summer for sure. [Sorry, 2015 has been dominated by books but still I did cover other items, and shall try to do better in 2016]
  4. I read a lot of books and write informative and well researched reviews that don’t give the plot away and are not summaries. There is no plot synopsis but a comment that will be relevant to the subject matter and will inform. [2015:This is absolutely still true and will continue to be so]
  5. If I can get over 1000 followers, I will be authorised by more publishers on the NetGalley site which means I will get to read yet more books that are just being published, and more books by new authors you may not yet have heard of. I shall endeavour to keep up the interviews with them that I have recently started. [2015:I now have at least one author interview a month, sometimes more, and I am recognised by several publishers as shown by my widgets including being in the Brash Priority Reveiwer’s Circle]

 Here are details of 2014’s activity to compare to this year’s:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

The busiest day of the year was January 21st with 75 views. The most popular post that day was Feminism? Vegetarianism? Linked or not?. In 2014, there were 60 new posts.

Click here to see the complete report. for 2015.

And do please comment and come and read more posts!

Just how do you catch a member of the aristocracy?

The Viscount’s Xmas Temptation

By

Erica Ridley

If you can manage a Duke’s household- surely you can find yourself a husband in two weeks?

After all managing to triple your dowry in three years must surely make you eligible to someone?

But you need (want?) a title for your children, so no barons or viscounts. No going down the nobility hierarchy and marrying beneath you when your father was a Duke and your brother is too. Chart_of_Social_Hierarchy_of_England

And you don’t want to be bored so you need occupation – suitable of course – so you need to find a way to meet the eligible men, and the answer of course is a ball. To be organised within 11 days no less.

And instead of a memory palace, there is a memory pantry. Items are filed under the letters of the alphabet and then associated with items in the pantry eg F would give you flour and you would associate flour with whatever you were trying to remember, something light and white and powdery probably.

And just when was the wet t-shirt invented? Clearly 1815 – masked balls with dampened muslin dresses to make them transparent!

And remember the lack of underwear as we know it… especially at night when bosoms were frequently on show – often to an extreme…

muslin dress

If you want know something more about muslin dresses then go to: https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/muslin-muslin-versatile-cloth-for-regency-fashion/ where there is a good article/s explaining the cloth and dresses etc.

And http://www.rakehell.com/article.php?id=387 has a good article explaining undergarments and what type of dress was worn when.

I liked this book and the heroine – she really appealed to me. An independent minded person with a mind that was incredibly organised (mine isn’t but I would refer you back to my discussion of memory palaces last year) and who knew what she wanted and how to go about getting it.

4 stars.