Friday, December 31, 2021


I listened to Skyward back in 2019, but never got around to writing about it. It starts out with the story of Spensa's difficult life. She had idolized her father and his flights into the sky to protect their planet. However, one day he was deemed a traitor for giving up on a fight. She still had a desire to help protect the planet. She had some friends. Eventually things fell her way and she was able to do things. The world that she inhabited was also interesting.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Peter Thiel had gone to Stanford Law School and was hoping to clerk for a supreme court justice and begin the "normal" law career. That did not end up panning out. He flopped around a few things before starting in venture capital. He had some failures before he helped start PayPal and begin a successful career in Silicon Valley. He is somewhat different than the typical silicon valley entrepreneur as gay libertarian who majored in Philosophy before going to law school.

In Zero to One, Thiel provides notes from his experiences in startups. The big start ups focus on big changes. There is space for small incremental improvements, but that is not as likely to lead to giant success. It is also important to know the market. Dominating a small market is different from being a small player in a big market. The human factors can also play an important role in the success or failure of a company. Ownership, possession and control are important factors in the success and motivation of companies. With startups they are often closely aligned, but still sometimes in conflict. With large companies, rent seeking behavior can be more common.

There is some advice on what to do (or not to do) to achieve success. However, this book comes across more as notes on what has been done. The big picture motivation can be more important than the minor details. Sometimes it is the small thing of "sticking with it" - something that the more autistic engineering minds can excell at.

The Silver Mask (Magisterium #4): Book Four of Magisterium

The Silver Mask goes of the fantasy deep end. A previously killed protagonist gets raised from the dead. An army of zombies sets out to fight on the side of evil. There is a jailbreak and a recapture, along with plenty of violence. Meanwhile, the romance starts tipping up, with some kissing and breaking up. Though that all quickly comes to an end when the violence hits. The books does pretty well wrap up the story. But the afterward hints at something more coming on.

A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence

A Thousand Brains is an interesting mishmash of a book. At first, it discusses the intelligence theory. This says that brain uses large numbers of different models to process information. It takes in various inputs and uses the past learning to build new understanding. This contrasts to the more linear understanding and the use in artificial intelligence. The author stresses that this is just a model that can be used to come to a true understanding with more research.

The book then goes off on science fiction and social policy. There is discussion of extra-terrestrial life, and the challenge of intelligent life meeting up. Intelligent human life capable of interstellar communication has only existed for a mere blip in the lifespan of the earth. What are the odds we could find other life? The author has the optimistic stance that any society that has conquered long distance space travel has probably also conquered the base characteristics that lead to warfare.

The author is optimistic about artificial intelligence. We still have a long way to go before adopting intelligence similar to the human brain. Most artificial intelligence uses simple learning process that must be relearned to be able to carry out new tasks. Computers have beat humans at narrow tasks, but not at overall intelligence. AI would probably need to undergo a significant change to make the leap forward. He sees great potential for robotic intelligence, with minimal risk.

For society, the author is concerned with "fake learning". People often adopt models that are proven to be true. However, he also acknowledges that many models serve their purpose. When people only travel by foot, the flat earth model is perfectly adequate. The subsection of the earth they can travel is for all practical purposes flat. Only once long distance and higher speed travel comes about is a round earth model needed. Even today, most people are fine thinking of the earth as "flat". 

The book compares these models to other knowledge that is "proven" to be bad. This is where things start to get tricky. The link between autism and vaccination is given as an example. People cling to the belief that the vaccines lead to autism in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary. However, just as the scientific community can produce evidence refuting the vaccine/autism connection, the anti-vaxers produce evidence to their side. How can that be? The book claims that they are continuing to advocate "bad" beliefs. But, I'm guessing they would call others following "bad" science. Today science has obtained a level of "religion". The scientific method arbitrates all truth. It has become akin to the pope in the medieval Europe. Science tends to denigrate religion as "outdated" just as Christianity christianized pre-Christian religions as pagan. Have we really advanced? Or are we just seeing a new religion gain prominence?  

Other areas like global warming and birth control and religion are seen as areas of concern. Global warming could be an existential crisis for humanity. The earth could potentially be uninhabitable like Mars is today. Religions can be dangerous when they look forward to an afterlife and the destruction of the world. Hmm. These two actually seem similar. Birth control was advocated as a way for the logical brain to overcome the gene-spreading behavior of the instinctive brain. However, will that really result in massive decrease in population? There still does seem to be a strong desire for reproduction.

The social policy implications distract from the earlier message of the book. It does go more into science fiction (including discussion of the laws of robotics.) That may be interesting. However, that is most likely focussing on problems that will not be at the forefront of the future. When the author was launching Palm, few people could see a purpose of handheld computers. Now it is not unusually for people to carry around multiple computing devices (watches, phones, etc.) that are much more powerful than early Palm Pilots. Similarly, the implications for a future once we further understand the brain and can reproduce it will be much different than anything we can think of today.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Bronze Key: The Magisterium, Book 3

The Bronze Key is a an obvious middle book in a series. It ends on a big cliffhanger. In the process they discover that keeping secrets is not all that great. Call also learns that if he is not going to bother asking the girl out, somebody else will. The kids now become more comfortable with their school environment, but also realize there is more crazy stuff going on in the world. Like in Harry Potter, the "magic world" is "hidden in plain view" from the real world.

Fifty Famous Fairy Tales

Classic fairy tales are quite different from modern stories. Today they are "children's stories." This may be more due to the short and simple nature than the actual content. There is plenty of violence in these stories. There are also mixed messages. In some, the protagonist does something stupid, but through cunning escapes the consequences. In others, they face the consequences of the stupid actions. Do these stories depict the values of past times? Or are they just entertaining stories? 

Superficial looks and wealth also are more important. Beauty does fall in love with beast - but after that, he turns back into a prince. In Puss and Boots, through cunning, the cat helps his master to pass as a wealthy prince. However, in Princess and the Pea, a "real princess" has unique characteristics that allow her to be identified. Are royals different? Or are they just normal people that stumbled into a good condition in life? 

These stories do come from many different sources. Perhaps some of the differences are a result of their different origins. Or perhaps they are all just sources of entertainment.

The Copper Gauntlet: Magisterium, Book 2

Lying to keep a secret never ends up well. In the second book in the series, conflict ramps up. It begins with the time between the first and second years of Mage school. Call's "dog" (a wolf) is missing. He is upset about this. However, he ends up finding the dog chained up in his dad's secret office, along with a place for him and instructions for some special magic. He does not like the look of it, and runs off to his rich friend's house in another town. He stays there until school starts.

They get to the school and more conflict breaks out. Eventually, Call tells his friends some of the experience with his dad. However, he does not tell the full story, and that makes things even worse. They end up on a big adventure. In the end, they find out more about who he and his father are and they decide not to keep secrets from each other.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America's Deadliest Avalanche

The most deadly avalanche in the US occurred at Wellington, Washington in 1910. At that time rail travel was considered generally safe. The railroads had extensive snow clearing equipment, and people were comfortable taking the train even in heavy snow storms. 

Many passengers had boarded the train in Spokane, expecting an eventful trip to Seattle. However, the weather was not cooperating. The snow kept going down. There was so much snow that the snow removal machines were jammed. And the snow kept coming. It was decided to park the passenger train (and a mail train) on a siding at Wellington. Some people had had enough of this and decided to leave the train and hike away through the snow. That ended up being a wise decision. The snow on the hill over the train train track loosened and came down in a massive avalanche, pushing the trains over hundred feet down the hill. Some people survived, but most of the train occupants had died.

There were lawsuits. Some blame was placed on poor labor conditions as well as bad decisions on the positioning of the train. A past forest fire that had removed the tree cover was also a contributing factor. However, in the end, the primary cause was deemed to be an unpredictable act of nature. The train line suffered some small avalanches later. They renamed the town of Wellington to "Tye" to remove the bad association. Eventually, a longer tunnel was built to avoid some of the worst parts of the line.

Monday, December 27, 2021

The Iron Trial: Book One of The Magisterium

Iron Trial  is another spin on the Harry Potter school of fantasy. An outcast boy ends up at a magic school and bonds with another boy and a girl. It turns out they have some key powers that make them key in preventing a great collapse. They need to gradually learn their role.

Most everybody would love to pass for the "rewards" it entails. Callum Hunt has been told by his dad to stay away from magic, making him one of the rare people that want to fail the trial. Alas, a mage brings him in. He seems to have unbridled power. They want to help him control it. He can interact with other beings such as a "pet" he has. He is told that he may be much more than he thinks he is. 

The book ends with a "resolution" to a minor episode. It is pretty clear that there is much more to come in the future books. 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Life Is Simple: How Occam's Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe

The simplest solution is often the correct one. In this book, the author traces the history of "simplicity" in science. The book starts with the history of William of Ockham and the intermingling of religion and science. Scientific work was almost exclusively carried out by religious orders in the Islamic and Christian world. Proving religious teachings often went hand and hand with gaining understanding of the natural world. This could often lead to conflicts when the understanding of the natural world did not square with the current religious dogma. There were also many attempts to create complex systems to ensure that observations matched the current accepted view.

Science gradual grew as established systems were brushed aside. Simple interpretations replaced the complex explanations. This often required throwing away some of the past work. Some of the people that moved science forward were respected in their lives. Others were castigated. This book traces many advancements in simplification from the middle ages to Einstein and beyond. Scientists are not perfect and even great scientists have made mistakes. While science has moved out of traditional religion, it can still be constrained by internal and external dogma and politics. As our understanding grows in everything from the smallest subatomic particles to the expanse of the universe, the quest for the simplest solution continues.

Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion

How can empathy be bad? Isn't it one of the key human attributes that we should all try to gain more of? Paul Bloom presents the case that at best empathy will cause us to misplace our efforts, while in the worst case it can lead to genocide and mass killings. How can empathy lead to that?

The key problem with empathy is that it leads us to focus on the immediate feelings of an individual. This can end up drowning out needs of others. After a tragic event with significant media coverage, donations tend to poor in. This can even become a burden. (What does a city do with all the Teddy Bears received after a school shooting?) In this case there are a few negative impacts. However, it is mostly just a small misplaced donation. (There were probably other kids that could have really used those Teddy Bears.)

The misplaced attention can get worse as we attempt to set public policy.  We may empathize with the struggles of an individual or small group. This leads us to enact new policy to minimize this suffering - even if it adds to the suffering of others. Different targets of empathy can lead to some of our most controversial situations. (Do you empathize with the child that would not have been born if an abortion were successful or the woman who struggled because she couldn't get an abortion?)

Empathy can also lead to greater group conflicts. We tend to empathize most with people that are the most similar to us. This can lead to favoring our group at the expense of others. Racism and other biases often result from this empathy. At the extreme, revenge killings and genocide can result from empathy. Empathy towards those that have been wronged by another group leads towards seeking the punishment of those associated with the perpetration. 

What should we do instead? The author proposes a rational compassion. Acknowledge that our feelings towards an individual should not trump everything else. Perhaps universal empathy would be another way to look at it. We can remove ourselves from our group and attempt to have the same empathy towards everyone. This will reduce the short term biases - but could lead to extreme cognitive overload. Let us just acknowledge that empathy can be destructive and act appropriately.

The Weather of the Pacific Northwest

The Weather of the Pacific Northwest is a definitive introduction to all things related to regional weather of this part of the United States. Weather prediction on the west coast of the United States can be challenging. Weather systems typically come from the west. There is a large Pacific Ocean to the west, and limited visibility in to the details of the weather. There are also huge shifts in terrain over short distances. The multiple mountain ranges suck a great deal of precipitation from the sky, leaving the west sides exceptionally wet, while the east sides are dry. The ranges also help block air from the interior, leading to a rather temperate climate. Alas, there are gaps in the mountain ranges. This allows interior air systems to come through, bringing their more extreme conditions and high wind.

The book is beautifully illustrated and filled with pictures and graphs illustrating the topics discussed. I was somewhat disappointed by some of the graphs. While they are fairly typical for weather graphs, I do wish they could have improved them to better illustrate the topic of discussion. (For instance, there were a couple illustrations comparing different situations that had different scales.)

The book has extensive coverage of the detailed weather systems of different parts of the Northwest. Enumclaw is very prone to high winds, even when things are calm a short distance away. (It  Sequim is dry and sunny, while less than 75 miles away, Forks measures their rainfall in feet. Even the city of Seattle can have different weather within the city. Puget sound is a moderating influence, while hills can change the weather. A convergence zone tends to set over the city, leading to more overcast systems. Portland can often be colder in the winder as systems move through the Columbia River gap. Eastern Washington and Oregon are much colder in the winter and hotter in the summer - and get a lot less rain.

The book also covers some of the extreme weather events and attempts to provide explanation of how they occurred. (It is much easier for the newer ones.) The impacts of climate change are discussed, both in the context of human caused global warming as well as natural changes (such as the ending of the little ice age.)

The book is generally well written. However, parts do get a little repetitive. (I do get the point that a bicycle pump trends to warm air!) The update page for the book currently does not have any content. Maybe there will be corrections in the future?

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: Wayfarers, Book 1

A diverse crew is traveling through space to complete their mission on a ship. Each crew member has a different backstory. There are hidden run ins with the law as well as secret wealth. They run into "pirates", yet are able to take advantage of past learning to not have very negative outcomes. 

A lot of time is spent exploring the different relationships. Different species have very different customs, many of which are weird or offensive to others. There are also those that believe themselves superior to others. Artificial Intelligence beings add another twist on things. (An AI falls in love - but loses the understanding of the relationship when rebooted.)

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Slaughterhouse-Five (or The Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death)

Slaughterhouse Five is a mostly fictional work about from the mind of somebody that has been impacted by war. Billy Pilgrim has been kidnapped by aliens from Tralfamadore and now must live all life at the same time. The experiences in World War II (especially the Dresden Fire Bombings) are impactful to him. He knows what will happen in his life, but can't change it. The culture of the aliens is different from his. They can't understand some basic concepts of his life, while he can't understand some basic ones of theirs. However, he does live through this all time experience. Things are streaming in and out of his mind. He does meet one of the great science fiction writers (who is pretty much a loser in his life.) He struggles with war, loss, religion and more and a future as a "zoo animal" for aliens. What is real and what is fantasy created by a mind warped by these experiences? Or is this somewhat more truthful? It doesn't really matter. (In an afterward, Vonnegut does mention that he is not Billy Pilgrim - but the character was based on a real life person.) 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime

Rwanda is messed up. The leaders have tried to put a nice face on things, but underneath, the country is ruled by a bunch of bullies. There has been a history of genocide and deaths of political dissenters. People are not safe outside the country. Diplomats are liable to spread viruses and dissenters are killed in first world hotels.

There is not a whole lot of positive in this book. The author is going full on for exposing all the dirt possible. There is a culture of doing what is best for oneself in the country. Thus accounts of the same event can be vastly different depending on who is telling it. The leaders make things appear to be "peaceful" to attract foreign donors. However, can a people that had just completed a huge genocide be really peaceful? There remains extreme animosity and distrust on both sides.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running: A Memoir

Haruki Marakami was running a jazz club. One day, while going to a baseball game, he felt he should write a novel. He did and won a prize. Later he decided to sell the club and dive in to writing. He went on to become an accomplished writer. Writing was a much more sedentary activity, leading to concerns about his health. He took up running to be active. It also helped him to give up smoking. He likes the solitary nature of running. He competes only with himself. (Though it is depressing that age tends to bring down running times, no matter how much training is done.)

This book is primarily about his experience running, with some sidelines of his life and experience writing. He doesn't think running is for everybody. Being forced to do something can make people hate it. However, when they discover it on their own, it can be a joy. This goes for both physical activities and academic interests. Keeping up at anything is important. Giving your body a rest from running gives it a chance to "relax" and drop some of the gains that have been made.

He would typically put in long time periods running, covering large numbers of miles each week. His first "marathon" was a solo run from Athens to Marathon in the summer heat. (It was not a great experience, and may not have been the full marathon distance.) He later did a marathon each year, and even did an ultra. (Though that seemed to suck the joy out of running.) He ran in New York, Boston and Japan. He achieved remarkable physical health, but he seemed to most enjoy the mental benefits.

The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History

The Napoleonic Wars is a long book that covers the Napoleonic Wars as well as all the world history that immediately related to it. Napoleon himself only plays a minor part in the story. There are shifting alliances among other European countries. The European nations at the time had colonies throughout the world. Thus, the various conflicts among the nations spread through the entire world.

Napoleon rose to power after the French Revolution. The revolution started out as an attempt to ensure freedom for the people. Alas, this freedom ended up with people that did not like the "right" freedom losing their heads. Eventually, the best way to be "free" was to have a strong leader that could force other people to be "free." Napoleon filled this void. He was a keen military leader and took advantage of this opportunity to take over the army and eventually declare himself emperor. All of the idealism of the revolution simply resulted in the replacement of one despot with another. (Oh, and a few million people died in the process.) Alas, this pattern has seemed to repeat itself again and again as the "people" throw out the despot only to end up needing a new despot to force the "will of the people". A violent progressive revolution is a dangerous thing.

The events of the Napoleonic war caused massive changes in other parts of the world. A number of colonies switched hands during the time. Many took that opportunity to proclaim their own independence.  It was not a direct process. There were rises and falls before the revolutions finished playing out. France, Spain and Britain were somewhat involved, but also busy with the European battles. Asia was also involved, with China, India, Vietnam and Indonesia all touched by these wars. The United States also grew with the Louisiana purchase. International trade was impacted by the wars as countries tried to block others from trading. Slavery was initially banned by the French, but Napoleon was convinced to maintain it. (The Haitian government created after a slave rebellion was blackballed by much of the world.)

Back in Europe, Napoleon created a large (if temporary) unification of Europe. In some sense, it was a preview of the European Union that would come in the future. There were some bad economic decisions in the process. However, in the end it was primarily overextension of military quests that did in Napoleon. 

Napoleon was exiled, then came back. He seemed to have a chance, but just was not quite up to his old self. This time he was exiled a little more thoroughly. France was also punished more thoroughly with more territory lost than at the end of the previous peace. The author posits that the way tides had turned, Napoleon would have eventually met his defeat no matter what had happened. He just made some mistakes that caused it to happen earlier. Britain seemed to be the big European winner. After the huge number of deaths, there was a lot more respect for conservative leadership. The ideals of the French revolution did continue to hold some sway, they just progressed a little slower.

Friday, December 10, 2021

The Gray Wolf Throne: A Seven Realms Novel, Book 3

This is the adventure book the series that finally connects many of the people. Han saves Rebecca and then eventually finds out that she is really the princess. He doesn't take this well, but he does follow her to court. She foils the wizards' plan by showing up for her mother's funeral. She is later crowned the queen. Though, this is not until after there have been a few accounts taken on her life. Han runs into conflict with the aristocracy who think of him as a mere commoner. Things get interesting. We get confused as to who are the good guys and the bad guys. Then it ends on an even more confusing cliffhanger. Time for the next book.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything

I remember spending some time with calculating energy use for bicycling. There was a lot of debate and calculations going around. It became a fool's errand to try to calculate CO2 usage. A bike ride powered by hamburgers could be responsible for many more emissions than a bike ride powered by potatoes. You could also look forward and consider that a bike ride extends life, thus leading to more lifetime CO2 production. However, it also reduces medical visits, reducing environmental burden. The "fuel" consumption also assumes that the bike rider will eat additional calories equal to those consumed. If instead, the driver and bike rider consume the same calories, their emissions will be the same. The driver is also likely to add more weight with the extra calories. This extra weight will require more emissions to maintain. It will also make future transportation more expensive due to the extra weight. 

Looking in all directions is what makes calculating greenhouse gas impact so hard. It is easy to say that a car ride emitted X amount of CO2 from the combustion of gasoline. An electric car doesn't burn gasoline, so it must be great on the environment, right? Alas, it still uses electricity which is generated by multiple means on the grid. Most likely the marginal extra use from the car is made possible by burning fossil fuels. (Only if the grid was 100% renewable could we assume it came from renewable sources.) This only takes into account the burning of the fuel source. This is also the production of the fuel (drilling for oil, mining coal, etc.) There is also the infrastructure needed to produce the fuel and that needed to produce energy (solar panels and wind farms still have a cost.) Then there is transportation infrastructure - power lines, pipelines, electric grid. And that just gets us our power. After the fuel. We also need the emissions in building the vehicle and maintaining it. This is as far as the book goes. However, the car would not be useful if it were not for roads and parking lots. We also need to account for traffic jams, crashes, highway patrol, larger lots to account for cars, and many other things. There are emissions tentacles that stretch on in every direction. How much do you allocate to each source?

How Bad Are Bananas makes an attempt to quantify some of the many emissions that go into parts of everyday life. There are "numbers" given, but the author stresses that it is the order of magnitude that matters the most. In our world there is often clever carbon accounting that goes on. One side may claim to be "net zero" by buying credits from another side that also brags about their environmental stewardship. Countries often "export" their emissions, by using emission-intensive goods produced by other countries. This all makes it even harder to calculate the full impact. 

Cost does seem to be a helpful rule of thumb, though subsidies and differences in regulations can confuse the matter. In general, the more we spend, the more carbon we emit. If we spend a lot on personal services, we are transferring the carbon decisions to those people. Air travel can be extra carbon intensive due to altitude. Eating meat and animal products can also be very carbon intensive. The animals "waste" a lot of carbon on supporting their lives. They also "emit" a lot of methane in their digestive process. (Again, things get confusing. A confined chicken operation has less "waste" at the expense of animal welfare. A herd of cattle free-ranging on a pasture may be providing benefit to the land.) Even renewable energy sources like turbines and solar panels cost a lot to produce and have a limited life span. Carbon emission per person generally goes up as income goes up. If we don't want to sacrifice our quality of life, there are other big picture areas we can focus on. Continuing to use what we have rather than buying new is often helpful. Buying an old house in the city center may be costly, but pay huge dividends. (It also saves the destruction of forest for the suburban tract home.) We all need to focus on the big picture - if only we could better understand it.

Saturday, December 04, 2021

What Makes Love Last?: How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal

What makes a relationship successful? It seems like something that you would just know. However, Dr. Gottman set about studying the details. The book has a series of "tests" to analyze the relationship. Some parts are simple. Do people focus on the good or the bad? Are their positive past recollections even when times are currently difficult? Or are the past experiences colored with negativity?

He also provides details of choosing an appropriate therapist when needed. One that encourages people to just "get over" past challenges is not helpful. If there has been some harm or betrayal, this must be fully understood and worked through before getting "over it".

The physical relationship is also an important part of a good relationship. This is an area that is often rife with miscommunication. People have different goals and feelings regarding intimacy. It is important to bring these out in the open and not assume the partner feels the same.

A relationship will never be perfect. However, people need to continual work together to improve it. It would be interesting to strap on some of the monitors that he talks about to evaluate conversations in the process. Maybe we can apply scientific analysis to ourselves to better understand what we are feeling "in the moment". (Then again, watching our recorded "fights" may be especially cringe-worthy.)

Balkans: A Short History

The Balkans are rarely heard of except when something bad happens. World War I was kicked off by an assassination in the Balkans. More recently there was a long drawn out conflict after Yugoslavia disintegrated. What is going on there?

The Balkans were slow to develop due to their geography. The mountains made travel challenging. The rivers were not easily navigable, and seemed to flow off in to the wrong direction. It was not an area that rulers would concern themselves with. 

The region also did not have a strong ethnic identity. The population adopted Christianity, yet was ruled by Muslims. It also had an active Jewish population. These groups tended to live together without much problem. They were often willing to adopt the parts of the religion that best suited the population. Some people would switch religions as they would benefit. The population was predominantly rural and due to geography did not have significant interactions with others.

The concept of the "nation state" was somewhat forced upon the Balkans. The concept of the state came first. Then people were encouraged to join the group that fit them. People were not "Bulgarians" or "Romanians" until the country came about. However, these identities later became a nice excuse for battling those that somebody did not agree with.

The implied message from this book is that people of the Balkans largely want to go along living in peace. However, when the world decided they needed to play "state games", they obliged and set about fighting each other.

(I also find it interesting that I had read this same book a decade before without realizing it.)

Friday, December 03, 2021

The Exiled Queen: A Seven Realms Novel

The second book in the series function in typical second book fashion. It starts in the middle of the action and ends demanding more to happen. This book is mostly the "away at school" interlude. The princess is at military school (in disguise). Her would-be suitor (Micah Bayer) happens to be nearby in wizard school. The "street thief that will feels like should be her love interest" is also in the school. The sister of the would-be-suitor has a thing for the street-thief turned wizard. There is also the guy that is supposed to protect the princess. They love each other, but cannot enter into a relationship. It is all one big bizarre love polygon. There is also sneaking over to visit each other at schools. kidnapping and a lot of magical pranks. The author tries to say that Micah Bayer is a balanced character, but he keeps getting worse and worse over the course of the novel.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolution

Martha Peake did not originally want to leave England for America. However, she gets pregnant and takes off to America. She has some adventures and is killed. Later people respect her and Thomas Paine as they are fighting. The story is told from a narrator looking back. The setting is colonial New England, however it feels more like modern times with a bit of revolutionary-era name dropping.