“With a cargo of ivory/And apes and peacocks…”


Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amythysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

John Masefield

Discuss This Post → There are 3 comments. Add yours! Posted in Chatter, Random Friday | Tagged , |

Books! Books! Books!

This morning I got to do one of my favorite things–be on KBBI‘s Coffee Table to talk about good reads, this time with KBBI’s Shady Grove Oliver and Terry Rensel. We got all your Christmas presents for you right here.

KBBI Coffee Table

And without further ado, our recommendations:


  • Children of War by Martin Walker
  • I’ve raved before about Martin’s Bruno Chief of Police books set in France’s Perigord. This is the best one to date, about homegrown Muslim extremism brought down to a real, human level in Bruno’s commune of St. Denis.

  • Exo by Steven Gould
  • The fourth book in Gould’s Jumper series, and the second featuring teenage daughter Cent. The family that teleports together stays together.

  • Sniper’s Honor by Stephen Hunter
  • Hands down the best thriller I read this year, and maybe in the last ten years. Retired sniper Bob Lee Swagger and journalist friend Kathy Reilly investigate the history of the White Witch, a Russian female sniper in World War II. Edge-of-seat plotting between past and present, and boy does this guy know how to write a shootout.

  • Night Heron by Adam Brookes
  • An old-fashioned spy novel going full gallop from Xinjiang to Beijing to Hong Kong to Seoul to London and back again, with echoes of John Le Carre.

  • Before the Poison by Peter Robinson
  • A man buys a house in Yorkshire and becomes obsessed with discovering the truth of the alledged murder that happened there years before.

  • The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
  • The second outing of Lady Trent, that student of dragons living in a fully realized fantasy world laid down on a Victorian England template. In this one, Lady Trent is obliged to invent flight.

  • The Cold Cold Ground, The Sirens in the Street and In the Morning I’ll be Gone,
  • Adrian McKinty’s trilogy about constable Sean Duffy trying to serve and protect in Northern Ireland during the Troubles of the early 80’s. Gritty and real, this is a three-book flash photo of a time and place you won’t be able to forget.

  • An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
  • When you’re done reading what his re-entry to Earth after five months on the ISS does to him, you being to wonder if astronauts aren’t becoming aliens or at least evolving into a different kind of human being while they’re on orbit. And you start wondering if space exploration shouldn’t be one-way.

  • King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon by David R. Montgomery
  • A history of the Atlantic and the Pacific Northwest salmon, with object lessons for any Alaskans who would like to see the salmon runs here outlive them.

  • The Valleys of the Assassins by Freya Stark
  • The travels of a British woman through Persia in the 1930s. Vivid and very funny.

    And (drum roll, please) children’s picture book o’ the year: David Wiesner’s Mr. Wuffles!


  • Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  • On Photography by Susan Sontag
  • The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
  • Dead Men Do Tell Tales by William R. Maples
  • Kitchen/Moonlight Shadow by Banana Yoshimoto
  • Terry

  • The American Home Front 1941-1942 by Alistair Cooke
  • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
  • Kafka on the Shore and Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
  • Blood Alone by James R. Benn
  • Churchill’s Triumph by Michael Dobbs
  • American Gods and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett
  • And as always people called in with their own recommendations, as in

    Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, One Summer by Bill Bryson, Gulp by Mary Roach, Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West.

    Steven Johnson’s How We Got to Now, Lorna Lanvik’s Oh My Stars, Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn, Gregory A. Freeman’s The Forgotten 500.

    Nancy Lord’s Early Warming, Eva Saulitis’ Into Great Silence, and Peter Murray’s The Devil and Mr. Duncan.

    And Jenny called about the Teen Corps, where the Homer Bookstore has conscripted a group of Homer teenagers to read and review and recommend young adult novels. One TC hot title would be Wordless by AdriAnne Strickland.

    The Teen Corps Bookshelf at the Homer Bookstore. Teen-approved YA titles!

    The Teen Corps Bookshelf at the Homer Bookstore. Teen-approved YA titles!

    Discuss This Post → There is 1 comment. Add yours! Posted in Chatter | Tagged , , , , |

    “The voyage from Dorian had been speedy but less than smooth, the Ocean of Aptikos in its usual bad temper.”

    AS SMALL AND MEAN and dirty as it was, Crowfoot was profoundly glad to see Pylos on the horizon. The voyage from Dorian had been speedy but less than smooth, the Ocean of Aptikos in its usual bad temper. When at last they made fast to the dock, Crowfoot had Blanca and Pedro first up out of the hold and down the gangway to a terra that was blessedly firma beneath her feet. The Sword was strapped to her back and the saddle on Blanca’s before Sharryn had finished taking leave of the Barka’s captain. Avel was his name, he of the laughing hazel eyes and the tight brown curls and the quick, charming tongue. He had been the only bright spot in Sharryn’s voyage from Epaphus. Sailors.

    –A Woman’s Work

    The Collected Short Stories

    Only in e.

    On Amazon.

    On Amazon.uk.

    On Amazon.au.

    On iTunes.

    On Barnes & Noble.

    On Kobo.

    Discuss This Post → There is 1 comment. Add yours! Posted in Chatter, Short Stories | Tagged , |