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Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness by Neil Swidey

"The harrowing story of five men who were sent into a dark, airless tunnel hundreds of feet under Massachusetts Bay to do a nearly impossible job-with deadly results.

In the 1990s, Boston built a sophisticated waste treatment plant on Deer Island that was poised to show the country how to deal with environmental catastrophe. The city had been dumping barely treated sewage into its harbor, coating the seafloor with a layer of "black mayonnaise." Fisheries collapsed, wildlife fled, and locals referred to floating tampon applicators as "beach whistles." But before the plant could start operating, a team of divers had to make a perilous journey to the end of a 10-mile tunnel-devoid of light and air-to complete the construction. Five went in; two never came out. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents, award-winning reporter Neil Swidey re-creates the tragedy and its aftermath in an action-packed narrative. Trapped Under the Sea reminds us that behind every bridge, highway, dam, and tunnel-behind the infrastructure that makes modern life possible-lies unsung bravery and extraordinary sacrifice."

The beginning of the book jumps back and forth between how the job is being set up, the concerns of the divers, the machinations of its foreman, and the lives of the divers. This part does tend to bog down from time to time, which, I suppose is do be expected. The divers' lives aren't always exciting, or even note worthy, but, slowly, you come to know them as people. By the time they head off down the tunnel, you're hoping they all return, even when you know they won't.

The actual journey, and its aftermath, is riveting reading. But, the world being what it is, the ending is one you can see coming. Like the Deepwater Horizon that would come years later, (with a disturbing connection to the Boston treatment plant,) the companies, as well as the foreman who was mostly responsible, get off with little more than a slap on the hands. It would be the divers who would end up paying the most. Not with money, but with lives that would never be the same.


Respite from a Rainy Day

C&H-Magical World
Which we've been having a lot of. Not like some areas where towns are being inundated, but enough to keep everything slightly soggy. Luckily, I managed to take some pictures during a break in the clouds.


Looking down from the deck

The underbrush hasn't all grown in yet, but, when it does, except for our neighbor's shed, we can pretend that there's no one else around.


Flowers, flower...

And even more flowersCollapse )


K/S-At the Guardian
And now for something really different. *g*

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Star Trek TOS: No Time Like the Past by Greg Cox

"STARDATE 6122.5. A diplomatic mission to the planet Yusub erupts in violence when ruthless Orion raiders attempt to disrupt the crucial negotiations by force. Caught in the midst of a tense and dangerous situation, Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise finds an unexpected ally in the form of an enigmatic stranger who calls herself Annika Seven.

STARDATE 53786.1. Seven of Nine is taking part in an archaeological expedition on an obscure planetoid in the Delta Quadrant when a disastrous turn of events puts Voyager's away team in jeopardy, and transports Seven across time and space to Yusub, where she comes face-to-face with one of Starfleet's greatest legends.

STARDATE 6122.5. Kirk knows better than most the danger that even a single castaway from the future can pose to the time line, so he and Seven embark on a hazardous quest to return her to her own era. But there are others who crave the knowledge Seven possesses, and they will stop at nothing to obtain it."

I don't know why I still allow myself to be sucked into these things. I should know better. I stopped reading Star Trek books a long time ago because, once TPTB caught on to slash, they stopped allowing any sort of emotional context in their books. Especially between Kirk and Spock.

But I was hopeful. I mean, it sounded good. I like time travel stories, and what with several of TOS's episodes being highlighted, there appeared to be some meat to the story.

No such luck. Everyone is just sort of there, going through the motions. There are the usual clichés: McCoy is grumpy, Kirk is in the middle of everything and Spock is there with the answers, but there's no soul to it.

I did like that we saw some "act fives," so that we learned what happened to the People of Vaal after there was no Vaal anymore. And how did all the Cheronians kill each other off so that Bele and Lokai transported down to a dead planet? We get the answer to that, too. But the ending is weak, as everything is tied up rather too neatly.


The Bees by Laline Paull

Misc-Oh bother
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The Bees by Laline Paull

"The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the queen may breed and deformity means death.

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees.

Thrilling, suspenseful and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees gives us a dazzling young heroine and will change forever the way you look at the world outside your window.

I wasn't sure about this book at first, and I almost put it down after a dozen pages or so. Reading a book that's from the POV of a bee is a different experience, but then, suddenly, she became real, and I was drawn into Flora 717's world.

Honey Bees

*Accept ~ Obey ~ Serve*

Those are the rules of the hive, rules that Flora 717 has taken to heart. She is born to the life of a sanitation worker; her duty, to clean the hive and removes the dirt and the dead.

But Flory 717 isn't like other bees, and because she's not like other bees, she leaves behind her life as a sanitation worker and becomes a nursery worker where she feeds the newborns. But her curiosity leads her astray, and she's sent back to her old life. But once again her difference holds her in good stead as she next becomes a forager. She thrives in her new job, but her differences will, again, lead her along a different path, one that will either destroy the hive or save it.

Flora 717 will win your heart, and you'll never look at bees the same way again.


Books-So many books
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The House Of Allerbrook (Exmoor Saga #2) by Valerie Anand

"Lady-in-waiting Jane Sweetwater's resistance to the legendary attentions of Henry VIII may have saved her pretty neck, but her reward is a forced and unhappy marriage with a much older man and a harsh life on his farm. Her only consolation is that she still lives upon her beloved Exmoor, the bleak yet beautiful land that cradles Allerbrook House, her family home. In time, she regains the position of a woman with status and property, but she cannot ignore the rumblings from London, as the articles of faith change with every new coronation.

Jane's small world is penetrated by plotting, treachery and even thwarted love as those she holds dearest are forced to choose between family loyalty and fealty to the crown."

Though the second in the series, the events take place almost a century later. The story follows the life of Jane Sweetwater, a younger sister who ends up being the one sent to court after her older sister's fall from grace when she becomes pregnant. While there, she comes to the attention of the lecherous king, Henry VIII, and ends up fleeing back home.

It's at this point that she's forced into a loveless marriage to a much older man, even while being in love with another. This is the first of many sacrifices she makes for her family. And while Jane takes on much responsibility for that family, often that responsibility seems more thrust on her than readily taken. Her whole life is a series of mishaps that she has little to no power to prevent.

While not as interesting as the first book, actually slow in some places where the action bogs down (or when the reader can't take yet another sacrifice,) it's an interesting look at life of those not at the center of power, but whose lives are nevertheless affected.


Books-Glasses on books
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Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues
by Martin J. Blaser

Tracing one scientist’s journey toward understanding the crucial importance of the microbiome, this revolutionary book will take readers to the forefront of trail-blazing research while revealing the damage that overuse of antibiotics is doing to our health: contributing to the rise of obesity, asthma, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. In Missing Microbes, Dr. Martin Blaser invites us into the wilds of the human microbiome where for hundreds of thousands of years bacterial and human cells have existed in a peaceful symbiosis that is responsible for the health and equilibrium of our body. Now, this invisible eden is being irrevocably damaged by some of our most revered medical advances—antibiotics—threatening the extinction of our irreplaceable microbes with terrible health consequences.

There have been warning about the overuse of antibiotics for years, and, other than his own unproved thesis, there's really very little new here. And of what there was, I wasn't sure what, exactly, was the author's point. How is it "bad" for H pylori to be absent from more people's systems if its presence is related to stomach cancer and ulcers? Yes, it might be more beneficial in regards to GERD and asthma, but which illnesses would most people opt for, given the choice? Stomach cancer or asthma? Ulcers or GERD? Ultimately, it seemed that the book was more about the author's war on H pylori than just about anything else.

Even when other problems are sited concerning antibiotics' overuse, much of the "proof" is circumstantial. Any certain problem may very well be caused by the overuse of antibiotics. But, then, it may not.

The book is written simply, perhaps too simply, and it could have done with better editing. And the ones (1) all being capital i's (I) was a distraction.


Skilled Mariner (K/S) Part 2 of 2

Title: Skillled Mariner
Fandom: Star Trek (TOS)
Rating: NC17
Pairing: Kirk/Spock
Word Count: 12,428
Summary: A series of events calls into question Kirk’s fealty to his relationship with Spock.

Originally published June, 2013 in Bondmates Too by Hiccup Press.

Also posted on AO3 and at the K/S Fanfiction Archive.

Skilled Mariner Pt 2Collapse )

Skilled Mariner (K/S) Part 1 of 2

K/S-Intimate moment
Title: Skillled Mariner
Fandom: Star Trek (TOS)
Rating: NC17
Pairing: Kirk/Spock
Word Count: 12,428
Summary: A series of events calls into question Kirk’s fealty to his relationship with Spock.

Originally published June, 2013 in Bondmates Too by Hiccup Press.

Also posted on AO3 and at the K/S Fanfiction Archive.

Skilled MarinerCollapse )
Books-Gossamer reading
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King's Dragon (Crown of Stars #1) by Kate Elliott

Paperback, 623 pages
Published February 1st 1998 by DAW Books

Set in an alternate Europe, a world where bloody conflicts rage and sorcery holds sway, both human and other-than-human forces vie for supremacy. In this land, Alain, a young man seeking the destiny promised him by the Lady of Battles, and Liath, a young woman gifted with a power that can alter the course of history, are about to be swept up in a world-shaking conflict for the survival of humanity.

I have to admit, the book was a slow start as the world building proceeded, but as the stories of the two major characters commenced I became completely taken with the world the author has built. It's a quasi-medieval world, but with all sorts of the magical beings. Something along the lines of Game of Thrones, just not as bloody.

The story mostly centers on two characters, Liath, whose childhood was spent on the run with her father, though she never knew why, and Alain Henrisson, who, raised by foster parents, doesn't know who is real parents are. Liath is on her own as she discovers things about herself and her family's past, while Alain is taken from the safe, quiet life he'd led to become part of a duke's household. Liath and Alain are also somehow at the center of the rebellion started by the king's sister, who believes that she should wear the crown.

The book is the first of seven, so much of it is an introduction to the characters who will move the action along, as well as the drawing of the different fiefdoms involved. It's a complex tale, especially since the author has built, not just a power system, but a religion with its own rituals and hierarchy as a counterpoint.

All in all, well worth reading.


Books-Books are Magic
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Ghost On the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire

"Alexander the Great, perhaps the most commanding leader in history, united his empire and his army by the titanic force of his will. His death at the age of thirty-two spelled the end of that unity.

The story of Alexander’s conquest of the Persian empire is known to many readers, but the dramatic and consequential saga of the empire’s collapse remains virtually untold. It is a tale of loss that begins with the greatest loss of all, the death of the Macedonian king who had held the empire together.

James Romm, brilliant classicist and storyteller, tells the galvanizing saga of the men who followed Alexander and found themselves incapable of preserving his empire. The result was the undoing of a world, formerly united in a single empire, now ripped apart into a nightmare of warring nation-states struggling for domination, the template of our own times."

Alexander the Great's life can't help but be a fascinating and compelling story, but who would have thought that the same could be said of the story that followed his death?

In 1977 two great tombs were uncovered in the small Greek village of Vergina. One is believed to be the tomb of Alexander IV, son of Alexander the Great; the other, that of Alexander's half-brother, Philip III, and his wife, Adea, who was also Alexander's niece. This is very much their story, but there are many more actors in the drama whose stories are just as interesting.

There's Alexander's mother, Olympias, and her struggle to remain a power in Macedonia. And Alexander's sister, Cleopatra, yet another dynastic pawn. There's Antipater, who had guarded Macedonia on Alexander's behalf for twelve years, with help from his son, Cassander, and who may, or may not (probably not,) have poisoned Alexander. The rumors certainly flew at the time, but they usually did when a person of importance died.

There was Perdiccas, the killer of Philip's, Alexander's father, assassin, and the man who Alexander would bequeath his empire to. At his side was Eumenes, who, as a Greek, was mistrusted by the rest of Alexander's generals, but who would turn out to be the one who would remain the most faithful to Alexander's memory. And, of course, Ptolomy, who would grab Egypt and found his own dynasty.

It's also the story of the many countries affected, first by Alexander's life, and then by his death. Like Greece, who couldn't seem to decide which side to be on, what price they were willing to pay, and who they would give up in order to pay it. Or India, who gave Alexander elephants and taught him how to use them in battle. Or, even more, Macedonia, whose three-and-a-half century old dynasty would die with Alexander.

Alexander's empire would be torn apart by the Hellenic Wars in the west, the rivalry between Antipater and Olympias over Macedonia, and the constant battling among the generals for supremacy and control of that empire in the east. What was left would be fought over for generations.

I can't recommend this book more highly.



Gilda Elise

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