Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #8 - Book Recommendations

Welcome to my Thursday Thirteen #8! I had a couple of ideas, but I decided that they were going to take too long to research tonight in the time I had, so I'll put them aside for another time and fall back on a dependable standby: Books! I'm sure you'll see many more book related TT's from me, my first one was in fact!

This week I'll give 13 recommendations based on books that I read in 2007 that I really enjoyed and would like others to give a try. If they were part of a series, I've substituted the one I actually read with the 1st of the series :) These are not in order of like, just jumbled together as I came across them!


1. On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle - This is a fun coffeehouse mystery series, packed with coffee facts, recipes in the back, and fun characters. Claire gets herself into a lot of trouble!

2. The Pillars of the World by Anne Bishop - This is a darker fantasy, the first of the Tir Alainn trilogy, dealing with how the witches (keepers of the Old Places, and very in tune with nature) are being hunted down and destroyed. The Fae also figure in, some who are aware and wish to help, and many who would rather ignore what's happening as the tie between the worlds is erroded away. Anne Bishop's Black Jewels series is one of my favorites of all times as well!

3. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig - This is a fun historical fiction romp, the engine to get us back in time, slightly after the main popularity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, is a research paper on a little known spy, the Pink Carnation. This one was a lot of fun, the first one has been the best so far in my opinion, but the other books are fun too, and highlight different characters which were previously mentioned in the books before.

4. Storm Front by Jim Butcher - The Harry Dresden series, yay! Another in the dark fantasy genre. Harry is a wizard for hire, and gets himself into all kinds of trouble, magical and otherwise. There's a little bit of everything in this series, fairies, vampires, werewolves, you name it, Harry probably has to fight it or somehow get it's help, or something! They did a television series, which is now out on DVD, alas no longer being produced, but it was actually pretty good, so give it a try! You gotta love Bob the skull!

5. Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke - a fun kids fantasy about a dragon looking for a safe place to live as the world of men expands, and the friends he meets along the way. I actually listened to this on audiobook, read by Brendan Fraser, and it was very good, my favorite character was the brownie, Sorrel.
6. Magyk by Angie Sage Another kids fantasy the first of the Septimus Heap series. from Fantastic Fiction: A baby girl is rescued from a snowy path in the woods. A baby boy is stillborn. A young Queen is taken ill. An ExtraOrdinary Wizard mysteriously resigns from his post. And all on the same night. A string of events, seemingly unconnected, begins to converge ten years later, when the Heap family receive a knock at the door. The evil Necromancer DomDaniel is plotting his comeback and a Major Obstacle resides in the Heap family. Life as they know it is about to change, and the most fantastically fast-paced adventure of confused identities, magyk and mayhem, begin. (I snagged their blurb because I wasn't sure how to describe without spoilers!)
7. I'm the Vampire, That's Why by Michele Bardsley There's a new soccer mom in town, and she's got fangs! This is in that paranormal romance category, but it's very humorous, I zipped through it and was laughing all the way. The first of the Broken Heart, Oklahoma series. The covers on these crack me up, I wish I had a better picture, love the apron, and the cupcakes with little vampire sticks in them!
8. In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant - Historical Fiction, more serious than Pink Carnation. A Courtesan and her companion escape the sack of Rome in 1527 and make their way home to Venice where they must rebuild their life, and get back into society after starting once more from nothing.
9. Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey More dark fantasy, are you sensing a theme here? heehee... I admit it, this one took me about 3 years to finally get through, it's a doorstopper, but well worth it, and I only mention it because I think it was funny that it took me so long. Nothing at all to do with how good it is, just my schedule. (another bit of blurb from Fantastic Fiction) Phedre no Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she is trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, and the arts of pleasure. Above all, she learns the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Exquisite courtesan, yet talented spy, she may seem an unlikely heroine... but when Phedre stumbles upon a plot threatening her homeland, Terre d'Ange, she has no choice but to act. I'd put it in the Epic fantasy category.
10. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - Kids Fantasy, while running her family's hat shop, Sophie makes a customer angry, the dreaded Witch of the Waste, and she is bespelled into being an old woman. She sets off to find a way to cure herself, and joins up with Howl in his moving castle (he's also regarded with some fear, though he's more of a dandy than fearsome). An interesting tale about finding yourself. I personally did not like the movie compared to the book, even though it was quite lauded. I just thought it came out very weird feeling, when the book was a lot of fun!
11. Catnap - Carole Nelson Douglas - The Midnight Louie mystery series. Unlike many mysteries lately that feature a cat on the cover, this series actually HAS a cat character in the story! Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine? DO NOT PUT A CAT ON YOUR COVER IF THERE IS NO PROMINENTLY FEATURED CAT IN YOUR STORY! ARGH! I'm a cat lover, I want cat characters! Okay, back on track, Midnight Louie is a big old black cat about town, who gets his own chapters as he is concurrently attempting to solve mysteries with his owner (read roommate, cause no one really owns a cat, do they?) Temple. Very funny, Louie gets himself into and out of many scrapes, most of the time without Temple knowing about it.
12. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich - The Stephanie Plum mystery series. This has got to be one of the funniest series I've EVER read in my life. This poor girl gets into more comic trouble than any character I've read. Stephanie falls into a bond enforcement agent job thanks to her cousin, in other words, a bounty hunter, and she couldn't be less suited. She hates guns, loves donuts and her hamster Rex (I think he's a hamster, he may be a gerbil), destroys many cars, never her fault of course, and somehow usually manages to catch her quarry (with help, and not necessarily on the first try). And their has to be love interest trauma right? So throw in a cop and another bounty hunter, and the great debate is on, Morelli or Ranger? My answer is, ya gotta have both! ;)
13. I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis - Historical fiction centered around the life of the girl in Da Vinci's painting, Mona Lisa. The Medici's figure prominently. I was drawn into the story and enjoyed it very much, highly recommend this one to historical fiction lovers.


Thanks for sticking with me! I'd love to hear if you've read any of these and what you thought, or if you're now considering any of them after my recommendation! If so I hope you enjoy them, and let me know!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Book: Dead to Me by Anton Strout




Dead to Me is Anton Strout's debut novel, the first in what I believe to be a series featuring character Simon Canderous. I've seen it described as a cross between Ghost Busters and Men in Black, and I think that's pretty accurate.

Simon is a former petty criminal, who has turned his powers of psychometry (the ability to divine information from touching an object, very hard on the love life) to the good by joining the Department of Extra Ordinary Affairs, Other Division. The Other Division, basically gets to do anything that no other department wants to, or is capable of doing, so they get all the most bizarre and difficult tasks. It's no suprise that Simon gets mixed up in all kinds of trouble, and in way over his head as he tries to help a newly made ghost, get a handle on his powers, and ends up uncovering a much bigger nightmare in the process.

This was a very fun read, lots of humor mixed into paranormal/urban fantasy. Fans of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series would probably like this one, although Simon certainly isn't quite as much of a tragic hero. He's a teensy bit of a schmuck (but that's part of what makes him who he is), and tends to avoid things that he just doesn't want to deal with, which usually allows them to turn into much bigger problems than they would have been, in at least one case fatally, which is something his conscience will have to deal with. For the first of a series, it was a lot of fun! One of my favorite parts, and this is silly, but I loved the names on all the bureau flyers and seminars, those cracked me up! I recommend it, and can't wait to see what kind of trouble Simon gets into next!

Check out Anton Strout's website here

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #7 - Milton Hershey the Chocolate King or My Trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania

I started out thinking that this would be a thirteen devoted to my trip, and probably very touristy, however, as I learned more about the man responsible for Hershey Chocolate, and town of Hershey Pennsylvania itself, it quickly became clear to me that this needed to be about him, that just like I knew nothing about where Hershey Chocolate came from, probably many other people would not as well. It’s a lot to read, I’m sorry, I keep thinking I’ll be brief and it never happens!

Courtesy of Wikipedia , photos by yours truly ;)

1. Milton Snavely Hershey (September 13, 1857 – October 13, 1945) was a confectioner, philanthropist, and founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company and the "company town" of Hershey, Pennsylvania.


2. Hershey was born on a farm near Derry Church, Pennsylvania, the only surviving child of Henry and Fanny Hershey. Due to the family's frequent moves he dropped out of school after the fourth grade and was then apprenticed to a Lancaster, Pennsylvania printer. The apprenticeship was soon terminated as he did not like the craft and purposely let his hat fall into the printing press.


3. His first two ventures into the candy business failed, but in 1883 he established the Lancaster Caramel Company, which succeeded spectacularly, and it was this business that established him as a candy-maker. (Mmmmm Caramel!)


4. Hershey became fascinated with the machinery to make German chocolate exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, and bought the equipment for his Lancaster plant. He soon began producing a variety of chocolate creations. Despite the success of his caramel company, Hershey determined that the chocolate industry had more promise than caramel. He sold the Lancaster Caramel Company for one million dollars in 1900 (a very large sum of money at the time), but retained the chocolate business and the rights to produce chocolate products.


5. With the proceeds from his caramel business sale, Hershey purchased 40,000 acres of dairyland near his birthplace of Derry that would allow him access to the quantities of milk he would need to develop a milk chocolate formula (at the time a Swiss luxury), and built a factory on it from1903-1905. Hershey's milk chocolate quickly became the first nationally marketed product of its kind.


6. Hershey envisioned a complete community around his factory. He built a model town for his employees that included comfortable homes, an inexpensive public transportation system, a quality public school system and extensive recreational and cultural opportunities. Hershey avoided building a faceless company town with row houses. He wanted a home town with tree-lined streets, single- and two-family brick houses, and manicured lawns. He was concerned about providing adequate recreation and diversions, so he built HersheyPark which opened on 24 April 1907, and expanded rapidly over the next several years. Amusement rides, a swimming pool, and a ballroom were added. Soon, trolley cars and trains were bringing thousands of out-of-town visitors to the park.



Yes, there really is a Chocolate Avenue, and yes, those really are Hershey Kiss shaped street lights. Some of them are wrapped and some of them aren't, and I believe the banners are able to spin, so the wind turns them. ;)


7. Many of the town's structures were built during the Great Depression, as part of Milton Hershey's "Great Building Campaign," to provide jobs. It was then that structures such as the Hotel Hershey (unbelievable, built during the depression?! Wow!! We actually didn’t stay there, but the pictures I’ve seen are beautiful!), community center, Hershey Theatre, the HersheyPark Arena and HersheyPark Stadium were constructed, transforming the town into a tourist attraction.


8. On May 25, 1898 Hershey married Catherine "Kitty" Sweeney. Since the couple could not have children, they decided to use their successes to benefit others, opening the Hershey Industrial School in 1909. Catherine died prematurely in 1915 and Hershey never remarried.


9. In 1912, the Hersheys were to travel on the ill-fated British luxury liner RMS Titanic. However, they canceled their reservations because Mrs. Hershey was ill at the time.


10. This is the answer to a question that hubby and I had, since the Hershey’s didn’t have any children of their own, and Hershey himself was the only surviving child of his parents, who benefits from the company now? The answer is actually very nice! In 1918, three years after Catherine's death, he endowed the school with his entire fortune of Hershey Chocolate Company stock. He took great pride in the growth of the school, the town, and his business. For the rest of his life, he always placed the quality of his product and the well-being of his workers ahead of profits. In 1918, Hershey transferred the majority of his assets, including control of the company, to the formation of the Milton Hershey School Trust, to benefit the Industrial School. The trust fund has a majority of voting shares in The Hershey Company, allowing it to keep control of the company. In 1951, the school was renamed the Milton Hershey School. The Milton Hershey School Trust also has 100% control of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, which owns The Hotel Hershey and HersheyPark, among other properties.


11. In 1935, Hershey established The M.S. Hershey Foundation, a private charitable foundation that provides educational and cultural opportunities for Hershey residents. The Foundation supplies funding for three entities: The Hershey Museum and Hershey Gardens, the Hershey Theatre and the Hershey Community Archives. Hershey Gardens as it is today has a replica of Mrs. Hershey’s Rose Garden (or they may have moved the actual garden to that location, that’s what I get for having a faulty memory!). It was quite impressive, unfortunately we just missed the tulip displays, and nothing else had really gotten going yet, but they have a cute children’s garden and some really impressive trees! The two that I’ve shown here are actually “walk thru trees” and you can see where they’ve been supported over the pathway. They’ve also got a couple of giant redwoods, so that was neat to see too!




12. Hershey Chocolate supplied the US military with chocolate bars during World War II. These bars were called Ration D Bars and Tropical Bars. The Tropical Bars were designed to not melt in the tropical weather. It is estimated that between 1940 and 1945, over 3 billion of the Ration D Bars and Tropical Bars were produced and distributed to soldiers throughout the world. In 1939, the Hershey plant was capable of producing 100,000 ration bars a day. By the end of World War II, the entire Hershey plant was producing ration bars at a rate of 24 million a week. For their service throughout World War II, the Hershey Chocolate Company was issued five Army-Navy 'E' Production Awards for exceeding expectations for quality and quantity in the production of the Ration D Bar and Tropical Bar.


13. Chocolate World – Honestly I’m not sure when or how or why Chocolate World happened except that it is of course the main souvenir/candy place in the town. My husband recalls that they used to give tours of the actual Hershey factory, but quit because they did not people touching things, as I think we can all understand! There is a ride inside Chocolate World that takes you through a simulated factory and shows the candy producing process, complete with singing puppet cows! LOL! They had a few types of Kisses and such that I haven’t seen at home, so of course we came home with candy! They had also introduced a new Hershey Bar with a green tea flavored filling, it’s very green inside! Tastes nice though, not being a green tea fan I didn’t know what to expect, but it was subtle.



There is actually a lot of information out there about Mr. Hershey, so I was a little surprised that I hadn’t known more about him than I did. It was definitely an interesting trip, and I feel like I got a first hand history lesson to boot! Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Book Giveaway #2: Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead



Wow! I don't know if I can do this one justice, but I'll give it a try, here goes!

In Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, characters Lissa, a Moroi (vampire), and Rose, her Dhampir (half human, half vampire) guardian-to-be are brought back to the Vampire Academy from which they ran away two years before. The social scene which they must once again become a part of is brutal, as allegiances change daily, sometimes faster. Rose has the double pressure of keeping track of Lissa while restricted to her studies and training to catch up in her guardian skills, and as punishment for taking Lissa away from the Academy in the first place. Lissa meanwhile struggles with rare powers that the girls are afraid to admit to, one that is a double edged sword, and the other which is a talent whose use has been forbidden. Add to this all the normal troubles that teens on the verge of adulthood face, and the hidden political agendas of adult Moroi royalty, and you have one rollercoaster of a story! And I thought my high school years were bad! LOL!

Vampire Academy kept me turning pages as quickly as I could, and it was only through extreme willpower that I put it down last night to go to sleep with only 30 pages left to go, it was torture!!! Rose's character really came alive for me, her struggles to take care of Lissa and do the right thing while trying to keep her reckless nature in check. Very fast paced and dark, yet still fun. Billed as a teen book, it's anything but fluffy, the other elements of the story were very good. It wasn't just the competition to be popular for popularity's sake, other issues emerge strongly, such as abuse of power, and choosing right from wrong when the wrong would seem so righteously satisfying.

I enjoyed it immensely and am looking forward to getting my greedy hands on books 2 and 3! *evil cackle*

Here is Richelle Mead's Website to learn more!

And now... you too and can enjoy this book, because I'm holding a giveaway for it, as promised! Once again, it is a Bookcrossing book (I'm happy reader #2 for this copy!), and while you do not have to join bookcrossing if you don't want to, I would appreciate it if the winner would make a quick journal entry to let me know it was received, which you can do anonymously. Think of Bookcrossing as the "Where's George" for books, that site that you can track money with? The actual Bookcrossing site can explain it much better than I, but it's a lot of fun, and if you aren't already a Bookcrosser, I hope you'll check it out! Here is the journal entry for this book so you can see a sample, and the link to the main Bookcrossing site.

Now, on to the giveaway! If you are interested in winning this book, please post a comment here telling me how much you want it, and leaving me a way to contact you for your address! :D The winner will be announced June 1.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Book: Witch in the House - Jenna McKnight



Jade Delarue is a modern day witch, running her ancestral home as a specialized B&B for clients who need her help with spells, or who just need a place to practice their own craft. It's been 6 years since her husband went missing, along with two of his friends, and now, on the eve of his being declared legally dead, Jade stands to inherit a lot of money, along with her friends Courtney and Annie, whose husbands also disappeared, and who also coincidentally are practicing witches. Much suspicion surrounds the disappearance of the 3 men, and so several teams of under cover investigators have been sent to make sure the three widows are legitimate.

Mason is one of these investigators, trying to keep his mind off of having been so recently left at the altar by his fiancee. He moves into Mystic Manor with his partner in the guise of working as a wildlife photographer, to see if there is any dirt to dig up on Jade. Despite her attraction to Mason, Jade believes his very presence was caused by a spell gone wrong, and both are hiding secrets from the other, as they try to fight their growing attraction (albeit not very hard! LOL!)

Are their feelings for each other true, or only because of the spell? Only the spirits know!

This was a fast, fun and fluffy read, very enjoyable, and just the thing to get me through a long plane ride to Pennsylvania last week! I recommend it if you're looking for something slightly paranormal and light to read! I will have to check out some other Jenna McKnight titles, as I think that A Greek God at the Ladies Club and A Date on Cloud Nine sound like a lot of fun too!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Movie: The Forbidden Kingdom


Jason, a modern day teenager who is a fan of the martial arts greats, goes to visit his favorite pawn shop in Chinatown, where he's friends with the proprietor, Lu Yan. Discovering an old staff in the back room, he realizes it is the same as in a dream he had, but the old man hustles him back to the front room, where he pays for the movies he found and leaves. Getting waylaid by some girls that he knows, a gang of boys comes up behind him, and starts to give him trouble about having been in Chinatown, and his enjoyment of all things martial arts. Finding out where he had just come from, the boys force him to help them break into old Lu Yan's shop to steal his money. Lu Yan, mostly blind, finally realizes that Jason is not alone, and that's when things get out of hand. He tries to fight back, but gets shot by the leader of the gang in the process, and giving Jason the old staff, tells him to run, that he must return the staff to it's owner. At this point the fantasy adventure begins, as the staff transports Jason to another time and place.

I've always enjoyed Jackie Chan's comic antics, along with his martial arts prowess, and the scene of Chan and Jet Li sparring is great, also when they both decide to teach Jason how to fight, very very funny! I felt so bad for Jason, he really was getting the raw end of that deal in the beginning! LOL! The scenery and costumes of the movie are beautiful, and the story is a typical fantasy adventure quest, and enjoyable! The feeling I came away with was "well that was a lot of fun!" and I prize that feeling a lot, it's what I look for in my movie entertainment! ;)

I highly recommend it, if you're a fantasy story fan, or enjoy martial arts and/or oriental themed stories, I think you would like this one!

If you're a Jet Li fan, look for him in the 3rd of Brendan Fraser's Mummy movies, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor coming later this summer. I know I'll be there! Mmmmm Brendan Fraser! *drool*

I'm a winner! - Check out the Internet Book Database!

Since we're on the subject of giveaways... I won a hardback, autographed copy of The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison from the Internet Book Database!

They giveaway about 10 or so books a month, just go over there, make an account, and check out the giveaway section to see what books you might be interested in signing up for! It's got a lot of other fun features too, another fun evil site to get sucked into! ;) It's all free, has reviews, lists of new releases, forums, and some author interviews, go have a look!

Thanks ibookDB!

Sunday Summary

I'm back from a brief vacation to Hershey, Pennsylvania with the husband. I'll be doing this week's Thursday Thirteen on it, so check back to see all about the hometown of Hershey Chocolate!

I've also posted the next book that I plan to give away over on the sidebar, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. I'll put up my review and signup post in a few days, once I'm finished with it.

If you're looking for more giveaways, check out West of Mars - Win a Book Blog that some of my friends have started to advertise their giveaways.

See you later!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Amy Brown art - Bandaids!!!

I don't know why this was such a funny surprise to me, it's not like I've never seen character bandaids before, but it's just really funny that a fantasy artist that I like has her own line of healing fairy bandaids! LOL! Check it out!




Of course I had to buy some, I mean, collectible cards and such, you know? LMAO!

Check out Amy's website HERE. The bandages were under Special Items. Too funny!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Audiobook: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer



In Twilight Bella goes to live with her father in Forks, to let her mother travel with her new baseball playing boyfriend (husband? I can’t remember, it’s audio, so I can’t look it up! LOL!). Feeling kind of like she’s been exiled to the gloomiest place on earth, Bella tries to get used to her new life, and make new friends. She seems to fall into a ready made group of friends without any effort on her part, with boys falling over themselves to get her attention. She’s really just fascinated by the Cullens, a “family” of kids at the school that seem to keep to themselves, not associating with the other kids, who have beautiful clothes, expensive cars, and look a little too perfect to be believable. She’s immediately drawn to Edward Cullen, but he seems to be angry with her from the start, even though she’s done nothing, and didn’t know anything about him. Edward finally admits to and stops fighting his attraction for Bella, and that’s when we begin to learn more about him and his family. Their love story develops in between episodes of danger to Bella, which Edward is alternately amused and terrified by, and he’s afraid to leave her alone for too long, figuring she’ll get hurt somehow! LOL! There is a sad edge to this first book though, as you get Edward’s feeling that ultimately Bella would be better off without him, as much as she adamantly disagrees with that sentiment. I’m interested to see where the next books take their relationship.

I very much enjoyed the story, and liked the characters a lot. Meyer did a good job of making Bella somehow very attractive, but seemingly completely unaware of how much or why she was. Meyer’s twist on vampires was a little different, plenty of the traditional aspects but with some new ideas thrown in. I’m looking forward to book two, and would recommend the series to YA and Vampire fans.

The reader for this one was ok, though it seems as if she was reading a bit slow to be comfortable for me, it didn’t detract from the story, and I got used to the style after awhile.

Here is Stephenie Meyer's Official Website if you're interested.

Twilight is apparently being made into a movie! Darnit, guess I'll have to see it! ;)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #6 - Tornadoes

Living in Kansas the threat of tornadoes is similar here as the threat of earthquakes are to California, or Hurricanes to Florida. While I’ve known about them all my life, I can’t say that I’ve really KNOWN about them (i.e. I’m probably not as afraid of them as I should be!), so I thought I’d do a little reading and share a few facts for my Thursday Thirteen this time.

If you don't want to wade through the actual 13, at least skip to the videos at the end, they're amazing!


1. What is a tornado? A tornado is a violently rotating column of air which is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. Tornadoes come in many sizes but are typically in the form of a visible condensation funnel, whose narrow end touches the earth and is often encircled by a cloud of debris.

2. Where do they happen? Although tornadoes have been observed on every continent except Antarctica, most occur in the United States. They also commonly occur in southern Canada, south-central and eastern Asia, east-central South America, Southern Africa, northwestern and southeast Europe, Italy, western and southeastern Australia, and New Zealand.

3. Here is an interesting list of the tornadoes and tornado outbreaks in North America from pre-1900’s through just a few days ago.

4. While there is no single agreed upon definition, generally more than six tornadoes in a day in the same region is considered a tornado outbreak. The largest on record, dubbed the Super Outbreak, was April 3-4, 1974 with 148 tornadoes of varying intensities (F-scale ratings).

5. The F-Scale, or Fujita Scale is a scale for rating tornado intensity, based on the damage tornadoes inflict on human-built structures and vegetation. These ratings are F0 through F5. F0 tornadoes have winds of around 40-72 mph and cause light damage, while F5 tornadoes have winds of around 261–318 mph and can cause incredible damage. 93.9% of tornadoes fall into the F2 category and below. Less than .1% of tornadoes are F5’s thank goodness, but even that % is way too high for my liking!

6. In 2007 the Enhanced Fujita Scale went into use. It was revised to reflect better examinations of tornado damage surveys, so as to align wind speeds more closely with associated storm damage. Better standardizing and elucidating what was previously subjective and ambiguous, it also adds more types of structures as well as vegetation, expands degrees of damage, and better accounts for variables such as differences in construction quality. The first time the EF5 rating was used was for the Greensburg, KS tornado that occurred on May 4th, 2007. See a picture of the damage from this one Here

7. In an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide, resulting in 80 deaths and over 1,500 injuries.

8. What causes a tornado? A tornado generally occurs when high winds within a low pressure system (such as a thunderstorm) cause water vapor in the air to condense in to a condensation funnel cloud.

9. Tornado Frequency In the southern states, peak tornado occurrence is in March through May, while peak months in the northern states are during the summer.
Note, in some states, a secondary tornado maximum occurs in the fall.

Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 and 9 p.m. but have been known to occur at all hours of the day or night.

The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction. The average forward speed is 30 mph but may vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph.

The total number of tornadoes is probably higher than indicated in the western states. Sparce population reduces the number reported.

10. Tornado Myths:

MYTH: Areas near rivers, lakes, and mountains are safe from tornadoes.
FACT: No place is safe from tornadoes. In the late 1980's, a tornado swept through Yellowstone National Park leaving a path of destruction up and down a 10,000 ft. mountain.

MYTH: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to "explode" as the tornado passes overhead.
FACT: Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause most structural damage.

MYTH: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
FACT: Opening windows allows damaging winds to enter the structure. Leave the windows alone; instead, immediately go to a safe place.

11. HERE is a collection of tornado photos, #16, is the oldest known photo of a tornado, it just looks evil!

12. John Brosio is an artist that has done many works featuring tornados.

13. When it rains, it pours, and sometimes, it pours frogs? Check out this article from the BBC.

Here are a couple of videos, I think of the same tornado from different people, I think these guys are certifiable!!! But they are fascinating...

This one is very long, but some amazing footage of it from beginning to end



And these guys, I don’t know, if I’d driven up next to that… I don’t even know what to say!




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tornado
http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/edu/safety/tornadoguide.html
http://www.livescience.com/tornadoes/
http://www.tornadoproject.com/tornproj/tornproj.htm#top

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Book: Termination Dust by Sue Henry



The term "Termination Dust" signifies the first snow which terminates summer, and means winter is on the way. It also signaled the end of the gold rush season, when Winter would make the ground too hard to work in the search or gold. In this second book of the Jessie Arnold series, Jessie's "boyfriend" Alex Jensen is in Canada helping the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on a case, when another set of murders occurs, involving a vacationing canoer, an ex-Senator, his son, and some other local personalities.

Jim Hampton is on a canoe trip in Yukon territory when he comes across some skeletal remains and an old diary. Packing the artifacts in his belongings, intending to take them to the authorities when he gets back, Jim begins reading the diary at night, becoming interested in what appears to be the journal of gold rusher. As he continues on his trip, he runs afoul of some of the locals who are up to no good, ending up with his things stolen, and being nearly killed. Later, as he is trying to recover from his near fatal encounter with the men, somehow his things miraculously reappear, along with the body of a man he'd visited with earlier that day. To the authorities he could be guilty of the crime, but Alex Jensen isn't convinced, and thus begins the investigation, which ties the gold rusher's diary to the present day.

This is a fun series, packed full of Alaskan/Northern territory history and facts. The first book Murder on the Iditarod was all about that famous dog sled race, and you're there with the mushers every step of the way, learning about the harshness of the territory, and what the people running the race go through to win. Jessie herself is one of the mushers, who meets up with Alex during the race.

There are 12 books so far in the Jessie Arnold Series:

1. Murder on the Iditarod Trail (1991)
2. Termination Dust (1995)
3. Sleeping Lady (1996)
4. Death Takes Passage (1997)
5. Deadfall (1998)
6. Murder on the Yukon Quest (1999)
7. Beneath the Ashes (2000)
8. Dead North (2001)
9. Cold Company (2002)
10. Death Trap (2003)
11. Murder At Five Finger Light (2005)
12. Degrees of Separation (2008)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Giveaway #1: On the Prowl - Winner Announced!

And the winner of my copy of On the Prowl is... Daelith! Congratulations! I'll be contacting you soon so I can get it sent out! Thank you for entering everyone, I will try to have another Giveaway soon, so check back!
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