Friday, May 20, 2016

Fortress of Eagles (Fortress #2) by C.J. Cherryh



Summary: Tristen is both more and less than a man. A summoning, a shaping, he was brought to life by a wizard, to serve a king yet to be crowned.  Now the wizard is dead: Ylesuin is united, and a peace prevails that this land has never known. Newly crowned King Cefwyn needs his only friend, this young man of mysterious origins who is more brother than vassal. He relies on Tristen, and trusts him though he knows not why, as he plans the war that will bring his dream to pass...or bring ruin upon them all.  Sequel to Fortress in the Eye of Time. (*summary modified from goodreads.com)


My review:  Like all of Cherryh's book, Fortress of Eagles draws the reader into a different world, one full of wonders.  She excels at capturing the mindset of her viewpoint characters; you always feel as though you are actually looking through that person's eyes. In this one, Tristen is learning to cope with political intrigue at the court of King Cefwyn in the capital at Guelemara, and then learning to be his own person and ruler of a duchy at Amefel.  Cherryh ties everything together very logically, especially Cefwyn's and Tristen's frustrations at not being able to just barge right in and fix things, instead having to work through established procedures.  Even the king can't change the whole kingdom by fiat overnight, no matter how much he might want to, and Tristen finds that the same applies to dukes.  A most excellent read.  -LP

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Rights of Indians and Tribes, Fourth edition, by Stephen Pevar


Here is a clear introduction to Native legal rights and responsibilities. The book starts with a history of federal Indian policy, which defined people and relationships in order to manage resources and cultures. Seems like most law is either about who gets the good stuff, or about our fundamental civil and human rights. Indian law was pretty creative… people have done a lot of writing and judging.
The first chapters explain the federal government’s trust relationship, which sprang from treaties between nations. Chapters explore applications of sovereignty (the authority of a nation to govern itself), federal power over Indian affairs, tribal self-government, and questions of civil and criminal jurisdiction. The text discusses water rights, child welfare, civil rights, and the applicability within Indian law of judicial review, the principle that judges decide appeals of previous decisions in order to clarify the evolving body of law. Many cases go to the Supreme Court because they involve relations between governments.

This text gives me perspective on issues that pop up in the newspapers all the time. Footnotes 130 pages long cite cases which folks can look up on databases free at the library.
In the 1970s, the American Civil Liberties Union began its “Rights of” series to help people interpret the body of law applicable to women, employees, students, patients, and other social groups. This new edition is published by the Oxford University Press and recommended by the Native American Rights Fund. --JSK
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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Disgraced by Gwen Florio



Lola Wicks is vacationing, and she’s not happy about it. The veteran foreign correspondent ended up at her small-town Montana newspaper as a result of budget cuts at a much bigger paper, and now she’s been furloughed. She’s grudgingly headed for Wyoming for a Yellowstone Park vacation with her young daughter, until a co-worker asks her for a favor. Would she be willing to detour to pick up a cousin, a woman returning from deployment in Afghanistan?

Pal is one of six soldiers from the same small town, though one was killed while deployed and blamed for carelessly causing his own death. And then another commits suicide in the airport, never making it all the way home. After taking Pal to her house on the edge of the Wind River reservation, Lola becomes concerned about Pal’s state of mind as well, and decides to stay for a few days. Watching Pal do little save run through the dry scrub and drink herself to sleep, Lola starts to envision a story about these six soldiers as a microcosm of the effects of war, and its disproportionate reliance on troops from poor or rural America. When two of the other soldiers are arrested for a violent assault, she knows she has to write it, despite the tension and nightmarish flashbacks to her own stint in Afghanistan as a correspondent.

There’s someone out there, though, that doesn’t want this particular story told. As the aggression, stonewalling and outright lies mount, there’s a dangerous personal attack. Lola and her five-year-old are finding it dangerous to seek the truth. 

Disgraced is Gwen Florio’s third Lola Wicks mystery, following Montana and Dakota. Her own experience as a reporter and foreign correspondent provide authenticity to Lola’s voice.  Her journalism has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize, and her short fiction for a Pushcart Prize. Montana was a High Plains Book Award winner for Best First Book. She lives in Missoula.  -DAR

Florio will be at Billings Public Library for a reading on Monday, June 27th at 7:00 pm. Click here for more information about this event!

Friday, May 6, 2016

One-Pot Paleo: Simple to Make, Delicious to Eat and Gluten-Free to Boot by Jenny Castaneda

One-Pot Paleo is a delightful collection of recipes based on the paleo diet. For those unfamiliar with paleo eating, also known as the caveman diet, the concept was popularized in 2002 by Loren Cordain's book, The Paleo Diet, and has exploded on the diet scene as a hot trend. The eating plan emphasizes the consumption of lean meats and proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables while eliminating breads, rice, and processed foods.

In One-Pot Paleo, Jenny Castaneda has compiled her favorite paleo recipes that can be cooked in a single pot, pan, or skillet. For busy weeknights when preparing meals can become a daunting task, Castaneda has included some quick, easy recipes that can be tossed together in less than an hour. For less patient cooks, she has shared a recipe for Fifteen-Minute Ginger Chicken Noodles in which sweet potato spirals are substituted for the noodles. Throughout the book, each recipe is accompanied by a full-page photograph which is helpful to those who may want to see each dish before investing the time in making it.

The book is organized into six different categories: cast iron recipes, casseroles, stir-fries, baked, broiled and grilled items, soups and stews, salads, and basics such as broths and sauces. Generally, the recipes call for common ingredients. However, some require coconut aminos, ghee, and coconut oil. Coconut aminos is a dark sauce made from coconut tree sap and is often times used as a substitute for soy sauce. Ghee is clarified butter. It can be concocted at home by carefully melting and separating milk solids and water from the butter. Ghee is the remaining product after the milk solids and water have been skimmed off the top. Ghee can also be purchased from retailers such as Walmart and Amazon.com.

For the most part, One-Pot Paleo offers ideas for quick, easy meals that require common ingredients and take little effort to prepare. Since all the recipes need only one cooking vessel, less cleanup time is involved. The meal suggestions could also supplement a non-paleo eater's healthy diet, serving as variations of more traditional recipes. All in all, One-Pot Paleo is a good addition to any paleo cookbook collection. --JK

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar

In August, 2010, the world's attention focused on 33 miners, trapped 1/2 mile underground when the San Jose mine in central Chile collapsed, burying them.  Deep Down Dark is the unforgettable story of the unfortunate men, their families, and the risky, experimental rescue operation that saved them. For 17 days no one knew if the men were still alive. 

During the 69 days of the miners' ordeal, they agreed that if they were ever freed, they would tell their story only as a group.  Author Hector Tobar obtained exclusive access to that group for this book.  He includes little-known information about how the miners rationed meager food supplies, how power struggles and arguments broke out among the men, and how they coped with fear, hunger, absolute darkness, and the prospect of almost certain death.

After an international team of experts executed their extraordinary rescue, many of the miners experienced symptoms of PTSD and struggled to adjust to normal life again as they enjoyed temporary celebrity.  When most of the money they were promised did not materialize, a few made the incomprehensible decision to return to underground mining to make a living.  Incredibly, the owners of the San Jose mine were never found guilty of safety violations that everyone knew existed well before the accident.

Filled with suspense and fascinating detail, Deep Down Dark is a powerful story of endurance and survival.  At the last page, I still wanted to read more.  -MS

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Monday, April 25, 2016

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan


This is the grandpa of all our spy stories and flicks and video games. Richard Hannay, bored and knowing few people in London, one night hosts a little man who claims to be a spy on the run. Within ten pages, Hannay finds his guest murdered. He flees from the tricksy foreign agents and the “clumsy police” who pursue him closely across the barren moors of the Highlands. On the run from both sides, Hannay remains a model suspense hero, with a Macgyver-like resourcefulness and a stiff upper lip. John Buchan’s short novel was published as a serial one hundred years ago this year. Hannay in his allegiance to his nation predates Bond and Bourne by almost a century; this short book was popular in the World War I trenches.
The novella has an intensely male yet elegant tone. Women barely appear. The book reminds us that being chased by unknown haters and barely escaping, a boy’s childhood nightmare, is one of the great tropes of suspense fiction. Alfred Hitchcock made a great 1935 film of The Thirty-Nine Steps, which itself was spoofed in a spot-on off-Broadway parody. –JSK




Sunday, April 17, 2016

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt


Angela’s Ashes is a memoir written by Frank McCourt about his impoverished childhood in New York and Ireland. This was a story that was both tragic and beautiful, the circumstances and surroundings that McCourt grew up in were tragic but the way he told the story was beautifully done. What I enjoyed most about this memoir was that McCourt was able to convey his emotions and feelings as he had felt them as a child. His style was very matter of fact, he told it exactly how it was and exactly how he remembered reacting to the things that happened to him. I think that this style of storytelling was so fantastic because it showed how vulnerable McCourt was as a child but also conveyed to the reader an inner strength that many adults will probably never achieve.


This is the type of book that makes you stop and think about what it means to struggle through life, what it means to have nothing and the amazing things that the human spirit can endure. I would recommend this book to anyone that is interested in reading an honest account of what it is like to grow up surrounded by poverty and how with perseverance it is possible to not only rise above it but thrive. - CB