. . . or the epicentre, or Swarmageddon or Omaha beech or whatever you wish to call it. Brood II of the 17-year cicadas are in da house!
Last week-end, I noticed that a fair number of these insects had emerged and were hanging around on the forsythia bushes on the south side of the house. By late afternoon, most of the newly-emerged had ambled off somewhere. There were a few stragglers on Sunday but it appeared that The Parsonage had done its bit in this annual phenomenon.
Boy, was I wrong! More came to the surface during the week but they were simply an advance party. The second wave to hit the beeches were beyond belief as far as numbers go. On Saturday & Sunday, they literally poured out of the ground and climbed on to every tree and leafy branch available. Some parked themselves on the discarded shells of the those that preceded them before climbing out of their own nymphal skin. The ground is littered with these casings and I think fondly back to my childhood where a bonanza like this would mean that every red-blooded boy - regardless of race, creed or colour – would have ample opportunity to chase girls with these things and that, my friends, is what makes America great!
I’ve been able to observe just about every stage of this process – from the point where they come above ground, to the point where they buzz off and head a block or so south of here. It’s an all day happy hour where everyone is asking everyone else the Cicadian equivalent of “Hey baby, what’s your sign?” There have been casualties, though. Some get part way out of their skins and expire. Adolescence is no picnic for these guys. Then there are some who make it to the outside only to buy the farm before they ever take flight. And then, there are the members of the advance party who have had their day in the sun, asked their partners if it was good for them too and then crawled off to die. There’s an ample supply of discarded wings and other body parts showing up now. Keep in mind that they don’t eat at all during their adult life. In another two weeks or so, it will be all over. Eggs will have been deposited in tree branches and all that will remain are some satisfied birds.
About that last bit, I’ve wondered if there have been any studies to see if there is an up-tick in the survival rate of the avian population during emergences. One would think that there could be a dissertation – or at least a thesis – somewhere in all that.
What I am sure of is that I didn’t notice any of this 17 years ago. There was little or no racket in the neighbourhood and the only reason I found out is that I noticed all the dead limbs along I-81. Will they be back in the ‘hood in 17 years? Will I even be here to watch? It seems that at least some fly off to new territory to deposit their eggs. Does this mean that the brood will shift their location after a few cycles? Another master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation to be sure!
by Brenda Pandos
The following is a detailed review of the Young Adult novel, Everlost, by Brenda Pandos. It is the longest review thathas penned to date.
For those readers who wish to bypass the folderol and cut to the chase, here is whatthinks about Everlost:
It is really, really good and you should really, really read it.
In 2011, Brenda Pandos – an established author of Young Adult fiction – released Everblue, the first book in her Mer Tales series. This exciting story was followed in 2012 by Evergreen and now her eager followers have been rewarded with Everlost, the capstone of the series.
In order to appreciate the present, one must first understand the past. Everblue centered around three main characters:
- Ashlyn a.k.a. Ash, a very human and personable high school senior living with her parents, grandmother and somewhat bratty younger sister on the shores of Lake Tahoe
- Tatianna a.k.a. Tatchi, her next door neighbour and BFF
- Finley a.k.a. Fin, Tatianna’s twin brother upon whom Ash has an ongoing crush.
Fin and Tatchi have a secret; they’re not really human – at least in the conventional sense. They arefrom the subterranean aquatic kingdom of Natatoria. The powers that be in Natatoria are very picky about whom is allowed to live outwith the bounds of the kingdom and both Fin and his twin sister are quite lucky indeed to experience the world of humankind. Their sojourn on land is interrupted when the family is summoned home because of a crisis in the realm. There, Prince Azor – who has fancied Tatchi for quite some time – decides to claim her as his mate through the simple act of a kiss; something that binds all Natatorian couples in perpetual bliss. Tatiana loathes Azor and all hell breaks loose when her father – at the head of a small rebel army – attempts a rescue at her promising ceremony. Sadly, Azor kisses her first. Fin and his parents flee Natatoria while Tatchi – now bonded to Azor – stays behind. There’s also another kiss involved here. On one of his surreptitious visits to Tahoe, Fin rescued a drowning Ash and the kiss of life now has more than one meaning.
In its sequel, Evergreen, Fin and his parents are wanted by the Natatorian authorities and take it on the lam for a safe house in Florida leaving Ash behind, lonely and longing for her wandering merman. At the Florida safe house, Fin encounters the princess Galadriel – the underlying cause of the whole crisis in Everblue - who bears an uncanny resemblance to Ash and becomes the third central character of this installment. Ash discovers that she is actually a Natatorian herself; Galadriel’s long lost sister who was switched at birth with Azor in order to give their father a male heir. Along the way, Ash is reunited with her tail and accompanies Fin and Galadriel home to Natatoria in order to spring Tatchi and straighten out the mess that the kingdom has become.
There are several differences between Everlost and its predecessors. The first two stories centered on three main characters: one male and two females. Everlost focuses on Tatchi and the two men in her not-so-happy life: Jacob – who made a (very) brief appearance in Everblue – and Prince Azor. The first two stories were told in alternating first person narratives by Ash and Fin. In Everlost, Brenda, volte-face, spins her story with a third-person narrative. Although the first two stories had an ample share of action in addition to romance, Everlost is most definitely a romantic thriller.
Back in Natatoria, all is not well between the newly bonded Tatchi and Azor and in the ensuing two weeks after their disastrous promising ceremony, things will go from bad to worse.
Azor shoved Tatiana into the entry of the compound and slid the heavy stone door shut. She whirled around, stunned he’d left her side, and tugged at the iron handle in a panic, unable to lug the monstrous thing open.
Tatiana is in thrall of the bond and when she is with Azor, her mind turns to mush while free will and self-determination are swept away on an almost obsessive current of infatuation with him. Prince Azor has other ideas and doles out his affection sparingly; just enough to keep this fish on the line but not enough to fulfill Tachie’s needs and expectations. Her only real companionship comes from her handmaiden – royalty hath its privileges — and her body-guard, Jacob.
Prince Azor can only be described as “a real piece of work” and the main villain of this drama. While other bad guys may be known for their duplicity, Azor is an overachiever when it comes to quadruplicity. He is a grasping, conniving individual who always manages to get what he wants no matter who has to suffer – including the kingdom of Natatoria. His multi-faceted schemes are aided and abetted by his small but quickly growing squad of goons known as the Dradux. His goal is to have control of the kingdom, a trophy mate and a male heir — all by his 18th birthday – and he very nearly succeeds.
Jacob is the direct antithesis of Azor. He is a warrior assigned to protect as well as keep an eye on Titania. He is also a member of the rebels seeking to show Azor and his father, King Phaleon, the door and rescue Princess Tatiana from the living hell of her Promising. Physically, he looks as if he could grace the cover of almost any “bodice-ripper”. Through all of this, Jacob develops feeling for Tatchi. For her part, Tatiana finds him somewhat attractive and starts to develop feelings of her own until Azor throws her a bone of attention and, to her besotted eyes, becomes “da man” . . . at least for the next fifteen minutes until Azor can find the excuse and opportunity to stall her and get back to the business at hand.
At this point, it is worth considering a similarity between Ash and Azor. His true parents are the mom and dad that Ash has always known growing up in Tahoe and her real parents, the king and queen of Natatoria, are the only ones that Azor has ever known. Though she has grown up as a human, there is a thing or two about Ash that harkens back to her Natatorian birthright. She loves to swim and always has loved to swim. As captain of her high school swim team, she is one of the fastest and most able girls in the water and her academic career at FAU will be underwritten by an athletic scholarship in swimming. Though she now knows about the underwater world of Fin and his sister, joining them below the surface is still just an option until she is forcibly converted to a mermaid by Fin’s uncle and cousin. Ash seems to almost instinctively know how she should move and act in her new environment. One could say that she had been yearning for the world taken from her at birth.
Azor seems in some way to instinctively long for what he was at his beginning. Because he is unable to have that, he compensates by grabbing more and more of what he can have and is ultimately never satisfied. This ongoing want of power and privilege feeds upon itself and will not end with his becoming king. His dislike of humans is common knowledge and though he ascribes many a negative trait to them, he exhibits almost every one of these traits himself. It could well be that, in some subconscious way, Azor knows that he doesn’t really belong in Natatoria and he consciously reacts by hating what he really is. Unfortunately, the kingdom suffers for it and a prevailing suspicion and distrust of beta mers – former humans who have chosen to join their promised mates in Natatoria – is exacerbated as part of his reign of terror. In fine, both Ash and Azor are affected by what they once were as much as what they are now.
Everlost is Breda Pandos’ opportunity to examine the aquatic world she has created for her characters. Its citizens are almost unilaterally forbidden from exploring and understanding life on land. Although many Natatorians consider their realm a utopian one, they exhibit the same faults and prejudices that beset their cousins supra mare. The palace is dependent upon luxury goods from the world above and this desire for better things extends to as well to John Q. Mer and his fellow hoi palloi.
A telling moment comes when Ash – now a newly minted mermaid – enters a Natatorian home and is gob smacked by the similarities to human homes on land.
Being fish, the whole concept of air-filled homes stumped her. Why did they act so human?
Though the Mer of Natatoria consider themselves to be first and foremost fish, they are decidedly human fish and suffer from the same types of failings that humans do. The rights of women have yet to make their way to Natatoria and mermaids are relegated attracting a mate and producing. This kind of life does not appeal to an independent minded Tatchi and has thus been one of the factors behind her desire to join the human world . . . completely.
Everlost is a bumper serving of thrills, chills, action and excitement. There are narrow escapes and daring rescues such as the scene where Tatchi arrives to save the life of Jacob whom she is now decidedly interested in after successfully breaking the bond that tied her to Azor.
“You know, the girl can be the hero sometimes.”
Even though Jacob is the rescuee rather than the rescurer, he finds all of this to be quite the turn on. If anything, Tatchi is a stellar example of an empowered mermaid. She loves Jacob as much as he has come to love her and this time, she – not Azor – is in control of her life.
Both Tatchi and Fin have found their life mates is this saga thus easing the ache and loneliness that has fueled their desire to permanently leave the mer world behind. This does not necessarily mean that they will turn their backs on the surface world and live happily ever after with their promised mates in Natatoria. At the end of the day, it seems that Ash, Fin and Tatchi want to be a part of both worlds and it is left to the reader to imagine how that will ultimately unfold.
Brenda Pandos seems to have a knack for writing a about true love – this is a YA romance after all. She is more than adept at telling her target audience about those tender, loving and passionate moments about which almost every Young Adult female wants to hear .
Her soul exploded into a song filled with all the goodness that was him. And everything about him felt right. To hold him close, to be with him, to treasure him for all eternity, she could think of nothing else, completely engulfed in his love.
She speaks of the love and attraction between her characters in such a warm and compelling way that even this reviewer is prompted to remember just how much he loves his wife of thirty-eight years and thus recommends her books as required reading for any Young Adult male enrolled in Girls 101.
Ms Pandos also deserves a gold star for one small thing. Back at the beginning of the series, Tatchi is conspiring with Ash to follow her to Florida Atlantic University – Go Owls!! – on scholarship. This reviewer has read more than one YA novel where the heroine decides that, since she’s a mermaid now, she doesn’t need to finish high school and/or go to college. At the end of it all, Ash and Tatchi are still looking forward to attending FAU together. That one wee bit of positive reinforcement for the target audience draws top marks from this reviewer every time.
Throughout this story and the ones preceding it, Brenda Pandos has carefully crafted her characters and imbued them with a warmth and humanity –or is it mermanity? – that renders them as real and tangible individuals. The reader naturally both feels and fears for Tatiana and spends the better part of the story wondering when the cavalry will finally arrive. For those who have read Everblue and Evergreen, Brenda has scattered a number of clues throughout the story as to what is happening with her family and Ash on the surface.
At the same time, Ms Pandos does not skimp on the villains in her stories. The baddies are appropriately bad and have an air of rotting marine life about them. All are definitely “hiss-worthy” and the only things that Brenda does not do is have them speaking in rhymed couplets and exiting stage-left.
For the observant, Brenda Pandos has woven several lessons into her tale of tails and one is well worth mentioning here. Since time immemorial, young adults – of both genders – have often practiced the art of stringing a person along and preying on their emotions for whatever end they may have in mind. In Everlost, Tatchi is strung along by Prince Azor and the mental anguish and emotional suffering she must endure is plainly obvious to the reader. This reviewer hopes that at least some of Brenda’s Young Adult fans will get the hint and pass it along to their peers.
Brenda Pandos has spun a thrilling and timeless tale that is arguably her best work to date and one of which she may be justly proud. Read it for the drama. Read it for the action. Read it for the romance but by all means, read it.
When an author comes to the end of a series, he or she packs away their characters and moves on to other projects. Things are somewhat different for those who have followed that series from its inception. Over the past years, Ash, Fin and Tatchi have become familiar friends as readers have followed each twist and turn and pondered where Brenda Pandos would take the story in the next installment. Here, the reader is wont to say: “Please don’t go . . . not just yet”.
Ms Pandos should seriously consider penning a “Where Are They Now?” kind of short story as readers will be dying to know things like:
- How does Ash finally square things with her parents?
- Will Fin be able to sing himself out of this sticky situation?
- How will Ash explain to her mother that she’d rather sleep in the lake than her own room?
- Will Fin’s design for Velcro enhanced board shorts take the Natatorian runways by storm?
- How about Ash and Tatchi a few years hence when they’ve got several under foot and/or fin?
- Will Fin ever get his beloved red Jeep back?
- Will Uncle Alaster finally be brought to justice?
- What happened to Ferdinand?
So many questions that fans of the Mer Tales series will want answers for. Brenda’s final installment in her Mer Tales series is undoubtedly a success in that it leaves the reader wishing for more.
Read a sample of Everlost
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ merrows gang aft agley
- with apologies to Bro. Robert Burns
Sometimes, things just go wrong and you can’t follow through on a promise. Back in January, my post entitled “Sequel City” listed sevensequels that were due to be published this year. Already, two of the sequels have missed their target release date. Actually, that would be three but Adrianna Steptiano was able to conquer her technical issues and release her next installment in the Memoirs of a Mermaid series – When, At Last, She Could See - only two days behind schedule.
Paige Blue’s LivEternal was targeted for release on Feb., 14th but has fallen behind due to a very hectic schedule. A new release date has yet to be announced.
The third book in the Mer Tales series, Everlost, by Brenda Pandos will not release on Feb. 28th as originally planned. There were a good number of last-minute edits to be done and no hope of doing a proper job in the time remaining so Brenda has re-scheduled the release for March 14th. She had briefly considered releasing on The Ides of March – Anyone remember the early 70′s band of the same name? – but feared a mob of angry fans bearing pitch-forks and torches if she delayed it a day longer.
Whilst waiting for Brenda to wrap up work on Everlost, yours truly will have the time to slip in one or two books that would have otherwise had to wait until after he was done with his review of that book. Meanwhile, a review of Fish Eyes: A Stranded Mermaid Adventure by Linda Pohring and Anne Dewberry will be posted here on this very blog site on or before March 1st.
That’s it for this edition of Book News. If you’ll excuse me, I have to get going on that review.
- “↵ ” is the Celtic name for . was attempting to make a (very) wee joke here.
Gazebo Books Publishing, a micro/boutique publishing house in the Seattle area, has recently undergone an internal restructuring and is now Gazebo Gardens Publishing with three imprints:
Dream Garden Publications — books for children and families
Castle Garden Publications — books for tween and young adults
Certainly mighty proud I say,
I’m always mighty proud to say it.
I consider that the hours I spend
With a pipe in my hand are golden.
With apologies to Meridith Wilson
In the tradition of the Native American peace pipe ceremony or the coveted packed bowl set out by the fire next to a cozy pair of slippers at the end of a long day, pipe smoking is an art which has historically been promoted to foster relaxation and socializing — a slower approach to life. On February 20th a much-anticipated yearly event for pipe smokers around the world will take place in the form of International Pipe Smoking Day. The appreciation of a fine bowl of quality tobacco has held a place in the hearts of generations of men, the act itself promoting feelings of well-being and contemplation, but enthusiasm for the habit has been threatened in recent years. Once viewed as a dying breed, pipe smokers are finding new ways to network and band together in communities and online forums to celebrate the rich, historical tradition of the practice. The scope of the worldwide community has grown considerably in recent years through Twitter and Facebook, and specially-dedicated sites like PipesMagazine.com. The event marks an opportunity for these communities to promote a sense of camaraderie on a global scale. The Comite International des Pipe Club, an international organization made up of members from over 25 countries, is dedicated to preserving the pipe smoking tradition and is a strong supporter of the affair. [Today], seize the opportunity to slow down, to relish the small pleasures life has to offer. And as the United Pipe Clubs of America urges, to raise your pipes together to foster friendship, benevolence, and tranquility across all borders.
If you have not already done so, please go & take a look at today’s Google Doodle ©. Feb. 19th is the 540th birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus and Google is celebrating the anniversary with a Copernican model of the Solar System as the logo on the search engine’s front page.
Don’t put it off! The Google Doodle © is available for only one day and this one is too good to miss.
Depending upon whom you listen to, a full one-third – and then some – of PC users are moving their computing activities away from PC’s and towards what are termed “Post-PC Devices”. For ordinary folks, that’s the term for things like tablets and smartphones. People are shifting their web browsing and Facebook activities away from desktops and PCs and are now starting to rely on Smart Phones and Tablets for these two all-important tasks. 
A good bit - indeed, probably most – of this is, no doubt, due to the fact that a third of PC users probably only ever used their lap/desk-tops for these activities. Toss in games, music and the occasional term paper and you will probably account for the vast majority of their need for a traditional PC. In previous posts, I’ve argued that we will see more a diversification of platforms and less a death knell for the PC so I’m not going to belabour that point here. Instead, I’m presenting a short digest of reviews dealing with Microsoft’s Surface Pro – a somewhat pricey hybrid of tablet and PC. I mention the pricey-ness because if Microsoft’s entry in the mobile computing area is ever going to gain ground and acceptance, the price IS going to have to drop considerably.
If you’re considering – today or at some point in the future – moving to a tablet, here are some things to consider:
ZDNet’s Steve Ranger offers an in-depth comparison between the Surface RT and the iPad for use in a work environment. In case you haven’t been paying attention, there is a significant difference between Microsoft’s Surface Pro and the Surface RT. The former can run many of the applications designed for the standard Windows desk/lap-top while the RT cannot. In many respects, the Surface RT is more a consumer device like the iPad. Yes, the iPad has been employed in business applications and no doubt the RT will too . . . if it survives.
Meanwhile, in the Republic of Tech, Jason Hiner delivers a preview of the Surface Pro and argues that its Triple-Play User Interface is the device’s greatest innovation.
PC Magazine’s Joel Santo Domingo argues that the Surface Pro is ”. . . the Windows 8 slate tablet to beat when you need the performance and convenience of a PC in a compact tablet form factor.” This article is definitely worth a read. By the way, can anyone remember when PC Magazine was at least 3/4 of an inch thick and when rolled up, became an instrument of deadly force?
Joel also has a second article that covers both the Surface Pro and the Surface RT; Microsoft Surface Pro vs. Surface RT: Which One Should You Buy?
Back over on ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley provides answers to why Microsoft chose to deliver the Surface RT before the Surface Pro as well as a few other questions.
Not to be outdone, PC World’s Jon Phillips argues that the Surface Pro is the best Windows tablet in the world but, nonetheless, is still a bit lacking.
Finally, Robin Harris, writing for ZDNet, claims that Microsoft goofed on the Pro’s available storage.
There you have it; eight articles that provide food for thought about the Surface Pro by Microsoft. If you’re interested in buying the Surface Pro, these articles will provide good research material. If not, they’re still good to have up on your browser at work so your boss will think that you’re ahead of the curve . . . for once.
- One-third of PC users shifting activities to post-PC devices: Report – Adrian Kingsley Hughes, ZDNet.↵
Let’s see now:
- Laptop – check
- Geek glasses – check
- Nerd shirt in a colour not found in nature – check
- Stack of Linux/Unix manuals – check
- Stack of Perl manuals – check
- iPhone with Whipped app – check
- Assorted flash drives – check
- Other assorted stuff that no self-respecting computer dweeb can live without – check
- Autographed copy of The Wit & Wisdom of Sheldon Cooper – check
Looks like I’ve got everything. I’m off on a 10-month contract with the University of Virginia ITS (Information Technology Services). My brother, Jim Parsons – no, not THAT Jim Parsons! – a dyed in the wool Hokie, must be hiding his face in shame over all this.
So far, Day 1 has been slow but that’s the way 1st days usually are. There’s a cardboard stand-up of Mr. Spock next to my cube and Iron Man collectables on the shelf across the aisle. I have a first-rate view of the train tracks behind the building so I can foam and work at the same time. I’m in Nerdlandia.
by Adrianna Stepiano
Wikipaedia defines “Sophmore Slump” as
A good example of this last category is Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The first movie was great. The second . . . not so much. The same thing happens with authors and their novels – they will hope that the second is at least as good as the first.
In the subgenre of, there are examples – Tracy Deebs’ Tempest series is a good one – of the 2nd book being even better than the first. Move over Ms Deebs, Adrianna Stepiano has avoided the sophomore slump in her Memoirs of a Mermaid series and has delivered a book that tops her first outing.
A feeling of loss is the only way to describe it. When my heart aches with what I could have had, that for a moment, I know. I know. I KNOW—that I cannot live without him. I’m sure most people have similar moments of clarity. It’s the random seconds when you realize that something you wanted was yours all along—but, you failed to recognize it.
As the story opens, a year has passed since Seraphin – this Hebrew name means ardent or fiery - graduated from high school; one year has passed since Seraphin first met Joesph. A lot has happened in that time. Seraphin has discovered that she’s a mermaid, that she’s destined to be one of the two guardians of the sea and that her former biology teacher is not quite the sweet, quirky person that she thought she knew. ‘Phin also learned – at the end of the first book in this series – that her father is alive and that the man – now deceased – she thought was her father was actually her uncle. Revelations like this are nothing new – either in fiction or real life. This reviewer discovered – after all the parties had gone to whatever reward awaited them – that the older woman he thought was some sort of distant cousin was actually his grandmother. As well-intentioned as the deception may have been, this reviewer would have much rather had the truth from the beginning and so would Seraphin.
‘Phin does not like lies and upon hearing that what she was told is not how things really are, she vented her spleen upon the messenger – Joseph – who is her closest ally and co-guardian. Joeseph is the one who went to great lengths to find out what became of Seraphin’s mother and – quite understandably – he does not take kindly to being the focus of her anger.
It’s an unfair truth that we hurt those closest to us, and I hurt Joseph Merrick.
Seraphin retreated into a shell of familiarity and remained at home when it came time to begin the fall semester at the University of Maine; Go Black Bears! This was the last straw for Joseph. After all, he had gone to great lengths – again – to see to it that ‘Phin had a place at university and this additional rejection caused him to leave for school and stay away for the rest of the year. Nine months without so much as a word from Joesph has only increased her sorrow and regret.
. . . he was in my thoughts, my very secret thoughts. When I tried to imagine his voice, I struggled. It had been too long since I last heard him speak. The sound of his voice was beginning to fade from my memory
Now that the summer session at CORE – Coastal Oceanic Research Expeditions – has begun, Seraphin will have to face the music if she hopes to have any chance of salvaging her relationship and snatching love from the jaws of rejection and defeat. Things, however, have changed for Joseph. Dr. Caro, the man behind CORE, has pushed Joseph towards overseeing the lab technicians and becoming more like middle management and less like a hands-on researcher. There’s also someone else, Lena Ligeiato, who has taken over his old position and seems to be exerting a Svengali-like influence over him. If Joseph seems like he’s entranced by a Siren, it is because Lena is an actual Siren.
Adrianna Stepiano depicts Sirens in their original form; Bird-like women or women-like birds – both dangerous and beautiful – who used their enchanting voices and music to lure sailors on to the rocks of whatever island they happened to inhabit. Somewhere along the way, humans expanded the definition of Siren to include Mermaids and they have suffered from the bad press ever since.
Ms Steptiano has once again done a brilliant job of envisioning the relationship between ‘Phin and Joesph. As the story opens, Sepaphin is the same age as a rising college Sophmore while Joseph has completed a year of graduate school. This reviewer – with a little effort – can remember being that age. Even taking into account the fact that ‘Phin is in her first real relationship, things would be quite a bit more involved if the couple were indeed real people. Adrianna has successfully envisioned this relationship for the mid-teen market. Seraphin and Joseph share hugs, kisses and tender moments; everything that a mid-teen female would want to read about. Quite tame by today’s standard of fiction and yet, very sweet and romantic.
When, At Last, She Could See is a tale well told. Adrianna Stepiano has a firm hold on her vision for this series and continues to expand the world she has created for her characters. While Mermaids and Sirens may be fantastical creatures from mythology, she skillfully humanizes them and renders them as believable. There is no better example of this than the Goonches, the half-breedwho were unlucky enough to have a human forebear. They suffer a similar fate to that of the Wizards and Witches of Harry Potter fame who had a Muggle or two somewhere up their family tree. And like the Mudbloods, the Goonches suffer from the resentment and disdain of the pure-blooded .
Adrianna depicts her Goonches as ordinary – or mostly so – people living ordinary lives. They are shopkeepers, administrators, house-wives and just has human as the rest of us. Perhaps even more so. The Goonches of Bar Harbour, Maine have been unobtrusively protecting ‘Phin from the very beginning without her even knowing who or what they were. A necessary lie, perhaps, but nonetheless a lie. Perhaps this is one deception that she can forgive.
Parents read children fairytales with happy endings. It’s a way of sheltering their children. They do it because parents understand that innocence is so rare, and they know it’s temporary. They see it, and they cling to it. They want to protect it, keep it, and hide it away from the evil world. Eventually, children grow older though. With age comes awareness, and awareness ends innocence.
Seraphin’s world – and her perception of it – continues to change and evolve. Over the course of this novel she grows up some more. There will still be things – like emotions – that she needs to master but Adrianna’s way of story-telling ensures that the reader will want to see what happens next. The third installment in the Memoirs of a Mermaid series is – at the time of this writing – due to appear in the late summer/early autumn of this year. Those who have followed ‘Phin on this journey – and perhaps have gained their own understanding via her travails – will undoubtedly look forward to that time.
Adrianna Stepiano’s skill at both writing and story telling has grown since When, At Last, He Found Me and there is no reason to doubt that the forthcoming installment will be even better than the two before it.
Adrianna’s website may be found at Memoirofamermaid.com.
Read a sample of When, At Last, She Could See
We have a few news items for you today so let’s get crackin’.
Microsoft Surface Pro - When Windows 8 launched at the end of October, 2012, so did Microsoft’s new tablet known as the Surface RT. The RT received mixed reviews – from good to wretched – with some writers claiming that it was a laughable/forgettable product. Among the points its favour were assessments stating that it was a good, solid performing tablet but not a spectacular one. There were a few more negative items including the fact that it could be somewhat lethargic loading programmes as well as the fact that it would not run programmes that a PC could. If you wanted an application to do something or other, you would have to go to the Windows Store to find one designed to run on the RT. Given the fact that the shelves in the Windows Store were somewhat bare at that point, it was easy to see why many reviewers were less than enthusiastic.
To be fair, the Windows Store opened with more RT apps than Apple’s App store had iOS apps when the iPad launched. Microsoft’s prediction that there would be 100,000 apps available 90 days after the launch has failed to come true with slightly more than 25% of that landmark ready for downloading in the waning days of January. There were complaints that the RT apps were mostly crap but from my experience, there’s plenty of crap to be found in Apple’s App Store as well.
Comes now the availability of the Surface Pro, a tablet that can run PC programmes as well as those designed for the Pro platform. The price is somewhat dear with the entry-level version costing just over $ 1,000 when all is said & done. Will the price come down? Probably in the same way that the iPad has come down in price; a noticeable reduction but still nothing to write home about. Consumers are more likely to buy Android based devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Note or Google’s Nexus 7 or 10 than the Surface Pro . . . at least for now.
ZDNet’s Ed Bott has penned a pretty good review of the Surface Pro that is well worth reading. Meanwhile, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley is ready to tell us why she’s not trading her RT for a Pro. Finally, TechRadar’s James Stables has a mostly favourable review of the RT, published not at launch time as so many reviews were, but instead 90 days post launch. Read them and decide for yourself.
DELL Plans To Go Private - It’s a goal for many small and not-so-small companies to grow to the point that shares are publicly traded on of the major exchanges. Dell did just that back in 1988. Well folks, the days of “Dude, you’re getting a Dell” are long gone now and the company is starting to move towards buying itself back. The price is $24.4 billion and includes a $2 billion loan from Microsoft.
What does all this mean? How will you be affected . . . if at all? Here are some stories that will – hopefully – begin to answer those questions:
- Dell goes private for $24 billion on ZDNet.
- What to expect from the new, private DELL on Tech Republic
- Dell going private, a good thing for all on ZDNet
HP Contemplating A Break-up - The long, strange trip of Hewlett Packard is taking yet another turn. According to one report, executives are mulling a company break-up as well as other options. Of course, other sources say that there is nothing of the kind going on. This is not the first bout of indecision for the company. You may remember that HP was going to get out of the PC business until they changed their mind and decided to stay. They introduced a well-received tablet only to drop it 5 months later; not unlike Microsoft dropping its Kin smart phone after a similar length of time. The trouble is that the Kin was a deeply flawed device while the HP Touchpad was quite good and now suffers from a lack of applications as well as other support.
For more on this latest development in the HP saga, read HP reportedly considering company “breakup” on ZDNet. Even if does turn out to be a faux report, consumers might want to weigh their hardware options carefully if their choice include HP.