Random (but not really)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cover for the Coming Mercy Thompson Book

I’m a huge fan of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, and although I don’t love how much skin the covers have Mercy showing, I otherwise very much like the covers, since Mercy is typically shown being a mechanic or doing some other activity.


Orbit just released the cover of the next Mercy Thompson book.


I. Hate. This. Cover.

If I were coming across this series for the first time, I would most likely not give this book a second glance.

This cover tells me nothing about the book, and the model doesn’t look at all like Mercy. Mercy doesn’t have fancy hair. Mercy is usually covered in either grease or blood.

I have no idea why they shifted from an artist’s rendition to this photograph thing, but I do not like it.

No sir, don’t like it at all.

I also despite BOTH the title font and the author font. They’re fussy and unappealing and also do not suit Mercy.

To whom it may concern at Orbit: Please go back to the original style of the covers. This is simply not appealing.

Written by Michelle at 8:37 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hiking WV: Blackwater Falls

We went with my aunt and uncle on a “hike” to view Pendleton Run Falls.

I use the term hike very loosely, because as the book I have on waterfalls puts it “cuss, fall, root grab, and butt slide your way down to the creek” and they are totally serious. The park actually removed the warning sign from the top of the trail, perhaps realizing that its existence pointed out this “path” to people who were badly prepared for the risks.

Here’s the path of 0.45 mile hike we took with three kids 6 and under, so there was a fair amount of wandering back and forth.


Here is the path going down to Pendelton Run Falls #4


I’m pretty sure the GPS lost signal more than once.

The average grade was 23% and there were a couple places that were very exciting. On the way back up I folded up my hiking stick, stuck it in my bag, and scrambled grabbing rocks and roots since that felt a whole lot more secure.

Seriously, don’t attempt this unless you are in good shape and unafraid of doing foolish things.

Location: Blackwater Falls
Trail: Pendleton Run Falls #4
Distance: 0.8 miles (down and back up)
Elevation: 2763-3132 feet

Here’s what you get for all that work.


Pretty, but to be honest, Elakala Falls is prettier with less danger.



Written by Michelle at 11:43 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Canaan Mountain Backcountry

Since we spent so much time with small people, we ended up driving out Canaan Loop Road to hike Table Rock Trail (we’d looked into hiking it from Lindy Point, but didn’t have enough time for a long hike).

Table Rock is very muddy, but the view is gorgeous.

Location: Canaan Mountain Backcountry
Trail: Table Rock Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles (out and back)
Elevation: 3391-3497 feet

Note, it hadn’t rained in awhile; when it’s been wet, these are generally giant muddy puddles.



Here’s a panorama for you!


And a look at one part of the view.


Written by Michelle at 7:41 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

We hiked three places in the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge: The Freeland Boardwalk, The Beall Trail South, and what I think was the Camp 70 loop

The Freeland Boardwalk is highly recommend for kids–there is a brochure that tells you about different areas on the boardwalk. A pretty good diversity of habitats, including and attempt to regrow Balsam Fir.

Location: Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Trails: Freeland Boardwalk, Beall Trail South, Camp 70 Trail (?)
Distance: 0.45, 2.2, ?
Elevation: 3243-3262, 3217-3421, ?

Freeland Boardwalk




Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge





Written by Michelle at 6:16 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hiking with Kids

So this year’s birthday gifts to the small people in my life were hiking backpacks.

So what do you need for a hiking backpack?

First a foremost, a good backpack: 4-6, 7-9 (Smaller is better, since it will keep them from making it too heavy to carry comfortably.)
At least one water bottle
Naturalist notebook with pencil and a sharpie (use a sharpie to mark a ruler on the inside cover so Things Can Be Measured)
Emergency whistle
Lip balm
Magnifying glass (simple, more complex)
Compass (simpler, nicer)
A bandana or a pack towel
Trail mix or dried fruit (and chocolate milk and a pepperoni roll for a longer hike)
A first aid kit
Used ziploc bags for your trash (or trash you find on the trail)
Perhaps a pair of binoculars, or a pocket knife or matches, or a shovel, or a thermometer
Maps of your trails (Blackwater Falls, Canaan Valley)

And of course, nature books:
Trees, Leaves & Bark
Wildflowers, Blooms & Blossoms
Berries, Nuts, And Seeds
Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies
Birds, Nests & Eggs
Tracks, Scats and Signs

Then you go have adventures!

Blackwater Falls



Written by Michelle at 7:07 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Family,Hiking  

Hiking WV: Blackwater Falls

We hiked / walked a lot around Blackwater Falls, and there were lots of areas that were great for kids–rocks to climb and leap off and lots of water to play in.

The best places to play in the water were Elekala Falls (the water was low–higher water with a faster flow might not be recommended for smaller kids), and a stream just past Lindy Point–park at the Lindy Point trail head, and continue down the road that says it’s for 4×4 vehicles only. You’ll soon come to a stream.

Stop and play.

Location: Blackwater Falls State Park
Trails: Elekala Falls, Cannan Loop “Road”, Balanced Rock Trail







Written by Michelle at 6:18 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Family,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods

We took some of the kids up to Dolly Sods, where the blueberries were in fruit.

We didn’t hike much, and blueberry pancakes were made for breakfast the next day (I didn’t get any!)





Written by Michelle at 5:36 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Family,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley SP

I just got back from a lovely vacation with extended family–and as many as 14 kids under 9. Which was AWESOME. Because none of those kids belong to me!

I encouraged the kids of hike, and we had two lovely hikes at Canaan Valley SP. These trails were chosen specifically because they were friendly for younger kids–the youngest hiker was 4 1/2, but an under 3 walked a good deal of these trails as well.

Location: Canaan Valley SP
Trails: Blackwater Trail, Deer & Abe Run Trails
Distance: 0.8, 1.7 miles
Elevation: 3265-3307, 3260-3363 feet



I didn’t take a lot of pictures, since I was enjoying hiking with the kids.

Written by Michelle at 5:28 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Books of June

Little late, but then I thought I’d already done this post.

I read a LOT of crap I didn’t much like last month. Mostly a mystery series I kept thinking would get better, but didn’t.

Luckily, I also read some really good books. Like:
The Dark Side of The Road by Simon R. Green (8/10) which is a stand-alone urban fantasy. Montalbano’s First Case and Other Stories by Andrea Camilleri translated by Stephen Sartarelli (8/10) is a collection of Montalbano short stories. I re-read two Charles de Lint anthologies, Tapping the Dream Tree (9.5/10) and Muse and Reverie (10/10). And re-reads of Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls by Jane Lindskold (9/10) and Sabriel by Garth Nix (10/10).

If you haven’t read Charles de Lint, he is one of my all-time favorite authors. He writes marvelous short stories that–despite being full of darkness–are uplifting and usually make me feel better about myself and the world. And Jane Lindskold’s urban fantasy is also strange and wonderful.

Urban Fantasy

Tapping the Dream Tree (2002) Charles de Lint (9.5/10)
Muse and Reverie (2009) Charles de Lint (10/10)
Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls (1994) Jane Lindskold (9/10)
The Dark Side of The Road (2015) Simon R. Green (8/10)


Montalbano’s First Case and Other Stories (2008 (except where noted) / 2016) Andrea Camilleri translated by Stephen Sartarelli (8/10)

YA Fantasy

Sabriel (1995) Garth Nix (10/10)

Historical Romance

Your Scandalous Ways (2008) Loretta Chase (7/10)
The Mystery Woman (2013) Amanda Quick (6/10)

Historical Mystery

Lady of the Ashes (2013) Christine Trent (5.5/10)
In Milady’s Chamber (2006) Sheri Cobb South (6/10)
A Dead Bore (2008) Sheri Cobb South (6.5/10)
Family Plot (2014) Sheri Cobb South (6/10)
Dinner Most Deadly (2015) Sheri Cobb South (5/10)


Audio Book

The Grendel Affair, Audible Version (2013/2014) Lisa Shearin, narrated by Johanna Parker (8/10)
Black Arts audible version (2014) Faith Hunter, narrated by Khristine Hvam (8/10)

I read 15 books in June, which is a lot, but I’ve been having major anxiety issues, so lots of escaping.

Nothing but eBooks and audio books this month–in fact, aside from cookbooks (which I really need to review, but haven’t) I haven’t read a single paper book this year.

Genre was a bit more variety than previous months

Fantasy : 7
Mystery : 6
Romance : 2
YA : 1
Anthology : 2

And male authors caught up a tiny bit this month, with 5 male authors and 9 female authors…and that doesn’t add up to 15. So, 5 and 10. Male authors still haven’t caught up much, since I’m at 15% male and 85% female authors.

Written by Michelle at 7:55 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Hiking WV: Summersville Lake WMA

In addition to seeing how high the lake was, we took the opportunity to do some hiking in the Summersville Lake WMA. I don’t have a link to a trail map, because I can’t find one. The only reason I knew about it at all is because one of my hiking books mentioned trails there, and had directions how to get there.

It’s a relatively easy hike, and the the view at the end is gorgeous.

Location: Summersville Lake WMA
Trail: Long Point Trail
Distance: 4.0 miles
Elevation: 1797-1991 feet



I don't believe you sign.

To get there, head towards Summersville Airport. The Long Point trailhead is just past the airport.

Here is the gpx map of the Long Point trail hike at Summersville Lake WMA.

We had lunch at Fran’s Family Restaurant and Cafe, which was as delicious as it was inexpensive. (607 Main St, Summersville, WV 26651)

Written by Michelle at 8:30 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  
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