Book Review, Catalyst Moon: Breach, by Lauren L Garcia

Catalyst Moon: Breach (Catalyst Moon Saga Book 2)Catalyst Moon: Breach by Lauren L. Garcia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I reviewed Book 1 in this series, Catalyst Moon: Incursion, I wrote “I’m glad I read this book, and I do want to know what happens to the characters. But I wish I didn’t have to wait so long to find out.”

It turns out I didn’t have to wait very long at all. Book 2, Breach, is here, and it’s significantly better than Book 1. The characters and relationships are more complex, and the story more riveting. Now there are so many threads to be resolved that I am wondering if the author has bitten off more than she can chew. Like Incursion, this volume does not stand on its own, and it leads you to want to read the next book in the series to find out what happens.

Breach essentially picks up where Incursion left off, with Stonewall and Kali separated and Kali beginning to receive magical treatment for her bad knee, the ostensible purpose of the trip that set this whole thing in motion. For a magical system that is otherwise quite well thought out, I think Kali’s knee poses a “transporter problem.” Like the transporter in Star Trek, the magic of this world should be capable of solving almost any problem a human writer can throw at it. But since that would make for a less dramatic story, the author has to set up some artificial obstacles and constraints that the technology (or magic) can’t easily solve. That is what Kali’s knee problem feels like to me. Magic that can cure the deathly ill and that works by rearranging fundamental subatomic particles is not going to be stopped by a limp. So I am wondering if there is more to Kali’s knee problem than we’ve been told so far. We don’t find out much in this installment.

We do, however, find out much more about Stonewall/Elan in Breach. His struggles with learning to lead his squad, with learning to read and write, and with his feelings about the reappearance of his long-lost brother, round him out as a character and lift this story above a simple cliched romance. I continued to enjoy the romantic plot between Stonewall and Kali, although it is a little sappy at times. And the fact that sentinels in this world don’t seem to live past age 40 very often would make the love story tragic enough even without all the other stuff going on.

The subplot involving Eris, Gid and the other mages also starts to take off in this book (literally). In Incursion, I found these characters somewhat puzzling and annoying, but here they find their voice. The author herself seems to be going through a similar process of finding her voice, and it is a pleasure to watch it happen.

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Thursday Doors: The Queen Mary

CoinFrontLast weekend my husband and I went to a Geocaching mega-event called Geocoinfest. If you don’t know what a Geocoin is, the header at the top of my blog is actually taken from one: the 1000 finds Geocoin. I bought it several years ago when I started this blog, in honor of my thousandth find (I am currently at 2881 finds, but who’s counting?)

The event was basically an opportunity for geocachers from all over the country (and world) to get together, swap stories and trackables, and to find more geocaches. It was held on the Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach.  The first Geocoinfest on a ship! And my first time on the Queen Mary.

02MainHall

The old Queen is looking a little faded these days. It is still a nice place to be, and definitely worth a visit there on the water in the lovely SoCal weather (and surprisingly, the air was much better down there than up near us because of the North Bay fires). But on the main deck and in the common rooms, you get more of a sense of past glory and times gone by, than current grandeur. The wood is polished and shiny, but the ceilings are low and the pipes are visible. And, I think I see a . . .  phone booth?

On the ship there were a couple of interesting models, one of the SS Normandie, one of her sister ships. Look at the tiny doors, along with tiny-everything-else!

And another model of the Queen Mary made entirely of Legos. More tiny Lego doors!

Out on the ship’s deck itself, there were more doors leading to mysterious places:

Although it looks like potentially a good place for them, there weren’t any geocaches hidden on the ship itself. But there were plenty around the dock and harbor area, and some special “lab caches” made just for the event. We found them all and got a souvenir.
Congratulations

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time) at Norm 2.0’s blog here.

20KarenwithQueenMary

 

 

Not A Scientist

My blogging friend PJ Lazos at “Green Life, Blue Water” has a great blog about a great-sounding book, Not a Scientist by Dave Levitan. It is about how politicians misuse and abuse scientific facts. It also sets the story straight, giving you the real facts behind some recent political whoppers.

Unlike the politicians profiled, I am a scientist, and I don’t think I could have re-read all these examples again without the process driving me crazy. I’m glad Dave was able to hold his nose and compile them (and the debunking of the various political falsehoods) into one volume. PJ was also able to meet the author in person at a recent book festival in Collingswood, NJ! As she writes in her blog, “knowledge is power. Read Not A Scientist and get on with your powerful self.”

Green Life Blue Water

Not A Scientist

Did you go to the March for Science on Earth Day? Did you feel the swell of pride for all the people who lent their support in favor of science? Do you worry about the current state of science in America, especially when politicians are holding the purse strings? Then Not A Scientist, How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science by Dave Levitan is your next read. Not a Scientist is loaded with examples of real life politicians ditching the facts, disputing the evidence, and generally disrupting the scientific status quo on topics of which they know little to nothing about.

Today, there is an ever-growing divide between science and politics. Maybe it’s because the problems are too big, the solutions too expensive, the public loathe to change. There’s little disagreement in the scientific community that humanity is on the brink of critical mass, a 6th…

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Mundane Monday: Pendulum

s-l300The last class I taught was about pendulums, those mundane things that swing back and forth. My favorite illustration of how a pendulum works is the old-fashioned metronome. I still own one like this, somewhere. The lower on the stick you position the weight, the faster the tempo it marks. The one in the picture would be ticking so fast it would be hard to keep up.

This phenomenon illustrates the fundamental principle behind pendulums: that the period of a pendulum (that is, the time it takes for it to swing back and forth) depends on its length, not on the weight or on the angle at which it is released (for small angles). When you move the weight up and down the stick of the metronome, you change the length of the pendulum, and thereby change its period and the tempo it is providing. Nowadays, with metronome apps changing the tempo at the push of a virtual button on your phone, this concept is going to be harder for young musicians to intuit.

Our students made their own pendulums and varied each of the three parameters (length, weight, and angle) to figure out which made a difference in the period of the pendulum. There were brightly-colored chains, with weights hanging on them, attached to protractors and hooks all around the classroom.

ClassroomPendulum

One type of pendulum that many students were already familiar with was a kind that you often see in science museums, called a Foucault’s Pendulum. This pendulum, hung on a fixed pivot that does not rotate, was first used to observe and measure the rotation of the earth. This video provides a good explanation of how that is done:

 

Only a week later, I found myself at Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles, and they have a Foucault’s Pendulum in the lobby there. This picture was taken looking down on the pendulum bob as it swings. The bob itself is lighted, as is the circle around it that enables observers to see the change in the pendulum’s position throughout the day as the Earth rotates.

 

For the Mundane Monday Challenge #131.

Astronomers
The Astronomers at Griffith Park Observatory

Buying a Cello

TopOfStairsWhen you are buying a new instrument, whether for yourself or someone else, it feels like opening (and closing) many doors. The last time I went instrument shopping, it was for myself. In the past 10 years, I have bought both a violin and a viola. As an adult, I found that experience fun.

But I remember the experience as a teen being stressful. I played several instruments and tried to think about tone, sound, playability, etc, but the looming questions in the back of my mind were always things like, would my teachers like it? Would my parents complain about the price? Was this instrument “worth it?” I had a hard time focusing on what was important. Continue reading Buying a Cello

Fijapaw Update: Bound for Korea

More than a year ago now, not long after I had moved to California, I had the unique pleasure of playing string quartets with a bicycling violinist in a fencing studio. I blogged about the experience here: The Fiji Quartet. That bicycling violinist is a woman named Jasmine Reese, who is cycling around the world with her dog named Fiji. Her website is called Fijapaw: One Girl. Her Dog. A Violin. On a Bicycle. Continue reading Fijapaw Update: Bound for Korea

Broken World

The EcoEarth Globe stands in Riverfront Park in Salem, OR. It is an arresting sight from afar, dwarfing even the bridge and the Willamette River behind it. It is also a complex and multifaceted work of mosaic art, with tiles and plaques representing species from all over the planet. But as you get closer, and check out all the continents, you notice something. There is a hole in the middle of Africa, right under the lions, elephants, and zebras. Continue reading Broken World

Layers of October

As we head into fall, days get shorter and the light changes. It’s also time for seasonal CITO (Cache-In-Trash-Out) events. We go for walks in the Baylands and instead of looking for geocaches, we look for trash. As I’ve written before about this park, it’s pretty clean. We never get enough trash to fill our bag, and end up taking the trash bag home to use it for household garbage so as not to waste it and defeat the purpose of the event. Continue reading Layers of October

Not the Last Ship

I am, or at least used to be, a fan of the TV series, The Last Ship. I think it probably should have been a miniseries with a defined endpoint, but in its first gripping season it was about a American guided missile destroyer, the USS Nathan James, bringing aid and a cure to a world suffering under a global pandemic. The series starred its heroic Captain Tom Chandler, with the help of a brave crew and a brilliant woman scientist, Dr. Rachel Scott. Continue reading Not the Last Ship

Gravity Wells

I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been busy with work, family and other writing projects. I’m trying to write a 5,000 word short story for a contest. (It is hard for me to write “short,” even though I have 4,000 more words to work with than for the last short story I wrote for a contest.)

But now that my school year has started and I am settling into a routine, I want to get back to more regular blogging again. I also want to include more science posts in this blog, so with today’s post I want to combine two concepts and make a Mundane Monday post about gravity. In fact, what could be more mundane than gravity? All of us earth-dwellers experience it every day. We can’t get away from it–literally! Continue reading Gravity Wells

The Brain—is wider than the Sky

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