Regulatory Reading

That, my friends, is what I’ve been reading in my study time. The colorfully flagged book is a co-worker’s copy of our text. Immediately behind that is a catalog rack of the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule.  Not pictured: three books containing the Code of Federal Regulations for importing goods into the U.S.

This is the heart of how goods come into the country, the taxes paid on it, and the rules for various details used in labeling, among other things.

I took my first practice test over the weekend and missed a passing score by five questions. My plan is to take six or seven more tests in March, then the Real Test on April 3rd.

How’s your Tuesday going?

Book Banter: The Shadowed Sun

shadowed-sunTitle: The Shadowed Sun (The Dreamblood #2)

Author: N. K. Jemisin

Length: 492 pages

Genre: fantasy

Plot Basics: Ten years have passed since the end of “The Killing Moon,” and the once-powerful city of Gujaareh is still under the rule of the Kisuati. Wanahomen, the exiled Prince, is working to regain his city but it will take all the political manueverings with nobles, the army and the magical Hetawa to do so. But, for Hanani, a Sharer left with Wanahomen as a hostage, the conquest will also try her faith as a magical, dreaming plague presents a new danger.

Banter Points: As good at The Killing Moon was, for once, a sequel definitely surpassed the original. Wanahomen and Hanani — the two protagonists — were much more relate-able as characters. Also, the plot had  a brisker pace than the first one.

Bummer Points: There are no more books in this series yet. Jemisin says she has more ideas, but nothing sounds like it’s on the horizon for this series.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Definitely worth reading both.

The end of the week

I have my Friday night plans figured out…

Inspiration, my dear Watson


Yep, the Fate of the Part-Time Bachelor sounds like a winner to me.

Four Weeks to go

Back in September or October, I cheerily posted that I was taking a professional development opportunity at work and planned to sit for the Licensed Broker Exam which gives me street credit in my industry and cool initials after my name.

The exam is in four weeks and my brain is fried.

This exam is beyond hard, with an average passing rate of less than 10%. Most test takers sit twice for it, or even three times. Life has been hectic too, filled with the normal things, plus the unplanned things that mean more to accomplish.  I’m feeling ill-prepared after this weekend’s studying session.

Fortunately, I have four more weeks, a study group and several years worth of practice exams to work from. I also have several friends cheering me on from the sidelines, offering moral support and a willingness to bring food.

Regardless of the outcome, I’ll be thankful for the first Tuesday in April. The exam will be done, and I’ll be sweating the results. And planning to retake it in October (statistically, it’s a higher likelihood to fail than pass. I do believe in miracles.)

Reading recipes

I’ve been reading a ton of recipes lately, so much so that I wonder if I can add the recipe-boxAmerica’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution book to my book list.

I got a delayed start on it, but I did want for the new year to make more real food for our lunches and pack fewer frozen dinners.

So far, I’ve made it three weeks, though I’m finding that one crockpot of soup is only lasting for about three days for both of us.

Yesterday, I made three things: 1) Curried chickpea soup; 2) Chicken enchilada soup; and 3) ground turkey ragout.

Two out of three were winners, but I think the ragout recipe will end up in the recycle bin. It’s two primary ingredients were tomatoes and white wine, and that’s pretty much all I can taste.

I’ve got more new recipes on deck for the next weekend. Here’s hoping that reading is better!

Book Banter: His Majesty’s Dragon

dragonTitle: His Majesty’s Dragon

Author: Naomi Novik

Genre: Historical fantasy

Length: 342 pages

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: personal collection

Plot Basics: Will Laurence is happy as a British naval captain, but when his ship captures a French ship carrying a dragon egg about to hatch, Laurence ends up as a dragon aviator with his unusual dragon, Temeraire. They rush through training to be ready to head to the front lines of Britain’s offensives against Napoleon.

Banter Points: I picked up the first four books in this series at my library’s used book sale (yes, please just take my money) because I’d heard good things about this series and the premise of dragons in the Napoleonic War is just too good to pass up.

Temeraire and Laurence are a delightful pair of characters, so much so that I might like the dragon more than the people.

Novik does a great job of world-building — and there’s a lot of it — without it overly bogging down the story. Also, she does major scale aerial combat with dragons in a believable, readable way. I could see the battle and the dragons and it was a really fun read.

Bummer Points: I don’t know much about Napoleon’s conquest (other than he ultimately lost…) so I sometimes felt a little lost in how Laurence and Temeraire fit into the actual history. Also, there are a lot of characters and sometimes they got confusing too.

Word Nerd Recommendation: There are eight more books in this series and you can bet I’ll be reading more.

Happy Valentine’s Day


Hope you get to read all the books you love with the people you love today.

A portrait of Dory in gray


h/t to whomever first posted this on Facebook

Indiana Authors Award Nominations

Writer friends, it’s that time of year again when nominations for the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award are open. IAA logo

Eligible nominees must either have been 1) born in Indiana or 2) lived here for at least five consecutive years.

Full details and the nomination form are available online.