New Rock Polishing Toys – What Do You Think?

New Rock Polishing Toys!!

Gemstones fascinate me and are key elements in The Gemstone Chronicles fantasy adventure series I wrote. I’ve been looking for cabochon equipment for a while now and I lucked up upon a vintage Highland Park A-50 and a Rock Rascal Saw. The A-50 is mounted on a rolling cabinet and the saw is firmly installed on a nice little table. Check out the pictures below!

Rock Polishing Toys

Highland Park A-50

 

Rock Polishing Toys

Rock Rascal

 

Given the equipment hadn’t operated in a while, I had a bit of work to do on the machine. First thing I did was to replace the power cord to the A-50 motor. Once I finished that little repair, the motor ran perfectly. I discovered the water pump bucket was rusted through, but that didn’t stop me. I cut a 5 gallon plastic bucket down to size and it fit like a glove inside the original bucket. The pump discharge fitting was cracked and the hose wouldn’t fit properly, so I engineered a fix and it works amazingly well!

The Rock Rascal, as you can see from the picture above, needed a new power cord, too. Luckily, I learned a bit about electrical and electronic stuff back in my Navy days, so, like the cord for the A-50, it was an easy fix. Doesn’t make me want to be an electrician again (like I was right after I left the Navy), but it’s satisfying to make it work. Once complete, I op tested it and everything ran smoothly.

Rock Polishing Toys

I think I might modify the A-50 to add more wheels, but that will be down the road. For now, I’ll pick up various grit belts to use on the expanding drums and use a 6 inch wheel I received for Christmas on the Rock Rascal. Now, I just need a water source and return for the wheel.

The equipment package included a new 6 inch diamond blade for the Rock Rascal, a dopping pot, dopping wax, and cabochon templates. I’m all set now (or will be as soon as the new belts come in)!

What do you think about my new rock polishing toys? Personally, I can’t wait to see if I can make a cab or two and do something with all the rocks I found during my gemstone hunting trips. I might even be able to polish a sapphire or ruby once I get diamond belts for the expanding drums.

Connect with me: Like my new toys? Have advice for a novice rock polisher? I appreciate any comments and emails with tips and hints. I’m on social media, too. Find me at Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, so don’t be shy! Say hello!

 

Dark Mountain (Eno the Thracian #3) by C.B. Pratt – My Review!!!

Dark Mountain (Eno the Thracian #3) – My Review!!!

Dark Mountain Cover

 

I’ve had this novel on my TBR list for a while. I read the first two books of this series and enjoyed them, so Dark Mountain (Eno the Thracian #3) needed to measure up to those. Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): Welcome to the Ancient World…where the mythology, monsters, and gods are real.

Eno the Thracian sets off to find the truth about himself and his possible descent from the Gods of Olympus. Instead he becomes involved with a race of people kidnapped from their homeland, set to toil endlessly by the will of a mad philosopher.

Facing his own fears and doubts and the curse of the Great God Pan, Eno also finds a woman worthy of his love, danger around every curve, and mushrooms…lots and lots of mushrooms.

Meanwhile, a hidden menace from the dawn of time threatens the civilized world and only Eno the Thracian, Hero for Hire, can stop the inevitable destruction.

What I liked: Dark Mountain (Eno the Thracian #3) entertained me! While perhaps a bit darker than the previous books, this one held all the elements for me. Eno is an excellent hero who embodies the classical hero characteristics. He is mostly humble, willing to take a stand for what is right, and constantly searching for ways to improve himself and the world he inhabits. Such is the case in Dark Mountain. The story is good, too, as we follow Eno trying to make amends with Pan, visit his mother, and follow the quest to the end. All told, I enjoyed the book!

What I didn’t like: As I mentioned above, Dark Mountain (Eno the Thracian #3) was a darker book than the first two of the series. For me, Eno seemed sad and not as vibrant as before and left me a little depressed at the end.

Overall impression: In spite of the darker tone of the book, I liked it! Not as full of the swaggering, boisterous Eno from the first books, it still captured my attention and kept me guessing through the end. If you like a modernized take on Greek mythology, give this one (and the series) a try!

My rating: 4 Stars

Connect with the author: Find C. B. Pratt on her website and her Amazon Author Page and discover her books and more about her! Please consider leaving a review for Dark Mountain (Eno the Thracian #3) or any of her other works.

Connect with me: I always enjoyed hearing from readers of the blog, so leave me a comment or drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. You can find on social media, too! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, so stop by say hi, and join the conversation!

Amelia Island Book Festival – Are You Going??

Amelia Island, Florida is a charming little place just north of Jacksonville, FL and just south of the Georgia-Florida line. Why am I telling you this? Well, every year in February, the island hosts the Amelia Island Book Festival! This year’s festivities begin on February 15 and culminate with the Author Expo/Readers Extravaganza event on February 17. For more information of the festival, click on this link! I’ll be there with the entire Gemstone Chronicles series, signing books and meeting lots of new friends, discovering new authors, and connecting with readers!

Amelia Island Book Festival GC Covers

2018 is the 17th Annual celebration and this year’s theme is An Amelia Island Encounter – Romance, Action, and Mystery. I’ll highlight a few of the events, beginning with Thursday, February 15. The Kickoff Luncheon starts the Festival on the day after Valentine’s Day. New York Times Bestselling author Adriana Trigiani (introduced by International Bestselling author David Baldacci) will give the keynote address!

Friday, February 16 has three great events. First, International Bestselling author Steve Berry and his wife and business partner Elizabeth will conduct a Writer’s Workshop. The workshop focuses on the important aspects the writing craft and the business of writing.

While Steve and Elizabeth Berry conduct their workshop, many participating authors will visit the 16 area public schools and Volunteer Pre-K to present to and interact with the students. This outreach program, called Authors In Schools, helps promote lifelong learning and literacy!

Friday evening is the Author Face Off Gala Dinner. Featuring Jennifer Armentrout, Lee Child, Karen Slaughter, Sherri Rinker in a face-off moderated by Steve Berry, the dinner includes a silent auction and much more. It’s sure to be a blast!

Saturday brings the Author Expo/Readers Extravaganza. Held at Fernandina Beach Middle School, this event allows readers and authors to get to know each other and includes book signings and breakout sessions. Famed chef Jacques Pepin will be on hand to sign his cookbooks and Steve Berry, Sherri Rinker, Jennifer Armentrout, Karin Slaughter, and Lee Child all conduct breakout sessions. With nearly 100 noted authors, games, arts and crafts, and food trucks, this will be a day to enjoy! I know I’m looking forward to the festivities!

Are you going? I’m going to be in space 105, so stop by, say hi, grab a book or 4 (and pick up a gemstone)! I look forward to meeting each of you!

Want to let me know you’ll be there? Email me at bill@williamlstuart.com or leave me a comment. I can also be found at the following socials: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, so contact me and let me know if you’re attending!

 

The Phantom of Faerie Mountain by E. M. McIntyre – My Review!!

The Phantom of Faerie Mountain – My Review!!

Goodreads is one of my recommendation generators and I’m glad it directed me to The Phantom of Faerie Mountain (The Red King Trilogy – 1) by E. M. McIntyre. Read on for my review!

Synopsis (from the author): A telepathic dog. An ancient prophecy. Two devious faeries. 14 yr old Abby Fletcher must unravel their connection when she is thrown into a world of unknowns after receiving a mysterious message from a frightening beast: The Red King must set me free. Determined to discover the meaning of this puzzling phrase, Abby sets off to explore a nearby Scottish mountainside in search of clues. What Abby doesn’t realize, however, is that it’s not a matter of where she will find her answers but when. Whisked back to the early 14th century, Abby must find the courage to solve the mystery of the Red King and save not only herself but a group of powerless captives wrapped up in a faerie plot.

What I liked: This was an excellent read. I liked the characters and the interactions among them. Abby made a great spunky heroine, Rory had an interesting heritage and played the budding romantic interest, and Finlay, the telepathic dog, was a nice complement. Mavis and Tavis (the faeries trying to free their brethren from captivity) were sufficiently evil (but somewhat amusing) antagonists. Part time-travel story and all fantasy, The Phantom of Faerie Mountain was an enjoyable book!

What I didn’t like: The one thing that bothered me about the book was the movement of Finlay through time. Not a big deal, and certainly didn’t detract from the story, but I wanted to know how he did it.

Overall impression: I thoroughly enjoyed The Phantom of Faerie Mountain by E. M. McIntyre. While not an intense time-travel story, it uses the device to place Abby where she needs to be to pursue her quest. I liked the characters and story and recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a quick read and a fun fantasy book!

My rating: 5 Stars

Where you can find the author: Connect with E.M. McIntyre on her Amazon Author Page or her website. Please consider leaving a review!

Where you can connect with me: Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumbler, and Pinterest. Please feel free to connect with me, leave a comment, or drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com.

 

The Franklin-Creighton Gold Mine in Ball Ground, Georgia!

Some time ago, I wrote blog posts about the Georgia Gold Rush, the 1832 Gold Lottery, and The Calhoun Mine. While researching those posts, I ran across the story of the Franklin-Creighton Mine and found it fascinating. I’d like to share it with you!

First, a little background. In 1832, Georgia held a land lottery and a gold lottery. As noted in the Gold Lottery post, the lottery parcels included Cherokee lands confiscated by the government. Wikipedia tells us the eligible lottery participants included the following:

  • bachelors over 18 who were 3 years residents of Georgia and US citizen
  • widows who were 3 year residents of Georgia
  • families of orphans who were 3 year residents of Georgia and US citizens.
  • married men (or male heads of family) who were 3 year residents of Georgia and US citizens. The residency requirement for the last category was waived for officers of the navy or army.

Similarly, the ineligible list kept many out of the lottery. Ineligible persons included:

  • anyone who had previously been successful in a land lottery (the 1832 Lottery was the 7th land lottery)
  • a resident of Cherokee territory
  • anyone convicted of a felony in a Georgia court
  • anyone who mined or caused to be mined gold, silver, or any metal in Cherokee territory since 1830.

The lottery excluded a very specific group. Members of the band of thieves known as the Pony Club couldn’t participate. I may have to do a post on the Pony Club…

Whoever won the lottery paid a grant fee of $10 per lot for a 40 acre parcel. That works out to be about $270 today. Among the many winners was Mary Franklin, a widow. According to www.cherokeega.com, Mrs. Franklin received over a dozen offers for her lot in the first week after the lottery. The interest intrigued her and she went to the property. There she found about 20 men shoveling dirt and panning. She had the men removed and she and her family worked the claim. Mrs. Franklin proved to have excellent business sense and she became quite wealthy. She built a large home, bought additional lots, and made sure her children were well-educated. Mary Franklin died in 1858 and a group of northern investors bought the property.

While there isn’t any definite record of the mine’s yield, estimates run as high as $1,000,000 after 1880. That’s about $23M in today’s dollars. In 1883, the mine became known as the Creighton-Franklin (or just Creighton) Mine after J.M. Creighton bought out the other investors. It continued production until 1913 when a shaft collapsed and flooded the mine. Today only 1 building (the Shingle House) remains standing at the site.

Franklin-Creighton Shingle House

In keeping with the theme of The Gemstone Chronicles, I had to see what gemstones might be around the site, too. The best information I found indicated quartz, pyrite, and a few others, though no mention of rubies, emeralds, or sapphires. Still, it would be fun to look around!

Since the property is privately owned, chances are I won’t get to dig on it. I plan on taking a drive up that way (it’s only about 25 miles from my house) and at least snap pictures of the Shingle House. If I’m lucky, I’ll see the owner, strike up a conversation, and get invited to dig around on the property!

Do you have gold mines near your home? If so, have you ever tried to mine there? In Georgia, there were once 600 or so gold mines, so if you live in North Georgia chances are there’s one near you! Do some research and, if you need someone to go panning with you, let me know!

If you want to talk more about this or my books (or submarines, writing, gemstones, etc.), drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com or leave me a comment. If you want to connect on social media, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I love meeting new friends!

 

 

The Hawk in Winter (Rise of the Hawk Book 1) by Bekah Clark – My Review!!

The Hawk in Winter My Review!!

 

The Hawk in Winter Cover

 

My first review of 2018! This time it’s The Hawk in Winter (Rise of the Hawk Book 1) by Bekah Clark. This one hit my TBR list after a Goodreads recommendation and it was a great choice!

Synopsis (from the author): Maevan, Korla, and Renna, three devoted sisters, have been trained all their lives how to defend themselves, hunt, and strengthen their minds by their mother, Queen Xenya. What they didn’t prepare for was separation.

Many years ago, Queen Xenya of the First House was forced to flee her throne to the icy land of Cardea. Now the rogue queen, Shaezen, has demanded Xenya’s eldest daughter, Maevan, return to the ruling city of Traven. Alone.

Mae loves her home and family but understands the necessity of her placement within the palace of their enemies. Her mother has been preparing Mae and her sisters for the return of the First House to power their entire lives. Something no one could prepare Mae for is the sheer evil of Queen Shaezen and her many devious plans. Mae must find a way to survive her time in the palace while dealing with an evil queen, romance, betrayals, religious fanatics, and court life.

What I liked: The Hawk in Winter was a good start to the series. Xenya and her family were excellently developed characters. Shaezen was a great villain and I sympathized with Mae as she had to endure the many trials put upon her. Romance and a royal pairing clash as part of the story and the plot, though it developed slowly, was good. All told, I thoroughly enjoyed the book!

What I didn’t like: Just a couple of things bothered me in the book. First, as I mentioned above, the plot developed slowly. Secondly, the assassin introduced late in the book seemed oddly out of place with the rest of the cast. I suspect Bekah Clark wanted to create a despicable character (which she did) but for me it just didn’t fit well.

Overall impression: The Hawk in Winter (Rise of Hawk Book 1) was an excellent fantasy book. Filled with romance, intrigue, and action, the story held my attention. I identified with the characters and the end of Shazaen was fitting. I recommend this one to any fantasy reader and look forward to reading the rest of the series!

My rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 Stars)

Where is The Hawk in Winter on your TBR list? Near the top I hope! After you read it, please consider leaving a review and visit Bekah Clark’s website and Amazon Author page to find out more about her and her books!

Since you’re here reading this review, leave me a comment and let me know what you think. And, if you like, connect with me on the socials. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google +, Tumblr, and Pinterest! Stop by and say hi!

Darrienia (The Forgotten Legacies Series Book 1) by K.J.Simmill – My Review!!

Darrienia – My Review!!!

Darrienia Cover

I’ve had my eye on Darrienia (The Forgotten Legacies Series Book 1) by K. J. Simmill for a while and it was a great way to end my reviews for 2017! Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): It is said that the past always returns to haunt you. Yet some forgotten pasts have whispered names and a debt for collection. Dangerous curiosities stir a hidden darkness, one that patiently waits to seize control.

The subtle periphery between dream and reality is in peril and those chosen must face the evil behind this looming disaster. But lurking in the shadows, guiding their hand, lies the true threat and a hidden agenda.

Will they discover the truth in time? Or will those who should be heroes, become nothing more than the pawns of evil?

What I liked: Darrienia had many things I like to find in fantasy novels. The world building was amazing, the characters well-developed, and the book provided plenty of action, mystery and a grand quest. The intricate plot referenced Greek mythology and the quarrels among the gods, while it kept me guessing about what would happen next. All in all, an excellent fantasy!

What I didn’t like: At times, Darrienia left me confused as to whether the characters were in the dream world or not. The length of the book also made it a tad difficult for me to keep up with everything that happened. Neither of these things detracted from my overall enjoyment of the novel.

Overall impression: When you read this book, be prepared for an excellent though long read! The intricate plot, interesting characters, the intrigue surrounding Zo and Marise, and the quest make this a fantasy that I highly recommend!

My rating: 5 Stars

Have you put Darrienia (The Forgotten Legacies Series Book 1) on your TBR list? If so, awesome! If not, don’t wait! And, when you finish the book, please consider leaving a review. I know K. J. Simmill will greatly appreciate it! Don’t forget to visit her Amazon Author page and her website to find out more about the author and her books!

While you are visiting, take a moment to connect with me on social media. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Don’t be shy! If you enjoyed my reviews or any of my other posts, feel free to leave me a comment or email me at bill@williamlstuart.com!

The Ghost Chronicles 2 by Marlo Berliner – My Review!!

The Ghost Chronicles 2 – My Review!!

I read the first The Ghost Chronicles by Marlo Berliner recently (and gave it 5 Stars in my review) and immediately added The Ghost Chronicles 2 to my TBR list. I wasn’t disappointed!

Synopsis (from the author): What’s there to fear if you’re already dead?
Plenty.
Michael and Sarah now know for certain, there is a destination after death.
They also know they better find their way out of the afterlife fast, before the devil claims Michael’s soul.
What they don’t know?
Before they can get to heaven…
they may just have to go through hell. 

What I liked: As with the first book, we join Michael as he and Sara try to find their way and their individual purposes so they can move on from their ghostly existence. We learn more about each and Tom’s role begins to take shape, although his frequent unexplained disappearances got to be annoying. I enjoyed the characters’ development, the story, and how they reacted to different trials. Will Michael and Sara move on or will they discover why they are still here? Will they give in to their passion? You’ll have to read The Ghost Chronicles 2 to find out!

What I didn’t like: In spite of the elements listed above, the story dragged in places, with a few repetitive scenes. The slow spots didn’t detract from the book much, but it made it a little less enjoyable and I found myself skimming through a few of the battles.

Overall impression: I liked the book and I was quickly drawn into Michael and Sara’s limbo world. The Ghost Chronicles 2 kept me guessing how it would evolve and the roles Michael, Sara, and Tom would play. If you enjoy paranormal romance and ghostly shadow worlds, read this one!

My rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 Stars)

Do you have your copy of The Ghost Chronicles 2 by Marlo Berliner? If not, what are you waiting for? Once you read it, please consider leaving a review and share it with your friends. I know the author will appreciate it! Surf on over to her site or Amazon Author page to her book and learn more about her!

While you are surfing around, why not leave me a comment on this review (or any others)? I appreciate it too! I also look forward to connecting with new friends on social media. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Stop by and say hi!

Quartz, Topaz, Emerald, and Fairy Crosses!!

Quartz, Topaz, Emerald, and Fairy Crosses!!

I went rock hunting with my brother and niece recently. We found lots of great rocks and I thought I’d share a few of them. First is a nice piece of quartz (I like to call them pencil quartz but this would be a BIG pencil!). The rusty color is internal to the rock, which is pretty cool! I think I’ll try to polish it a bit, but don’t really plan on changing it much. I like the way it looks!

Quartz and Topaz

The second find of the day was a great piece of topaz. The topaz we find is usually clear or maybe has just a touch of blue in it. As you may have read in previous gemstone posts, topaz’s blue color can come from heat and exposure to radiation. North Georgia ‘s mountains have a lot of granite (which may contain trace radioactive elements). I think I’ll play around with a smaller piece of topaz and a butane torch to see if I can get color enhancement. If so, maybe I’ll try it on this piece. At 168.4 carats, I don’t want to damage it.

Quartz and Topaz

 

The last find I want to share is this great piece of moonstone (I think). I love the orange colors and I believe it will make a great cabochon. I’ll cut a slab or two off it and see if I can get it to shine. I’ll post pictures and let you know how it works out.

 

In addition to the ones I found, I ordered a bag of chiastolite fairy crosses and staurolite fairy crosses (these came from Fannin County Georgia). If you recall from The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian, the elf Findecano was trapped in a chiastolite fairy cross, so I had to get me at least one. And Aidan found a bunch of staurolite fairy crosses before Maggie found Findecano’s prison. Given how important fairy crosses are to the books, I just had to have some.

The last picture I wanted to share with you is this emerald. I found this one a while back and want to take it to my friend for him to examine and cut for me. This one is about 16 carats, but it has a great green color and I hope he’ll be able to create a beautiful stone from it!

I’ll be heading out for another rock hunting excursion soon. If I find some noteworthy specimens, I’ll be sure to post pictures. In the meantime, check out the blog for other gemstone posts and subscribe so you don’t miss any updates. Connect with me on social media, too! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest! I look forward to meeting new friends!!

The Ghost Chronicles by Marlo Berliner – My Review!!!

The Ghost Chronicles – My Review!!!

Ghost Chronicles Cover

 

Although paranormal books are not usually high on my list, Amazon recommended The Ghost Chronicles by Marlo Berliner. I’m glad Amazon did! Read on for my thoughts.

Synopsis (from the author): Can Michael get to heaven before the devil gets him first, and if it means leaving Sarah is he sure he still wants to go?

Michael Andrews had everything – a loving family, a great girlfriend and a promising basketball career. That was before the accident that took his life. Now, he’s a ghost, wandering among the living, struggling to understand why he’s stuck. All he wants is to move on.

That is until he meets Sarah, an attractive young girl who died just as tragically as he did. The only trouble is falling in love and binding oneself to another soul is forbidden, for it may keep one or both of the souls bound to earth for longer than they should be.

To make matters worse, there’s also a danger in going too far with Sarah, because the “joining” of two souls in the afterlife is also strictly forbidden and they don’t know what will happen if they do go that far. Each time they touch they can feel the boundaries of their energies slipping perilously into one another.

Things get even more complicated as Michael learns he’s being pursued. Demons are after him because he’s a marked soul, a soul the devil wants very badly for some unknown reason.

So, maybe falling in love in the afterlife isn’t such a good idea.

Inspired by the legend of a haunting at the Angel of the Sea bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ.

What I liked: The Ghost Chronicles was an interesting book. Paranormal to be sure, the novel deals with the death of Michael, his inability to move on from a limbo-like state, and his budding romance with Sara (another ghost who can’t move on). Michael’s character and his struggles drew me in and the mystery around Tom and his frequent disappearances added a nice element to the story. Michael’s family’s grief and the impact of his death seemed real. Michael and Sara’s relationship was a nice romantic addition. Overall, an excellent read!

What I didn’t like: Despite everything I liked, The Ghost Chronicles dragged for me in places, especially when Michael visited his home after his death and his repeated encounters with the demons trying to capture him. I thought there could have been fewer demon battles.

Overall impression: The Ghost Chronicles by Marlo Berliner was an excellent read! Well-written, filled with characters easy to relate to, nice bits of romance, plenty of action, and enough mystery and intrigue to keep me turning the pages. I recommend the book to anyone who enjoys paranormal romances!

My rating: 5 Stars

Is The Ghost Chronicles on your TBR list? If so, please consider leaving a review. If not, why are you waiting? Please don’t forget to stop by Marlo Berliner’s Amazon Author page and website to find out more about her and her books!

If you have time, leave me a comment on this review. If you don’t have time for that, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com or connect with me on the socials. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I’d love to know what you think about my reviews!