Friday, December 31, 2010

Commentary: My Final Twenty Books

n’t believe that it’s December 30th and I’m writing my concluding book summary for my final 20 books. On July 16th, when I posted my 81st book review I thought I would be done by August or September, at the latest. Not December 29th. But things happen. Things like the Three Day Novel Contest. I was also very tired of books for awhile. And I was spending much more time writing, than reading, which is a good thing according to my bottom line. But a bad thing for this project.

My 81st book was Love is Mixed Tape, which is a biography of a young man who became a widower very early in life. My 100th book is the story of a demon hunting soccer mom who comes out of retirement. In this journey I read a ton of books by people I’ve never heard of in categories that I never thought I would enjoy. I’ve discovered amazing people, like Jasper Fforde who just needed a second chance. And now I’ve read every book he’s ever written. I also have learned to appreciate James Harriet, who I thought was sadly non-relatable for a person of my generation. His books, I thought, were more for older people.

There are other books I could have done without knowing they existed. The most obvious of these is Florida Is Closed Today, which is supposed to be a spy novel, but made no sense whatsoever. A close second is One Thousand White Woman, which is something I’m not sure is historical fiction or historical fact. If it’s fact, it’s crazy. If it’s not, I’m glad. I’m really sorry that I spent days of my life reading these books. I think the Universe owes me some time back.

But all in all, I feel like I’ve grown as a writer in my quest to read 100 books. I’m proud of my accomplishments. I feel like every book has taught me something. Even the stinkers have taught me what not to write like. In 2011, because I’m somewhat of a masochist- and I freely own this as part of personality that I can’t change- I’m going to read 150 books. I originally thought I would read 200 but sanity prevailed. I’ll keep you updated on my quest.

California Demon: Confession of a Demon Hunting Soccer Mom (book 100/100)

On January 1st, 2010 I sent out on a quest to read 100 books in the year. On December 29, 2010 I finished. I didn’t think it would take me that long. For awhile I was reading two or three books a week, especially since I don’t have cable anymore due a dispute with my cable company. In order to keep myself entertained and writing regularly, because I simply cannot write in silence, I switched to audio books.

The final book I read was called California Demon: Confession of a Demon Hunting Soccer Mom. I’m not usually into chick lit, as a person, but something about Kate O’Conner and her average everyday stay at home mom life appealed to me because she seemed so normal. But of course, being a demon hunter is not a normal occupation. Being a retired demon hunter with more secrets than I have socks is even more abnormal.

In this book I learned a few things:
1. Not all chick lit is stupid. Some of it is actually pretty entertaining.
2. You can make a lot of money writing it.
3. At least it’s better than romance novels where people are having sex with people they have only known for three pages.

With this in mind, I would like to introduce you to Kate Allie, she’s the fourteen year old. Timmy, the two year old. And Stuart, the husband an inspiring politician. None of the other three people have any idea about Kate’s past. The work she did with her now deceased husband Eric and how many times she saved the world.

I’m all for honesty in a marriage, but if I was in Kate’s situation I would be tempted to follow her same path. The thing that annoyed me the most about this book, which I didn’t realize until I started reading it, was that it was second in a series a books. This always irritates me. I feel like every other reader knows something I don’t know. But the free online audio book library that my home library belongs to didn’t have the first one. I had to order it. To Julie Kenner’s credit, her series is very accessible to jump into midstream, even though I still don’t prefer it.
I would say that if you are looking for an easy read, that’s fun and funny and relatable, this series is worth checking out. Although I recommend you start with Demons Are Forever, the first book in the series, which I am reading now. I’d give this book an 8 out of 10.

Book review: Florida Is closed Today (book 99/100)

Florida is Closed Today by Jack D hunter was a free book that i got from my online library's digital collection. If i paid for this book i would be furious right now. I can't even tell you what the plot was about as far as i gather, some anti-population explosion extremest were trying to get everyone in the world to blow each other up. The main characters are Roger,an ex-CIA agent,his wife Eva, and various political hangers on.

This book was the worst book i have ever read in my life and i like books as you all know. The only bright spot in the entire book was Eva. But at the end they had to turn her into a damsel in distress which she wasn't in the entire book. I'm not surprised these people are sexist, Especially given the fact that one of them is a tea party nut, which I didn't know before I downloaded the book.

I rate this book 2/10 that's a really horrible rating for a book i think its the lowest i have ever given. You really should not read it. Unless you want to punish someone for doing something awful. On second thought don't make them listen to this book, make then go out and do something positive for the community.

Book Review: Crashed (Book 98 out of 100)

I was so pleased when I found this audio book arrived yesterday or at least I found it yesterday when I had someone check the mail. I fell in love with the Skinned trilogy when I dove head first and sleepless into the first volume a few months ago, listening to the entire book in one night in which i think i got 45 minutes of sleep. As you may remember it's about a girl who had an accident and was forced to upgrade to a mechanical body. In the second installment, she's still getting used to her new surroundings but seems better adjusted. She's moved in to this lavish estate owned by another mech, which is what they call themselves, and is basically pretty okay.

This is not the case for a lot of other mech upgrades especially the ones who were the first "volunteers". These people were basically disabled but because the future is very screwed up unable to survive in their present state, so they opted to upgrade instead of die by starvation. A lot of them are still living with bad memories from that.

Also a lot of the other later uploaders were disabled very severely and had to upload if they wanted to have a life at all. I don't mean they were like me. A lot of them were bedridden which I've been for about three weeks and couldn't bear on a 365 day basis.

A subplot I'm liking because I'm a hopeless romantic and love a standard, adolescent girl on girl romance (if there is such a thing), is going on between Ani and Quinn. Quinn before the download was basically "a bedridden, amputated lump", after a car accident at the age of 3. Quinn after the download was basically interested in screwing everything in sight (m/f it doesn't matter), smelling the roses, and spending her dead parents money. Ani, unfortunately, who seems sweet and innocent, adores her. Bad combination. The slut and the nice young lady. But, just as Quinn decides to stop acting slut like (and least it seems that way to me) and pay attention to the girl who lavishes affection on her. I think she freaks out slightly and decides to sleep with Jude, the mech leader and one of Ani's closest friends. This doesn't go over well and Ani gets sucked into a bad situation. I'm not going to go into that here, because it will ruin the book. Let it suffice to say that when she's better, I hope they get it together. I think they could be each other's balance. Kind of like my girl and me, when we let ourselves give into us, when we don't let it scare us. Maybe that's why I'm rooting for these people so hard. But I hope Robin Wasserman doesn't forget to resolve them in the trilogy's conclusion Wired, which I hope to barrow from the library, as soon as it's out of processing.

I rate this book an 8.5/10. Read Skinned first. Crashed is a good book on it's own, but it helps if you know the back story. Part of the tale are horrifying so don't read right before sleep, unless that sort of thing doesn't bother you. Also don't start the book when you have lots of other stuff that will drag you away from the story. It's that good a book.

Book Review: Crocodile Tears (Book 97 out of 100)

I have come to the conclusion that I can't write a book review while listening to another book, especially one as exciting as Pendragon. In the latest (and for now the last) Alex Rider adventure. In this adventure, Alex is confronted by one of the biggest potential problems of our times- GM foods. He also must survive being kidnapped, nearly shot, and nearly fed to crocodiles. All while trying to be a regular school boy and avoid pissing of his guardian.

I aspect that certain expects of all spy novels are very, very fictional. But the last disk of this book was over the top in the unreal arena. I don't like this book. Mostly because of the ending. I expected better, Mr. Horowitz. I hope the next book returns the original Alex writing I've come to enjoy.

Book Review: Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu (Book 96 out of 100)

Police officers can't strike. It's illegal. Instead they undertake a blue flu. That means calling in sick when your not. This particular blue flu gets obsessive, compulsive detective Adrian Monk his badge back for a minute. Suddenly Captain Monk is dealing with every homicide, not just his unique specialization in hard to solve cases. He has a ragtag team of disgraced and troubled detectives and they must catch a serial murder with a foot fetish (ew!), solve an astrologer's murder, and three other murders. Lastly, the must solve the murder of a young police officer.

Can Mr. Monk cope with the pressure? Will he crumble under the weight of command? Will he ever repair his relationship with the rest of the men in blue, who are angry at his union busting practices? Most importantly, what will happen when the blue flu ends and Monk must return his badge?

I rate this book an 8.5. It's sweet and endearing. Once again, I think that Natalie's voice speaks for many personal care assistants (PCA's) out there who endure low pay and long hours to work at jobs they enjoy for people they like and respect.

Book Review: Snakehead (Book 95 out of 100)

This was the longest and scariest Alex Rider book. Organ sellers, double agents, and, of course, the resident mad man. But I won't go into details, because as I always say you need to read the book. I will tell there's lots of ups and downs, including one high point and one low point in particular at least in my opinion.

The book also represents the return of Scopia, always I bad sign for Alex or any justice minded person. Both bad men in this case are disabled, which doesn't appeal to me. I think it's a stereotype and one I don't appreciate, but least one of them was mad to begin with. His disability status doesn't contribute to his craziness. The second one was driven insane when he was mistreated by his boss after his disability occurrence. I felt kind of bad for him, but still descrimination doesn't equate to murder. If you are reading this review as you are reading the book, I might have given you too much of a clue. But maybe you won't pick it up. Let me know.

I rate this book a 9. It's my third favorite Alex book. You'll be surprised on last disc; I was.

Book Review: Ark Angel (Book 94 of 100)

I tired. I was so tired I couldn't finish the last two disks of this book, although I've been looking forward to it. In this Alex tale, Alex rescues a rich boy, fights an eco-terrorist, and goes to space. Don't ask; read the book! It was, as usual, a very fun read. You'll be on the edge of your seat for the entire book. I was. It literally hurt me to abandon Alex in the middle of his adventure to go to One Nation march. But I, of course, did it. Marching for justice is more important than reading.

But today, just a few minutes ago, I finished the book. I rate it a 8.9. It's a tale of friendship and doing the right thing, like it or not. It doesn't matter how scared you are. That's a good lesson for anyone, especially modern young people. Read it! Share it! Talk about it!

Book Review: Scopia (Book 93 of 100)

Scorpia was yet another Alex Rider adventure. It’s a typical self discovery tale of a 14-year-old boy, accept most 14-year-old boys aren’t super spies, like Alex Rider. In the book Alex learns that his father was murdered by MI-6. The very people he’d been working for! His father wasn’t a good guy after all! That’s plot twist 1.

In fact, he worked for Scorpia, master criminal organization; hell bent on global domination. Scorpia now wants Alex to work for them. But is Alex really a killer? That’s plot twist number 2 and there are way more where that came from.

I feel that this was the best Alex Rider book yet; I rating it a 9.25. Even though it’s a juvenile book, it kept me guessing. Not true in the other books. Read it. It’s a great beach (when beach season returns) or rainy afternoon book. The audio book is perfect for long car rides to grandma’s house or wherever, especially because the adventure will keep the whole car entertained, no matter their ages.

Book Review: Eagle Strike (Book 92 of 100)

Another Alex Rider tale to review before I fit the bed. It's the saddest one in my opinion. This is a great pitchfork book, meaning it has lots of twists and turns. I enjoyed this tale, especially because I'm an American and this book had a very American tone. I don't know why, but it felt like that to me. I'm pleased that when Alex fold out more about his dad, as he did in this book. Horowitz didn't do the whole Luke/Darth Vader thing, as has been way overdone in this genre.

There are many plots and twists in this truly well written book. I finished it, as I was completing a ton of overdo work for Examiner work that you can read if you want. It made the work a ton more bearable. I'd rate Eagle Strike a 9, the highest of any Rider book. You'll laugh, cheer, and mourn with Alex. I did.

Book Review: Skeleton Key (Book 91 of 100)

Another Alex Rider adventure. This one features a crazy Russian who wants to rule the world. Why does poor Alex keep running into our Alex? This kind of books make me wonder if there are this many crazy folks in the world. God I hope not!

Alex tries to act like a normal 14 year old, getting a girlfriend, but the life of teen super spy has no breaks for puberty. His Wimbledon ball boy assignment leads to a drug dealer assignment, which leads to helping the CIA, which leads to Alex and the crazy Russian (who wants to adopt Alex).

I can't tell you more about the book without revealing more of the plot than I want to. As all novel of this genre, it's a bit predictable, especially being a young adult variety, but it's still a fun read. It's an 8.2. I'll finish the rest of the series before I complete these 100 books.

Book Review: Point Blank (Book 90 of 100)

Point Blank is the second Alex Rider adventure. In this tale the teenage super spy who iv become to view as a cross between James Bond and Magiver is sent to investigate the happenings at one of those schools for bad children that you always see on the news. As sinister as you always hear about those places being this one as more of a twist which I'm not going to tell you about you need to read the book

This was a pretty good unpredictable story once you figuare out the main clue, which I'm not going to share with you. But its very contemporary and combined institutionalized with modern science as any book reader will tell you that's not ever a good combination for any hero. But that's as much information that I'm going to tell you how much to torture me

I rate this book a 7.75 of out a 10 as i said it has a predictable once you unwrap the clue which shouldn't take u long. However it's still really fun and a good read.

Book Review: Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex (Book 89 of 100)

This is the seventh book in the Artemis Fowl series I'm sad to report that after the next one according to the author there will be no more Artemis books. Because Artemis will, i guess, will be too grown up by then. It always seems that way with good adolescence hero we can never follow them into adulthood and see what they do. First, Harry Potter ended now Artemis is ending i expect my new found affection for Alex Rider will soon be thwarted in the same manner the only person who broke this mold is Anna Maccafferey and he Acorna character we follow Acorna from childhood right into motherhood over a series of a 14 or so books.

But i digress the actual story invokes the fact that Artemis has contracted a fiery illness called the Atlantis complex it affects criminals and later calls them to regret their actions and later make up for them by doing a series of odd rituals. its sort of like OCD. It also makes you not want to trust people. Artemis has a alternate personality. Is this a sweet personality named Orion who goes about spouting love poetry and being annoying

In order form Artemis to reclaims himself he must not only battle his old enemy turn bowl route but also struggle to master his mind he obviously does it or there wouldn't be a eighth book but I'm not going to tell you how.Enjoy this book share it with the young people in your life. In my opinion the audio book is great bed time story i rate this book a 8.75 out of 10 i think it was a very good story and had very few slow points. that's hard to achieve in books. According to a interview i watched with the author he says he only uses 1/4 of what he writes and edits everyday every morning and last ate night. they say writers must kill there darlings and i have trouble with that but Mr, Colfer is the master at doing just that.

Book Review: Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants (Book 88 of 100)

I read this book on the train to Washington DC in route to ADAPT i finished when i was coming back. I don't much like mystery books but regular readers know i am a big Monk fan and even a bigger fan of Lee Goldberg. The thing that attracted to me to this book was that it featured one of my favorite characters Sharona who left the series, she re appeared suddenly in monks life when she was fixing Julie's broken arm I wonder if this is how how they got the idea to bring her back for an episode in the TV series. But in this version he ex husband has forgone his asshole ways forever which is not true in the TV series, in the TV series she ends up with Randy, even though this book diverged from the TV series. I enjoyed it.

The thing i enjoyed most was Monks idea that he should have co assistants. Being a PCA service user myself this always seems logical when it came down to him. His needs are very different from mine but i know that one person couldn't handle working for me all the time with no break, i never thought it was fare that he only had one assistant or paid for them himself.this is just a unsustainable situation but it's realistic a lot of people with physiological problems don't get to help they need and its almost never paid for.

The mystery is kind of interesting monk doesn't like Trever. because he mean to Sharona. But hes still cant let him sit in jail for a crime he didn't commit even though that means Sharona will leave again. There is a twist but i wont tell you what it is because you should just read the book i rate this book a 8.25 out of 10. I think you'll like it i know i did.

Book Review: Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop (Book 87 of 100)

fter Mr.monk gets fired from his consulting job due to captain Stottlemeyer's embarrassment and budget cuts he goes to work for inner tech a consulting firm funded by an ex police officer. Mr.Monk is so overwhelmed with work he solves 200 murders in two days but cant help the captain when he is accused of murder. Poor Randy has to arrest him which I gather must be hard to do to your idol. But in the end everything turns out all right. However I won't tell you how because you should read the book.

Every time I read Le Goldberg books i am amazed that someone can write that well,spends all his time writing for tv,if i were him I would be plotting the great American novel. The man has enough talent to create it, his only problem is that TV pays more.

I rate this book a 8 1/2 out of 10. It doesn't follow the TV series exactly but you can get a good idea of what goes on.The thing I liked best is that the books are always written from Natelie's perspective, it gives people good insight in to what the life a personal care assistant ( which is what she is) goes through. I shudder to think to what any of my assistants would say if they wrote a book about me.

So whether or not you are a monk tv fan you should read this book, it is funny and will keep you guessing. I hadnt figured out the mystery until the end of the book myself.

Book Review: Rent a Third Grader (Book 86 of 100)

Rent a Third Grader is a really fabulous kids' book I discovered at the Lilly Library when no one showed up for my writing group one day. I read the entire thing 190 pages of big print and easy reading because it's designed for third graders. I read it on the bus route to Boston, I was sorry that I hadn't packed another for the ride back. It's not like I don't have plenty in my house, but I digress.

Rent a Third Grader is the story of Brad and his entire class. When they hear that the police horse is going to be sold to a pet food company, they decide to do something. They're class is studying communities and Partner, the horse has been really valuable to the community as a crossing guard horse. What can third graders do? They take on odd jobs which have some funny outcomes. They try to do several projects, none of which work out quite right. Eventually, they come together and get the job done. What I was most impressed by is that these kids just don't ask grown-ups to fix the problem for them. They have initiative. Of course, adults help them, but it never become the adults' project. I think this book is very valuable as a teaching tool for anyone who works with kids of this age, especially those trying to educate them about making a difference in the world, no matter what age they are.

I rate this book a 7.5 out of 10. I am sure I would have rated it much higher had I been 8 when I read it instead of 34.

Book Review: Stormbreaker (Book 85 of 100)

don't usually read spy novels. I'm just not a James Bond girl. But when I saw Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz on my library's audio bookshelf, I picked it up. It's the story of Alex Ryder, a young man raised by his uncle after his parents die. As the book opens, his uncle dies too when Alex is 14. Suddenly Alex becomes aware that his insurance selling uncle was really a spy for British government and now MI-6 which is Britain's FBI wants Alex to go in and help find the killers. Never mind that he is only 14.

This book will have you on the edge of your seat from the moment it starts to the moment it finishes 4 hours and 37 minutes later. I was substantially annoyed when my library's copy of the book died right at the end of the third disc. The fourth one wouldn't play at all. Of course, the disc ended right at a very crucial moment. Audio book manufacturers do that to make sure you pick up the next disc instead of going to bed or doing work. I had to wait nearly a week to find out what happened to Alex. I know it's fictional and he's not going to die because it's a young adult book, but I was on the edge of my seat anyway. I was very happy when Shaniek brought it home. The ending is still a little confusing for me, but that may be because I was doing other things as I listened to the book. It just didn't hold up as well as the rest of the book did.

I rate this book an 8.0 out of 10. That's a very good rating for me. Most spy novels get a 6.0 or 7.0. I'm grateful that East Longmeadow Public Library had a copy to lend me when the one from Belchertown broke. I think that this book could potentially help bridge the generation gap if you need to do that at your house. Whatever your age I think you will enjoy reading it. And apparently Alex will return for many future adventures. That's always a good thing as long as the sequels don't suck. I hope Andy Horowitz will take some lessons from Eowin Colfer author of the Artemis Fowl series who manages to make every Artemis adventure stand on its own, although they are best read in order.

Book Review: The View from Down Here (Book 84 of 100)

Jude Lally, the author of my 84th book for review is my Facebook friend. With this in mind, one might assume that I cannot review his book honestly. I, however, tried to be honest in my review. Parts of the collection I loved. Parts made me upset. The book was published by Accents Publishing, one of the Poezia series. This series features members of the Poezia Writers Group in Lexington, Kentucky. Jude has a disability since birth called Friedrich’s Ataxia, but only recently limited his walking ability.

The first poem in the book is Opening Up. It rhymes and I’m not a great fan of rhyming poetry. The second in the collection is Ataxia. It’s the first real disability centered poem in the collection, in my opinion, but it felt medicalized and forced. Jude’s really beautiful poetic phrasing ability comes through particularly well in this awesome line from the poem Try: “words that’ll comfort epileptics in flashing lights” The same goes for the last stanza of the poem Tragic. Gravity and Swimming sum up situations most wheelchair users, at least this one, can relate to.

Sidewalks can be Tricky Sometimes is my second favorite poem in the book. It’s a shape poem and looks like a breaking or broken sidewalk in the layout. November Nature “Walk” is an awesome poem, but looks to similar to Sidewalks can be Tricky Sometimes. I don’t understand why November Nature “Walk” is formatted this way. The formatting does nothing for me and I feel that it would’ve been much better placed in the standard poem format. One might, if one wanted to keep the format, have inserted a standard format poem in between Sidewalks can be Tricky Sometimes and November Nature “Walk”.

Fall’s Fallen Soldiers is another poem most wheelchair users can relate to. It tells the tale of slipping on leaves. Confined is a typical poem of someone with an acquired disability. It’s both bitter and funny. Pedestrians Beware is my favorite poem in the collection. It’s humorous tale of accidentally running over the walking. I can so relate to that experience! The last poem entitled Jude. I am not sure if it’s about becoming more comfortable with one’s disability and accepting the help that a person with disability (PWD) sometimes needs or more horrifying for me an experience of institutionalization.

I liked, but didn’t love this collection. At times it was very bitter indeed. It often had lines I found too long, but on the whole it was worth the $7 I paid. I’m glad that Accents Publishing gave a voice to someone like Jude. I’d rate this book a 7/10. It won’t change your life, but it may make you think new thoughts.

Book Review: Alex & Me (Book 83 of 100)

'm not much of a scientist as people that read this column regularly know but I am a pet owner and books about people and their pets appeal to me. Alex, a 31 yr old gray parrot at the time of his death was not Dr. Irene Pepperberg's pet he was her research animal. But don't get alarmed Alex was spoiled in the laboratory not tortured he got more attention and a better quality of life than many so called pet parrots. Pet parrots often over groom themselves to the point of pulling out feathers because they are feeling neglected. And I thought Richard was bad, he just pees on things, doesn't injure himself.

The story of Alex is in large part also the story of Dr. Irene Pepperburg who went to MIT and later Harvard in an era when women didn't do that. She got her Doctorate in chemistry and married another scientist then she switched career paths and focused on the interesting world of human and animal inter communication. She taught Alex to add, count numbers up to 7, and even spell and compare object sizes. No bird is supposed to be able to do this. She also gave up a lot of money and spent a lot of money to continue her work with no funding. At one point she says that her entire protein input was tofu and then her house was set at 57 degrees during a Boston winter just so she could provide for her birds and keep her research going. I live near Boston and having your heat set at 57 degrees is insane during winter especially a typical New England one. It just shows how devoted she was to her work.

Of course most people know Alex died, but his work and that of Dr. Pepperburg continue. While I'm sure this bird had made many a convert he's made this non-scientist actually want to read the hardcore science studies that work compiled about him. Dr. Pepperburg published such a book called The Alex Studies and I am going to order it from inter library alone. I don't know if I have a science back round to comprehend all the hard data but I'm going to try because I am interested. Something no other than any other science experiment I've ever heard about can claim to have made me. That being said, I don't think I would be as interested in science if I hadn't read the memoir first.

I rate this book a 9.2. Get it in either audio book or traditional print for all the pet lovers in your life. It's a read you won't forget

Skinned (Book 82 of 100)

Skinned by Robyn Wasserman is not the kind of book that is supposed to make you think, but it made me think a lot. Or maybe Ms. Wasserman was simply smart enough to get a very smart book aimed at teens past the YA publishing powers that be. Skinned sat around for a while in my book pile. I was too focused on poetry and finishing Jasper Fforde. I put it in my DVD player the day it was due to be returned. I didn't actually think I would finish it. However, after the first two sentences "Lia Kahn is dead. I am Lia Kahn," I knew I'd be up all night and I wouldn't care if I got a few days library fine.

Skinned is the story of Lia Kahn, a pretty, popular, rich girl who seems to have it all. She gets into a car accident and is horribly injured to the degree that they need to take her brain out of her body and put her brain in a mechanized body. Suddenly Lia needs to learn to talk, walk, feel, read, and everything else again. The people she loves are not entirely sure she is a person anymore. Her little sister Zoe who feels guilty because she bribed Lia into taking over her work shift which is why Lia was in the accident, has a kind of emotional breakdown and steals Lia's boyfriend (who in my opinion wasn't very worth it anyway).

The only people Lia can find solace in are other Mechs and her "natural" friend and fellow outcast Alden. Natural means he wasn't screened to eliminate any undesirable conditions such as nearsightedness. Most people in the days of this book are screened. Lia, who has always been sheltered from the ways of the world including corp towns which are where people when they don't have any credit or cities where people who are even less fortunate than those in corp towns, learns a lot about when she learns the stories of other mechs who were volunteered for the operation because they had significant disabilities and didn't want to starve to death even though this meant that they had to be white because those were the only mechanical bodies available. They had to forget where they came from. I do not know if the second part was required, but most of them seemed to do it even if they didn't like it.

The thing that made me think the most, and this may be due to my own circumstances was the concept of us and them. Us were either the orgs (normal human beings) or the mechs depending on which side you fell. It was argued that you couldn't belong to or care about people in both groups because you had to pick a side. I sometimes have felt a little like that. I interact a lot with the able-bodied world, but I spend a fair amount of time within the world populated by people with disabilities. Sometimes, I like Lia, feel that it would be better to simply pick one and spend all my time there. But I'm not quite ready to do that and neither (in my mind) is she.

I rate this book 9.0 out of 10. Congratulations to the editor and the author for making such an amazing book for young people. At least someone knows they're not all stupid. I am eagerly awaiting the audiobook to arrive in my library containing the second book in this series. The library says they have it, but I need to check back in about a month. Until then, I'll just keep wondering what happened to Lia.

Book Review: Love is is Mixed Tape (Book 81 of 100)

Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield ended my search for a love story to complete my summer reading requirements. It's not a traditional love story. It's part memoir, part music, article, and a lot of sad. The story is basically this: you meet the love of your life at 23, she dies suddenly 5 years later. How do you go on? Do you go on? How do you reclaim the spaces and more importantly, the music that the two of you shared together. This is the story of how Sheffield does just that with many backslides as is typical of life.

For a moment, I was really worried that he was just going to off himself, but he didn't. He left Savannah moved to New York City and got a life that wasn't dominated by his dead wife's presence. He even met a girl. Actually, I wonder how she feels knowing that the only reason she has him is because Renee died. That got to be a little strange.

I rate this book an 8.2 out of ten. It's amazing even though it's really focused on music which I don't really read about much. If you know any young widowers or even old ones, I'd recommend buying this book for them. Apparently, they don't get a lot of people speaking about their situation. Even though, I never had a significant other die and I hope never to, I've had a lot of loss in my life as you all know. This book was really helpful for that. I've actually included it on my list of books to officially have read if you want to date me.

Commentary: My Forth Twenty Books

I didn't expect to get here so early. I expected to cross this barrier around September 1st, but I've been reading a lot of short books lately. That, of course, ups the amount of books read. I've also encountered quite a few books I was simply unable to put down even though it was three in the morning and I should have gone to bed. I finished the entire Angela series. I also read a few more histories and bunch of James Harriott. One particularly interesting thing is that this 20 books included finishing the entire collective work one author Jasper Fforde and more sadly the ending of a series because the author, Nancy K. Robinson, died. Until Fforde I had never read the entire literary output of one person. You get a particular insight when you do that.

I've gained some new author. I never really understood why most people like Dave Barry, but after listening his CD collection, I can see his appeal. To me, he is much better in the ear than on the page. I've also used this section to complete two books that have been on my to be read list forever. They are Running out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix and Don't Eat this Book by Morgan Spurlock which can now go earn me a couple of dollars at the Raven Used bookstore in Northampton. The last book I finished is sectioned with Bus Girl by Gretchen Josephson, a poet with Down Syndrome. I thought this was appropriate being that I am a poet with a disability too. I plan to include parts of the review I wrote here along with other reviews I'm going to write of other disabled poets books in an article for That's called using your material twice. It kind of feels like cheating but no one says it's against the rules.

With this, fourth 20 out of the way so early (it's not even August) I expect to cross the 100 book barrier sometime around mid-October. This challenge has become just like Nanowrimo. I'm so close I can smell it. I find it hard to give up on something when you get that close and with over four months to go I don't see how I could fail. I must not be too cocky in this regard because when you are cocky things go wrong.

Book Review: Bus Girl (Book 80 of 100)

I found out about Gretchen Josephson when I was researching an article on on famous women with disabilities for an article on the woman's history month. Gretchen is a poet from Denver whose book Bus Girl was published by Brookline Books in Boston. Gretchen has Down Syndrome but as far as her poetry goes that is irrelevant. Her disability really doeskin impact her poetry in the way that mine does with the poems I create. You really only get an insight on to what being perceived as different due to disability in her poem A Tear for My Love in which she talks about how her relationship was railroaded because her boyfriend's mother could not understand that her son ,who also had a disability, was: a grownup and perfectly capable of being in love with Gretchen . As far as I am concerned Gretchen seems like a perfectly nice person and would be pleased if my kid was in love with her. Whats going to happen the next time this young man picks someone who is not so nice or appropriate, I bet the woman will be sorry then.

Gretchen deals with a lot of universal theme in her work, loss, faith, love and even ecology.Her poems are not all happy as someone might expect due to the wrong headed nature of most peoples perception of those with Down Syndrome as perpetual children incapable of having adult thoughts. Gretchen disabuses the reader of any such thought about her own work within the first four stanzas of this book in my opinion.Perhaps, for, this is because I didn't have such notions going into it but anyone who still thinks of people with Down Syndrome as childlike after reading the entire book could not be my friend anymore.I know this sounds harsh but this is how I feel.

I rate this book 8.5. The copy I have currently belongs to the Newton Library. Its overdue by some days but the fine is only a dime per a day and I am really rather reluctant to let it go back because I enjoyed it so much and felt it shattered so many stereotypes as I strive through with my own poetry. I am going to have to return it soon though otherwise they wont let me take out anymore books which would be a disaster for me. I plan to write a few centos (which are poems written using the words of other writers that are arranged by another poet in new ways) I hope that some day I will get to meet Gretchen and show her the work I created based on her work. I hope she enjoys it,I think I woulds be rather sad if she doesn't. Find this book online, It is out of print but I am sure someone somewhere has it.

I'm not going to Amazon to find a copy because my honorary niece is boycotting Amazon and asked me to sign the petition to do it too because of some of their business practices.Shes 14 and its her first petition. No matter how much I want a book I wont violate her cause (which I also agreed with) to get it.Secondly ,I have a rule if your a jerk business you don't get my money .So I'll sadly have to take the book back tomorrow or at latest on Thursday when I go to writing group at the library.But I'll keep searching for a copy and think you should too.

Book Review: Bus Girl (Book 80 of 100)

I found out about Gretchen Josephson when I was researching an article on on famous women with disabilities for an article on the woman's history month. Gretchen is a poet from Denver whose book Bus Girl was published by Brookline Books in Boston. Gretchen has Down Syndrome but as far as her poetry goes that is irrelevant. Her disability really doeskin impact her poetry in the way that mine does with the poems I create. You really only get an insight on to what being perceived as different due to disability in her poem A Tear for My Love in which she talks about how her relationship was railroaded because her boyfriend's mother could not understand that her son ,who also had a disability, was: a grownup and perfectly capable of being in love with Gretchen . As far as I am concerned Gretchen seems like a perfectly nice person and would be pleased if my kid was in love with her. Whats going to happen the next time this young man picks someone who is not so nice or appropriate, I bet the woman will be sorry then.

Gretchen deals with a lot of universal theme in her work, loss, faith, love and even ecology.Her poems are not all happy as someone might expect due to the wrong headed nature of most peoples perception of those with Down Syndrome as perpetual children incapable of having adult thoughts. Gretchen disabuses the reader of any such thought about her own work within the first four stanzas of this book in my opinion.Perhaps, for, this is because I didn't have such notions going into it but anyone who still thinks of people with Down Syndrome as childlike after reading the entire book could not be my friend anymore.I know this sounds harsh but this is how I feel.

I rate this book 8.5. The copy I have currently belongs to the Newton Library. Its overdue by some days but the fine is only a dime per a day and I am really rather reluctant to let it go back because I enjoyed it so much and felt it shattered so many stereotypes as I strive through with my own poetry. I am going to have to return it soon though otherwise they wont let me take out anymore books which would be a disaster for me. I plan to write a few centos (which are poems written using the words of other writers that are arranged by another poet in new ways) I hope that some day I will get to meet Gretchen and show her the work I created based on her work. I hope she enjoys it,I think I woulds be rather sad if she doesn't. Find this book online, It is out of print but I am sure someone somewhere has it.

I'm not going to Amazon to find a copy because my honorary niece is boycotting Amazon and asked me to sign the petition to do it too because of some of their business practices.Shes 14 and its her first petition. No matter how much I want a book I wont violate her cause (which I also agreed with) to get it.Secondly ,I have a rule if your a jerk business you don't get my money .So I'll sadly have to take the book back tomorrow or at latest on Thursday when I go to writing group at the library.But I'll keep searching for a copy and think you should too.

Book Review: Angela and the Broken Heart (Book 79 of 100)

This is the last Angela book. The author died, you see. So Angela is stuck at somewhere between 7 to 8. I'd love to update Angela. Turn her into an adult; she'd be a college freshman now, as she ages one year for every two. In my story freshman Angela would rediscover her beloved Eddie Bishop, who moved away in this book. I told you I'm a hopeless romantic.

Back to the story. In this book, Angela goes to second grade. Her brother Nathaniel (who has always had a way with girls) is in love with a girl who doesn't care about him. She annoyed by Luther, the new boy who aims to take the place the absent Eddie (fat chance).

I'd rate this book an 8.5. It was a fun read.

Book Review Every Living Thing (Book 78 of 100)

This is yet another James Harriott addition. It also counts for my set outside the US book. In this tale, we learn about his two outdoor cats Ollie and Ginny, his "big win" at the football (soccer) pool (which turned out to be more like a rumoe) and his two, young vet assistants (including one who reminds me of my ex, a lot).

This book ended weird and suddenly. I didn't like that. But overall it was typical, great Harriott. Although it felt rushed and sudden in places. I rate this book an 8.25. It's worth a read. I'm going to have to find more Harriott, as I'm kind of addicted to him now.

Book Review Running Out of Time (Book 77 of 100)

Jessie Krazur is a 13-year-old girl who thinks it's 1840, even though it's 1996. Her parents live in Clifton, it's a tourism community, like Williamsburg (accept that people live there 24/7 and always act the part). When people in her village get sick, Jessie's ma (who remembers the modern world, where she was a nurse) tells her the secret of Clifton (Jessie really thinks its 1840) and sends her into the modern world for help. Due to the fact that Clifton residents are supposed to get modern medical treatment as a rule of living there.

Suddenly, Jessie must escape Clifton, deal with modern things like cars and phones, and learn who to trust. A lot for any 13 year old. Whatever she does, Jessie knows that life will never be the same.

I rate this book an 8.5 out of 10. It fulfilled the adventure category for my summer reading program. I don't know what else to call it. It's a good read, even for adults although it's designated to be a young adult book. I don't know if I would've been so brave as this little girl, despite being twice her age!

Book Review Shades of Grey (Book 76 of 100)

Jasper Fforde is the only author who has the honor of being the first author whose entire literary output I've read. Shades of Grey is a post-apocalyptic novel set in a world where people are designated by colors they can precieve. Eddie Russet, is the swatch man's son (swatch man are doctors in the world). The worst off are the greys. They can't see any colors and are the lowest "caste".

One's goal is to marry up to someone with a higher color rating. Ed is to marry Constance, whom he doesn't love, and become a string heir. This world is weird. There is an obsession with and shortage of spoons, There aren't any legal disabled people (although 16 to 26 are hidden away in the "gray zone" The disability rights activist wonders if all the disabled people were gray before they became disabled).

Ed falls in love with Jane, a grey. His father is not happy, the annoying Violet who he is supposed to be married to (a purple young lady who needs Ed's red to sure about her purple status), and the secrets of his world are too numerous to discover. As he joins the small resistance, he makes some decisions he's not pleased by including betraying his friends Dorian and Imogine (I'm not sure of spelling- a mixed hue couple who trying to married in spite of social mores and sacrificing his love of Jane (who he forbidden to marry because she's diagnosed a green- his complementary color) to marry violet and become an insider in the Chromatacia. He might even work for "National Color", the government.

I was so sad when this book ended. I'm mourning Dorian and Imogine (who have been sent to reboot, which is really a death sense). I'm rooting for Ed and Jane to get together somewhere in the the later books, which the hopeless romantic in me was glad that there was.

I'd rate this book an 8 out of 10. Like most Ffordian novels, it takes a bit to get going and to understand. I'm an activist and I am thinking that this book is a great organizing tool, as we seem to be going a long to the same route. Read it. You'll enjoy it and think a little bit if you're a thinker like me.

Book Review The Good Guy (Book 75 of 100)

The Good Guy by Dean Koontz is not the sort of book I normally read. It's scary! It is the story of Tim, an ordinary (or so it seems) guy who is mistaken first for a hitman and then for the hirer by the actual hitman. Tim is neither; he's a mason with a secret.

He's one of those guys who just can't let bad things happen to good people. So he intervenes to inform Linda Paquette, a writer with no idea who or why anyone would want to murder her. All she does is write "navel gazing novels."

The Ray Krait is a killer, with an obsession with "correct" behavior who likes to hurt people don't agree with him. He hurts living writers who he disagrees with. That's why he only reads books by living writers. He doesn't want to read anything he disagrees with and can't do anything about.

But there is more to this story then meets the eye. Linda, Tim, and Ray all have secrets. I won't tell you any of time, as that would spoil a good read. The last sentence of the book is "because she knew how to endure and he knew how to fight and together they were whole." Simply beautiful. It makes me wonder what would happen if Koontz wrote about something other than perverted killers. I rate the book a 9/10. It's a perfect beach book.

Book Review: Front Porch Rocking Chairs (Book 74 of 100)

At only 1 disc of 54 minutes, Front Porch Rocking Chairs by Kathryn Tucker Windham was the shortest book I’ve ever read. I counted it as the memoir category in the library program, but it feels like cheating. I got the audiobook from my club today and returned it today also.

The weirdest thing was that the book had no introduction. I just started right out in this woman’s nifty Southern voice. I thought it was wrong, at first. But when I tried to restart it to hear that it wasn’t there. That was the first odd thing in this book.

Overall, I liked this book. It was a collection of Southern memories. I’m not Southern. I’m a born and bred Yankee, but I grew up in a tiny town. So, I could relate. My two favorite stories, although I liked them all, were Front Porch Rocking Chairs and Purple Martin Houses. They are the first and last stories on the tape.

Kathryn Tucker Windham is a fun writer who uses language prettily. At one she tells readers that her mother used to recover couches without uncovering the previous year’s edition. You’d find “6,8,10 years of summers” under there. I’d rate this book an 8 out 10. It would’ve gotten a nine, if it were longer. The entire book is like an appetizer. I think I’ll read more of this author’s work. She writes these little hors d'oeurves of books, apparently. They are so cute!

Book Review : A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans (Book 73 of 100)

I liked this book It's the first Michael Farquhar I've read. I started reading him after he was recommended on the Afterword of Sarah Vowell. The book is about people who use to be famous but have largely forgotten in modern society Did you know that Paul Revere went on his famous ride with two colleges and who went in two different directions so as to avoid being captured by the British ? I didn't, I only knew about Revere, Dawes and Prescott were lost to history.

Do you know who Steven Pleasanton was? I didn't he was a idealistic young Capitol worker who managed to save a important historical document, like the first ever Constitution from being burned by the British in the war of 1812. He was only discovered by the author of The Burning Of Washington, a book I had no interest of reading but now actually might.

Anna Jarvis went crazy I didn't even know who she was much less that she founded Mothers day. In her later years Jarvis would come to hate the holiday she fought for because it was very commercialized another place i didn't know about was A Black encampment Called Belville It was in South Carolina and was founded by a man named Campbell who believe in a lot of the same things as Martin Luther King about a century too early

Im not surprised that a lot of the people who have forgotten were women, minorities, or both we all know about sitting bowl but who has heard of Sarah Winnamucca they were both famous leaders or native American rights. even the entry in this book which is meant to rectify histories own omission was a little bit gossipy as a focus on her repeated failed marriage and her obsession with white, non-worthy men.

we also learn about heady green who reminded me of Leona Helmsley and its famous for about the same reason that is being greedy. Her greed went so far that she refused to have her sons leg treated he eventually had to suffer an amputation. I didn't like heady very much. I was much more of a fan of Zelpa Elong The black preacher woman who coined the phrase " get thee behind me Satan " I also liked learning about Lewis Boyd a woman who explored the Arctic and Bula Henry a late person inventor who was called "The Lady Edison". Those two women broke the glass ceiling while the rest of the gender didn't know it existed.

I rate this book an 8.75 out of 10. Read it you'll learn a lot.

Book Review: Faerie Wars (Book 72 of 100)

Henry is an adolescent whose world is falling apart. His mom is having an affair with his dad’s secretary. His only escape is his job cleaning Mr. Fogarty’s house. One day, the old man and Henry find a fairy. Suddenly the pair is helping Pyrgus, future leader of Faerie, get home after someone misdirected him when his father the Purple Emperor sent him into our world, or as fairies call it the “Analog World”.

So can a hurt/hurting adolescent and an old man, conspiracy theorist save a parallel world? Henry, Mr. Fogarty, and Prygus can only hope!

I rate this book a 7.7. I gained a new author; Herbie Brennan is neat. I wonder if he writes for adults. If so, I’m going to check his stuff. I’m going to follow up on the sequels on this book, if for no other purpose than to check on poor Henry (who, in addition having his home wrecked accidently saw Prygus’s sister the Princess Holly Blue naked). It’s not the best book ever. It’s not the worst. It’s an okay read.
Great for the beach, when all you want is nothing that serious, but great scenes (occasionally). I am sure this book would’ve been an 8.5 at least if Mr. Brennan would’ve had a better editor. As a writer that makes me.

Book Review: Last Child in the Woods (Book 71 of 100)

Last Child In The Woods is Richard Louv's new book on what he calls "nature deficit". When he was a kid he says children spent all their all time outdoors when they weren't in school or doing homework. Now kids spend countless hours watching screens be they computer, TV, or cellphone screens. This has created what he calls a "Denature". Kids are more likely to be familiar with Keanu Reeves matrix then they are in the mountains. As nature becomes more of an extraction than reality.

There are many causes for this change in childhood behavior. Parents are more aware of danger because there's kidnappings and the like . Laws are passed to restrict young people's access to nature, such as some communities where its illegal to erect basketball hoops, skateboard parks, or even to climb trees. Also youth themselves are into "gismology" that means needing to have the latest electronic gadgets.

The result of this situation are that many young people suffer from obesity and depression. Nature has been shown too help elevate those conditions. Many people with ADHD find nature to be a "calming tool". A lot of therapists say it benefits as an additional therapy along with or in place of medications or various conditions. For various other health conditions for which nature cannot sure it certainly has a positive affect. For example, mentally ill people have been shown to improve when allowed access to nature the same is true for cancer and other impairments requiring long hospital stays. With all these facts which I assume school boards know this, or they should, I find it shameful that only 7 states require certified P.E. teachers and 40% of boys and 70% of girls can't even complete one pull up.

However its not all bad there are programs that are engaging youth with nature. Our society is trying, in parts to blend both "Futuristic and Ancient" so children don't get short changed. A lot of faith groups are becoming involved in the mission to be better students of the earth. This is good news for both the faith community and the environmental organizations. One campaign I particularly appreciated, being a person of faith myself, was "What Would Jesus Drive?" Somehow I don't think it would be a Hummer. My version of Jesus drives a hybrid or rides a bike.

My two favorite moments in the whole book were, not surprisingly, both dealing with disability one is that studies have proven that access to nature is even more beneficial for people with disabilities (PWD) than it is for the community as a whole PWD are despite all stereo types about us "risk seeking" individuals I already knew that from my own life but it was nice to have it quantified. The second favorite moment of the book which is probably only a few paragraphs was the story of the authors friend who took children with AIDS camping. One little girl woke up his friend because she had to go to the bathroom when they exited the tent she just looked up and stared. The child had never seen the stars before! That moment always had me reaching for my hankie.

I rate this book a 9 out of 10. I don't have kids yet but when I do I'm going to make sure what even their ability status they experience actual life not just the virtual kind. Sure, they will have video games, computers, facebook, and email of course they will have access to assistive technology if they need it. I'm not going to become some crazy woman to lives in a yurt with no lights and no internet connection. The problem is when kids think electrical outlets are the only means to entertain yourself I say buy this book for all the parents and soon to be parents you know, its a great baby shower gift. The parents,and their soon to be child, will if they're smart- be grateful.

Book Review: Don't Eat this Book (Book 70 of 100)

As many of you know, I like Morgan Spurlock. Granted, I also think he's crazy for putting his health on the line with Super Size Me. In case you missed the movie, he ate McDonald’s 30 days straight and nearly died. Don't Eat this Book was the companion volume to the movie.

it contained all the really disturbing things he couldn't fit into the movie. Did you know , for example, that the American Cancer Society takes money from Big Food which I thought would be against policy. As Morgan says, there's a word for that in America “we call it prostituting yourself”. I also found it particularly disgusting that there was a McDonald’s within walking distance of Dachau concentration camp. Isn’t it ironic that there's a fast food establishment which encourages people to overeat within walking distance of the place where hundreds of thousands of people starved to death? While everyone might not agree that having a McDonalds within walking distance of Dachau is a bad thing I’m sure most people would find it at least inappropriate that they put fliers under visitors windshield wipers. I'm sorry, but when I go to mourn, I don't want to be reminded of the existence of big corporations.

Who approved this idea? Now, as you know, I’m a very committed nonviolent person. However, if I win the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship and go to Dachau as part of my fellowship I’m going to be sorely tempted to buy a dozen rotten tomatoes to throw at the McDonalds. Of course, this isn't a good idea as I’ll be arrested for causing an international incident. I'm not quite sure how the fellowship committee would respond to that, but I think I can get sympathy if I told the court it was an act of an outraged human being. I was just informed that because I'm planning it a year in advance, it will not be considered act of rage. However, I can't imagine McDonald’s public relations would like to arrest a disabled person for throwing rotten tomatoes at a Dachau McDonalds.

Puttng aside my momentary lapse into property destruction if not violence, I learned a few amazing McDonalds facts in this book. First, vegetarians beware. McDonalds cannot guarantee that anything they serve you has not come into contact with meat. as Morgan put it, 'they can't even guarantee there's no meat in your sprite!'. I'm as carnivorous as the next person, but really, that’s just gross. They should post this for every vegetarian, but of course they don't because they're McDonalds. I was also disturbed to learn that there was a man who's kept a McDonalds hamburger since 2005, which still looks like a hamburger. Yuck! Food is supposed to decompose, not, as morgan says, be 'processed with chemicals and infused'.

I like burgers and fries as much as the next person, but I don't want to be around when whatever god awful chemicals they put in there wreak havoc on the human race, which I think is coming in the next few decades.

The phrase, 'the average American' has always bothered me. Who does these 'average' things? Not me, most of the time! According to the book, the average American eats 3 burgers and 4 orders of fries a week. Fry consumption, on the whole, is thirty pounds annually. I'm from Pennsylvania, we like our meat and potatoes and I’ve always been partial to burgers as my junk food of choice; however, this statistic is just insane. Do the people who do this never watch the news or read a magazine? As Vinny in My cousin Vinny puts it, “Have you folks heard about the ongoing cholesterol problem in this country?' Morgan called his Mcdiet a case of 'intestinal suicide'. I think these people are eager to join him.

Pets are also something that came up in two shocking statistics in this book. Firstly, 1 in 4 pets are obese. According to Animal Planet, animals don't comfort eat. are we just overfeeding our companion animals as we ourselves pile on the pounds? H ere I may disagree with Animal Planet and Mogan Richard, my cat, doesn't tend to eat when people are around. I think this is because he has better things to do when people are around and entertaining him. However, if I go away and he's alone for a few hours, he'll eat all of his food. When his pet sitter Amy came over she filled his bowl during each of her three daily visits because it was always empty. If that's not comfort eating I don't know what to call it. The second animal fact is that cows are fed in some cases ground up euthanized pets and road kill. Oh my God, that is so disgusting! Not that I would ever drop off a pet to be euthanized anyway, but now I definitely won't.

In a world where there are more cars than drivers we spend #227 million on medication annually and four out of 10 third grade girls wish they were thinner, something's really gone awry. We need to take back our dinner tables, take back our diets, go to the gym, and as Morgan says, “vote with your fork.”

Despite it’s dark subject matter, the book was a total hoot at times! I rate in an 8.75! Read… Enjoy… Learn.

Book Review: Angela, Private Citizen (Book 69 out of a100)

This is the third book in the Angela series. Angela is a first grader now and is entering prime mistake territory. Her first mistake using her parents 1040 form to send money to the government, not realizing that her mom and dad needed that form to file for themselves. She's convinced that the IRS is going to get her or her parents in trouble as a result of her mistake.

Then the poor kid is convinced that her brothers and sisters love their new camp charges (they are both counselors) more than her. Lastly, she sure her parents are going to leave her in the deep woods of Maine forever when they go on vacation while her brother and sister are at camp.

You'll like this Angela story. It's all about how things get just a little misconstrued and then get blown way out of proportion. Especially when you're only 6 and nobody thinks you understand anything, but you do.. sort of. I think that's way the book is so appealing to me, even as an adult. Every once in while, I misconstrue things, too, but I don't have the excuse of being 6. I rate this book 8.2 out of 10. It's a fun, quick read. I read in under 14 hours.

Book Review: James Harriot's Favorite Dog Stories (Book 68 of 100)

This three disc book is collection of vet Jim Harriot's favorite dog tales. I'd heard all the tales but one and that may be included in Every Living Thing, which I haven't read yet. I'm waiting for it to arrive from my audiobook club; it's in the mail they say.

The introduction was also new material to me. I was saddened by how effected Mr. Harriott was over the death of his beloved dog. If Richard (my cat) was similarly taken, I would also be sad. Like Mr. Harriott, I think it would be a good idea to get another pet at that time, so I wouldn't be so sad over Richard's passing.

My favorite Harriot dog story. The one about the neglected little boy and his beloved dog. Perhaps it was not included because it a sad story and he only wanted to have happy stories. I rate this story a 7.6. It's not as good or as complete as the books. Perhaps it would be a good introduction to Harriott, however.

Book Review: First Among Sequels (67 of 100)

m relieved that there is one more Jasper Fforde novel. It’s called shades of Grey. I had thought First Among Sequels was the last and was sad for the loss of Jasper. First Among Sequels is the story of Thursday, her husband Landen Parke-Laine, and her two/three, it depends; read the book and you’ll see, children. In this book, real Thursday meets and opposes fictional Thursday. There are three Thursdays in the book- the regular one, the violence obsessed one, and the hippie who reminds me of my ex.

In addition, there is a time travel crisis, which may or may not be good to solve. Thursday must also try to help her son become the man he is supposed to become- Director General of the Coronoguard. My favorite part of the book, being a poet, was when Thursday was placed in a poem, as opposed to the typical fiction she always runs about in. There were a few phrases I wrote down, because they are beautiful descriptions of my discipline. 1) They don’t do nothing by half measures down at poetry. 2) The thing you discover in poetry is your true personality.

Thursday has one more problem (like she needs one). Like Jack Spratt, she's big time in the "lie to your spouse" area. Never, I repeat never, a good idea.

I rate this book a 7.75. It’s fun, but not a coherent as the book beforehand, Something Rotten. Still I think you’ll like it.

Book Review: The Fourth Bear ( Book 66 of 100)

he Fourth Bear is the second and sadly last current volume in the Nursery Crime series by Jasper Fforde. This may seem silly, but I didn't realize that Jack Spratt is the Jack Sprat (with one T) who could eat no fat and his first wife could eat no lean, which is why she died. I never heard of this nursery rhyme before. Being a Person of Dubious Reality (PDR) might not have been so bad if Jack had actually told his second wife Madeline about his condition. It's just like having an affair. It's better to fess up than to wait X number of years and have the person find out from someone else. If you do that, you'll move from screwed to very screwed faster than you can imagine.

So that was one plot. There are at least three in the book. The second plot was the escape of the serial killer Gingerbread Man from his mental health asylum. If that doesn't strike your fancy. perhaps you'll focus on killer cucumbers and conspiracy theories, or maybe who murdered Goldie Locks is more interesting. Perhaps, however, you are a big softie like me and will be enticed by the subplot romance between Marry Mary and Ashley the alien who both work at the Nursery Crime Division. Either way, this book has something for everyone and it's all wound together in a way that makes sense.

I rate this book an 8.5 out of 10. It's a lot more coherent than most Jasper Fforde. I think that he got all of his really weird stuff out in the Thursday Next series and the Nursery Crimes are his calmer versions--not that they are dull, just more understandable. I will eagerly be awaiting the third volume which is due by the end of the year, unless Jasper gets another delay. I hope that Mary Mary and Ashley get their stuff together because I'm rooting for them because (1) they are cute and (2) I want to see how someone as different as Jasper Fforde handles all the political hullabaloo of the first ever alien/human marriage. I know it will be the first one because this book told me so. I'll just have to wait and see like everyone else. Jasper has really grown on me. Not that I think he is the greatest thing since sliced bread as some people do. But I definitely like his stuff now. I didn't before.

Book Review: Anatomy of Greed (Book 65 of 100)

his is probably the least Martina book in my 100 book project. It tells the story of Brian Cruver, ex-Enron trader and resident company new guy. He worked at Enron less than one year when, as they say, the shit hit the fan. Being a liberal, anti-capitalist I was sick when the Enron mess happened.

I pitied the poor investors and felt that most of the workers were greedy, capitalist types. Exactly the sort of people I despise. However, Brian Cruver is just a regular, recently graduated MBA who land his dream job at Enron.

Suddenly, the 20 something is flying first class, the star of conferences, earning 6 figures. But he doesn't like the long hours and neither does his fiancee. Both however, like the dollars signs. When things begin to go wrong, Brian is in denial. Even though his best friend who is an analyst in NYC and says "Dude" too much for any educated adult, tries to warn him. But just like most of Enron, Brian is eventually let go, although he "accidentally" kept receiving his paychecks. Luckily, he doesn't get jailed for this.

The admission of such of failing. He didn't report it when his standard paycheck got direct deposited. I don't approve of such actions, but after such a screwed event as Enron who can blame him. However, such an admission made him seem more human and less idealistic.

After Enron, Brian left corporate America and wrote this book (his only one, which makes me sad as he's good a strong voice). I'd rate it an 8.7. Enjoy it, even if your a non-capitalist at heart like me. This is one memoir you'll like even if you don't expect to.

Book Review: Mom, You're Fired! (Book 64 of 100)

When I was a kid, I read a book called Oh, Honestly Angela! It was the cute story with an adorable six-year-old kid sister. I didn't know this was a series of 4 books at the time, or I would live read them at the time. The author, Nancy K. Robinson died at 51 in 1994. The year I went to college. I found out about the series when I was doing some research on library books to read. I don't even remember what I was looking up, but remembering how much I liked the original book, I ordered the series on inner library loan, even if they are for kids.

I what to write for kids one day. I still enjoy Ramona and Encyclopedia Brown at times. It's fun too read a good story for children every once in awhile. Tina (9), Nathaniel (11), and Angela (3) are normal kids with normal kid concerns. That is occasionally they fight with friends, are embarrassed by mom and dad, and lie. Of course, things occasionally blow up in their faces. Sometimes they also learn that what they thought was important isn't.

Mom, You're Fired is basically the middle child, Tina's, story. Her bratty, best friend Melissa's mom is perfect. Her own mom is unique and she feels, at times, "humiliated" as her elder brother says. At one point, it got so bad that she told her new and nicer friend Sarah that her mom is her babysitter.

I rate this book an 8, if I'd been an age appropriate reader it would have been rated an 8.6. It was a fun read, despite my adulthood. Get it for the kids in your life. They'll enjoy, as I still do, kids who act real rather than ideal.

Book Review: The Lord God Made Them All (Book 63 of 100)

I liked the book, the 4th volume of the James Harriot autobiography. It seemed a bit more disorganized than the other 3 books. Rosie, his daughter, was born in the course of this book. I was disappointed that he was so sexist towards his daughter wanting to be a country vet. But then again it was olden times.

I also don't understand why his journey to Istanbul kept coming up and it was really random when it was discussed. As much as that angle confused me, I thoroughly enjoyed the tales of disabled people and their animal companions and hardened pet owners, who are often thought of as nasty being who care little about anything, who cries when beloved pets die.

I rate this book an 8. I didn't like it as much as the other three volumes, but I still think it was worth a read. I have two more Harriot books to read in my house. I hope they are better than The Lord God Made Them All.

Book Review: The Big Over Easy (Book 62 of 100)

I love Nursery Crimes by Jasper Fforde. They make a bit more sense then The Thursday Next Series, which at times make no series at all. The story of suffering, but brilliant Detective Jack Spratt, who works with nursery rhyme characters. Jack Spratt, who we meet in The Well of Lost Plots (a Thursday novel) returns with a Humpty Dumpty themed adventure.

This is acute story, particularly if you're fond of nursery rhymes, which I (being a writer since childhood) love. This has all the goings on a regular mystery with typical nursery elements. In either case, as a mystery story or a nursery retelling, with adult themes like sex, politics, and intrigues, this story holds its own, as readers, along with Spratt, try to solve the mystery of who shattered Humpty Dumpty.

I rate this book a 7.75. Not the best, nut not awful. Worth the read.

Book Review: Dave Barry CD Collection (Book 61 of 100)

This was an amalgamation of three, unbridged Dave Barry books- Dave Barry is not Taking This Sitting Down, Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway, and Boogers Are my Beat. I'm counting it as one book because that was how I checked it out of the library. I liked this compilation, because even through they where different books they had overarching themes like politics and parenthood.

It was also funny to hear about things like North Dakota tourism and low flow toilets (went are apparently a big deal in his world) from a Dave Barry perspective. I chuckled heartily at several points on each of 15 CD's, which is good because after the day I had, a laugh was in order.

The most touching moment was at the end Boogers Are my Beat. There were two essays about 9/11. I especially enjoyed the tale of his visit to the flight 93 crash site on the one year anniversary of the attack. Fellow disability rights activist Colleen Fraser was on that plane. She died among the heroes. I would like to imagine that she was one. Colleen, was, and I say this in this most loving way possible "one cocky crip". I miss her, and always will, no matter hoe my monuments they erect.

I rate this book, an 8 out of ten. It's was a good laugh. It will raise your spirits, in case the need a bit of raising.

Commentary: My Third Twenty Books

Having finished book 60 yesterday, I am quite confident that I will reach my goal of reading 100 books by December 31st.This Section was a very mixed bag. There were a few books written for teenagers, more Artemis Fowl, more Sarah Vowell and Barbara Ehrenreich. There was also the discovery of Steve Alton whose crazy science fiction adventure series that features a prehistoric shark is way better written than I thought it would be. I'm on the third installment of the book and it's holding its own. Not like so many serialized novels that should have been killed off in one volume.

I'm happiest that I discovered Crisper Bojalian. His book Tran-Sister Radio is the best book I've ever read in my life and I've read a lot of books. The only reason I didn't give it a ten is because I felt one must leave a little space in case something truly spectacular comes along. Therefore, I gave it a 9.95. The funny thing is that now he's my friend of Facebook because I wrote him a big gushy fan letter. I almost had a heart attack. I sent him a friend request, but I never thought he would respond. I also, in another act of daring, sent him my review of his book which I posted here. I want to read his other books, but I'm afraid that they would just be a big let down after T.S.R. which is how he refers to the book.

In my fourth 20 books, I will read more works by the authors of Naomi and Eli's No Kiss List which was my 59th and very funny even though it was kind of tawdry and written for teenagers. Who says that a girl can't have a little fun? I also vow to finally finish Pen Dragon. I have the ninth and tenth book to finish. I also plan to finish James Harriot's biography which has five books in it, For most people, that would sound obnoxious, but he has a lot to say. It's not all about him either. Sometimes it's about his veterinary practice, his friends, his wife, and so on. I resolve to finish the last two books in the Meg series as well as the last book in the Thursday next series. Jasper Fforde is growing on me.

If I finish five more books this month, I will only need to read seven every month to reach my goal by the end of the year. I can do that easily. I think I'm already in the middle of seven books. Let me count: The Big Overeasy, Fairy Wars, First Among the Sequels, The Dave Barry Audio Book Collection, and Take the Cannoli. Wait that's only five. My biggest problem is that I start new books before I finish old ones. Never mind that this is logical as the older ones are due first or that someone from the audio book club may be waiting for it as I am with Helen Keller autobiography which has been on my shoot to me list for two months in the number one position, but the silly person who has it has not returned it. I just excited about some new topic and start reading that. Never mind what I was reading before. I have 49 items checked out of the library now. That ridiculous! I have one book from the audiobook club and I'm in the middle of those five books. But I know myself. I'm going to start reading Bus Girl by Gretchen Josephson en route the gym tomorrow. She's a poet with Down syndrome and I've been waiting for months to read her book. I couldn't find it on and I'm currently boycotting because they refuse to pay their affiliates in Colorado because Colorado requires Amazon to pay taxes for items they ship into Colorado. My honorary niece asked me to sign this petition on Facebook because a lot of the money that Colorado was collecting was going to disability services. I've never been a big fan of the corporatized publishing world anyway, so signing the petition was no problem until this book which I really want to read. I went to my favorite bookstore and discovered it was out of print. I called the publisher, but never heard back. I looked in my local library system and the one in central Massachusetts. I was getting to point where I decided I was never going to be able to read the book, so as a last ditch effort I searched the Massachusetts virtual catalog which has every library in the state of Massachusetts connected and you can borrow from them and have it delivered to your home. I thought I had checked this before, but I spelled something wrong or a copy just got donated recently because on my second attempt, I found it. The very skinny volume is presently at my house. I am looking forward to it immensely.

I think my fourth 20 books will be finished by September 15th. I say it will take me so long because a lot of the books I want to read have over ten discs and some are in print which takes longer for me. I also won't have a lot of time to read because I'm going to the U.S. Social Forum and to Denver to see Shannon, Laura, and Robin. Hopefully, I will also be selected to go to the Lambda literary emerging writers retreat in San Francisco. This will greatly reduce my reading time.

Book Review: Trans-Sister Radio (Book 60 of 100)

rans-Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian is the best book I've ever read. I rate it a 9.95. I am surprised that the best written work I'd ever found was written by cis (comfortably bodily gendered), white, able-bodied man about transgender people, Normally, I hate dominant culture authors views of marginalized people, but Chris was different. He treated this story and his characters gently and with the love that I shower upon my own literary creations. One, upon reading it, would assume that he interacts with a lot of trans people to have created a person as real and vibrant and whole as Dana (the trans woman in the tale), her partner Alison, Will the dad with a big twist in the end; I won't tell you what though, and spunky, happy college girl Carly.

The story is the tale of XY born Dana Stevens, who undergoes sex reassignment surgery, and her partner and sixth grade teacher Alison Banks and her daughter high school senior to college sophomore (she ages throughout the book) Carly. There is also Will, the ex and dad, and Tricia, her dad's second wife. Alison loves male Dana and is straight so, therefore. less than thrilled when her man is about to become her woman. However, she gives it a go with Dana, the woman. Her town is less happy and the pair faces homophobia and Alison even has half of her students removed from her class as a result of her relationship.

I liked the way the book was set up. It was intertwined with the world of National Public Radio (NPR), an organization which I love. You get a good view of NPR in the story in addition to the interpersonal relationships.

The thing I liked best about this book is that it give me plenty of ideas for my own transgender/superhero storyline, featuring favorite characters Li (the trans man) and Frankie (his girlfriend, who is rather unhappy- to put it lightly- with his transition plan). TSR has given me lots of ideas about scenes between Li, Frankie, and their friends. Don't worry, though, Chris; I won't plagiarize just use your ideas as a jumping off point.

I am going to buy a print copy of this book, so I can underline and remember my scene ideas for my own novel. I also want to own a copy I can lend it out. This book feels very important and share worthy. I will probably buy it in July. I'm really looking forward to sharing it with friends and possibly suggesting to my book clubs. It was amazing, flatly amazing. If you write, read this book. It'll make you a better writer. If you read, read this book. It might change your life. It changed mine and I don't say that often.

Book Review: Niaomi and Ely's No Kiss List (Book 59 of 100)

This book was very funny, very good, and very sad. At times it was all three at once. It's the story of Naomi, a straight high school freshman who is falling out of NYU. The love of her life is Eli, her across the hall neighbor, was she's known since birth practically. It's not Eli doesn't love her. He does. Just not that way. You see, Eli is gay. The friends create "a no kiss list" in order to avoid trouble for their bubble of two person, soul mate arrangement and to ensure that no boys get interrupt their friendship.

But that all goes to Hell when Eli kisses Naomi's boyfriend, Bruce the second. Don't ask, read the book and you'll get it. Bruce II turns out not be as straight as Naomi imagined and falls head over heels for Eli, who is always one to "fuck and run" in the gay boy stereotype. However, for Eli, Bruce may not be just another one night stand, even if it costs him his best friend.

I rate this book an 8.75 out of ten. It's definitely better on audiobook, because you can understand who is talking. In print this is difficult to follow. I tried and it was little more than a big old fail, which I abandoned after less than 20 pages. No library had to book so I found it in the library. I used the free trial so I didn't even need to pay.

The story is cute and coming of age like, but not stereotypical. From sex to city edginess, the book might be written for teens, but I think most readers to like depth and shallowness (but not to shallow, just typical teen gay boy stuff), will like it. I did and I do. One of the things I'm super glad about is that canceling my membership didn't erase Naomi and Ely from my computer. I can go back and visit them whenever I care to. Since I like them this maybe a few times per year. Eight out 10.

Book Review: All Things Wise and Wonderful (Book 58 of 100)

The third James Harriott biography installment was a war book that never really was very warlike. There was no actual combat, just the standard animal stories although Harriott relates his typical animal stories were intermingled with his war-related memories, i.e. a person who looks like a Yorkshire neighbor and a friendship tale reminding him of two a lifesaving friendships between 2 dogs. There were also, happily, two tales of disabled people (1 blind and 2 with depression).

I like this book. I rate it a 9.25. It was very fun, even if it does have tons of war references, which this peacemaker doesn't like. I'm deeply sorry for the neglected little boy and his sickly dog. So sad!

Book Review: All Things Bright and Beautiful (Book 57 of 100)

I happily listened to the second volume of James Harriott's biography. It's fun, a nice work based tale of someone who loves his job. He also his wife and his bosses and animals. He'll goes to war in this one, in fact that's how the book ends. It's so sad!

I like the story of his feud with the neighbor dog who he treated and I like the story of the widow and how she overcame everything to keep her farm after her husband died. I liked the other stories as well. The thing I like most about this kind of book is that you can pick it up anywhere, although starting from the beginning is recommended. I am very excited because the third volume arrived in the mail today.

I rate this book a 9. I don't know about James Harriet's vet skills but I would think if being an author would have been his primary occupation he would've done well for himself. Lucky for him he's got two talents. A lot of people don't even have one.

Book Review: Something Rotten (Book 56 of 100)

This is the 4th book in the Thursday Next series. There is one more to go and then I'll be like other fans waiting on a new installment. I'm happy to report that the more Fforde I read the more sense it makes. This makes me because at one point at compare Jasper Fforde to the Bible, in terms of confusion in regards to the verses Genesis 36-38. Perhaps the more Bible I read it will go as the Thursday Next series did, that is to become more and more clear.

I'm happy to report that Thursday got her husband back, but I won't tell you how. Now will I spoil the end for you, which was very surprising, wonderful, and lucid. I liked learning even more about the Well of Lost Plots. Another bonus feature was the long Neanderthal section. I'm glad that the 'thals as they are called triumphed over the evil Goliath corporation and learned how to correct their enforced sterility, a cruel corporate check. One thing I like about Fforde is that he quietly condemns things like cloning, without beating his readers over the head with his opinions.

I rate this book an 8.5. I think that was because it just makes more sense and is written much more traditionally in terms of narrative arch. I think my readers will like it, even though this book makes the most sense of the quartet, I think all readers should start as I did with The Eyre Affair. It will help you understand Thursday's universe

Book Review: The Trench (Book 55 of 100)

I'm glad it was to hot to go aware today. I have been reading The Trench all day long. I didn't expect to like it, sequels usually suck. I loved Meg, even though it was not my usual genre. I ordered all of the series (there are 4, thus far), but honestly didn't expect much. I was happily wrong.

In this tale, Jonas Taylor and Terry Tanaka are married, but not too happily- a miscarriage, bankruptcy, law suits, and the stress of taking care of a monster shark are too much. This is especially true for Jonas who gradually losing his grip and the world of sanity. In this book, the Megalodon shark, named ironically Angel, escapes, Jonas put find and recapture or kill her. In addition, he must deal with an insane member of the Russian mob, his slutty protege (who Terry wants to kill and I support her in this), and Islamic terrorists associated with Bin Laden.

If this adventure sound convoluted it is, but Steve Alten manages to hold it together. Alten writes popular fiction, but he writes it well, I'm curious what he would do in other genres, but he doesn't apparently write in them.

I rate this book at very surprising 8. It is the best popular fiction can be. Sadly, all too often it doesn't rise to the occasion. As an author of sci-fi, and other popular fiction forms, I must admit that Alten's work which I discovered accidentally in the Union Station bookstore in Washington, DC gives me a glimpse of the genres, such as sci-fi and women's fiction, can actually be.

Book Review: Meg (Book 54 of 100)

I don't normally read trashy adventure novels, but I do enjoy science fiction. Upon opening Meg, I discovered not a trashy novel, but a really good book. Jonas, the main character, is a navy diver who flipped out when he saw a giant prehistoric shark, the Megalodon. Everyone thought he was nuts, but it turned out not so much.

Years after Jonas has his sighting, the Megalodon surfaces and attacks surfers, fisherman, whales, and whatever else she can get her mouth around. Instead of feeling vindicated, Jonas still has all his old problems- a cheating wife, some doubters (even though the Megalodon's existence was proven), and a pissed off female water shuttle pilot who thinks he has the job of piloting the ship because her father is sexist. The problem is that Jonas has the hots for her, a feeling she is loathe to return.

But the philandering wife gets hers. The pretty girl gives him the time of day. All and all things are looking up for Jonas. That is, until he agrees, to try and trap the beast for a marine park, owned by the pretty girl's father- a Japanese/American internment camp prisoner.

I like this book, even if it's not typical of my reading material. Unlike most adventure books, this as I said, was well written, I'd rate it an 8. I've ordered all the sequels (three in total), although I can't imagine who they are going to keep up the well written nature of this novel, but I do hope the author manages.

Book Review: The Well of Lost Plots (Book 53 of 100)

Another Thursday Next adventure, in this one she must deal with a memory stealer and, at the same time save fiction. You see, Thursday is escaping from the evil Goliath corporation. Being a literary detective, she opts to hide out in unfinished book land.

Being a writer myself, I loved The Well of Lost Plots. All that adventure and those crazy book characters, especially Randolph and Lola, two original characters, called generics, who Thursday needs to advise in romantic matters. I know it's not real, but the story convinced me never to destroy another manuscript. None of my characters are going to end up on the auction block. It seems to much like slavery. I love the people I create, nothing bad should happen to them. I couldn't bare it.

This book is very well organized, especially for Jasper Fforde. It actually made sense. It also explained how the second Fforde series The Nursery Crimes come into being. I liked it, rating 8.5 for organization and originality. Keep it up in Something Rotten (the forth book in the series which I'm listening to as I type this) Jasper.

Dancing in the Streets- a history of collective joy (Book 52 of 100)

Those of you who read this blog regularly know how much I enjoy the books of Barbara Ehrenreich. Indeed, 2 of her books Bightsided and Bait and Switch are already part of my 100 book odyssey, Her book, Dancing in the Streets: a history of collective joy is a followup and in this case antithesis of her book Blood Rites, which I haven't read and is about the reasons we go to war and how group dynamics impacts them. Until now, I had no interest in reading it. Perhaps I might now.

Being a person who is interested in dance I was amazed to discover the role a dance played in the expression of ancient cultural joy. She said that ancient cultures “danced and understood dancing as an activity important enough to record on stone.” In the lives of the ancient civilizations, dance was not a secondary activity, as it is today. In ancient cultures, language was “subservient” to dance. While other primates use language in various forms to communicate, only homo sapiens dance. The author says the reason for this is that dance is pleasurable enough for others to do the required actions to complete the work. She further theorizes that there was “sexual selection for the ability to dance well”.

But all this dancing and collective joy seeking changed suddenly during the roman empire and into the days of the early Christians, as well. Indeed, the roman god Dionysus was seen by different people as both representative of both Jesus and Satan. Calvinism especially limited festivities, as Barbara Ehrenreich notes, in much the same that sara Vowell did in last book I reviewed, The Wordy Shipmates. The Calvinists and the capitalists were apparently in bed together. Limiting festivities benefited both groups.

Carnival, that is, festivity, has been linked with revolution since time began. Such festivities often involved “rituals of inversion” where higher class people would for a time become the servants of the lower class. Such class jostling often led to revolutions. For example, 35% of slave revolts are reported to have occurred during the Christmas season, when people are off their guard. Additionally, who can forget the giant puppets at the WTO protest in Seattle in 1999? I was watching from my parent's house in Pennsylvania, but I can still recall perfectly clearly those giant puppet heads. As Ehrenreich puts it, “protest movements have reinvented the carnivalesque”. As an activist, I think this is true and I'm glad of it.

Although this book was very informative, parts of it just made me sad. Did you know, for example, that there are 35,000 articles on depression and only 400 on joy? Did you further know that depression if the fifth most diagnosed illness in the united states? In the early part of last century, there was a disorder called melancholy. I'm not quite sure if this is depression, but it sounds like it. The author speculates, and I agree, that part of the reason for this increase in depression was the removal of joyful events like town festivals. Society lacked the ability to experience the “thrill of the group”. In fact, it was encouraged that people who suffered from melancholy ought to engage in festive behavior, meaning things like good company and sports several times a week. But for society as a whole, it was thought that collective excitement was “synonymous with evil”.

The first really big return to festivity was the rock rebellion of the 60's, when, of course, there was also a bunch of political upheaval occurring. Rock and roll was of course opposed by many authoritarian forces, including the nazis. According to the leader of the black panthers, most white teenagers were “zombies” who were using rock and roll as a way to “reclaim their bodies”. Indeed, rock and roll as an art form had endured “the middle passage and centuries of enslavement”. Nowadays, rock has been bought out, of course, by corporations, and as the author notes, there is “no better way to subvert a revolution” than to join it with money making.

I like this book. I've only highlighted what I feel are the most important ideas here, but I'm sure you'll get more out of it if you read it for yourself. I rate this book an 8.25 out of 10. it lacks much of what I've come to enjoy in Ehrenreich more participatory work, which is Nickel and Dmed, and Bait and Switch, which were more humorous overall. However, the author's voice still shines through a bit. It's definitely worth the read.

Book Review: The Wordy Shipmates (Book 51 of 100)

Yet another Sarah Vowell book. I think, as I mention before, I'm becoming obsessed with this person. I go through that with writers sometimes. So far, on this literary journey, my obsessions have included A.J. Jacobs, Eoin Colfer, J.D. McHale, and now Sarah Vowell. For a while, I was into Barbara Ehrenreich, but that was much more of a flirtation than an obsession.

Sarah Vowell is, I think, one of the only people who could make the puritans seem funny. She makes every seem funny. Her take on puritanism and the bible were a refreshing look for someone like myself who has been so immersed in biblical studies. I never knew anything about the puritans except that they were anti-sex, anti-fun, and anti-self. They practiced a very strict doctrine of Christianity called Calvinism. This is, according to Vowell, "capitalism in disguise." People are taught to just obey authority to the detriment of themselves and their communities.

John Winthrop, who was a major puritan leader, however, seemed to have a very similar leanings to the United Church of Christ which I attend. In the UCC, we believe, as Winthrop in "mourning together, suffer together." Of course in our belief system at the UCC, we also believe in celebrating together. The Puritans were not much for celebrating. I like the way Vowell equates the Puritan dedication to community to New Yorkers' dedication to community after 9/11. She lives in New York and so can talk about this without sounding cliche. She tells about a time when people were relieved that they could so something besides mourn that following her request for toothpaste for rescue workers, her entire local bodega was cleaned out. She said it was so nice to have something else to do besides inhale "incinerated glasses of steel but also we knew incinerated human beings." Buying toothpaste givers her something to do that was productive and helpful in addition to "breathing the cremated lungs of the dead." They could help to "clean the teeth of living."

As frequently happens to me when I read Vowell's works, something I never thought of but in retrospect makes a lot of sense occurred to me. The Puritans are as Vowell puts it "America's Medieval people." They didn't have what we would consider a very evolved society. They were very sexist, racist, xenophobic, and other bad things. But I don't think there would be an American without them.

The clashes with Native Americans were, as they should have been, a big feature in this book, especially since Vowell is partially Vowell is partially Native American. She's part Cherokee like me--something else we have in common. She spends a lot of time discussing one particular Mohegan leader named Uncas. He actually sided with the English against his fellow tribes. But Vowell doesn't take him to task too much over this because as she says his goal was "Mohegan survival." She further adds, "What he did was not pretty, it wasn't even right, but it worked." As an organizer, myself, I am frequently faced with making similar decisions, although with no where as severe consequences. I'm sure lots of Jews got into bed with Nazis just to survive, not because they like it. I know within both the LGBT and disability rights movements, we have sometimes had to limit protections so bills would get passed. This is not ever a happy occurrence. And most modern organizers feel bad about doing it. Sometimes, it is a choice between a bill that covers some people and a bill that never gets passed. When you have to make these kinds of decisions, the ideal plan is to make them knowing that you will eventually come back with a part of the community that was included in the first bill and includes them in future versions thereof. I don't know if that was ever Uncas' plan,. but I hope so.

Some of the surviving remnants of the Pequot tribe were actually recognized in federal court in the 80s and went on to found Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. Miss Vowell, her twin sister Amy, and her nephew Owen stayed at the Mohegan Sun hotel while she was finishing this book. A conversation she had with her nephew during this visit is one of the saddest dialogs I've ever seen between an adult and a child. It follows:

Owen:name a state where there was never a war.

Sarah:"I'm not sure a I can."

Owen: "Name the state where there was the least war."

Sarah: "I don't know. Idaho?"

It turned out she was wrong.

The last thing I would like to comment on is the fact that I never knew Ann Hutchinson was such a cool person. I never knew anything about her at all. I didn't even know the Hutchinson Parkway which runs between New York and Boston was named for her. Like me, Hutchinson believed that every person's salvation was due to his or her own personal relationship with God. You didn't need a minister to help you interact with God, you could do it yourself. In Puritanical New England, however, such beliefs were considered seditious. In the end, Hutchinson was banished from Massachusetts and labeled a witch because she said God talked to her directly. I think, on several occasions, God has talked to me as well. I guess we would have both been banished. Unlike Hutchinson, I think I would have had the presence of mind to simply deny this truth to the magistrates, all the while believing. But she had a "contentional, chatty bent" that got her into trouble and in this case got her banished along with her 15 children, husband and several followers. I want to learn more about Anne Hutchinson. There were so many amazing women in American history, but we never learn about them.

I rate this book a 8.75. You'll like it. It teaches you a lot about the country, but doesn't groan on and on like high school history classes. In this way, Sarah Vowell is very similar to Barbara Ehrenreich except that Vowell's specialty is history not economics. A little laughter goes a long way towards making the brain more receptive to data. I must admit, I am sad that at this point Sarah Vowell has written no other books. She has an essay in several anthologies (all of which are in my to-be-read file). Didn't I tell you I was a bit obsessed. I'm eagerly awaiting her next book. Maybe she'll come to Pittsfield again. That's close to where I live. Maybe I'll get to meet her. I wonder if I'll be able to say anything.