Friday, August 27, 2010

The Quillan Games - Pendragon Book 7 (Book 26 of 100)

The territory of Quillan is in big trouble before Bobby Pendragon gets there. I never thought of a children's book (especially a fictional one) as being a good tool for teaching kids about buying locally and the dangers of international financial institutions and mulit-national corporations, but apparently J.D. MacHale did because he did it with this book. Quillan has sold it's national and territorial sovereignty to the Blok Corporation. They run everything including schools, health care, food, and drink. They even run these scary games where people bet their lives or the lives of their children just to get a little more food. Everyone is paid starvation wages and machinery is banned because it's cheaper to hire people. All artistic endeavors are banned because art makes people think. I realize this may (and is a little extreme) but if we let the Wal-Marts of the world keep expanding are we really going to end up any better off?

Anyway, Bobby gets seduced into playing this game and being the people's champion. He helps to inspire them to take back their lives and overthrow the Blok Corporation. But, of course, St. Dane had other plans. Back on Earth, Marc and Courtney are not batting 1,000, but I can't reveal too much or you'll know what's going on.

I like this book a lot. It's about hope and triumph in the face of adversity. I think it's a really brilliant teaching tool under the guise of a good book. The next time I'm required to teach teenagers about why we should not shop at places like Wal-mart even if we have to pay a little more and why you should try to eat local foods and not support bad labor practices I'm going to send them home with a copy of this book. It may be overdone as I said, but as Jonathan Lynn said in his commentary for My Cousin Vinny, "a good story is life with the boring parts removed." I think it might bring the point home to young people in ways any words I could utter won't do.

I rate this book an 8 overall and a 9 for it's teaching components. Once again, I say if I could write stories like this man, I could die happy. Read the book, show people in you life (especially young people), and buy it at a local bookstore.

Book Review: The Story of Stuff (Book 25 of 100)

As I fancy myself a deeply evolved person who is concerned about deeply involved issues, it's fitting that I have chosen "The Story of Stuff" by Annie Leonard to mark the quarter point of 100 book endeavor. Even though, I am not in school right now, I like to learn new things. Some things are too overwhelming. This very important book which attempts to quantify the correlation between human beings and their possessions is full of such things. Originally, I thought I would review this book in sections, but my assistant said with good reason that that would only confuse my readers. So here I go. Get ready for the info dump of the century.

The first fact I learned in this book was that 40% of municipal waste is paper which is depleting our "beloved forest." Secondly, I learned that everything is connected to everything else. Nothing can be resolved in isolation. Of course, I already knew this. I would say that any smart child over the age of 6 knows this. But Ms. Leonard's book reaffirmed my knowledge over and over again. Thirdly, I learned that green technology which not save us from pending ecological disasters. Additionally, "Nothing is more important than a functioning biosphere." Now that I think about it, I agree. What good will all my tireless activism in areas such as disability rights and LGBT concerns do if no one can breathe?

One would assume that Ms. Leonard would be a strong advocate of population control, but she isn't, at least not in the traditional sense. She points out rightly that if fewer people used more stuff, it won't matter that there are fewer people. By the same token, more people could use less stuff. Therefore, it would all even out. Any population control the planet enacts must be related to human rights and not discriminate against a particular group or population.

Ms. Leonard spends a lot of time discussing the planet's carrying capacity. She says "once we cross the line, it's game-over." "Consumption," she says is "not a lifestyle, but a deathly system." Americans, by which she refers to people in the United States as she specifies for multiple pages are on a "work/watch/spend treadmill." We work too much, come home too exhausted to do anything besides watch TV, the TV tells us we need to buy more things, which means we need to work even harder. The cycle perpetuates itself.

The author argues that in fact most people are made happy not by consuming but by relating with other human beings. Our stuff which we tend to confuse with our personal worth has nothing to do with our personal worth, although we wrongly treat it as if it does. Did you know that once your basic needs are met, you scientifically don't get as much enjoyment out of acquiring stuff. For example, your first and second pair of shoes will bring you much more joy than your twelfth and thirteenth pair. Also, did you know that of the hundred biggest economies, half are corporations rather than nations. She spends nearly the entire book discussing externalized cost. This is why Walmart can sell a t-shirt for four dollars. You don't have to consider the young Asian woman who stitches in such poor lightly that she lost her vision or the freezing water used for production. Consumers don't pay for these and neither does Walmart, but the planet does. All of the above is learned in the introduction.

She breaks down the Extraction chapter into three categories: trees, water, and rocks. One ton of paper is created by using ninety-eight tons of other resources. If there are no forests, there is no flood control. Deforestation is a bigger crisis than the current banking crisis. Water runs off of clear-cut hills rather than being absorbed as normal.

All about paper. Paper is the main non-fuel product main from trees. For every ton of office paper produced, it takes two to three tons of forest. The paper used by all Americans yearly could build a ten foot high wall from New York to Tokyo. There has been movement to establish a do not mail registry. Junk mail in the U.S. equals the paper waste equivalent of clear-cutting the Rocky Mountains every four months. The author urges her readers to buy paper with the Forest Stewardship Council stamp. This ensures that the best known paper harvesting practices were used.

Water. Everyone on the planet realizes that global climate change is raising sea levels, except, of course, for a few nut-ball Republicans. But I digress. In the U.S., we spend twenty million dollars watering our lawns annually, while only one percent of the water on Earth is available for direct human use. If you want to reduce your water usage, the author recommends visiting waterfootprint.org.

The last category discussed in this chapter is rocks. Americans don't realize how much we rely on rocks to maintain our lifestyle. I never did before I read this book. Everything from your computer to your engagement ring came to some degree from the ground. Most ore is waste and as minerals become hard to find, that percentage is increasing. Miners constitute 0.4% of the global workforce, but are responsible for 3% of the work-related accidents. Furthermore, there are fifteen federal subsidies which benefit inefficient, non Earth-friendly resource extraction, i.e. mining.

On jewelry. I'm never been a big fan of rings, bracelets, and bobbles. After reading this book, I'm even less so. If someone wants to marry me, they are not going to get a yes just because they trot out some rock that they spent a month's salary on. If you want to show me that you love me, spend the month's salary feeding children or supporting disability rights. Then I might find you more endearing. But I know there are those people who feel differently. The author recommends that jewelry purchasers check out nodirtygold.org and use the Kimberly process when buying diamonds. In this way, one can be more assured that their engagement ring did cause anyone injury or death.

I bet you didn't know how much of your computer or other electronic device is actually rock. The author advocates making electronic equipment "updatable, recyclable, and repairable." Many electronics are none of the three. It's often easier and cheaper to just buy a new machine than to find someone who can fix it. I learned this the hard way a couple weeks ago when the fuse on my chair's charger died while I was in Washington, D.C. The repair place I found had no fuses and charged $99 just to have someone look at it. The new model charger was only $12 more. Ms. Leonard says the reason that nothing gets fixed in the U.S. anymore is because big corporations can sell us things cheaply due to the fact the U.S. doesn't pay to pollute other countries or exploit workers overseas. We, as consumers, are not even encouraged to look into these facts or consider them. Ms. Leonard does not advocate getting rid of electronics. Rather, she believes that electronics should be repairable and have expanded life spans. Furthermore, when they finally do have to that gray electronic junkyard in the sky, it should be the original company's responsibility, not consumer's to deal with the resulting hazardous waste and disposal. If that were the case, I can bet that Fortune 500 companies wouldn't be so quick to make things that were dangerous and easily breakable with no way to repair them. These people think with their wallets not their souls. I say, let's go after their wallets and teach them how to be behave in a more socially responsible manner.

Lastly in this category, the author discusses fuel. In terms of petroleum, peak oil is expected to be reached by 2020 and we would need to find six new Saudi Arabias to keep up with the expected increase in demands at currents by 2030. Many people have been killed over oil. Perhaps the most notable person is Nigerian activist Ken Saro Wiwa. He was wrongly accused of murder and upon his execution, said "Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues." I have resolved to read his autobiography even if I can't find it on audiobook. From Ms. Leonard's description, he sounds like on of the bravest people ever to walk the planet.

Finally on the subject of coal. Did you know that in the U.S., 49% of electricity is made by coal. I didn't. Furthermore, did you know that the literacy rate in the coal mining section of West Virginia is the same as that of Kabul Afghanistan which is an abysmal 43%.

In the next section of the book, the author details how stuff is made. Did you know that there are 100,000 synthetic compounds in use in today's society. Very few of them are ever tested for safety around humans or pets. Did you know that the country of Uzbekistan which used 80% of its national water supply to grow cotton is now a desert. Did you know that the amount of cotton grown today could make fifteen tee shirts for everyone on the planet. No wonder Ms. Leonard specifies cotton as "fluffy, thirsty, and toxic."

After this, Ms. Leonard went on to describe the making of three of the most common items: tee shirts (mine too), books (mine), and computers. Do you know that every T-shirt you own, even its organic, uses 3.5 Lbs of carbon per shirt. Furthermore, The T-shirts often formaldehyde--yes, that's the same stuff you used to kill frogs in science class. Finally, did you know that because cotton is hard to dye, 1/3 of the dye runs off, so it's often needs to be redyed two or three times. I guess I'll be rethinking my beloved t-shirt collection or as Ms. Leonard suggests, perhaps I'll wear them until their too worn to even be worn in the gym.

On books. Did you know that before pages were made from paper, they used to be printed on sheep skin. It took three hundred sheep to print one bible. Globally, we used 20 billion tons of paper in 2007. A lot of paper is dyed with chlorine, a potential cancer-causing agent. I, like Ms. Leonard, would prefer my paper to be "slightly brown or tree colored...instead of containing carcinogen."

Nowadays more with-it manufacturers are using soy-based inks and printers such as Inkworks, Ecoprint, and New Leaf are making it more possible to produce books without all the chemical side effects. The most important thing Ms. Leonard did for me in this section was answer a question pertaining to the environmental awareness. Pre-consumer recycling is better than post-consumer recycling because the former means that it was made from already recycled materials whereas the latter means the product will be turned into recycled materials when you return it.

On computers and TVs. Ninety-five percent of households in the U.S. have TVs. There are 200 million TVs in the U.S. Technology mecca Silicon Valley has the most Superfund sites in the world. Superfund sites are sites which are so toxic, they've been given priority over other places in terms of government money for clean-up. In fact, for every microchip in your computer, seventeen grams of waste paper was created, not to mention all the lead and mercury.

The author says that if she could get rid of two things in the effort to save the planet, they would be aluminum cans and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes. PVC is often not labeled in product but according to the author if it smells bad, it likely contains PVC. A lot of plastic toys used to be made with it until it was removed because it was found to cause cancer, but apparently, it's safer for adults who tend not to put non-food items into their mouths. As stupid as that sounds, kids plays with things that are not designated as toys and put them in their mouths. To not remove this agent from all plastic items in equally unsafe.

The second thing the author would eliminate is aluminum cans. This surprised me. I thought aluminum was a highly reusable resource because of recycling, but the highest rate of aluminum recycling dates back to 1992 when it was 65%. That's hardly worth all the pro-aluminum hoopla that's been going on.

On the subject of cosmetics. I'm not a big makeup girl. In fact, I think it's mostly stupid and a waste of money. However, if you are going to buy makeup, you should check out cosmeticsdatabase.com before you buy. This lists all the chemicals in commonly used cosmetics. The average American woman exposes herself to 106 "risk chemicals" per day just in her care products alone. Risk chemicals have been linked to diseases such as various cancers, Alzheimer's, and chemical sensitivity disorder. A lot of these chemicals are fat-soluble and are found in meat products as well. Two to four times the amount of lead is in lipstick than in legally allowed in candy. The hair relaxers that most African American women used have been linked to various cancers, although a defensive study is still anticipated. The same is true for the skin bleaching agents some Asian women use. While there may be no definitive study on these agents, the point is why risk it. If your man or your mother doesn't love you as much because your hair is not as straight as it could be or your skin is not white as it could be, I would advice turning them both in for new models.

I was perhaps most shocked by the amount of chemicals in babies and breast milk. There are 287 chemicals typically found in umbilical cords. There is flame retardant in breast milk, although numerous studies have shown that "[breast] milk is still best." Perhaps it's times that we adopt the REACH principle this is used in Europe. This is the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. It is a way to prove a chemical is not toxic before you can put it into products used by human beings. Two websites for more information on these topics are safechemicals.org and cleanproduction.org.

While up until that point in the book, the author had been focused on what all this consumption does to consumers, workers received the unfiltered brunt of all these chemicals. Tony Mazzocchi who is called the Rachel Carson of the labor movement, was a driving force in getting labor and environmental factions to adapt to each other and work to build equitable solutions for all. As toxic waste has moved out of the U.S. due to pressures on industry surrounding air and water concerns, it's moved to what's called the Golden Corridor. These are places in which there is no environmental regulations and cheap labor. Most notably, Gujarat, India. The author visited this place and described how one man lived in a five foot by six foot room with a chemical pumping machine which he was on duty to fix 24 hours a day everyday for a year.

Environmental justice. Many people have heard this term. It refers to the fact that most polluting industries inhabit the poorest parts and countries and the poorest countries, to boot. Most of these communities are heavily inhabited by people of color because this group is perceived as having less education and civic involvement. This perception often proves true and facilitates the exploitation of these industries. These communities are less likely to fight back and are seduced by the promised of a few low-wage jobs by these multi-national corporations which never fully explain the health costs and quality of life costs associated with these industries. The first report on environmental justice was completed by congregational members of united church of Christ, of which I am a member. It was published in 1989 and ruffled quite a few feathers in the traditional environmental movement. It was called toxic waste and race. Sadly, when the follow-up report "Toxic Waste and Race at 20" was released in 2009, not much had changed. Polluting industries are still largely found in regions of rates of illiteracy and low rates of civic involvement. This egregiousness is punctuated by the new trend of shipping American garbage, polluting factories and industries to foreign countries.

The two biggest contemporary disasters I will discuss here are the Bhopal, India Union Carbide disaster which occurred in 1984 and is the worst ecological disaster in human history. The plant had six safety systems, all of which failed. The plant refused to admit wrongdoing or culpability until hours after the incident. Had officials been informed of this occurrence and given basic information about the chemicals release, they would have been able to save countless lives by enacting simple safety methods such as shielding eyes and noses from exposed toxins. At the Union Carbide plant in West Virginia which was billed as a having a similar safety system to Bhopal, people became nervous especially when it was discovered that 28 smaller leaks had already occurred in West Virginia without being reported. This lack of public awareness is due to the fact that environmental regulation varies state by state.

Interestingly enough, this is like home care. While I don't think that home care regulation should vary from state to state and inhibit an individual's freedom to live wherever they wish, I damn well know the air shouldn't. The government cannot regulate where air stays. We need national standards for air quality. My right to breathe clean air is no less important than the right of someone in West Virginia to breathe clean air.

The second disaster occurred in Haiti. A Philadelphia company burned chlorine-containing garbage which created the cancer-causing agent known as dioxin. For every three tons of incinerated garbage, a ton of ash is produced. A certain company in Philadelphia dumped this ton of ash onto a beach in Haiti and simply left it there. Finally on November 5th, 2000, Governor Ed Randell of Pennsylvania said he would bring the ash home to Philly. This is the same man who forced me to move out of Pennsylvania because I couldn't get enough services and whom my friends much battle daily, so they do not end up in nursing homes. A former student of mine seems to be correct when she asserted in her thesis that the same ten idiots are trying to destroy everything. I think it's more like twenty. In all seriousness, however, it is disturbing how often we see the same cycles of destruction with the same names attached repeating themselves. Sadly, most of the good guys are single-issue. That needs to change.

I'm also alarmed by the amount of U.N. conventions the U.S. doesn't sign on to. We were already left out of the Kyoto Protocol. In this book, I learned about yet another convention to save the Earth, which we are only one of four countries not to sign. This was the Basel Convention, an attempt to inhibit companies from dumping garbage and pollutants into someone else's yard. Why is it that if I attempt to do this, I would end up in jail or made to hefty fine that would probably equal my yearly income? My government is free, however, to do this without penalty.

The last thing Ms. Leonard discusses in the book is the influence of International Financial Institutions or IFIs. Everyone who knows me knows that I passionately despise IFIs. If you get me started on the World Trade Organization (WTO), prepare to have a very long conversation. The point of IFIs is to remove all trade barriers from existence. This doesn't refer to discrimination or socially reprehensible behavior, rather the undermining of local business, child labor law, labor unions and so forth. If the WTO had its way, every law I have helped pass in my entire life would be eliminated since they act as trade barriers. In a truly scary future world that I hope we never reach, allowing people to have funding to hire workers to support them in their own homes might be considered a trade barrier to the nursing home industry. In a word, Yikes!

Along these lines, one U.S. official in Haiti actually said in reference to flood of cheap rice into Haiti from U.S. subsidized farms, "If there are fewer farmers, there can be more garment workers. But if someone from Haiti really wants to farm, they can grow organic mangoes for high-end export market." What?

I do not have time to talk about everything I learned in this book. It would constitute a separate book. I will rate this book a 9.7 out of 10 and tell you that you should own it. Buy it from an independent book store. Before I go, I will drop exactly three more facts on you. The U.S. is only 114th in terms of national happiness according to Happy Planet Index. Globally, we spend 1.46 trillion on war in 2008. That's the 4% increase since 2007. Lastly, according to Nation Priorities Project based here in Western Massachusetts, so far the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Ms. Leonard home state of California 115 billion dollars. This is one full year of health care to 47 people or purchase 350,000 affordable housing units forever.

I don't know what I'm going to do, but this book has convinced me to do something, whatever that something might be. I need to figure out ways to plug in the culture of reciprocity where people help each other because they want to I'm not as Ms. Leonard all for giving of funding and expecting your friends to help you with whatever problems you have. For someone like me that would not work. For some who just needs minor, occasional help, it might work. Besides, who says it has to be all or nothing? You can try to help your neighbors more while still paying for what they need and spend less if they help you. This book like everything else is about achieving balance. Reading it made me realize that my life which I wrongly believed was going well (in terms of my dedication to the environment), was out of balance

The Rivers of Zadaa - Pendragon Book 6 (Book 24 of 100)

In the latest Bobby Pendragon adventure, I read Bobby and his cohorts must confront the evil St. Dane who is trying to get the symbiotic tribes of Zadaa to go to war with each other after centuries of peace. The Rokator are a peaceful, scientific, light skinned people who live underground. The Batu are a dark skinned people who live about ground and defend both tribes from nomadic bands of cannibals. That's a lovely thought for a children's book! But, I digress. The Batu supply the food and the Rokator control the water. On a desert territory like Zadaa, neither can survive without the other. But, as is all too common in actual modern society, people don't want to share. This book has a very moral lesson. Do you want to starve to death and dehydrate or do you want to get along? Logical people would pick the third option. However, in life all too often people don't especially those in power.

The further I get into Pendragon, the more I think that J.D. McHale is trying to make himself the modern day C.S. Lewis wrapping simple tales of morality into a fun adventure story in the hopes of influencing future generations. There are definitely worse things one could be doing especially because the man can really write. So many people who try to write moral stories just lack the actual story telling ability. J.D. McHale has it in the right order in my opinion. The story first. The moral second. It's kind of a side dish that the reader doesn't even realize he or she is ingesting.

Mark and Courtney (Bobby's friends on second Earth) also have there share of adventures in this book. At the end of the last book, you may remember me commenting how sorry I was that Courtney had become such a damsel in distress all of a sudden. Still, I suppose given the fact that her best friend/boyfriend is off saving the world from dangers any 15 year old girl would go a little nuts. In this book, Courtney has a nervous breakdown of sorts. Luckily, with a little self-help and other help, she finds her way back to normality again. Unfortunately, said normality comes at a price. I'm not going to tell you because that would spoil the plot. Suffice it to say, I was right about the intentions of one Andy Mitchell. You'll have to read the book to see what I mean.

This book will keep you guessing until the very last page or track depending on what format you get it in. I'd rate it a 9 out of 10.

Black Water - Pendragon Book 5 (Book 23 of 100)

finished this book right before I was going to New York for the weekend. I think I stayed up too late listening to it and forgot I had to get up in the morning, but it was worth it. I think I would have died of suspense if I had to wait until the today to find out what happened. My PCA Amy mailed it back to the audio book club for me so I was hoping that adventure seven would be waiting for me when I returned but no such luck.

Black Water continues the story of traveler Bobby Pendragon. Bobby, as you may remember, is on a mission to save Halla which is basically the Universe (from what I can figure out) from this evil character called St. Dane who just (to my speculation) might turn out to be the devil himself.

This adventure takes Bobby to Eelong, a territory run by intelligent cats called Clees. In this territory, the humans are called "gars" and are basically slaves of the Clees. It's very Planet of the Apes like except I think this was more imaginative and that's saying a lot because I love Planet of the Apes.

It's Bobby's job, along with Kasha and Boone, the traveler and the acolyte from Eelong to repair the damage from years of mistrust among the various peoples of Eelong. If they don't figure out a way for Clees and Gars to get along, the entire territory of Eelong is going to be destroyed in the case of the Gars courtesy of a poison provided by St. Dane or starve to death in the case of the Clee society. The only way for Bobby to save the day is by breaking the number one traveling rule: though shalt not mix anything from one territory with anything from another territory. He knows it's not a good idea to break this rule ever. But, what other choice does he have? I'm not going to tell you what happens in the end because you should read the book. But, you'll be surprised. I was.

I like this book the best out of the Pendragon series I've read so far. It really makes you think. I have some theories about why certain things are going on, but I'm not going to share them with you. Formulate your own. I don't want to ruin the experience. When I get to the end of the series, I'll post a commentary outlining my theories and whether or not they've proved true. But, you'll just have to wait and see as I have five more books to go. I rate this book a 9 out of 10. It didn't lag in places as MacHale and every other writers writing usually tends to do. This volume brought Courtney's confidence and dealt a little more with the internal workings of one Mark Diamond, Bobby's best friend. The two of them are actually the reason I'm formulating some of the theories I've formulated. My advice would be to pay very close attention to the development of these two characters over the next five volumes.

You should read this book. You'll like it even if you're not a kid. I'm not and I do.

The Reality Bug- Pendragon Book 4 (Book 22 of 100)

I read the entire book, 375 pages, in two days even though I slept late both days. The reality bug tells a story of a territory called Veelox. Bobby Pendragon has been sent there to battle the evil St. Dane with the help of that territories traveler, AJA Killian. The problem on Veelox that St. Dane is trying to take advantage of is that everybody there is obsessed with virtual reality. I don't mean that they use technology the healthy way as we do here (for the most part). I mean that they're so obsessed with their fantasy world that they neglect real life, other people, and responsibilities. Houses and towns are in shambles and no one cares or even notices because they're so wrapped up in there perfect virtual world.

I'm not going to give away much plot because I think you should read the book. But, I'll tell you this. The ending will surprise you. It floored me, and I'm pretty familiar with Pendragon. All I can say is think of Harry Potter VI. If you are bright, that should give you a clue.

I'd rate this book an 8.5 out of 10. It's my favorite Pendragon so far. The only thing I'm disappointed in is that they have decided to let Mark become the leader between himself and Courtney. Mind you, that I'm glad Mark is stepping out of his shy, geek supporting role. But, I don't know why the author had to make Courtney become a helpless person just so he could do that. Couldn't he have left Courtney as a strong individual while giving Mark at long last (and this description may be a bit off color but I have no other way to describe it adequately) a pair of balls? Apparently not.

But that is an unnecessary digression. Even though I'm more than a little pissed at what happens to Courtney, I still think you should read this series.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reading List: Book 1-20

I finished my first 20 books in my quest to read 100 books in 2010. I'm ahead of schedule. It's only three days into March and I've already read 21 books. I wanted to write this commentary before the impression of the first 20 left me. I learned a lot about myself over the course of reading these 20 books of various genres. Firstly, that I can finish most books unless I consider them too stupid to complete. This takes a lot of effort. I've given up on five books so far in this reading series. Two of them really surprised me. The first was In This World Or Maybe Another by Bob Johnson. She won the 50,000 A Room of Her Own Fellowship and after reading the first two stories in this collection (I think there were about eight) all I could say was, "why?" Granted, I'm not much of a literary fiction girl but really it was boring. I tired to read it because the book club I belong to was reading it but after story number two I just counted continue and stay sane. The second surprisingly abandoned book was Spock Vs. Q in the Alien Voices series. I loved the Lost World rendition in the series, and I love Star Trek. So, when this book didn't do it for me, I think I was one of the most surprised people in Massachusetts.

I've thought a lot about what someone who discovered this reading list who didn't know me would think of me. First, they would conclude that I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with A.J. Jacobs. He's the only person who either wrote or edited more than three of the books I've read so far. They would also conclude that I like John Darton. This conclusion would be funny because I had not heard of him until I started this challenge and it was accidental. He writes about a few of my favorite things. I like hearing what writers say when they write about writers as part of their fiction. Darton always writes about writers and science. I'm not much of a science girl but he makes it understandable. Thirdly, they would conclude that I like science fiction. This, of course, is true. There are seven science fiction titles in my list of 20. That's about a third. There's also a few mysteries and some non-fiction. This list is not as diverse as I thought it would be. There are way too many white people on my reading list which is odd because I'm not. There are also way too many men owing, of course, to my pension for Jacobs and Darton. There's not enough classic literature. Although, I read Robinson Crusoe which I didn't enjoy as you may recall.

So, it's on to the next 20 books. Goals for these books include finishing the Pendragon series, becoming more diverse in my reading, and discovering some new authors. The Pendragon series, unfortunately, is also written by a white man but what are you going to do? J.D. MacHale can tell stories and that's basically what I care about. I might give classic literature another try. I hear that Jane Eyre is a really good book, and I'm looking forward to reading Austin. Wish me luck! See you in 19 books with a second commentary!

The Never War - Pendragon Book 3 (Book 21 of 100)

've been reading so many depressing books lately that I decided to reinvigorate myself with a nice YA adventure. I got into Pendragon a couple of years ago. I read book one in an afternoon in the airport. Book 2 got me through a lot of being injured. Then, I tried to order other books on audio CD. The library doesn't own many Pendragon's on audio book. There are nine books in total. They only one three. My new audio book club reintroduced me to Pendragon. I mailed back a book today which means a new book should be en route to me as soon as they receive my old one. I hope adventures 4&5 arrive before I leave for D.C. as they would be great additions to my Amtrak journey.

In between making payout on myLot, finishing lots of my Olympic coverage, and posting one more article for examiner yesterday, I read 3/4 of the book. I read the last two disks today on the van service and while my assistant was on break. But, I'm talking too much about things that don't really relate to the book. For those of you who don't know, Pendragon is the story of a 14 year old boy named Bobby, his best friend Marc, and his semi-girlfriend Courtney, and their adventures together. Courtney and Marc live on second Earth which is present day Earth. There's also a first Earth in 1937 and a third Earth in 5060. I always thought there was only one Earth and I didn't know why it was called second. In this book, I find out why. Bobby dis a traveler. He goes from world to world (there are about 7 that I know of) and helps defeat this truly evil force or person (and I use the term loosely) named Saint Dane. Saint Dane is a traveler too, and his goal is to wreak havoc on all the territories (which we would call planets). He figures this will get him appointed leader of a place called Hulla. Hulla is basically everything. I, like Bobby, think it's a really bad idea for a really bad person to be in charge of everything.

The point of the story is that if you change history sometimes even a small thing can really screw up the universe. In this case, the thing that would affect all the Earth's at once is the Hindenburg disaster not happening. In the story, the Hindenburg disaster was caused by a gang war between two rival mobsters. It turns out that one mobster was giving data to the Nazis and if he would have continued (which he would have if the Hindenburg wouldn't have exploded) the Nazis would have developed the bomb first and dropped it on America and London. Not that I'm a big bomb fan but the idea of Hitler having it first is always bad.

So, Bobby and his other traveler friends have to make sure the Hindenburg crashes even though it cost a lot of lives. This is a lot for a 14 year old boy to deal with. Luckily, Bobby has his best friend and his girl back on second Earth who keep track of him through the journals he sends through his special ring. Other travelers also use the ring to communicate with him.

I'm not going to tell you anymore about the plot because it's a good read and you should read it. Although, each story technically stands alone I wouldn't recommend reading them separately. You'll get a much more cohesive feel for the series if you read them in order. Even though they say this book is for kids, I really enjoy it. As someone in the writing craft, J.D. MacHale can write a good story. In fact, I think I could die quite happily if I could write exactly one story like him exactly once in my life. I don't know why they don't write adventure books for adults. Apparently, we're all supposed to be off searching for how to find the perfect man or woman or how to have a good orgasm. Apparently, adults don't need adventure. Well, I do!

I'd rate this book an 8 out of 10. I liked it a lot even though it used a somewhat tired metaphor in the science fiction genre namely that if you mess with a minor thing even to do good you potentially could screw yourself and the entire world. Or, in this case, three worlds. I've read a lot of science fiction in my day and have learned that no matter what the purpose it's never a good idea to mess with space time continuum. Something always goes wrong. It doesn't matter what your intentions are.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Review: The Corrections (Book 20 of 100)

This is a book I read accidentally in abridged form. I don't like abridged books normally. People say Jonathan Franzen is literary hot shit, but I don't get it. The main character's are Enid (a typical middle American house wife), Alfred (an old man in need on home care rather severely), Chip (a thirty something with a thing for young girls), Gary (a family man with mental health issues), and Denise (a closeted dyke).

Parts of this book are confusing. One entire disk was about excrement (I kid you not). The first two disks and the last two make sense. I'd rate this book a 6 out of 10. It has a lot to analyze form a disability rights perspective- home care, nursing homes, and mental illness. A terribly haunting sentence "The one thing he never forgot was how to refuse." It was about when the old man decided not eat after being at the nursing home for two years. I'm of two minds on this regard. In one, I'm sorry that the man didn't have advantages like home and community based services. On the other hand, I'm glad he finally figured out how to take control of his life back and was lucid enough to do so. It's a hard decision.

In my opinion, listen to the first two discs of this book and the last two. The story will make much more sense that way. And unless you're really into esoterica, you'll be a much more sane reader. I can see why they say that Jonathan Franzen is amazing. He writes some really pretty prose. I just wish it made more sense. God, this man needs an editor! I really hope that nothing will ever sound that obtuse. If it does, in my opinion, publishers are right to reject it. Lucky for me, I'm not a literary fiction girl. If I had to write this I think I would hate writing. Goodness knows what would become of me at that point.

Book Review: Black, & White, and Dead All Over (Book 19 of 100)

I loved John Darton's latest novel. It was a newspaper novel, complete with all the intrigue of a murder mystery housed in a room full of writers. The story is about Jude, a newspaper reporter from New York, who is assigned to cover the news room murders. If you like mysteries or even if you don't (I'm mostly the latter), I think you'll enjoy this one. It especially suited the writer in me. It begins with the murder of an editor, followed by 2 others.

I was drawn on several wild goose chases in this novel. That's the mark of a good mystery novel. One thing I was confused by was the fact that this main character had the same name as a main character from The Experiment, who had the same occupation to boot. At first, I thought this was some sort of weird prequel, but I guess not.

I rate this an 8 out 10. I don't want to reveal too much of the plot. I hope you enjoy it. I think you might. Let me know!

Book Review: Next (Book 18 out 100)

t’s very rare that I call a book amazing and even more rare with all of writing I’ve had to do with all the writing I’ve had to do of late. I’ve started a bunch of books lately, but haven’t finished one or wrote a review in over two weeks. Next by Michael Crichton totally rewired my literary mindset (awesome since I start editing my 3 day novel in earnest tomorrow).

It’s the tail of a monkey, a parrot, some Jamies, a couple of bounty hunters, cell lines, and bad ideas. It’s paced fast enough to suit any ADD attention span. You have a lot of characters from whom to pick your favorite- both human and not. My favorites are Dave and Gerard, both non human.

It kind of reminded me of And the Band Played on, with all the intersecting tales. If you don’t like one story, wait a few pages and you’ll be in another one. I rate this book a 9 out of 10. Read it; I think you’ll like it, especially on audio book.

I also enjoyed the bonus features (an interview with the author and an author’s afterward with Michael Crichton). Crichton says something I agree with, “If (universities or corporations) can’t get permission, they can’t use my tissues” Well said, no owns my cells but me.

Book Review: Feast of Love (17 of 100)

The book is very, very different than the movie. We never meet Oscar--he's already dead. The Ginsberg son, Aaron is not dead, although he is assumed to be. This changes the timbre of the work. I also found The Bat slightly less terrifying in book form than on the screen. For a while you think he's actually an okay person, but then you're proven wrong.

Another thing I'm not sure about is why is Harry Ginsberg black in the movie, but his race is not discussed at all in the book. I know there are black Jewish people. I'm not so closed-minded as to think you cannot be black and Jewish. However, I find it interesting that they took the one racially nondescript character and made him African American while changing the race of Bradley's final girlfriend from black to Italian. What was going on there? I think that perhaps they really wanted to cast Morgan Freeman and who could blame them? I also think that Hollywood is still very mono-racial relationships oriented, unless you want that to become the whole movie which maybe they didn't. I think that if that's the case, it's a sad commentary on society.

I do not know if I like the book or the movie better. Each has it's own points that I enjoy and points I dislike. I would suggest reading the book and watching the movie. They're two very different experiences. I'd rate the book a 7.5 out of 10. I'm not sure what I rated the movie. I'm not sure if I would rate it higher or lower. I think they're about the same.

The last thing this brings up for me is how some authors allow their work to be manipulated just for money. I'm not saying that I'm above this. If I ever have a book published and someone wants to make it into a movie, I will allow some latitude, but I don't think I will let them change basic character attributes such as eliminating the black doctor in this story. Or making Mr. Ginsberg black which would explain why the interracial marriage was never discussed in the movie. That never made sense to me. If you're going to get married in the 1950s to someone of a different race than you. That's a pretty big deal you would think they would explain. So maybe Charles allowed them to change the girlfriend, but insisted they had some black character somewhere. From what I understand, if you actually tried to marry a person of another race in the 1950s (providing it was legal where you were) you were likely to have visits from the KKK. Based on the article that my assistant just found, they theoretically could have gotten married. The first state to allow this was in 1948, so it's not entirely inaccurate, just mostly. It wasn't legal in the whole country until 1967. But I still like the book. I just have a lower opinion of the movie now.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Review What It Feels Like (16 of 100)

This book is a series of essays that try to answer all those questions that begin "I wonder what it would be like if.." and involve some sort of outlandish activity you would never actually attempt. Each essay is written by a different journalist and are, at most, four pages long. This is ideal bedtime reading, except the stories are so exciting you may have trouble stopping after just one. I know this is what happened to me. This book is edited by A.J. Jacobs, who I'm becoming a bit obsessed with. He also writes the prologue. Some of the stories included here are what it feels like to be in an orgy, what if it feels like to outrun a volcano, how it feels to be gored by a bull, how it feels to be a hitman, and how it feels to die.

Whatever your interest, they probably have it covered here. My favorite story was the guy who survived the volcano. Tomas Mather is now a 22-year-old married college student. He and some friends of his, including the girl he would later married whom he met just the day before, were in Guatemala when the volcano went off. The top of their van was pelted with lava rocks that left permanent dents in it. I still think that's a great story to tell your grandkids. Think about it, if they hadn't run fast enough, none of the future generation would be there. I think it's terribly romantic.

Of course, in every book like this, you have to find someone who makes you think "What the hell were you on when you decided to do that?!" For me, Geoffrey Petkovich is that person. Said idiot and his friends went over to Niagara Falls in a barrel. This is illegal, by the way. They actually had to sneak the barrel up to the Falls and into the water. Amazingly, they were basically uninjured. Still, I wouldn't recommend this practice.

The section I found most interesting was part six--what it feels like to have an extreme body. They dealt with really tall people, really short people, really fat people, transgender people, people with cosmetic implants, and people who starve themselves to prove a point. I don't much go in for the 'day in the life of a disabled person' kind of article because I know that most able-bodied people do not have access to the communities of support that disabled people develop for themselves. This, I feel, makes them think our own experience is horrible and horrifying. Even with these opinions, this section still fascinated me. Maybe there is more value than I thought in 'day in the life of a disabled person' experiences or maybe I was just feeling particularly voyeuristic when I read that section.

I rate this book an 8 out of 10. I liked the shortness of each tale, but at times, wanted more details. You can't have it both ways. Again, this book a really goof bedtime read. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

The Experiment (book 15 of 100)

I know I should be writing more practical stuff, such as an Examiner local angle article or fixing MILCB’s newsletter. Baring that, I could deal with the 3 thick Mount Holyoke tomes that are on my reading list for February. Instead, I’m writing a book review for The Experiment by John Darnton. This book stole me four days ago and wouldn’t let me go until I finished it, about 30 minutes ago. As much as I love books and am an avid reader, even more so without cable, its the rare volume which will pull me away from all matters practical and into it’s web.

I discovered the author when I picked The Darwin Conspiracy off of the Jones Library Shelf, randomly. I then read Neanderthal, a race of humans (which you know if you read me regularly) I am obsessed with to the point of near unhealthiness. The Experiment is his third work I’ve devoured. The fourth is on my desk and I ordered the 5th though interlibrary loan program today.

The Experiment deals with the taboo topic of human cloning. What happens if this technology falls into the wrong hands? The story is the turning, twisting tale of Jude, Skylar, and Tizzy (Elizabeth) as they strive to discover their pasts and futures, as well as how they all relate to each other.

This is a very well researched novel. You gain knowledge of just how well researched if you listen to author interview which is located on the final disk. The novel, itself, is told on 15 disks. I think it’s slightly obnoxious to place an interview with yourself on a separate disk from your own book. Even with that opinion, I enjoyed the interview. Mr. Darton likes literary novels, not the science based novels he tends to craft. He recommended one called Plain Song. I’ve never heard of it, but think I might check it out.

Lastly, it was interesting to find by beloved alma mater Purchase College, making a cameo appearance. Although it should be noted that Purchase students aren’t so dumb as to let an ultra secret science facility be placed on campus without any raised eyebrows. We are a campus of activists. At least we were in my day! I’d rate this novel a 9 out 10. Schedule several listening days, though. This book might be a bit much to take in all at once unless you have a whole with nothing to do.

he Andromeda Strain (book 14 of 100)

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton was my latest library audio book. It was only 3 disks long and I should’ve realized that it was an abridgement, but I didn’t until the end when it was announced. The plot can be summed up as follows: life which eats carbon and is fatal to humans, by clotting the lungs and/or making them go mad and harm themselves is quarantined by smart scientists. They need to figure out if we said nuke it, as the government wants to with every threat when it comes down to it. The scientists figure out that that would be bad because the life form feeds on carbon, if we blew it up that would release a ton of carbon. Bad plan!

But the scientists cannot communicate this to the powers that be because of a paper jam between the computer in their lab and the printer in the “high” office. That scared me. People with their finger on the button who don’t think to check for a paper jam when they don’t here from their top level scientists for 12 hours? I wasn’t surprised and I’m entirely sure that element of the book is fictional, even in a novel.

The most interesting concept in the book is that of the “odd man”. According to the book, the best decision maker is an unmarried man. I don’t know if this is true or what scientific studies it was based on if it is a fact. I’m going to research it later. I’ll let you know.

I rate this book a 6 out of 10; maybe it was because of the abridgement (I’m a detail girl) or because the ending sucked (which it did). Chris Noth of Law & Order and Sex & the City fame is an awesome narrator. The first one I’ve ever felt compelled to comment on. By the way, reading this book did make me want to read the unabridged version. I’ll blog and compare the two. But I won’t count it twice toward my 2010 book total. That just seems dishonest.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lost world: the alien voices series (book 13 out of 100)

It's not what I was expecting. It's based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, but is a bit different in that famous actors act out the book, or what I assume to be part of it. Famous voices include Leonard Nimoy and john de Lancie. This book actually convinced me to stay in my audio book club, as there's apparently a whole series of them, all of which are narrated by people associated with the Star Trek universe. These books are much easier going than your standard audio book, which usualy comprises at least six discs. In fact, the volume I listened to was a two-disc set and very easily accomplished in a couple of hours.

The story basically follows fledgling journalist Edward Marrow, pretty female scientist Elizabeth Spindley, and a host of other familiar characters. However, in no way does it exempt you from reading, or in my preferred media, listening to, the actual book. In fact, that's first on my list when I get home from my weekend away.

It will be a nice distraction, as will the other books in this series from three thick tomes I must endeavor to ingest, if I want a Mount Holyoke fellowship next fall. However, when I'm eating, or when I'm done with heavy academic rigor for the day, I plan to pop in this much more pleasant volume. This size of book is ideal for people who don't have a lot of time. It would certainly make your daily commute much more enjoyable. I would rate this book and hopefully other books in the series, 8 out of 10.

Book Review: Know It All (Book 12 out of 100)

s many of you know, I've become quite the A.J. Jacobs fan since reading his latest book Guinea Pig: My Life as an Experiment. I checked Know It All out of the library some weeks ago only to discover it had two problems. The first is that I had accidentally borrowed an abridged copy, and I do hate abridgments as a rule. The second and more problematic issue was that there was an nonredeemable scratch on disk five. Of course, the scratch happened at the crucial moment in the story when I wasn't sure how he survived being lost in the Alaskan wilderness as a teenager. Because I'm a curious person, I had to find out. My curiosity was keeping me awake at night. I set out to find the book in hopefully unabridged format through Torrents and other means. The only way I found to access it other than buying it was to join an audio book club. So, I did and I waited.

The books came late this week. The unabridged version of it all is 12 disks. I'm really glad I listened to the unabridged version because a bunch of things I really enjoyed were glossed over in the abridged version. These include Eric the brother-in-law who is an annoying person but his annoyance is made much less of in the abridged version, his crossword puzzle freak friend Jaimie, and the mention of his Buddhist high school English teacher Steve. I always knew that if you were a detail nut like me unabridged is definitely the way to go.

I love data just about as much as anyone on the Earth. My friend Robyn says I worship it. But, I have no desire to read the Encyclopedia. A.J. Jacobs did it for me. I simply listened and took notes on things I like to know about. I learned, for example, that Langston Houghes, noted black poet, was first discovered when he had the audacity to slip three poems under the plate of known poet Vachel Lindsay who I never heard of. The next day Lindsay's discovery was reported as "negro busboy poet". I wish I had the nerve to be that audacious. I can barely deal with grant committees.

I also learned that carrots are related to hemlock. Also, Sir Francis Bacon died pursuing knowledge. He wanted to see if snow delayed the spoilage of poultry. To that end, he bolted out of his carriage one day during a blizzard, caught a chill, and died of pneumonia.

I find all these facts interesting. But, A.J. also noted some facts I had no desire to know. For instance, the fact that the Encyclopedia Britannica deals with more animal mating rituals than any homosapien ought to know about. Much of royalty consists of small minded, greedy men overwhelmingly named Charles. And, that too top ways to get into the Encyclopedia are to become a eunuch or to create a font. I don't know why anyone would want to be the first one and what's the big deal with fonts?

My favorite Britannica fact is that a stereotype is a kind of printing plate in addition to being the more common usage which is an opinion of a group of people not based on fact. Next time I run into someone being stereotypical, I'm going to share this fact with them. I hope I don't get beat up.

I thought doing 100 poems in 100 days was difficult. It does not compare to reading the Encyclopedia. The 2002 complete set that Jacobs bought costs him $1,400.00. He said it arrived in three boxes each big enough to fill an air conditioner. This set of Britannica had 44 million words and when all the boxes were stacked on top of each other it was approximately the height of Danny DeVito, according to Jacobs

If you like weird facts, you'll like this book. If, like most of America, you have the attention span of a "gnat on methamphetamines" this book is for you because it changes subject every paragraph or two. However, I don't think that reading the Encyclopedia should be on anyone's agenda provided they have a well adjusted social life. Indeed, in the book, Jacobs wife Julie, calls herself an "Encyclopedia widow". My ex used to tell me I worked too much. Lucky she's not married to Jacobs! I give this book a 9.5 out of 10. I learned a lot. I've only hit the highlights here and my personal version of those. You should go and read it and discover your own. Let me know what you find.

Behold the mighty dinosaur (book 11 of 100)

his was actually a series of class lectures by Professor John Kricher of Wheaton College. It's part of recorded books Modern Scholar Curriculum. Modern Scholar is basically a way for people who like to learn but have neither the time nor the money to devote to taking continuing ed classes or enrolling in school. Although I consider myself a pretty smart person, I was a bit out of shape in the thinking department as listening to this audio book proved. This is especially bad because I was an anthropology major in college. I was also a writing major and a health education minor. I was a pretty busy girl but I wasn't aware of how much of my primary subject matter knowledge had evaporated over the past decade.

Because I've been obsessed with Neanderthals dinosaurs seemed like an easy extension of that. But, did you know that no hominid ever saw a dinosaur? They died before anything resembling us was on the planet. So much for The Flinstones even though Dino was modeled after a real dinosaur.

As a health educator, I am always horrified when scientists put personal creative advancement ahead of actually saving human lives. For more information on this subject as it relates to HIV, see the Robert Gallo vs. The French Disaster which I belived killed off about 500,000 people because they couldn't cooperate. Paleontologists had a similar rivalry. Their names were Cope and Marsh. I guess no matter what field you're in the best want to stay the best and they don't care who gets screwed. At least nobody died as a result of Cope and Marsh's foolishness.

I thought I knew a good bit about dinosaurs. I didn't. For example, carbon dating does not exist. The actual term is radiometric dating. Dinosaurs behaved a lot more like mammals than like reptiles in some cases. Some of them were in fact warm blooded it's suspected.

I always knew about the asteroid theory for dinosaur extinction, but I didn't realize that volcanoes and flowering plants (which they were not programmed to digest) might have also contributed to their extinction.

Perhaps the saddest thing I learned is that if bird species are largely wiped out by the current man made climate change our planet is undergoing they will be the only species to have undergone two mass extinctions. The first was the cretaceous extinction which killed off the dinosaurs. Now, we're making them do it again. What did these poor little creatures ever do to deserve this? If we keep going in the way we are, our children will no longer be able to (to quote Professor Kricher), "go out and see a live dino by putting out a bird feeder or going to the park and looking at some pigeons." You see, it's a commonly held paleontological fact that some dinosaurs transformed into our modern birds.

I love to learn, and I loved this book. In fact, I'm going to go get more Modern Scholar titles to hopefully revive my withering brain. Thank God I'm a poet. At least I've got that going for me. If I was to sit in a cubicle all day, I'd probably have an IQ of two at this point. My advice to you if your brain is also feeling sadly flabby is to take a class or at least take one on audio book. Your brain will thank you. I'd rate this book an 8 out of 10. Word to the wise - you can't really multi-task with any great effect while listening to something this dense. So put off your pressing email and just absorb some new data.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Review America Offline (Book 10 out of 100)

This book is by A.J. Jacobs of The Year of Living Biblically fame. It’s basically a funny take on the fact that we’re all becoming too connected to computers, especially the Internet. Sir Jacobs, being a satirist by nature, introduces the plugged in generation to real life. While this is meant as a joke, I wonder if it won’t be true in a couple of generations. I’m probably part of one of the last generations in modern American who will remember not having the Internet. I know my kids won’t, especially if they’re disabled because technology can overcome a lot of difficulties that disability presents. I don’t plan to deny them this technology. I do, however, worry about its influence and whether they will stay inside all the time instead of going out and being in nature or engaging in other real life activities.

I think if you need to take a plane, this is your book. It’s only 117 pages long, just perfect for a cross-country flight for fast readers like me. It took me fourteen days to finish the book, but that was because I was reading it to put me to sleep. I have a ritual. Every night before actually going to sleep, I read a real physical book for 10 minutes. I don’t why this works, but it does the trick 90% of the time.

A bit of a warning, however, you shouldn’t read this in mass transit if you’re embarrassed by having strangers see you laugh out loud. Being a liberated woman I have no such problem in this area. I would rate this book 7.5 out of 10. If you’re like me, it makes you ponder a future you may not like, but if you don’t want to think and just want to laugh, it works for that too. This is in direct opposition to movies like Milk which force you to think whether you want to or not.

The Essential Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (book 9 of 100)

I'm not much of a biography fan, but as I told you, my goal with this reading challenge is to expand my knowledge of both authors and genres, not that I expect to be reading an abundance of self-help books ever. to that end, I picked up a copy of The Essential Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at the library. This audio book has 6 discs. Imagine my surprise when the man was already dead at the end of disc 2. What were they going to talk about for the other four discs? To my surprise, this biography was not just a biography, it contained short stories featuring Sir Arthur's most popular characters including Sherlock Holmes and some articles he wrote.

I was rather amazed to learn that Doyle was spiritualist as they called it in his time. Nowadays, we might refer to the person as a hippie or in worst cases a crackpot. From what I can gather, Doyle was, as my mother would say, "A few French fries short of a happy meal."The man actually believed in fairies, psychic phenomenon and other such questionable sciences which is not very likely to be considered science at all according to serious practitioners of the discipline.

Whatever he may have believed, the man was brilliant. As one of his commentators in this books remarked, "Medicine's lost is literature's gain." Doyle was trained as a doctor, but gave it up when he discovered he could earn more money by writing. I was also surprised to learn that he hated Sherlock Holmes, perhaps his most famous character. He felt that Holmes distracted from his more serious works, such as Sir Nigel. Indeed, he felt that his less popular works of historical fiction were, in fact, his greatest. As a writer, I can relate to this feeling. I'll send in what I consider one of my best stories ever and it will receive the same score as a more, I think, mediocre or even crappy story. Writers do not read with the eyes of editors, we cannot know what editors will fancy or not.

My experience with Doyle's biography has led me to plan to read the biographies of other writers whom I consider brilliant. Perhaps they will have some insight as this book has provided me. I rate this book a 6 out of 10. It's not fabulous or life-changing, but it's a perfectly good read, especially, if you like fictional components combined with real biographic text. I think this is they way biographers can attract more readers. If I am lucky enough to achieve enough notoriety in this world to have a biography written about, I'm going to leave instructions to my potential biographers requesting that they include a section of my work as the people who so elegantly put together this book have done.

Book Review: Neanderthal (Book 8 of 100)

As you may remember, I have an obsession with neanderthals. I don't know if it's because they stand the way people with cerebral palsy tend to or if I assume that they communicate using the kind of gestural language I resort to when I'm having a bad speaking day. I never heard of John Darnton, but when I discovered that he had a book about neanderthals written for adults I had to read it.

This is an 11-disc book and it's not an easy read. I would recommend that you have some knowledge of anthropology before you read it because otherwise parts of the book won't make sense to you. However, I was an anthropology major in college, so I was fine.

The main character in this book can get a little confusing after a while. At one point, I thought that Susan's boyfriend was, in fact, the story's asshole. But he turned out to be another character all together. By this I don't mean that he turned out not to be an asshole, but that I had him confused entirely with another person who was the asshole in question.

Interestingly enough, there was a person in a wheelchair in this story. I don't know why we are always either the ultra-good Tiny Tim or some big greedy jerk like Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life." Why can't disabled people ever be normal? There's good and bad in all of us just like there is good and bad in every able-bodied person. But I digress. This is the subject for another column.

The storyline of the book is that basically there is remnant band of surviving neanderthals. These sapiens anthropologists go down to the Himalayas and locate them. Whereupon they're faced with the dilemma of every anthropologist. If you know something bad is going to happen, do you intervene? How do you live with yourself if you don't? How do you live with yourself if you do and everything goes wrong despite your best intentions?

This book will make you think. If not, it's something to curl up with if you're just in a cocoa and good book mood. Unless you're prepared to devote some serious effort, do not engage this book. If you're looking for a serious read that still has plenty of adventure, this might be your novel. I give it an 8 out of 10. Warning, however, if you are listening to this book as opposed to reading it, there's lots of talk about erections and sex, so if that's embarrassing to you or you have lots of people coming in and out of your house, be forewarned. Enjoy!

Book Review: Shadow Puppets (Book 7 of 100)

hadow Puppets is yet another one of Orson Scott Cards seemingly endless series of Ender related stories. I listened to this one on audio book. The interesting thing about this particular novel was that Ender wasnt even in the story as a person at all. Instead, this story focused on the relationship of Bean and Petra, two of my favorite sidekick characters from the more Ender related books in the series. When the novel takes place, Bean and Petra are all grown up or at least older teenagers with all the accompanying hormones. They decide to get married. I think this is because Bean has a genetic impairment which while raising his intellect and physical prowess will also cause him to die early.

As a disability rights activist, I am curious what Card's obsession with disabled people is. Every book has someone with a disability in it especially the Ender books. There was Mauro, El Yado, and now Bean. One might also argue that Mac Street of his Mean Street novel was also disabled. The same could be said for all the kids from Battle School who all became emotionally disabled in some way as a result of what they were put through. Obviously, you do not do that to children and expect them to come out fine psychologically. But, I digress. It is also interesting to note that the bad guy in this particular novel, Ashell (not sure of spelling) is also disabled but seems to, as is atypical for this authors characters, to have let his disability embitter him.

This is a fast paced adventure with many twists and turns. And, if you are a fan of the series, the ending is going to annoy you as much as it annoyed me. It ends at a very crucial moment and you do not know what actually happens. I hate when authors to that, but I guess it is a good way to get you to buy the next book! As I already told you, because of his political views, I never plan to give this person money. I will simply wait for it to come on inter-library loan.

I give this book an eight out of ten. I would have given it a nine if the ending had not annoyed me so much. But, it did so this is the score I am giving it. I hope he answers the question of what happened after the end of this book in Shadow of the Hegemon. I will be most upset if he leaves it hanging. So much so, that I might have to actually write the man a letter.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Writing and Money

I just found out some depressing news. I worked over 45 hours on writing this week; I made a total of $12.97 for the week. That's approximately 28.5 cents an hour. I guess the term "starving artist" really does apply. Happily, at least I made more than Michael Vick, the dog fighting Atlanta Falcons quarterback, made from his jail cell. He gets paid 12 cents an hour. And for the entire last month, according to the article I read last night, he recorded his income at $12.89. This means that I make approximately, at the moment, four time what Michael Vick does. Well, then, I'm not a dog-murdering animal cruelty person, so I guess that can't be too good. Just a random thought I wanted to share with you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Eric Garcia’s Hot and Sweaty Rex (Book 6 of 100)

I read I read Eric Garcia’s Hot and Sweaty Rex, the third and for now, sadly, final chapter of his Rex series. The other’s are Casual Rex and Anonymous Rex. The hero of the tales is Vincent Rubio, a private detective and dinosaur (yes, I said dinosaur). I’m a geek at heart; I also like adventures. In a word, I was game.

In this story, Vincent is on the herb wagon. Dinosaurs don’t get wasted on alcohol; they do herbs, instead. He’s getting out of debt, which is another one of his addictions (being in debt, that is). He’s also in the little problem of working for the dinosaur mob. Dinos have a mob, too.

Vincent is stuck. He somehow lands himself in middle of a mob war. One faction is run by his childhood best friend and his best friend’s sister, who is also his ex-fiancĂ©, who he hasn’t spoken to in 15 years. Long story.

The second mob gang is run by Raptors, Vincent’s breed. Apparently the dinosaurs are as racist as some humans. That’s an overarching theme in all the Rex books. It’s a good lesson for us humans.

Well Vincent and best girl buddy Glenda are suddenly sucked into the Miami dino mob world. Vincent, over all, is not the most violent guy even though he’s a private detective by training. But before you know it, Vincent is getting sucked into mob life. And losing himself!

I enjoyed this book immensely. It’s a fun read, even for those who don’t like detective stories (which I don’t). The dinosaurs add a cool geek dimension. In audio book, its nine CD’s unabridged. It took 2 days to read it.

I this book is an 8/10, 8.5 if you’ve read the other Rex books, which I mostly have, because it builds on the other stories. Although you don’t have to have read the other books to get this one. Happy reading!, the third and for now, sadly, final chapter of his Rex series. The others are Casual Rex and Anonymous Rex. The hero of the tales is Vincent Rubio, a private detective and dinosaur (yes, I said dinosaur). I’m a geek at heart; I also like adventures. In a world, I was game.

In this story, Vincent is on the herb wagon. Dinosaurs don’t get wasted on alcohol; they do herbs, instead. He’s getting out of debt, which is another one of his addictions (being in debt, that is). He’s also in the little problem of working for the dinosaur mob. Dinos have a mob, too.

Vincent is stuck. He somehow lands himself in middle of a mob war. One faction is run by his childhood best friend and his best friend’s sister, who is also his ex-fiancĂ©, who he hasn’t spoken to in 15 years. Long story.

The second mob gang is run by Raptors, Vincent’s breed. Apparently the dinosaurs are as racist as some humans. That’s an overarching theme in all the Rex books. It’s a good lesson for us humans.

Well Vincent and best girl buddy Glenda are suddenly sucked into the Miami dino mob world. Vincent, over all, is not the most violent guy even though he’s a private detective by training. But before you know it, Vincent is getting sucked into mob life. And losing himself!

I enjoyed this book immensely. It’s a fun read, even for those who don’t like detective stories (which I don’t). The dinosaurs add a cool geek dimension. In audio book, its nine CD’s unabridged. It took 2 days to read it.

I this book is an 8/10, 8.5 if you’ve read the other Rex books, which I mostly have, because it builds on the other stories. Although you don’t have to have read the other books to get this one. Happy reading!

One Thousand White Women (Book 5 of 100)

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus is yet another on my list of books that I would actually read under normal circumstances, but I'm trying to broaden my reading tastes in my effort to read 100 books in 2010. After deciding to broaden my reading horizons, for this book especially, I've come to the conclusion that the notebook based rantings of 18th century women are not somewhere typically that my horizons need to encompass.

This is basically the story of a young lady who gets kidnapped and sent to an insane asylum because she likes sex and she has it and two children with a man her family considers unworthy. I always knew those sort of institutions were horrible. We think institutions today are bad but they were nothing like the ones that existed back then. At least today you have some hope of getting out eventually. Back then, however, there was no ombudsman person as there is today. Even though they may or may not care about their job of protecting the patients, at least there is some hope and recourse if you are wronged. It comes as no surprise to me that Miss May Dodd decided, upon given the option, to check herself out of the institution and opt to marry a Native American man. 1,000 white women were promised to be brides of the Cheyenne tribe in exchange for 1,000 horses. That struck me as creepy too. The goal was to make the children of such marriages to be considered as white people because the Native Americans are matriarchal. Given the choice of situations, I might well have decided to marry someone I didn't know too.

Miss Dodd has all manner of adventures in the western territories. But, as is typical of people who later published journals, she doesn't have a good editor's voice. The book was twelve disks long (I read it via audio book). It could have done with about six. In fact, the book doesn't really start picking up until the end of the sixth CD except for a little preface in the beginning which is necessary so that we know how she came to be in this situation. Most of that material is not needed.

The second half of the book, however, is very exciting and horrifying at once. However, the ending leaves much to be desired, and I'm not saying this just because it didn't turn out the way that I wanted it to. It made not sense whatsoever. Are you the kind of writer who reads books and says, "How are they getting published when I'm not?" I am and the end of this book instilled just that feeling in me.

I would say to get this book on audio (because I feel like if you got in regular print you'd go insane flipping through all the dribble). On audio book you can skip the six unnecessary disks and pick up the story with full understanding on disk six. I would rate this book a six and that's only because the second half of it made up (to a degree) for the absolute trash that was the first half. No wonder men of the 18th century said women shouldn't vote. They tended to prattle on so. one would scarcely fault the men for assuming that if they voted we would never make any decisions as a nation. This book is particularly interesting to people who are interested in memoirs or historical fiction (I'm still not clear about whether this book is historical fiction, non-fiction, or a mix of both). It is also of interest to anyone who likes women's history. I typically fall into that category but this book just didn't do it for me. Read it and see what you think. I await your comments. I also don't recommend reading this book at night by yourself because at parts it's extremely frightening and may cause nightmares.

Guinea Pig diaries: My Life is Experiment (Book 4 of 100)

Guinea Pig diaries: My Life is Experiment is the latest work by A.J. Jacobs who is rather famous for his work The Year of Living Biblically. One might be surprised that I like his work as much as I do. He is, after all, a white, able-bodied, homosexual man and I find most of this group's work stereotypically mundane unless it's Shakespeare. Although, whether Shakespeare was straight is a matter of debate that I won't get into here.

There were 6 CDs in this book. Every CD had either 1 or, at most, 2 experiments. You see, that's what A.J. Jacobs does with his life. He gets somebody to pay him to write a book in which he immerses himself in that particular topic. He lives by the bible in The Year of Living Biblically. He memorizes the encyclopedia in Know it all. And he had some kind of internet relationship which I'm not too clear about in his book The Other Net. All these books are en route to me or in my house at the moment and I'm eagerly waiting to review them. For this book, as far as I recall it, A.J. conducted 8 experiments. In the first, he helped his nanny find a boyfriend by signing her up on several internet dating sites and ghostwriting her replies. He says it was to eliminate creeps from her potential pile of suiters which, as a person who has recently become involved in Internet dating, makes me want to rent him. There are some "interesting" people on those websites. His second experiment was to outsource a lot of his personal responsibilities to outsourcing firms in India, one of which charged him $40 and another $1000. If I ever make it really big in the writing world, I am totally going to do this, that way I won't have to devote hours of my life to learning about ridiculous things that editors, for whatever reason, want me to worry about such as ferrets or tide pools (two assignments I actually had). Some nice Indian will do all the research and provide me with an appropriate summary. It's not like they leave out any relevant facts, you just don't have to spend hours worry about them yourself. This leaves you more time for the higher end and more fun aspect of writing, namely actually writing. I did, however, find it slightly creepy when he had his Indian assistant read his kid a bedtime story because he was too busy. I kept thinking how much do you know about this person who now knows your kid? I wonder if he hasn't watched enough Dateline to learn about transnational kidnapping

For chapter 3, he tried something called radical honesty. Apparently this is a concept that has really taken off. In order to comply with it, one must be 100% honest with everyone in life 100% of the time excluding overt officials or, as the creator of the concept stipulates, if you have Anne Frank in your attic and the Nazis come looking her you should lie. I found this concept so interesting that I actually order on a inter-library loan. However, I think if I employ this certain people in my life may never speak to me again. It might be beneficial to a degree for my relationships with my mother and ex-girlfriend. I'll let you know how it goes and what I decide to do. I think I'll consult the book first.

Another one of A.J.'s experiments involves behaving as Washingtonian. That is as possible as in George not the State. Not being much of a history buff, I was not aware that Washington lived by many rules. Some of them make sense to me: Don't be a bad winner, don't spit in public, don't (and here I have to giggle because it was very common among 18th century men) adjust genitalia or underwear in public. Other rules don't make much sense to me including being as expressionless as possible at all times.

I'm not going to describe all of the experiments because I want people to read this book. I do, however have to talk about the last one in some detail because it was so humorous. A.J. Jacobs agreed to let his wife make every decision in the household for a month. personally, I think that I would get tired of making every small decision from where we went to dinner to what movie we saw without any input, but she didn't, so I can't guarantee. One thing A.J. learned, as does every man who does this sort of swap with his wife, is that women always do more of the work than men think. This is true even among egalitarian-minded men. The Jacobs learned a lot about each other. If I ever get involved in a relationship at this level, I'm never going to try this. I think it would be interesting for me because I am such a control freak by nature. I'm quite sure I would learn a lot if I had to give up control for an entire month. Mind you, if I started feeling homicidal toward the person I was with or was being abused, I would halt the experiment and reevaluate whether I still wanted to be in the relationship. Ideally, I think that before two people tie the knot giving up a month of control each with an intervening month to do experiments so there is no residual anger would be a pretty good test.

I rate this book a 9.25 out of ten. I think this is the highest rating I've ever given a book or anything I have ever reviewed on this blog. You should read it and I I think the audio book version will be even more enjoyable. I don't recommend listening to it while driving on a busy highway or you will end up in a situation like A.J. in the multi-tasking experiment. Don't ask, you have to read the book to find out what I mean.

posted by cripfemme at 9:26 PM | add or view comments (0) | leave calling card | link to this | view only this entry
Commentary: It's Funny what Kids Think
When I was a kid, I assumed that I would learn how to walk or die because until I was about 12 I'd never seen a grown-up in a wheelchair. I became very excited when an adult in a wheelchair came on the TV in a commercial. I asked my mother to come into the room, so I could show her this person. She was underwhelmed and asked me didn't I know there were grown-up people like me. I said no and asked where I could go meet some. She looked kind of sad, called my babysitter to take me out, and spent the rest of the afternoon, unbeknownst to me making phone calls to summer camp for kids with disabilities. She made sure they had counselors with disabilities. I think, for a little while, she thought she damaged my psyched by not exposing me to adults with impairments like mine.

When I was a kid I also thought that the only places black people lived were Africa and the U.S. I figured that a couple of them were in other places because after about 1980 they could travel by air to other countries where they remained for long periods. Of course, post-Harry Potter and Youtube as well as having grown up a lot since then, I know that is not the case.

What were the funny things you thought when you were a kid that seem ridiculous now?
is the latest work by A.J. Jacobs who is rather famous for his work The Year of Living Biblically. One might be surprised that I like his work as much as I do. He is, after all, a white, able-bodied, homosexual man and I find most of this group's work stereotypically mundane unless it's Shakespeare. Although, whether Shakespeare was straight is a matter of debate that I won't get into here.

There were 6 CDs in this book. Every CD had either 1 or, at most, 2 experiments. You see, that's what A.J. Jacobs does with his life. He gets somebody to pay him to write a book in which he immerses himself in that particular topic. He lives by the bible in The Year of Living Biblically. He memorizes the encyclopedia in Know it all. And he had some kind of internet relationship which I'm not too clear about in his book The Other Net. All these books are en route to me or in my house at the moment and I'm eagerly waiting to review them. For this book, as far as I recall it, A.J. conducted 8 experiments. In the first, he helped his nanny find a boyfriend by signing her up on several internet dating sites and ghostwriting her replies. He says it was to eliminate creeps from her potential pile of suiters which, as a person who has recently become involved in Internet dating, makes me want to rent him. There are some "interesting" people on those websites. His second experiment was to outsource a lot of his personal responsibilities to outsourcing firms in India, one of which charged him $40 and another $1000. If I ever make it really big in the writing world, I am totally going to do this, that way I won't have to devote hours of my life to learning about ridiculous things that editors, for whatever reason, want me to worry about such as ferrets or tide pools (two assignments I actually had). Some nice Indian will do all the research and provide me with an appropriate summary. It's not like they leave out any relevant facts, you just don't have to spend hours worry about them yourself. This leaves you more time for the higher end and more fun aspect of writing, namely actually writing. I did, however, find it slightly creepy when he had his Indian assistant read his kid a bedtime story because he was too busy. I kept thinking how much do you know about this person who now knows your kid? I wonder if he hasn't watched enough Dateline to learn about transnational kidnapping

For chapter 3, he tried something called radical honesty. Apparently this is a concept that has really taken off. In order to comply with it, one must be 100% honest with everyone in life 100% of the time excluding overt officials or, as the creator of the concept stipulates, if you have Anne Frank in your attic and the Nazis come looking her you should lie. I found this concept so interesting that I actually order on a inter-library loan. However, I think if I employ this certain people in my life may never speak to me again. It might be beneficial to a degree for my relationships with my mother and ex-girlfriend. I'll let you know how it goes and what I decide to do. I think I'll consult the book first.

Another one of A.J.'s experiments involves behaving as Washingtonian. That is as possible as in George not the State. Not being much of a history buff, I was not aware that Washington lived by many rules. Some of them make sense to me: Don't be a bad winner, don't spit in public, don't (and here I have to giggle because it was very common among 18th century men) adjust genitalia or underwear in public. Other rules don't make much sense to me including being as expressionless as possible at all times.

I'm not going to describe all of the experiments because I want people to read this book. I do, however have to talk about the last one in some detail because it was so humorous. A.J. Jacobs agreed to let his wife make every decision in the household for a month. personally, I think that I would get tired of making every small decision from where we went to dinner to what movie we saw without any input, but she didn't, so I can't guarantee. One thing A.J. learned, as does every man who does this sort of swap with his wife, is that women always do more of the work than men think. This is true even among egalitarian-minded men. The Jacobs learned a lot about each other. If I ever get involved in a relationship at this level, I'm never going to try this. I think it would be interesting for me because I am such a control freak by nature. I'm quite sure I would learn a lot if I had to give up control for an entire month. Mind you, if I started feeling homicidal toward the person I was with or was being abused, I would halt the experiment and reevaluate whether I still wanted to be in the relationship. Ideally, I think that before two people tie the knot giving up a month of control each with an intervening month to do experiments so there is no residual anger would be a pretty good test.

I rate this book a 9.25 out of ten. I think this is the highest rating I've ever given a book or anything I have ever reviewed on this blog. You should read it and I I think the audio book version will be even more enjoyable. I don't recommend listening to it while driving on a busy highway or you will end up in a situation like A.J. in the multi-tasking experiment. Don't ask, you have to read the book to find out what I mean.

posted by cripfemme at 9:26 PM | add or view comments (0) | leave calling card | link to this | view only this entry
Commentary: It's Funny what Kids Think
When I was a kid, I assumed that I would learn how to walk or die because until I was about 12 I'd never seen a grown-up in a wheelchair. I became very excited when an adult in a wheelchair came on the TV in a commercial. I asked my mother to come into the room, so I could show her this person. She was underwhelmed and asked me didn't I know there were grown-up people like me. I said no and asked where I could go meet some. She looked kind of sad, called my babysitter to take me out, and spent the rest of the afternoon, unbeknownst to me making phone calls to summer camp for kids with disabilities. She made sure they had counselors with disabilities. I think, for a little while, she thought she damaged my psyched by not exposing me to adults with impairments like mine.

When I was a kid I also thought that the only places black people lived were Africa and the U.S. I figured that a couple of them were in other places because after about 1980 they could travel by air to other countries where they remained for long periods. Of course, post-Harry Potter and Youtube as well as having grown up a lot since then, I know that is not the case.

What were the funny things you thought when you were a kid that seem ridiculous now?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review: The Darwin Conspiracy (Book 3 of 100)

The Darwin Conspiracy is not the sort of book I'd pick up normally. I think I chose it because I have been obsessed of late with neanderthals. Part of me hoped the book would be about that. Sadly it wasn't. The novel tells the story of Hugh, an evolutionary biology grad student, who is dealing with the death of his much adored younger brother years prior to the story beginning Intermingling with that story is the story of Darwin himself using, at times, his own words and his oft forgotten daughter Elizabeth. Mixing history and fiction rather artfully, John Darnton manages to construct a semi-believable tale, especially given Victorian morality.

I listened to the book in audio format. It's 10 discs long and it could, in my opinion, stand to be about 7. Apparently, Mr. Darnton had never heard of an editor, those people whose profession it is to keep authors for rambling on unnecessaily. The book really picked up around disc 6 in the unabridged version. I was really surprised by the ending. I'm invite my readers to inform me should they read this book whether they are more clever detectives than I am because the ending was completely unpredictable. I don't find this to be typical of mystery books of any sort. I usually get it around page 85 of a 200 page novel. The fact that I didn't get it is one of the reasons that I'm pushing this book above mid-range in my ranking system.

I give this book a 7 out of 10. As I said before, the author needs to hire a better editor. But if you can get past the verbosity, it's a good read for train ride or long car trip. I would also recommend it to anyone who wants to advocate atheism without being seen as obnoxious. I was a person of faith when I began this book and finish it as one. However, the arguments in the book did give me pause. That's something that, as my atheist friends would explain, is difficult to achieve.

Book Review: Robinson Crusoe (book 2 of 100 for 2010)

I saw Robinson Crusoe as a TV series and loved it. So I was eager to read the an unabridged version by Daniel Defoe on CD. But I was most unhappy with the audio book. It kind of the ramblings of a crazy man, who's been without human contact. For most of the first 6 CD's he talks just to us "the audience". Friday, the black man servant, is a good addition to Robinson's lonely life. I'm very sorry that his wife and the rest of the storyline from the TV series are made up by Hollywood. This is very much like The Running Man or Total Recall, two of my favorite sci-fi movies ever, are so different from the books they are supposed to be based on, this writer doesn't understand how her fellows can allow their work to be manipulated thusly, although in Defoe's case he's long dead.

Normally, I hate abridged versions of books, but I think this story could've been told in 4 CD's rather than 9 I received when I borrowed the book from the library. I also don't much like slavery or brown people being rescued by white people, but I do not think that Robinson is your typical master. He remains me of Qui-Gon Jinn (of Star Wars) who rescued Jar Jar Binks (also of Star Wars)., who afterward was life in debt to Qui-Gon. I wonder if George Lucas thought of this when he was writing his opus.

I rate this classic take a 5/10. Defoe's sentences are crazy run ons. This may be the one good lesson I learned from this book. I have the same tendancy with the craft as Defoe, namely run on sentances. I am going to go to bed near three in the morning, with this awful tale. But I am so close to being done with this I figure I might as well finish this book.

Book Review: Flash Forward (book 1 of 100 for 2010)

One of my lastest quests to read/review 100 books in 2010. All the reviews are here.

I really loved this book by Robert J. Sawyer. It's based on a TV series that I started watching when I still had cable. It's a really awesome basis for a TV series. I am up at 3 in morning listening to tales of Theo, Lloyd, and the rest of the crew of physicists I've become attached to. An odd thing for a person whose never really been attached to physics as a field.

Flash forward is a physics novel, but it's a truly human interest book. Read it; you'll like it, It's got love, mystery, time travel, something for everybody, It's the tale of what happens when humanity, as a whole, gets a 2 minute view of their collective future 21 years in the future. Will Lloyd marry his dream girl, even though he knows it won't last? Will Theo be murdered by a stranger for reasons he can't figure it out? What will this "event" do to humanity? Who will hold on to dreams? Who will stop dreaming forever?

These are the questions the book will leave you pondering. Or, at least the things it left me pondering. I score it 8.25 out of 10, which may seem low for a book a liked, but is a true and honest rating as some parts of the book simply don't hold their own, while other parts are awesome beyond understanding.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Purpose

This is the public blog for all the extra stuff that runs around in my head, but doesn't fit into my other public blogs or my role as an Examiner. I may re-post the best columns from my membership only blog on Blogit.com. Not to worry, Blogit members, there will be lots of new content, too. At first, I thought zoomley.com was the ideal place to park these items. However, writers be warned, I found that site to be a scam.

I'll spend the next few days uploading my most interesting posts. This should be fun. I've never had a "dumping ground" public blog before. I really wanted to name this blog "The Dumping Ground", but the name was already taken.