Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reminders of Luminescence

"My name is Malcolm. I'm 7 years old. I'm sending you this money because I don't think it's fair that gay people are not treated equally." According to an e-mail from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in this morning the note we received recently with a donation from Malcolm after his grandmother gave him $20 for each year of his life to donate to charity. If a 7 year old can help other people, why can't we all put aside a little money for that purpose. I don't know who you have Malcom, but you made me smile and made my day, You made me believe in our humanity as a civilization; something that recent governmental actions (such as President Obama's not signing onto MiCASSA after he promised the disability community that he would do so- and we voted for him due to said promises).

I say into you, Sir Malcom, who is wise far beyond his seven years, thank you more than you can know. Too often, we are convinced that the world is awful (even those of us who are naturally optimistic).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Book Review: The Paris Option (book 20 of 150)

Dr. Martin 'Marty' Joseph Zellerbach again returns as a main character in this book. He is the victim of an explosion that also targets fellow computer genius Emile Chambord. Like before, he is very functional accept for the coma he begins the book in, despite his severe autism.

We also see Peter Howl and Randi Russell again. This is a thankful change of pace from the bioterrorism angle and for that I'm grateful. But I'm not much of a computer person (and certainly don't understand what on Earth a DNA computer is) and the book doesn't really do that good of a job of explaining actually what it was. I hate when technology novels do that. I'm a writer and know that such exposition takes up precious pages, but it is necessary to make one's readers happy.

This book has lots of twists and turns and I liked it in a somewhat confused way. It's a 6.5!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Review: The Cassandra Coompact (book 19 of 150)

The second book in the Covert One Series is called The Cassandra Compact. It featured John Smith, Peter Howell, and Randi Russell (although Randi and Peter have tiny parts). The plot was a little too similar to The Hades Factor for me, but in this case the bio-terrorist nut is an American patriot in the military. He wants to reengineer small pox as a bio-weapon for use against American enemies. And we thought Bush II was crazy?! I really hope that all this novels in the series are not about bio terrorism; you can only read so many novels about that without getting bored, no matter how neat the characters are.

I rate this book a 7. Mostly because the characters were neat. I like like Megan, the astronaut, and Sasha, the teenage hacker. I hope that both will have other appearances in the series. It's worth a read, although you might find it a bit boring after you read The Hades Factor, as I was, but it was fun to revisit those characters that I'd met and enjoyed.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book Review: Wired (book 18 of 150)

Wired is the last book in the Skinned trilogy. Skinned is the story of former rich bitch Lia Kahn and her adventures at becoming a cybernetic organism. In this final story (and I'm so sad for that), Lia must save her people the mechs (other cybernetic people, often with disabilities that are incurable. That's why they download into new, immortal bodies, from a horrible plot to kill them all, by normal humans.

This book was very fast paced. It had twists and turns that kept me not sure which way was up. There were sad moments, happy moments, and downright shocking moments (the whole Zoe thing; Oh, my God). The ending was very dissatisfying. I hope that the predicted ending is true, but I'm not so sure. The Quinn and Ani thing was kind of resolved in a positive direction, but again because the end was so unclear, I can't sure about that.

I rate this book an 8.5 out 10. Would've earned a 9.75 had Ms. Wasserman (and her editor) come up with a better ending for Lia. I'm sad, because I really loved this character. She deserved better than this!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: Earth Abides (Book 17 out of 150)

East Abides is a post-Apocalyptic, illness induced novel. I believe over 95% of the world’s population has died over some unknown illness. Isherwood (Ish) Williams is a grad student and scholar who survives because (he thinks) of a rattle snake bite.

Ish discovers that is not alone in the world. He meets Em who he marries, and has kids. They form a “tribe” with Ezra and George that is what remains of San Francisco humanity . The language was really pretty and the end of civilization is pretty big topic.

Things that made me sad. Certain things were of the old world. Romantic love (because there were not enough people to choose from and we needed to breed) and intellect (because there was no one to teach and only Ish valued intellect) were among them.

It was also weird to see a post-Apocalyptic novel set in 1949. Terminator, the Postman and other novels/movies of that kind of all set in the modern era. It’s weird to think of a world with no civil tights movement, gay rights movement, and so on.

As a person with a disability, I was kind of horrified that they kept denying the sex-rights of Evie, the developmentally disabled woman whose impairments may have been the result of childhood trauma of “the big disaster” or may have been inborn. They were also very nice to the old Ish. Part of me wonders how they would treat a mentally aware person with a disability, like me.

I rate the book a 7.5. Maybe I’d like it better if I was more into post-Apocalyptic fiction, but I’m not.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Book Review: The Year My Mother Left (Book 16 out of 150)

This the story of a boy whose mother leaves him at the age of nine. He deals with abandonment (she doesn't call or see him for years), step parents, real parents who are not in either case, in my opinion, all that stable. This standard, not so standard, coming of age tale (because we are so used to dads leaving rather than moms).

It's hard to write a book when a main character grows between the ages 9-13. As a writer, I know that's difficult. The thing that is really heartbreaking is that it is a fiction retelling of the author's actual childhood. Poor boy! This book is for readers of age about 11&up. You will relate to this young boy, especially if you have grown up in a divorced household.

I rate this book an 8, as I said great books for divorced kids (or parents for a description of how not to behave when divorcing).

Commentary: My First 15 books of 2011

I have finished my first 15 books. Of the titles, there was only one book by a woman. I’ve been reading a lot of James Patterson. I read the whole Daniel X series and started the Woman’s Murder Club series both of which are by James Patterson. I discovered Julius Lester, a neat African-American author who lives locally. I have also discover Daniel H. Wilson and Bill Bryson, who I will happily read more titles by,

Still I wonder what sort of feminist reads only one book by a woman. Even the 4 books I’ve started for the next 10th are written by men. I don’t really know what my literary choices mean. Perhaps not as much as I think.

Book Review: Cupid (Book 15 out of 150)

Any Latin student, ever, knows the story of Cupid and Psyche. I’m no exception. I like, every other former teenage hopeless romantic, enjoyed the familiar tale. My adult self especially liked Julius Lester’s 2007 version.

I like the fact that it was such African-American voiced tale with lots of African moments. Too often, love stories are very white. As if black people never have everything to do with love, at least not the real kind.

I am like the fact that Cupid was virgin who had never been in love until Psyche. I guess I never envisioned Cupid that way. Nor as such a mama’ boy (always a problem for everyone be the the mama’s boy or the person who is love with them).

I like Psyche, she’s eventually a strong person who fights for what she wants. Once she figures out what that is. Cupid eventually learns to do that, as well, as every person must.
I love this book. It’s good for adolescents. I rate a 9 out of 10. It’s a good Valentine’s Day treat!

Book Review: Daniel X: Demons and Druids (Book 14 out of 150)

The latest Daniel X book, thus far the final volume in the series, (the next one comes out in September) was really interesting. In this story Daniel takes on Phosphorius Beta (#3 on the alien baddie list who is fire itself). This book took place in London, which was a nice change, from his typical American high school student existence.

I'm pleased to say that Daniel grow up a lot in this book. I am also pleased to report that I am not sure that Daniel's friends (Willy, Jo, Emma, and Dana) might not be made up by Daniel. This gives me hope for Daniel future, especially the love life portion.

I rate this book an 8. It was a fun read. Great for adolescent boys, but also contains strong girls, which is good for adolescent boys to be aware of. I always like books that show boys that girls are more than ornaments or eye candy.

Book Review: Daniel X: Watch the Skies (Book 13 out of 150)

The second Daniel X adventure was better than the first, Much more fast paced. My housemate said the writing was horrible, but I a disagree and I'm the reviewer so there. In this story, Daniel must confront a fish like alien who is using technology to control humanity and turn them into reality show.

Poor Daniel also still cannot get a girl, although at least the one he found in this story is real and not alien, but he had to erase her memory of him, even though she begs to come on his alien ass kicking duties. Such is life for the boy alien hunter! I rater this book an 8.5. One scene (when he and #5 baddie are in combat is slightly gross) but it's fun read for all ages nonetheless.

Movie Review: Going the Distance

This the perfect date movie. It tells the story of Erin (a Stanford journalism grad student) and Garret (a frustrated record label employee). Erin is finishing her summer internship and Garrett has just gotten out of a long term relationship. They only get 6 weeks before Erin goes back to school. At first, they decide that the 6 week thing id fine, but the course of true love never did run smooth or have good timing,

So they decide to make a go of the whole long distance thing. This leads to many flights back and forth, a failed attempt at phone sex, and an "oh,my God, we're caught moment" on her sister's dinning room table.

Being in a kind of long distance relationship myself, this movie made me think of what you do and do not do for love. Even though, it made me a bit melancholy and sort of committed to dealing with my own relationship, it's a good flick. I rate an 8.5/10. Curl up with your beloved and enjoy!

Book Review: In Sunburned Country (Book 12 out of 150)

This book made me want to go Australia again, even though they have a lovely (not) strike of homophobia. Bill Bryson is a new writer I'm into. It sounds like a nice place. I really want to visit the stirmatilites (not sue of spelling), a kind of living rock that began life. I also want to visit the aborigines and learn about their cultures, especially hoe they handle people with disabilities. I was horrified to learn that aboriginal children were removed from their families, because it was thought that their parents wouldn't miss them (what?!).

Even though Australia has a lot of political problems and many poisonous whatevers. There are 14 kinds of poisonous snakes (and the top ten are all in the country). There are also lots of sea creatures that can kill you, even sea shells can kill you!1 I want to go and see it because as Bill Bryson says traveling is a deal to "see things while you still can". I want to see the many unusual animals that are only in Australia, before they go extinct. I also really want to see the Bungle bungles (not sure of spelling).

All of Australia is not nice. In fact, there are some hotels that including to author, he would sooner have bowel surgery in the woods with a stick" than stay in again. There are vast amount of just nothing zones, where people put up large things for people to look at, such as oversize lobsters and bananas. Still Bryson made me want to visit Australia again. That's no short order.

I like Bill Bryson. I've ordered another of his books. He's funny! His book made me chortle at 3am. I rate it 9 out of 10.

Book Review: Contagion (Book 11 out of 150)

Robyn Cook is a big name in the popular fiction genres; to my surprise the author is also a he. This story also deals with scary, medical outcomes. The main character is a man who starts as John and becomes Jack as a result of a tragedy. It deals with a topic I find intriguing- big pharma!

There is something wrong at the huge Americare hospital. Suddenly, there is an epidemic of weird diseases attacking the most “costly” patients. But this book has a twist and the villain is not the hospital after all. However, I will not reveal it… Firstly, because I do not do that as a rule in book reviews. Secondly, because I’m not sure I understand the twist.

Indeed, I skipped an entire tape side, without even realizing it, because it was all exposition. As I writer, I tell you that if you can eliminate a whole cassette side without your reader noticing, you need a better editor! This book as enjoyable, brilliant characters, even if the storyline was a bit meandering. A 7 0f 10. All criticism aside, I’ll give Cook another try.

Book Review: The Hades Project (book 10 of 150)

This is the first book in the Covert One Series. I'm not usually into spy novels, but I love a good medical thriller and spy novels are growing one me. In this tale, this is a cool autistic guy, a doctor who loves his country, and a plot that doesn't seem a that far from the the reality.

Dr. John loves and works with Sophia, a scientist They are both virologists. They are trying to solve a mega murdering virus. When Sophia is killed by the bad guy (he injected her with the virus). John is beside himself and the hunt for vengeance. Never piss off that guy! If he were a real person there is no way I would annoy him.

My favorite sub characters are Marty (autistic guy/computer genius) and Peter (London ex- I think-spy). I'm looking forward to seeing John and hopefully Marty and Peter again in the next books. I'm also hoping that John and Randi, Sofia's look-a-like sister, will get together. I think the now dead Sophia will like it,

I rate this book an 8.2. It's way better than your standard government/spy type novel. It's a great, typical (but not so typical) spy novel. It's more fun; lots of plot twists. Read it with a grin!

Book Review: Daniel X (book 9 of 150)

Another James Patterson Book, this one is about Daniel a 15-year-old Earth, or so he thinks, boy. He saw his parents murdered at 3 and needs to kick alien ass regularly. He can create things including his best friends. His job is to kill off aliens on this list, who are after Earth. You'll love Daniel. I do. I already ordered his next story. After that, there's one more (so far).

I'd rate this book an 8. Join Daniel in discovering himself and having magical adventures. No matter how old you are you'll find something of yourself in this not so American all American boy!

Book Review: Mary, Mary (book 8 of 150)

I have never read a James Patterson book, although I know who he is and had of course heard of his famous Alex Cross character. In this 11th book, Dr. Cross (a profiler works for the FBI and lives in DC). He also is a bit of a player (his co-worker named Jam, a California detective named Jean, and a doctor named Kayla all want him).

In addition to being a famous detective, he is a dad of three- Damon (13), Jemy (11), and Ali (3). He is involved in a nasty custody battle. His ex-wife is, I think, a bit bipolar, which makes me worry about her parenting ability.

He is on vacation when Hollywood elites begin to get murdered and he can't resist getting involved, even though he promised his kids and Nana Mama (the grandmother who raised him since 10) that this vacation. There is a big plot twist at the end, which kept up until 5 in the morning, because I couldn't bare no to know the end.

I rate this book an 8.7. I'm totally going to read the rest of them (18 more titles). They will make a dent in my 150 book total.

Movie review: The Ten

This was a weird little movie. It was supposed to be vignettes about the ten commandments, and the stories somehow interrelate, but it's in no way funny. Prison rape, nuclear accidents, and animated lying rhinos aren't my thing, but I guess someone liked it.

The bonus features are even stupider than the movie. The only I liked was the bass player who played music throughout the commentary. I like about 5% of this movie. And I am not saying that because I'm an offended person of faith. In fact, one of the few skits I kind of liked featured a an actor playing Jesus, the actual Jesus.

I rate this movie a 1 of 10. The people who like it must think jackass is highbrow material. Do not rent!

Pride and Prujudice and Zombies (Book 7 of 150)

I'm not much of a zombie fan. That's my ex-assistant Amy's thing. But I like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It was cute; a world in which ladies in petticoats kick lots of ass. It's set in the world of Pride and Prejudice (as in Jane Austen's frilly world).

I wonder if the original version which I'm now going to read. I wonder if Lydia is going to be that silly in the original. I'm terribly curious out the Lady Catherine and Darcy's sister without the zombies as a background. What can the plot be about? I wonder what parts will me recognizable from reading this version?

I like the fact that someone renovated a classic novel. It was funny. I rate it an 8.2, a high rating considering that I don't like zombie movies or books.

Book Review: How to Survive a Robot Uprising (Book 6 or 100)

This is a funny little book in 3 CDs, but the author of Where's My Jetpack? I'm really coming to like Daniel H. Wilson's writing. Perhaps he will be the discovery of this reading cycle. This book is very funny, but does make you think of how much of our lives are given over to machines and technology. Basically, we're toast if our artificial friends ever decide to turn on us.

While this book may sound paranoid to some, it actually has good points, which I admit to not following. I do sign up for sweepstakes. I am a member of a ton of reward clubs. My information is everywhere. Due to being in a wheelchair, I am transit dependent and can't simply go live in the woods. However, you can bet your bottom dollar that as Emma Goldman said, if the robots or other crazies come to my neighborhood looking to rumble ,"there is going to be a ruckus and I am going to be in it."

I rate this book a 8/10. It's funny. You might learn something that will help you in life, if not with robots, with privacy issues, a thing many people are dealing with nowadays.

Book review Midnight (book 5 of 150)

Midnight is a story of a FBI agent, a documentary film maker a clever little girl and a disabled person.who all must unite to prevent a horrible thing from befalling a peaceful New Eengland town. As I like clever little girls and people in wheelchairs who are not helpless you can probably figure out that I liked the book.Although I was a bit breathless at the end and I have tried to determine whether harry would shoot himself even though i knew he didn't have too. I am not going to tell you a lot of plot details because it will ruin the story and you need to read it but I will will tel you that this book is definitely worth your time especially if you have somewhat alienated teenagers living in your house.That being said I don't endorse what Sam did to his sons record collection but I understand that and may have done it myself if I was put in that situation.

A favorite element in this story for me was the character of moose who was a service dog. In case you don't know what service dogs are they help people with disabilities be independent.I rate this book a 8.5 out of 10. I don't recommend you read it right before bed because it is a little creepy.

Book Review: Making Rounds with Oscar (book: 4/150)

As you know I'm a big nursing home opponent but Making Rounds with Oscar the story of a nursing home cat who is capable of predicting when patients are going to die. Made me think that all of them might not be evil. Oscar lives in Steer House, a nursing home in Rhodie Island where he supports people who have severe dementia. He is one of 8 cats at the facility.

About 3 years ago people have been getting reported that Oscar was hanging out with patients hours before they died. Doctor David Dosa, being a man of science, didn't believe this until he started talking to family members of those that Oscar sat with and saw with his own eyes. What came out in the end was this book which is very emotional and difficult to read at times, especially for me when you get to the story of the Rubinsteins.

I felt most sorry for Ida, who was in the nursing home because Rhodie Island either just doesn't offer good home care or she's not aware or it. Part of me wants to go find Ida and import her to Massachusetts where she can get good services.

Things I'm still not sure about that this book says:

1. People are about to die do not feel hungry and therefore not inserting a feeding tube is not cruel. I don't know about this i always thought starving to death would be unpleasant whether i was about to die or not.
2. Well I'm not a huge fan euthanasia i am now beginning to wonder if for some people it might be an OK choice provided of course that they know personally know of things like home care and power wheelchairs. As this is most often not the case i think i can delay thinking about this for a while.

Things this book said that i agree with:

1. Medicare should pay for home care. Medicaid does. I'm very lucky that i have became disabled before i turned 62 because im eligible. If you become disabled after your medicaid eligible your screwed because medicaid won't help you stay in your house even thought science says that its better for you because your surrounded by familiar things and people.
2. Dementia is a very scary thing. It's the one disability (other than severe MCS) that I'd have trouble dealing with. I can't imagine not being able to help direct my own care.
3. If it's a choice between the ICU or Oscar. I'd choose to die with Oscar if I knew the ICU wasn't going to help any, anyway. Better yet, I choose to die in my own house with my friends, my assistants, my family, my own pets.

I rate this book an 8/10. It made me question some long held beliefs. That's always a good thing.

Book review: Sealed with a Kiss (3/150)

In a continuation of Cross My Heart this time focusing on Hunter and Molly although Ty and Lacy do make an appearance. Hunter who has progressed seriously as a result of Molly leaving him must put aside his feelings and defend her father from unjust murder charges and hes the best lawyer in New York and Connecticut. This is a hard cell for any man. much less one who has spent the last 8 months living in and eating out of take out boxes and sleeping with anything that wore a skirt, but I think it was even harder for Molly to approach him giving what she has done to him.

There are a lot of funny characters in this book my favorites are Ollie the parrot, and Jesse (Molly's bratty new half sister who is 15). I also like that there wasn't anywhere near as much sex in this book because i think a lot of romances rely on it to much. I'm sorry but there's more to romance than getting it on, but i think that one of the main factors that made this book work is that you couldn't have random sex at ever corner when you have a 15 year old in the house.

I rate this book 7 1/2/10. Once again it was one of those book that kept me company when i was feeling under the weather especially when my typist didn't show up and I was bored. I recommend this book for days that your not feeling like thinking a lot, or your just having one of those days that your just curled up with a blanket. This is even mostly safe listening to on audio book when you know you don't have to be afraid to answer the door. Because there's sex every second. Lately I'm sad to report that this is the last Ty and Hunter book. I actually really like these guys. There responsible representations of your typical American man, not some crazy island romeo like you find in too many of these romance novels.

Book review: Travel Writing (book 2/150)

Travel Writing by Peter Ferry is one of those books I'm not sure is fact or fiction or somewhere in between? It tells a story about a man also named Peter Ferry,which adds on to my confusion and his weird adventures, trying to find love and find out the cause of a car accident which he has come obsessed with due to the fact he witnessed it.

Ferry,the character, is very much like Ferry the author because their both travel writers. I am not sure if the author is a high school teacher, but the character is. His description of his students is very comical and reminds me of mine. I won't go so much into the plot as it would be hard to explain is a short review. But everything works out alright in the end.

I rate this book a 6 1/2/10. It dragged in parts but parts were really interesting such as the travel logs and the description of Thailand it kept me good company while i was sick.