Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination: Helen Fielding

From the author of "Bridget Jone's Diary", this was another slapstick comedic novel. To Olivia, everything in life is dramatic and she imagines worst case scenarios for everything+. Then she actually lands upon a case of terrorism. As a journalist, she is sent to Miami to cover a skin care product and falls for a man she believes to be Osama Bin Laden. He isn't. He is however planning an attack on the Academy Awards presentation. This novel follows her adventures from journalist to becoming a spy for M16. It is all very unlikely, but since the character is such a mess you tend to go along with it.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

And Only to Deceive: Tasha Alexander

Emily, a woman who married right as she reached marrying age, became a widow 6 months later. The story is about learning who Phillip, her husband was and uncovering the mystery. She becomes obsessed with wanting to know what her husband was doing with the boxes of Greek antiques she found in the house and becomes as interested in Greek history as he was. She begins reading his journals and finds threatening notes claiming Phillip was in "grave danger". Two men try to become suitors around the time someone starts following her. One of the men, Colin, is her husband's best friend and the other, Andrew, is interested in some papers of her husband's. He claims he wants to publish them and give Philip the credit he deserves. Soon news of her husband possibly being alive reaches her and she heads to Africa to find him. She tells Andrew she will fund the expedition. In the end she finds out there is a scheme going on where artifacts are being stolen from museums and replaced with fakes. Her husband was devoted to gathering them up to reinstate in the Museums after exposing the fraud. Emily comes near to death trying to determine who is the villain and falls in love with the other. This isn't normally the sort of book I would pick up, but it was very enjoyable because the heroine was sensible.

This Side of Paradise: Scott Fitzgerald

This novel is about Amory Blaine, a boy born to a wealthy family, and how he drops in the world. As a child Amory is arrogant and egocentric. He meets Monsignor Darcy, a suitor of his mother’s turned clergyman, who encourages Amory because he sees his potential. After reaching adulthood Amory embraces his unlikeable qualities and enters Princeton. He falls in love several times, most deeply with a woman who wants to marry into money, and he didn't have enough. He also falls deeply in love with his widowed cousin. His most traumatic relationship was with Eleanor Savage, who, when the relationship ended, rode her horse off a cliff and jumped off at the last minute. In the end, after the war, his mother's death, and trouble staying employed, he realizes he is broke. When he has nothing and doesn't want to work for it, he becomes a socialist. At the end of the book he states that he knows himself, but that is all. It is sort of an unsatisfying ending, because we don't know what he will do with this knowledge. He has fell from great heights from his own self-thought importance and finds out his is simply a man.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Even: Andrew Grant

This Author is the brother of author Lee Child and his books are even more intense and unpredictable. The protagonist, David Trevellyan, is a mix of MacGyver and James Bond, which makes the things he figures out very unbelievable. David works for the intelligence agency in England and is framed for killing an undercover FBI agent. After escaping from custody several times he finds a masochistic woman giving the orders to kill homeless men. She is involved in a social security scam. She’s captured, she escapes, and more of the story uncovers another corrupt deal involving an ex-military man who is making money by harvesting human organs. The two criminals team up and end up killing David's coworker and friend. The novel constantly switches focus and keeps you reading, but it seems farfetched that the main character is THAT amazing.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Grass: Sheri S. Tepper

This was a Science Fiction Novel, that reminded me a lot of Dune though it was nothing like dune, other than people have spread throughout the galaxy to several planets in different stages of livability. A couple is chosen to be "ambassadors" to a planet that was very closed off to visitors. Their secret motive is to determine if the plague that has swept through the other planets is also at Grass. If no cases are found they are to determine if there is a cure. Once on the planet they find it stranger than they could imagine. The bourgeois class seems to be controlled by a local animal that is similar to our horses. The story is unpredictable and the reader is drawn into the book because there are so many things happening and one is not sure how they will connect. Complexity is added when the missing daughters of the elite class start appearing in the local town as a shell of themselves. I am not a huge fan of fantasy novels, but this one was actually very interesting.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Enemy: Lee Child

This is the first book I read from this author and was very impressed. It is a novel about military life. The protagonist, Reacher, is part of the military police and is quickly transferred to a new station. Once he gets there he learns important people throughout the military are being relocated as the Berlin Wall comes down. Suddenly he called on to investigate a deceased soldier, who died at a motel from a heart attack. After learning his schedule, the soldier's appearance at the hotel off the beaten track is questioned and Reacher investigates. The novel was fast paced and action packed. I normally don't like novels where the character's lives are intermingled with the book, but it didn't seem to take anything away from the novel in this case. While on the job Reacher learns his mother is dying from cancer and in the end she does die, in France without her family. Reacher and his brother learn their mother was part of the WWII resistance and she had actually killed a boy when she was just a child. The story continues when Reacher falls for his assistant "summer" in a "James Bond" way. Reacher solves the several odd murders that take place and realizes the "bad apples" are at different levels in the army, and the person at the top responsible for covering up the murders may never come to light.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Big Bad Wolf: James Patterson

Alex Cross is going through his FBI classes when he is put on a human trafficking case. Several women have gone missing, but it seemed like no one took it seriously until the wife of a judge is taken because of her likeness to a famous model. The story goes back and forth between Alex's love life (which doesn't add anything to the book and frankly I found an annoying interruption) and the case. After several statements on how messed up the FBI and CIA are I got annoyed and thought "can we move on please, yes I understand you have an ax to grind". In the end those who are still alive are rescued, but some victims were killed. The smuggling ring ended up including only a few people, the person at top was a surprise. The clients were as twisted as the people caring out the kidnappings, though not all were killers. The story itself may have been good, but it was as though the author didn't think they had enough to make a book and had to add more to it. I left the book at an airport somewhere, hoping someone else would find something good in it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

W is for Wasted: Susan Grafton

Kinsey is asked to investigate the death of a homeless man. His friends didn't seem to know much about his past. I found it odd how much detective work Henry did while Kinsey was away when he didn't even know the people involved. Kinsey ends up being related to the bum who left his fortune to her instead of his children. She then uncovers he was involved in a medical experiment that had gone wrong, which left another detective dead. It was an interesting book where you didn't know how things were going to come together until the end.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane: Kate Dicamillo

This was a cute children's book teaching resilience and humbleness. A china rabbit doll belonged to a wealthy little girl. He gets accidentally gets tossed into the ocean during one of their journeys. He spends time with a fisherman's family, in the dump, with a homeless man and then with a little girl who eventually dies from tuberculosis? He ends up learning that love is more important than wealth. After he sits in a shop for a long time, a little girl picks him out; she ends up being the daughter of his first little girl.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Last Days of the Incas: Kim MacQuarrie

This was a devastating historical book pieced together by both the Spaniard's and the Inca's account of what happened when the Spanish conquered Peru. The story goes from the Spaniards on their horses and disease wiping out thousands of natives to the Incas having victories. Their downfall seemed to be the divided nation, if factions of the natives didn't help the conquistadors most of them would have perished. The Spaniards also had a seemingly endless supply of men that kept getting shipped there from Spain. I was surprised to learn of how many Incan Kings were deceived and murdered by the conquistadors. I hadn’t realized how many family lines were wiped out. It was also interesting to learn the differences in the way the different tribal nations fought and dressed, and that the Amazonians were never “conquered”. The Incan victories were also impressive with how they used their landscape to their advantage, using the hills and causing flooding. I liked that the book didn't end with the last Incan stand, but with Brigham Young's rediscovery of Machu Picchu. This sent the message that the Incas are still alive today and in their native valleys and living alongside the Spanish descendants in the big cities.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Inca and Spaniard Pizarro and the Conquest of Peru: Albert Marrin

This book was very depressing, I am not one for violence, but I kept rooting for the Inca to destroy the Spaniards. This book gives a brief history of how the Incas came to power. It then describes Pizarro's upbringing and his journey in finding "the city of gold" It is mind boggling how many times Pizarro could have been killed before even reaching the Incas. It makes you wonder what history could have been. I hadn't realized the Civil war between the Incan brothers was due to the death of their father, who was killed by the Eurpoean diseases Pizarro brought to their land. Pizarro's conquering destroyed all of South America. They killled most of the llamas in the country off, just to eat their brain, throwing the meat away. If they wanted the wool, instead of shearing the llama, they would just kill it. The violence and mind set of the Spaniards made me sick.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Genghis Khan: Enid Goldberg

I am really liking this series (Wicked History) for teens, though each author writes their book in a slightly different voice. This book covered the life of Genghis Khan; though little is known about his life since there was only one book found that mentioned his early life. He didn't allow any pictures of himself so there are also different interpretations on his appearance. This was very interesting. It seems like a lot of famous brutes came from humble beginnings.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Robespierre; Master of the Guillotine: John DiConsiglio

This was another interesting history book for teens in the "Wicked History" series. This one was about Robespierre. I hadn't realized he started his career of the reign of terror as a lawyer representing the poor. If it weren't for him King Louis and Marie Antoinette probably wouldn't have been murdered. The number of people killed during this time was mind blowing.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Living Through The Mexican American War: John Diconsiglio

This was a very interesting history book for targeted age- 5th grade. I was impressed with how much history was in this little book (67 pages) and that it was interesting the entire time. I hadn't realized how the United States just took the land, as well as New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, and the rest of Colorado and Wyoming. I wish it would have touched on what happened to all of the Native Americans that lived in these areas, but I guess we already know. I also hadn’t grasped how many people Mexico lost during the war-50,000 men, as well as half their land. I was glad to learn that there were people who were against the war, including President Lincoln. Another piece of history we can be ashamed of.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Bridge of San Luis Rey: Thorton Wilder

This was a short book, but guaranteed to cause depression. I didn't expect a book about a bridge collapse in Peru, which claimed five lives, to be a particularly uplifting read, but was surprised on the depth of the emotion it evoked. I didn't understand the time line for the last portion of the story. It seemed to happen years after the other two stories, though they were all mingled together. The story opens with the real event of the bridge of San Luis Rey collapsing in the eighteenth century. It then starts the nonfiction story of identifying the people who lost their lives on the bridge. There were five victims and a local priest, Don Juniper, wanted to make sense on why those people were chosen by God to leave the world. He interviews friends and townspeople about the victims and we are then told each story in turn. The five people all seemed to have one thing in common. They were looking to be loved. The first story is about a woman, Dona Maria, who had always had an unhappy life. She married a man who could take her away from her unhappy parents. She then had a daughter who was embarrassed by her and never seemed to miss an opportunity to hurt her. Once her daughter moved to Spain, Dona Maria became a sort of tolerated presence in town. She got a companion, Pepita, from the orphanage to ease the loneliness and once when she went to a play she was picked on in front of everyone when the actress poked fun of Dona Maria openly on stage. Dona was actually lost in her thoughts about things she would write to her daughter in her next letter and never heard the insults. Embarrassed Pepita lead her home. The next day Camilla, the actress, was sent to apologize. She thought the Lady was being kind when she dismissed any wrong doings, and then actually felt terrible for her behavior. A little while later Dona Maria found a letter Pepita was composing to send to the mother of the orphanage. It expressed her loneliness and her devotion for Dona Maria. The letter changed Dona Maria and she vowed to herself to be a better person for Pepita because of her bravery. The next day they cross the bridge. The second story is about twin brothers, Manuel and Esteban, who were raised at the same orphanage as Pepita, though several years before her. No one ever takes the time to tell them apart and they are all the other has. Manuel becomes enraptured with the actress Camilla, but she doesn't return his affection. She was the mistress of the Viceroy of Lima, and had a matador as a lover. One day she asks Manuel to write her a letter. She doesn't even know which twin he is, but has him swear his secrecy since the letter was to her lover. Over time she has him write several letters for her and Esteban assumes they are in love. Manuel tries to explain that she is using him merely because he can write, but Esteban thinks he is standing in the way of their love because Manuel will not want to leave Esteban alone. Manuel then gets an infection in his leg and ends up dying. Esteban goes around saying he is Manuel and sadly no one knows the difference. Having lost the meaning of life he signs up to work for a man, which is why he is on the bridge when it collapses. The last story is that of Camellia. She too was an orphan, but adopted by Uncle Pio, who made her into the best actress in Peru. From her view we never hear of how she insulted Dona Maria, just that all of a sudden she was obsessed with becoming a lady, which we assumed came after the meeting with Dona Maria. She then falls for the Viceroy of Lima. Once she starts having affairs she meets with Manuel-who was also not important enough to make it into her story. However here is where I get confused, I realize Camilla's story is used to tell about Uncle Pio and her son Don Jamie, who both die on the bridge, but her story seems to last longer than the other two. Maybe I simply missed something about the passage of time, but Dona Maria and Pepita seem to be on the bridge a short time after Camilla comes to apologize, maybe a year. The same goes for Manual's death, since he got sick shortly after writing letters for her. Camilla's story goes on where she gets small pox and is too embarrassed to return to the stage because her face is scarred. She then devotes herself to religion. Uncle Pio begs her to let him raise Don Jamie because he is often sick and Camilla cannot give him the care he needs. Once she consents, both Uncle Pio and Don Jamie cross the bridge and end up dying. Camilla then loses her two daughters who are sent to the orphanage. This book definitely shows how everyone is connected especially in a small community. It was actually very powerful for being so short. It seemed as though every word were important. Just as each person was going to start a new chapter in their life, their lives were ended. Don Juniper, who was focused on making sense of the deaths, scored each person's worth and found the five people on the bridge had the most to lose; they were the most promising citizens out of everyone. He put his findings in a book. His work was seen as heretical and he was burned at the stake. He thought up until the end that surely someone would come to his aid, but in the end it seemed like everyone who had helped him write the book through their interviews, came to see him burn. There are many ways to interpret this book and it was very good. I will definitely read it again.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Invention of Hugo Cabret: Brian Selznick

This was a children's book and at the end I was confused. The title is "The Invention" of Hugo Cabret, however he never invented anything. He found a machine the readers were lead to believe was more exciting and important than it was, and fixed it, but never invented anything. I had trouble getting into this book, but I read it after Wonderstruck, which I thought was cute. Both books are very similar. Both boys become orphans and wander about on their own. They are both searching for information about their fathers. They both end with someone basically adopting the boys. Both are told with alternating text, then photos. I liked the other book better.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wonderstruck: Brian Selznick

This was probably the most original book I have read. There are two stories told that run parallel to each other until the end where they finally connect. It is a children's book and geared towards boys. A boy's mother dies and he feels out of place with his aunt and uncle. He finds some things in his mom's room that make him believe his unknown father lived in New York. He runs away and meets up with a woman in a bookshop that recognizes the picture he had of the man he believed was his dad. The other story is told entirely through pictures, making the story a quick read. The girl's story takes place in the past. She is deaf and runs away from home because her father doesn't care about her. The boy and woman meet up when she is older and in the end you find out she is his grandmother. The boy doesn't find his father, but finds the other half of his family and learns more about his mother along the journey.

Tuck Everlasting: Natalie Babbitt

This is an old classic that I had read as a child and wanted to refresh my memory. Winnie is a bored only child one summer and adventure finds her in an unexpected way. She is led by curiosity into the family woods where she finds a boy drinking out of a stream. When she tries to join him he tells her the water isn't good for her. His parents (the Tucks) come and wisk her away, then tell her a story about basically the fountain of youth. They had drunk the water and hadn't aged in 80+ years. Coincidently a man looking for the fountain of youth overhears the story and plans on selling the water to whoever will pay. The Tucks, knowing the misery of never aging and never being able to stay in one place too long, end up killing him. They quickly leave town. The boy leaves instructions for Winnie to wait until she is 17 (his age) and drink some of the water. He promises to come find her. She ends up putting the water on a frog she befriended. The Tucks come back 40 years later and are saddened to find her gravestone. We are lead to believe she got married and lead a normal life, but there is a lot to think about. The author leaves out 40+ years of story that we get to piece together how we want. My first question was why didn't the boy come back? The ending was bittersweet in that the Tucks were glad Winnie didn't drink the water because never-ending life is not a blessing, but they really cared for the girl and hoped she would be part of the family.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oliver Twist: Charles Dickens

I had forgotten how much I enjoy Dickens, the sarcasm in this book made it very humorous. Dickens’ exposes the state of the poor in English society by following the life of an orphaned boy, Oliver Twist. The poor child can't seem to catch a break and when he does it is short lived enough to seem cruel. He gets glimpses of love and then they are taken away. There is a bit of stereotyping and racism against the "Jew" who keeps kidnapping Oliver. There aren't really evil villains in this story, everyone is pretty much characterized as human, some are just hardened and immoral based on what life has thrown at them at least that is what we are meant to believe. I especially liked the character of the kid selling soap/stain remover when he meets with Sikes. That section hit me as particularly clever. Sikes had blood on his hat from murdering Nancy and the seller alludes that his product could take it out and lists what the stain could be in a poetic chant. The book was extremely sad, but did have an uplifting ending where everyone seemed to be intertwined and many ended up being related. Oliver went from being an abused orphan to inheriting his father's fortune. The story of Oliver's birth would still have been scandalous at the time, but the narrator states several times that the boy shouldn't be blamed for it- and all ends well. I can't imagine being the reader when this story was first published in the paper. They had to wait a month for each chapter. Talk about suspense, I don't think today's crowd would have the patience.

Francisco Pizarro; Destroyer of the Inca Empire: John DiConsiglio

This was almost a pocket sized book written for young adults. It is part of the "Wicked History" series, which focus on horrible people of historical significance. The book was a condensed biography, but still held a lot in information. He was a horrible person. Not only did he betray his own people, but he was responsible for nearly wiping out the Incas, which he wasn't instructed to do. I liked the extra info in the back that talked about an artist who made a statue of Cortez for Mexico and they refused it, he gave it to Peru claiming it was Pizarro and they took it for a while, until the citizens complained.

Modern Nations of the World; Peru: Laurel Corona

This was an informative reference book for teens. I wasn't sure how detailed it would be based on the target audience, but I was impressed. The entire time I read it I kept comparing the country with the United States. Peru knows so much about its ancient civilizations and People. They haven't ruined most of the country's history in the push for "progress" and the majority of the population (outside of Lima) is either native, or has some native blood. I appreciated how they allow the indigenous people in the Amazon to continue their way of life without being contacted by the "civilized" world. This is a country that tries protects their land and their culture, but the gap between the rich and poor, the immigrant culture and native culture are creating strife. It would be nice to see the country maintain its roots instead of trying to keep up with other countries in the global economy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Coraline: Neil Gaiman

This was a cute little kid's book, very similar to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. A little girl moves into a new house and becomes bored quickly. Her parents seem to ignore her and she becomes interested in a door that joins their home to the one next door. When her mother opens the door she is met with a brick wall, but when Coraline opens it, there is a hallway that leads to another world. The world she enters is something out of a Stephen King book. She meets people who look like her parents, but have buttons for eyes. They let her return to her world, but when Coraline gets back her parents are both missing. With the help of a cat she enters the world again to save her parents. Through the ordeal she learns she loves her parents the way they are and once things return to normal she is happy. She is concerned that her parents don't seem to realize they were gone for three days and never mention anything about the other world.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Banana Hammock: J A Konrath

This story was written in the "choose your own adventure" style. It was very entertaining and filled with lame jokes. Harry was interrupted from playing a virtual "comb" game online when an "Amish" woman walks in and requests his services. She thinks her husband is cheating on her. The path I chose the first time was super corny and the story got weirder every time I backed up and made a different choice. However it was an entertaining read that you can make last as long as you want. I was amused by the links that actually took you to the urban dictionary and the one's about different stories altogether. This had to be a lot of work to write!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Watership Down: Richard Adams

This was a clever (though very long) children’s book about rabbits. I like that they had no real special abilities, other than Fiver's visions, and were given human characteristics. Fiver sees something bad coming to their warren, His brother, Hazel, takes the warning to the man in charge. The leader doesn't see any reason for alarm and Hazel and Fiver take a few rabbits that trust Fiver's feeling and leave. They have an adventure finding a new place to live. Shortly after arriving in their new home, two rabbits from the warren find them. They tell how man put poison in their holes and killed everyone. The story has an undertone on how man does not care for, nor understand nature. The rabbits are happy in their new home; they befriend a mouse and a bird. They then realize they don't have any does and if the warren is going to survive they need to find some. There is another adventure where Hazel, the leader of the new warren, is shot and nearly dies. They get two does they rescued from a farm, but decide to visit a bigger warren to try to steal some females. The attack on the large warren does not go as planned, but is still a success. They get several does and go back home to live happily ever after. Until the mouse mentions "new" rabbits. The rabbits from the large warren (lead by Woundwort) have come to take everyone prisoner back to their warren. There is another battle and everyone survives from the new warren. The book ends with Hazel being lead to the "warren in the sky". It was a cute book, but I understand how it was hard to market at first. It does seem like a very long book for a little one's attention span. The action does seem to keep the book moving at a good pace.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Alfred Packer, the Man Eater: Gantt

This was a disturbing book and disgusted me about the justice system. Afred Packer's story was remnant of the Donner party's and reading the book made me feel dirty. Alfred was characterized as sort of a loner and seemingly insane. He meets up with some people who were heading into the mountains due to claims of gold. He tells them he doesn't have any money and two men use him to watch the horses and pay his way. Five of the men go off on their own during winter (even though they were advised to wait until spring) and only Alfred makes it to the town. He spends a bunch of money that makes people suspicious. Eventually the rest of the party makes it into town and wonders where he got the money and where the others were. Alfred, sensing the sheriff thinks along the lines of another Donner expedition, tells a story where one man in the party killed all of the others, and he killed him in defense. He is then asked to take the authorities to the bodies. He started off and then "got lost" so they turn back. Someone eventually finds all the bodies murdered by hatchet all together and Alfred changes his story again. He is jailed, and then escapes for nine years. He is eventually brought back to court and found guilty of premeditated murder of the other men. Nothing seemed to be made of the cannibalism. He was supposed to be hanged, but Colorado became a state about that time and gave up the death sentence. He was then sentenced to 40 yrs. in prison. Throughout his 13 yr. sentence he kept trying to go to trial again. He eventually got out on parole because he befriended a lady journalist who claimed he was ill and should spend the remainder of his life free. Feeling the pressure, the court agreed!!! He lived for another eight years.

Case Histories: Kate Atkinson

This was an interesting and original detective story. It compares 3 case studies, the first happening in 1970, the second in 1994, and the third in 1979. The story weaves in and out between the three stories, put in a linear order like a timeline. In the first Story, Rosemary, has 4 daughters and is pregnant. She dislikes being a mother and loathes her children, with the exception of Olivia- the baby. She knows she has a favorite and that she loves Olivia with a strange ferociousness, but she can't help but favor her. One day she lets one of the other girls sleep in a tent outside with Olivia. In the morning Olivia has vanished. The second story is about a widower with two daughters. He also has a favorite daughter, Laura, and he also knows he shouldn't favor one child over the other, but Laura is a loveable person. He gets her a job at his office and goes to a meeting in the morning promising to be back in the office to eat lunch with her. Throughout the morning he envisions his coworkers loving her, but when he gets to work, the office is in mayhem. He learns a crazed client had come in a killed a coworker and when he reared back with the knife and accidently got Laura in the neck. The third story is about a stressed out mother who may be suffering from postpartum depression and a loveless marriage. She had finally gotten the baby to sleep when her husband came in with wood for the fire, dropping it and waking up the baby. The mother snapped and grabbed the ax, killing her husband. Her last thoughts in the chapter are wishing she could start her life over because she would have remained in school. The three cases are all brought to the same private investigator, who just opened his own practice after his wife left him. The book is sad; however there is a lot of humor in it. The detective, Jackson, has all sorts of horrible things happen to him and the way he sees the other characters in the book is amusing as well. He is saved by a black cat (one of his deceased clients had named Nigger) because he saw him outside and went to retrieve him, but as he started back to the house it exploded. Jackson seems to solve all the mysteries (and is left everything from the elderly client that died), but you never get to know if Tanya is ever identified and reintroduced to her aunt. I had some trouble keeping the characters straight especially when new characters were introduced. In the end everyone in the story seems to come into the lives of the other characters. The last few chapters go back to the time of the death for each case and finish them as they happen so you know exactly what happen. The stories are all shocking. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book "Country children used to walk five miles to school in the morning and five miles home at night without complaining. Or perhaps they did complain, but no one ever recorded their comments for posterity." (pg. 92) “It wasn't that Theo believed in religion, or God, or an afterlife. He just knew it was impossible to feel this much love and for it all to end." "...at least she had triceps, unlike Amelia, who had the kind of swinging underarm flesh that would have made it easy for her to glide among the treetops" (207)

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Black Arrow: Robert Louis Stevenson

This was a cute teenager adventure story. I like how Stevenson made it interesting for both boys and girls even though it was a man's world when he wrote it (1888.) The story opens with a man being killed by a black arrow, but those who saw him die never saw the archer. The story of the War of the Roses begins. Richard Shelton's father is mysteriously murdered and Sir Daniel becomes his guardian. It is not until he is a teen that people start talking to him as a man, hinting that Sir Daniel has no loyalty. Richard realizes Sir Daniel was responsible for his father's death. He has two choices; to side with Sir Daniel or join the "black arrow" outlaws. During this time he makes a friend John Matcham and the two try to escape together fearing doom. Sir Daniel assured Dick he would never see Matcham again; the reader fears one will die. In fact John ends up being a girl- Joanna Sedley, which is amusing because she is two years his senior and as his buddy, was stronger and braver than Richard (Dick). Joanna was an orphan and a man sold her to Sir Daniel to marry Dick, realizing they love each other they decide to escape Sir Daniel together and join the "Black Arrows. "Only Dick escapes. After stealing a boat and a few fights Dick gets back to the castle to learn Joanna is to be married the next day. A few fights and adventures later the bridegroom is killed with an arrow, Sir Daniel is taken care of and everyone goes on their merry way.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Last To Die: James Grippando

This book had an intense beginning, but then slowed down rapidly. It was also creepy. A woman is mysteriously shot down years after her daughter was murdered in their home. A ragtag group of people were mentioned in her will, but there is a catch. Only the one that lives the longest gets all her money. So of course, the beneficiaries have to either decline the money or start to kill each other off to ensure they are the last alive. And then...the story slows to an agonizing pace. There are a few romantic encounters which only serve to bring the story to a screeching halt and several threats on everyone’s lives. The author did do a good job of revealing the killer at the very end, however by the time I got there I barely cared anymore. In the end *spoiler alert* we find out the daughter wasn't actually the husband's daughter, mom had an affair. So he kills the little girl and stabs the mom. They divorce, mom gets remarried to a rich old man and then gets AIDS from him (player) and decides to stage her murder rather than deal with the disease. She hires someone to kill her, and then names him in the will. Everyone she named in the will was someone she wanted revenge against; it takes the entire book for you to understand why she hated each of the beneficiaries.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mockingbird: Chuck Wendig

This book may have been even better than the first, though there were a lot of typos...(ok I think I found 3) In this one Miriam is tired of living a "normal life" and after she gets fired from a grocery store she saves her boss, who she loathed, from being murdered. She then hits the road and meets up with a woman dying of cancer who wants to know if she is dying, because she doesn't want to go to a doctor. She ends up shaking hands with a little girl and sees that she dies from a horrific murder and then goes about trying to save her. In the process she nearly gets Louis killed and ends up murdering several people, if not directly than indirectly. This was a fast paced book with a lot of twists and turns.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Soul on Ice: Eldridge Cleaver

This nonfiction story is started while Eldridge is in prison for dealing drugs; he is released and then put back in again for raping women. He is very arrogant and gets upset when people don't agree with him or see him as the intellectual he believes he is. He is able to convince himself that the enemy is the white man, not himself for doing despicable things. The first section of the book is about his reaction (while in prison) to the news that Malcolm X was murdered. The section section speaks of the next generation and how the white children are seeing the racial discrimination for what it is and some do want to tear down the barriers, but Blacks are still used as white man's puppet and he speaks of the famous of the era and their fates. Until Mohammed Ali who became a winner on his own behalf. Cleaver also speaks of Yacub, homosexuality, famous black writers, and the Vietnam War. It was odd to see such contrast between these first two sections. The first section seems like a mad man's ranting, but the second is seemingly written by a different, educated man with an agenda. The Third section is a collection of letters he received while in prison. The last section, like the rest of the book is an assortment of conversations where the last chapter was confusing. It was a letter for all black women from all black men and was written from the grave? This was a very short book.

Blackbirds: Chuck Wendig

This was an enjoyable original story. A woman, Miriam, has the ability to see how someone dies just by touching them. This ability makes her cynical and she uses it to her advantage. Once she sees that someone is going to die in the near future, she makes she sure she is around so she can steal the money in their wallet. Like a Blackbird, she is a scavenger. She learned early on that she cannot change fate and was actually the cause in a little boy's death when she tried to save him. Her life changes drastically one day while hitchhiking. She is picked up by a trucker who, when she touches, calls out her name before he is murdered. She had grown accustomed to people dying of disease or suicide, but the gruesome murder and the fact that she is the only Miriam he knows unsettles her. She decides to distance herself as much as she can. Later that night at a bar she gets picked up by a man she later realizes has been stalking her. He wants to cash in on the dead as well. As a team they don't get very far. Miriam runs into the trucker again at a diner and uses him to escape from the stalker who is mixed up with a drug deal gone awry and is being hunted down. In the end we see how the murder evolved. It was an interesting and fast paced read.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sole Survivor: Dean Koontz

This was an odd book. It started out as a mystery where a man realizes he is being followed by men he assumes are police, but then suspects they are muscle for hire. He goes to the cemetery for the 1 year anniversary of his deceased wife and daughters, who were in a plane crash. He meets a woman at the tombstones and she runs away only to be followed by the men who were following him. He finds a tracker on his car and decides he is in some sort of trouble. After removing the tracking device he withdraws some money from the bank and hides. Later we learn the woman at the cemetery (rose) was actually a survivor of the plane crash and was with a girl that is using one of the man's daughter's names. Rose was a scientist and the little girl ended up being her best work. The little girl can heal and Rose stole her from the lab. Also at the lab, which created paranormal children, was a boy who could occupy one's mind and make them kill themselves. The men in charge of the lab use the boy as a weapon to find Rose and the girl. The ending is oddly religious, where the girl can see heaven and the people in it. I enjoyed the first 3rd of the book, but then it just got dumb to me.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Captains Courageous: Rudyard Kipling

This was a boys adventure book that takes place in the late 1800's. 15 year old Harvey is on a boat that sinks, but is miraculously saved by "We're Here", a fishing boat. Harvey is the son of an American tycoon and is a spoiled brat when he is first picked up. The crew is kind to him and teaches Harvey to become a fisherman. Harvey starts to enjoy the adventure and the work, which he has never had to do before, and matures. Eventually they come back ashore and he contacts his parents. When they come to pick Harvey up his mother is dismayed on what happened to him, living with barbarians, but the father was pleased with the change in his son. One of the sailors predicts that the captain's son Dan, who befriended Harvey, will one day call Harvey "master". Harvey's father, as a gesture of gratitude gives the captain's son a position on one of his boats, which Harvey will eventually own. I didn't know what this message meant since the boys were described as being as easy with each other as brothers...so it wasn't really a "rich people will own you", but more of a " schooling will make you come out ahead" idea.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Death in the Family: James Agee

I listened to this book on audiobook and had trouble keeping the story in a linear order. At times there were sections that took me a while to recognize as flashbacks. They seemed added as an afterthought in order to establish the prejudice of society, though I didn't understand how it aided in the story. The novel is about a family being awoken in the middle of the night because the father's dad was supposedly on his death bed. We later learn the brother that called was drunk and the father's situation was not as serious as the brother- Ralph- made it out to be. The man- Jay- leaves to be by his father's side, but is then in a car crash and instantly killed on the way back home. There was a lot of emphasis on the fact that Jay died instantly and couldn't have felt any pain. The story moves forward by the different character's thoughts and constantly switches narrators. The story was told almost entirely in the wife's family's voice. The entire book takes place in under a week. It is interesting that the characters of Rufus (Jay's son) and Ralph (Jay's brother) are sort of clumped together as the same sort of people. They are insecure and crave attention. Jay seems disappointed in his brother and one wonders what he would have made of his son had he lived to see him grow up. The majority of the book compares the way people deal with the death of a loved one. Some turn to religion, some rely on facts, and the children can't comprehend the idea of death. I am not sure what the author's message about religion actually is. It seems to be poked fun at a few times and the "Father" is characterized as an insensitive righteous brute who doesn't understand children. He is compared with a family friend who laughs when Rufus hears "grandma phone" instead of "gramophone" and takes the time to explain to the children. The children seem to understand the only thing that makes the priest respected is because of his preaching- people fear God's wrath, and since he is godly, fear him. The children's thoughts are that the priest is deceiving their mother. They are upset that the priest thinks he can sit in their father's chair like he is an equal, even the family friend made sure he doesn't sit in the chair. The ending of the story seemed spiritual, but not religious. Rufus's uncle Andrew told him what happened at the cemetery after the children left. A butterfly landed on the casket and was godlier than the priest who refused to do the entire service because Jay wasn't baptized. This was one of those stories that would be fun to analyze.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chasing Harry Winston: Lauren Weisberger

I usually don't pick up books like these because they seem so pointless, but it was in a box of books given to me. After the initial couple chapters I started to like the writing. I did enjoy the writer's wording, she is good at creating a picture “...She said with enough cheer to fell a sequoia" I didn't relate to the characters, they were all obsessed with finding a husband or having sex. It was about 3 girls in New York and their quest to change something about their relationship by the end of the year. I learned a Harry Winston is a jewelry company and not a man they were chasing.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Notorious Nineteen: Janet Evanovich

Stephanie is asked to provide security assistance for Ranger, in the guise of a date. He is attending a wedding for an old military buddy who has been getting death threats. There is also a storyline about a man Stephanie is chasing that has a Tikki man, which Stephanie confiscates and it "talks to them". I am not sure what the point of this Tikki man was, but he took up a big portion of the story. Stephanie ends up being the bridesmaid in the wedding which has a "little house on the prairie" theme, including a big pink dress. Stephanie teams up with Randy Briggs (the little guy) again and they search for hospital patients that keep going missing (victims of underground organ sales). A crazy ex-military friend ends up being the person leaving death threats for Ranger and the groom. He corners Stephanie and ends up burning her hair before he is killed. So then she goes to the wedding with singed hair. These books seem to go back and forth from one being ridiculous and the next being enjoyable. This was a ridiculous one...

Explosive Eighteen: Janet Evanovich

This was another nutty book, but I enjoyed it. Lula inadvertently drinks a "love potion" meant for Stephanie and falls for a loser. Both girls struggle to apprehend anyone and Stephanie alludes to a honeymoon in Hawaii with Ranger, which happened before the story started. I was glad to see the story change up a little bit on how it was constructed; it wasn't as predictable as the bulk of the series. There were still a few men chasing Stephanie and Lula's character was presented as a hypochondriac (it was actually put into words). In Hawaii Stephanie had been accidently given a photo of a man who the FBI assumed was someone they should be looking for. She threw it away not realizing it was important and people started coming out of the woodwork to find it. She find out toward the end of the story that the photo wasn't important, but it was a type of cypher one could use to steal a car. The book ends with Morelli drinking another love potion made for Stephanie.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Agent 6: Tom Rob Smith

This is the 3rd book in the series. I am amazed how different all three stories are, they have very diverse moods and voices. As in all of them, this one had a general feeling of impending doom and was rich in history. Raisa is invited to the United States to promote a "peace tour" during the cold war. She takes the two girls with her and the youngest, Elena, is naively involved in a Soviet Murder plot. The plans go very wrong and Raisa is shot. The rest of the story goes through what Leo makes of the rest of his life. He starts out with an obsession to find out what happened in New York. The story follows him in an opium haze in Afghanistan during the occupation, to defecting to the United States. Agent 6 is very moving and hard to put down, though I was waiting for the character in the beginning to be reintroduced (unless I missed that part). He had a coworker whose love interest Leo was responsible for questioning, which lead to her death. I thought for sure there would be a revenge twist somewhere in the murder plot. At the end it is certain Leo will be killed as a traitor when he is brought back to the Soviet Union.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Wrong Goodbye: Chris F. Holm

As much as I really liked the first book in this series, I didn't really enjoy this one. It seemed like the story would never end, like there were a minimum number of pages the author had to reach. Several sections seemed to be crying out "I am clever" or were painfully detailed. There were a lot of areas where the story went off in tangents that didn't move the story forward. In this book Sam goes to collect a soul and finds it has already been collected, and is now MIA. He brings another soul back to life to find the rogue collector and encounters Demons and other creatures before finding a "skimming" house (where they are getting a "high" off soul experiences). There is a battle between good and evil. Sam gets out alive and finds out the real mastermind of his plan wasn't his friend Danny, who he suspected, but Ana, who was also a friend at one time.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Smokin' Seventeen: Janet Evanovich

This Book was another where Stephanie and Ranger hook up and Morelli supposedly broke off the relationship...AGAIN. How many times are we going to hit on the same ideas? Stephanie lost a few more cars and borrowed Rangers, Morelli's grandmother puts a curse on her and Lula is called fat a few times. Stephanie’s mom pushes her to date a man who did jail time for fraud and who cooks when he’s stressed. In the end he was after Stephanie just because he was trying to get back at Morelli for taking his girlfriend in high school. Bodies mysteriously start showing up on the site of the burnt down bail bonds office with notes “to Stephanie”. I thought this book was interesting in that you figure out who the killer is right away, yet the book still goes on and on and you wonder when they are ever going to get to it. The murderers were conveniently all "tied" up at the end.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Secret Speech: Tom Rob Smith

A sequel to Child 44 , I like the first book better, but this was still a good read. Leo and Raisa have started over with the two girls they adopted. The oldest, Zoya, still hates Leo for the role he played in her parent's death. A document is put out after Stalin's death admitting the wrong doings of those in charge and a revolutionary group starts killing members of the KGB. A woman from Leo's past turns up and instead of killing him she kidnaps Zoya and turns her against the state making her a murderess. The rest of the story follows how Leo tries to get her back.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lab 257: Michael Christopher Carroll

TERRIFING BOOK. There is an island of the Eastern coast near NY that was owned by the government and used for Biological testing, of germs and their effect on life. It is believed that Lyme disease was a result of the testing and released either deliberately to test the effects or accidently spread through animal migration. It's also believed that West Nile and the Peking duck disaster were results from the biological testing on the island. It wasn't until years later when the island had a noticeable virus outbreak that the realized the ovens they burned the animals in were faulty and had been constructed improperly. I was confused that the vets were upset when the feral cats on the island were executed, (when they shouldn't have been roaming around anyway near viruses) yet the vets killed millions of “test” animals every year. The hard core evidence of testing human subjects and animals people relied on for a living is almost unbelievable, but when reading the section where unleashing disease and letting it do its thing rather than starving people and then having to feed them when you conquer them- explained everything perfectly. I can't believe the haphazardness with which catastrophes were dealt with once Plum Island was privatized- and that they shredded all the tests from the start of the island and destroyed the specimens in the refrigerator. All that work and all the dead animals, people, and livelihoods gone. It sounded like within the last decade anyone could get on the island and there were a lot of suspicious characters. The ending spoke on future terrorism attempts to destroy the US by targeting the food. Between reading this book and the National Geographic one is left with no hope for the future...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The War for Muslim Minds: Gilles Kepel

This book focused more on the historical factors in why relations in the Middle East are so unpeaceful. The first chapter discusses why the Oslo Peace accords didn’t work and what each country was hoping to get out of a treaty. It then goes through presidencies and the formation of Al Qaeda. Then talks about the United States dealing with Saddam Hussein thinking that would end terror and moved on to terrorism in France, Spain, and 9/11. This was very insightful and an interesting read.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Silver Star: Jeannette Walls

This book was interesting in that it followed a little girl's life, but it was an adult book. The happenings in the book hinted at the author's own life. Two little girls come home every day from school wondering if their mother will still be there, at age 12 "bean" (the protagonist) has lived in several places. Every time the going gets tough mom packs up and leaves. After the mom makes up a boyfriend and leaves after she is found out, the girls worry she won't come back and take a bus to Virginia to their Uncle's house. He takes them in and they become accustomed to life in a little town. The mom shows up and has a nervous breakdown and then leaves the girls with their uncle while she moves to New York. Both girls find work with a man in then who then tries rapping the oldest girl. This book concludes with Mr. Mattox (the employer) winning the court case and then being fired from his job. He is then shot when he is "mistaken for a bear" by Bean's uncle. This was an excellent story. I found it interesting that "To Kill a Mocking Bird" was mentioned, forcing you to compare Bean with Scout.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sizzling Sixteen: Janet Evanovich

In this book Vinnie gets kidnapped and his wife kicks him out because the mob is looking d=for him- he was doing shady paperwork for money. The bail bond office gets burned down and Stephanie finds out what is really happening with Ranger's help. The bad guy in the end gets taking down for tax fraud. This book was over the top on the slap tick humor, I didn't enjoy this one very much

Friday, August 2, 2013

Bad Monkey: Carl Hiassen

I love this author; this was a hilarious dry humor book. I enjoyed the title where the monkey plays a minor role in the book. A couple on their honeymoon go fishing and catch an Arm. The story searches for its owner. The lead detective was actually demoted to food inspections, but continues to piece the story together. I should have put it together because I came to the correct conclusion on who the bad guy was in the beginning. The wife of the "arm" moves to the Bahamas and collects insurance money from her deceased husband. Many people are weaved into the story including the monkey who supposedly starred on The Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The murderer ends up being the husband, sans hand.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Shia Revival: Vali Nasr

This was a very educational book about who the Shia's are, what they believe, and where large numbers live. It's hard to believe in this day and age that the Sunni's and Shia's who have so much in common still have so much hatred for each other. This book really hit home who fortunate I am to live in a country where you are free to practice whatever you want. I hadn't realized Saudi Arabia had a mortality police "mutaween" (how very big brother-ish). It was also interesting to learn how Muslim countries took in the Shia refugees from other countries and failed to recognize them as people. I liked learning about the politics of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Jordan.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Islam and the West: Bernard Lewis

This was an interesting book covering the history of Islamic/Western relations. It was amusing to picture the dynamics hundreds of years ago when the Middle East viewed Europeans as barbarians, since they had the advancements of Greece (the Mediterranean) and China (the orient) whereas the Europeans were still farmers. It also discussed that the first book printed in England was an Arabic translation, showing the importance other places put on the Middle East. The idea that "Abd" means slave and Abdallah means "slave to God" was very interesting. As was the idea that Christianity is a larger concern to Muslims since the Jewish community doesn't try converting like both Christians and Muslims.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Girl Gone: Gillian Flynn

WOW- this was Flynn's best book to date. Throughout the beginning I felt depressed that their relationship deteriorated and the man was so clueless. It presented it like it could happen to anyone in any marriage. The honeymoon ends, you stop trying to show your best "you" and you wonder what you have in common. The next chapter was MIND BLOWING and I wanted to yell RUN, but it was still sad with how life throws you lemons even when you've spent a year trying to plan everything out completely. Theft, kidnapping... The ending was so messed up that a murder could be committed (I was still stuck on setting someone up to go to jail as revenge to someone you were madly in love with at some time) and it seemed acceptable. This book was a never ending roller-coaster.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dark Places: Gillian Flynn

This was a witch hunt of a book. A little girl's (Libby’s) 2 sisters and mother are murdered and her brother goes to jail for the murders. She lives her life in a daze until she runs out of money and comes across people who think her brother is innocent. She had never given it any thought and never visited him in prison, but she takes the money they offer to try to find answers for them. What she finds sends the reader on a rollercoaster of emotions. The story is told through flash backs in several different perspectives and the present day investigation Libby does. Libby steals things and she unintentionally pockets something that confirms who the real murderer was..

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sharp Objects: Gillian Flynn

Wow, was this ever a creepy book. The protagonist is a woman (Camille) who grew up in a dysfunctional family... VERY dysfunctional, her Mother had Munchausen by proxy (MSBP) disease. Since adolescence Camille had been cutting words into herself and her body is covered in the scars. She had lost a little sister, who was constantly sick when little and hates going home even though she has a 13 yr. old half-sister, whom she doesn't know. When her boss at the paper asks her to go home and write about the recent murders of two little girls, Camille doesn't want to go. The murders make her look into her own life and into the facade of her town. The end is haunting. She realizes her sister didn't die a natural death and her step-sister is more sinister than their mother. Though it was entertaining it is hard to believe the monstrosities from one family who is loved and feared by the entire town.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Mediterranean in History: David Abulafia

This was a ginormous picture-ish book. The first chapter cracked me up, it seemed every page proposed an idea and then, but that's not what this book is about. It seemed like the countries got along with each other when they were equals and could charge whatever they wanted for their products. But now Egypt, Libya, and some of the Middle Eastern countries on the coast can't play anymore while everyone advances around them. The mention of the change in eco system due to the opening of the Suez Canal and the different sea life being able to comingle was something I never gave any thought to. I was interested to learn the countries also seemed to live in harmony with very different cultures and beliefs until the 3 major religions took over local beliefs and started clashing with each other. The Muslims decided they would not allow merchants to sell to non-Muslims, while non-Muslims sold to everyone and stayed wealthy. Then later as a whole they tried to stop trading iron and other materials to the Muslims so they couldn't make weapons which would be used against them. The rate at which the detail on maps and the growth of cities appeared was astonishing. I learned about "Pirenne's theory"- that it was the Islamic invasions, not the fall of Rome that ended the unity of the Mediterranean. The change in wealth countries from industry to relaxation has changed the Mediterranean we know today into beaches and resorts.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Child 44: Tom Rob Smith

This Book really pulls you in, but was disturbing. It started out in a Village in the Ukraine in 1933 where everyone is dying of hunger. One woman kept a cat alive through the whole ordeal while she herself staves after letting the cat free. A little boy sees the cat head to the woods and he and his brother hunt it. The eldest boy is murdered in the woods and the little boy can't find any trace of him. The book then fast forwards to 1953 in Moscow where a little boy is thought to be murdered, but since in this society "there is no crime" it gets covered up. The investigator catches a cold after diving into an icy river to retrieve a person they suspect of being a spy. He realizes after bring him in that the man is in fact innocent. When he stays home to fight his fever the boss sends a doctor to make sure the investigator- Leo is in fact sick. The doctor, after seeing he is sick tells Leo's attractive wife that he will tell the truth if she sleeps with him, she puts a knife to his neck even though she knows it may result in her death. When Leo goes back to work he finds out his wife's name is mentioned in the "spy's" confession before he was killed. It was obviously added by the doctor. Leo has to follow his wife and determine if she is in fact a spy, knowing it would mean her death. He loses her on the train and goes to his parent's to ask their advice. They tell him to turn her in, that the three of their lives are more important than hers. Just then there is a knock on the door and it is his wife, he finds out she has been eating dinner with them once a week and his parents have grown quite attached to her, but are willing to sacrifice her life. During dinner he finds out she went to the DR after work and found out she is pregnant. When Leo has to report to his boss, to his surprise he says his wife is innocent. The story progresses to more and more suffering. Leo finally admits there is a murderer and sets out to find him defying the country. The story twists and turns explaining the first chapter in a way I would have never guessed. Child 44 ended up being the murdered child of one of Leo's friends. This was an excellent book.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Eldest: Christopher Paolini

The second book in the inheritance series and seemed to go on forever. In this one we learn there is another rider and dragon living among the elves, and he is an elf. We also glimpse into Bron's importance previous to the book. Roran plays a huge part in this story and is it interesting how the two cousins live very parallel lives. Eragon falls in love with the Arya, elf princess and is thwarted. Eragon and Saphira get trained by the older dragon and rider, but in the end when they battle against the empire they are still not strong enough to win. Eragon and Saphria only get away by two chance of Luck- that Roran shows up and kills the twins who had magical powers and turned evil, and that the other rider Eragon has to fight is Murtaugh, his old friend who is more powerful and lets him go, just this once. A prophesy is told that Eragon will be betrayed by a family member. We are lead to believe it is Roran. After the Ra'zac come back to Carvahall and destroy everything Roran proposes to Katrina who is taken by the Ra'zac. Fueled by his own selfish need he has the town follow him on a journey to get her back and shows up right as good and evil are battling.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Finger Lickin' Fifteen: Janet Evanovich

This book was packed with bizarre things happening, even more than the previous books. Lula witnesses a murder and is then chased by the murderers. Her house has been damaged by them and she moves in with Stephanie. Lula snores. Stephanie and Morelli are fighting again and Stephanie moves in with Ranger. Ranger's accounts keep getting broken into and Stephanie picks up some work at Rangeman trying to find the burglars. A head is found without a body and is identified as a famous BBQ sauce celebrity. There is a BBQ contest in town that Lula and Grandma Mazur enter hoping to catch the killers. A body is found without a head. Joyce is hired at Vinnie’s bail bonds since Stephanie is falling behind. Havoc ensues. Lula gets her man at the BBQ contest, ruins her BBQ, Joyce gets shot, but is ok,and Ranger gets the burglars.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Half Broke Horses: Jeannette Walls

The author tells the story of her grandmother's life in 1st person. It was an excellent read, the narrator's mother was so insensitive and helpless. I like that Lily at 8 years old was wiser than her mother whose solution to everything was to pray. Lily says "If God gave us the strength to bail- the gumption to try to save ourselves- isn't that what he wanted us to do?" and later in the book "Who the hell was he to tell me what I had to believe?...One of the problems with the world today was all the muttonheads...convinced they were the only ones who had the answers and killing everyone who didn't agree with them." After he little sister's death she says "When people kill themselves, they think they're ending the pain, but all They're doing is passing it on to those they leave behind." I can't imagine a lot of the things she did- riding her horse from Texas to Arizona 28 days to her new job- driving he dead father back to the ranch to be buried and having to beg gas the whole way. She was an amazing, determined woman. It also seemed like she was rarely at their house- she didn't see her husband much with teaching in other towns, sleeping with her daughter, and schooling. The book slowy transforms into being about Rosemary, which the author explains in the end. A very good read.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Plum Spooky: Janet Evanovich

This was a Halloween "between the numbers" novel. Diesel is back and looking for his cousin wulf, who is also an unmentionable. The characters include the Easter bunny, Santa, Sasquatch, several monkeys-including Carl and the usual cast. Wulf is working with a scientist who has discovered how to create weather. Their planes are spoiled by Diesel and Stephanie, but not before she ruins two cars and is kidnapped. I don't like these between the numbers books as well as the rest of the series.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Don't Look Now: Daphne de Maurier

This is a collection of five short stories. It was interesting that she chose to tell the majority of the five stories through the eyes of a man. In the first story Don't look now A man tells the story of how he and his wife are going on vacation to get away and heal from the unexpected death of their young daughter. The wife meets two old sisters, one who is blind and claims she sees the deceased daughter and that the little girl is happy. This brightens the wife's mood until they get a call that their son is sick and they need to go back. She makes a comment about how it is for the best since the sister's predicted something would happen to the husband if he was still there the next night. The couple had to arrange separate ways home since there is only 1 airplane seat and the wife takes it. On the way out of town the man sees his wife with the sisters on a boat. He fears she missed the flight and goes back to the hotel to wait for her. She never comes. Once the police are involved and the sisters are found, they claim they never saw her. He learns of a murderer loose in the city from the police. He gets a call from his wife back home saying that their son is doing fine. He is confused on who he saw. He apologizes to the sisters who tell him he must have seen a glimpse of the future. He heads back to the hotel confused. He then runs into who he thinks is a child that he and his wife had seen the night before. It ends up being a little woman who kills him. His wife then returns on the boat with the sisters. In The Breakthrough A scientist is transferred to a place out in the middle of nowhere where rumor has it the scientists there are nuts and nothing gets done. Once there he is shocked by the experiments they are doing. They have a machine that can hypnotize people and another that was created to trap a person's energy after death. A person on the staff ends up dying of leukemia and they trap what they think is just his energy, but ends up being his soul. Through a young child he keeps shouting- "let me go let me go". The scientists do finally let his soul escape the machine, but it changes everyone. Not After Midnight was a creepy story. A man does on vacation to paint and ends up in a hotel room that someone had just been murdered in- only they didn't know it was murder. A loud American man is searching through old shipwreck sites and archeological digs and selling the wares he finds illegally. The man finds this out, but doesn't say anything even after the American's wife visits his room late at night pounding on the door. She leaves a little jug as a bribe and then they vanish the next day. Curiosity gets the best of him and he goes to a site they were at to find the body of the American and realizes the wife has killed him. He throws the bad luck jar into the sea by the dead man's body and leaves. A Border-Line Case is a story about a woman that loses her father suddenly. She feels guilty since his last breath was shouting her name. He was looking at photo albums, which bored her, right before he took a nap and woke up screaming her name before he died. The girl becomes determined to find the friend from his past that he was talking about while looking at photos, hoping to relieve herself of some guilt. She finds the friend who is an old duck and falls in love with him, having never revealed who she was. He ends up dumping her off at a hotel and she heads back home, resuming her life. A short while later he sends a photo of himself as a young man and realizes it looks like her. He is her father. The father that raised her must had realized that right before he died after he had looked through the photographs of his youth. The Way of the Cross is about a church group in Jerusalem and passes from each person and their thoughts about the others- very comical and sad. The man that has an affair gets stabbed in the side at the market and the woman who lost her teeth nearly drowned when she tried stealing holy water.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Sociopath Next Door: Martha Stout ph.d

This story explains who Sociopaths are and the introduction provides examples of different behaviors. The section that mentioned most people don't go through the day thinking "should I send my child with lunch money? Should I steal my coworker's brief case? Should I leave my spouse today" was shocking. Things that your conscience makes decisions for is missing from a sociopath in everything in daily life. There was a section that talked about an experiment where the test subject thinks they are inflicting pain in someone and they are told to give stronger and stronger punishments. The study showed the more authoritive the person is who is giving instructions, the more likely the test subject is to follow out the orders. It went on to explain how this also happens in war. Soldiers will shoot a lot more when ordered to do so by a commander and less when the commander is gone. There is also the idea of making the "enemy" less human with derogatory names. This section also goes on to show that those with a conscience are the ones who suffer from post-traumatic stress when they return. I related to a lot of this with my grandfather when he spoke of the Vietnam War. This book is weird in that is clearly defines a sociopath as one who has no conscience, not a murderer or villain, but then throughout the book it includes thoughts of "the world is unsafe with them". The section dealing with evolution and is sociopath-ism? a form of evolution was an interesting way to end the book.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The One I Left Behind: Jennifer McMahon

This writer has very fast paced, hard to put down novels and this one was amazing. The story is told through flashbacks and it isn't until the end that you realize one of the flashbacks, was not who you thought it was. I had originally suspected the person it was, but his presence was accounted for when the tan car showed up. I like how Reggie had to learn about who her mother really was, and about her father. The stories of her teenage years and the cutting were so vivid and painful. An amazing story! A girl grows up without her father, but cared for by her mom who is always “rehearsing for her plays” and her aunt who seems like an odd one. Then a serial killer comes to town, his signature is cutting off the victim’s hand, feeding them lobster, and then leaving their naked bodies around town. Suddenly Reggie’s mom is missing and her hand is found, but never her body. Reggie is called up one day years later and told her mother has been found. Once she is back in town her childhood friend goes missing…and all the pieces fall together.

Shunning Sarah: Julie Kramer

A fast paced story about investigative reporter Riley Spartz. She stumbles into a murder involving a young Amish girl who was being shunned by her community because her brother was raping her. The mother had pushed her and she died from head injuries from the fall. The story is about how they tried to cover it up and how the reporter unburies the story. Very good read and fast paced.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fearless Fourteen: Janet Evanovich

I thought I would have this series done by the end of the month, but I am not sure it's going to happen. In 14 Stephanie has to bring in a woman who skipped her court case and ends up taking care of her child while she's in jail. The kid looks a lot like Morelli. She helps Ranger as a body guard for a celebrity who then does a show following Stephanie around as a Bail bonder. Lula makes Tank believe he asked her to marry him and he becomes stressed. Once the mom gets out of jail she is kidnapped and help in exchange for the money her brother had stolen from a bank years earlier, he just got out of jail for doing time for the crime and he hid the keys to the getaway vehicle that still contained the money, in the basement that Morelli inherited, though he cemented the dirt floor. In the end Stephanie recognizes the kidnapper’s voice while he is doing his day job, and saves the day.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

And the Mountains Moved: Khaled Hosseini

I feel guilty, like there is something wrong with me, but I can't wait to read his books and they are about human suffering. I think I cried through the entire novel. I was relieved that after an especially powerful section he would start someone else's story from the beginning, giving the read time to get a hold of themselves, but then you realize that mild section was building into another especially heartbreaking section. By the end I was sobbing. I am so impressed with how well he captures humanity and can convey emotion, where it feels first hand. His stories all leave the reader feeling haunted, they seem to end on a happy note, but not really. In this one he follows the life of one family that meets misfortune in Afghanistan. A daughter is sold to a wealthy childless family after her mother dies in childbirth with her. The story twists through each child's life told from either themselves or their children. You can see the reasoning, the luck, and the heartbreak the decision to sell the daughter has as the children grow older. The surviving siblings do find each other, but not in the way you yearn for throughout the story. The novel weaves in other people the family had contact with in their lives, making the story that much more solid and amazing. The theme through this story again was the powerlessness they had to control their lives. The first chapter, which started off with the story of a mythical creature taking children was so perfectly crafted with the story it is hard to believe the work is fiction, with how everything written is so important to the story.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Last Girlfriend on Earth: Simon Rich

This was a really cute original work. It is a collection of humorous stories all having to do with love in some form or another. I loved the "dog's point of view", the "condom's story", "Center of the Universe"...and many others. They were all very clever. The young author has done so much already in his life I feel like a loser!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Artemis Fowl: Eoin Colfer

This was a different sort of book aimed for middle schoolers? The words seemed too hard for elementary level. He cleverly made it for both genders since the "bad guy" was a 12-year-old boy, a genius, and the fairy hero was a girl. In this book no one gets hurt and everyone seems happy with the outcome. The book schemes to get the "Fairy book of secrets" and uses it to get the Leprechaun's gold. Very fitting for the targeted age group.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Plum Lucky: Janet Evanovich

Another Holiday Novella, this one takes place on St. Patrick's Day. An "unmentionable" that diesel is looking for has the ability to talk to animals. This guy also thinks he's a leprechaun. Diesel was going after him because he was stealing money. We learn he had befriended a horse that was going to be put down due to an injured leg. He needed the money for the operation. The gangster he stole the money from kidnaps the horse and grandma Mazur for ransom, but Grandma had already spent the majority of the money at the casino. They had these elaborate schemes to make money where Diesal plays cards and then they rob the gangster's carwash. Everyone is saved and the gangster gets caught. Lula becomes a plus size model and gets a billboard in Atlantic City.

Rebecca: Daphne du Maurier

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again" A woman meets a widower while vacationing in Monte Carlo and marries him without knowing him very well. There is a cloud a mystery around his wife's drowning. Once she gets to her new home she is constantly undermined by the maid who was friends with the first wife "Rebecca" and lets her know she will never match up. She begins believing the maid that Mr. De Winter is still in love with his first wife. The Maid gives her a dress that was worn by Rebecca to wear to a ball knowing it will set Mr. De Winter off. The maid then nearly convinces her to commit suicide, but at that moment a ship is found sunk off the coast near the house. We then learn that Mr. De Winter murdered his first wife because she told him she was pregnant with another man's baby. She had had numerous lovers and De Winters in a fit of passion shots her and tries to make it look like she drowned. We then find out from one of the lovers and the DR that Rebecca was not pregnant and was dying from cancer, she manipulated De Winter into killing her.

A Clearing in the Fog: Daria Macomber

This book reminded me of Rebecca. The tone is similar and they are both about women who get involved with men, not knowing their past. In this book, a girl meets an older mysterious man through a friend and jumps at the chance to visit him in his home in the south after he invites her. Once she gets there she learns he is married. She also learns his wife mysteriously disappeared and the rumors vary between he killed her and that she ran off with another man. As the story progresses she learns that the wife- Adele- was pregnant right when she vanished. The protagonist spies on a friend of Adele who she believes is black mailing someone. While she is hiding in the hotel bathroom he ends up getting shot. Everyone becomes a suspect until she goes to the beach on an island with one of Adele's girlfriends and it is all revealed. This friend thought Adele was pregnant with her husband's child and shot her, then hid her on the island.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Lean Mean Thirteen: Janet Evanovich

I really enjoyed this book. Stephanie is shuffled between Morelli and Ranger again while Morelli babysits someone the police are protecting. Stephanie is trying to lay low after being accused of her ex-husband’s murder or at least his disappearance. Dickie Orr goes missing after Ranger asked Stephanie to put some bugs on him and in his office. She is a suspect since she had just barged into his office and beat him up after seeing a recent photo of Joyce Barnhardt and him in his office. She then takes a clock he had because it was a wedding present from her aunt. As it turns out Dickie had taken money from his partners and hid it in something Stephanie had. The entire time I thought it was in Rex's cage, so it was surprising how it turned out. The side stories were of Lula and Tank, tracking down a taxidermist who builds taxidermy animal bombs, who grandma then goes on a date with, and trying to apprehend a grave robber. I am looking forward to the next book.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Plum Lovin: Janet Evanovich

This was another "holiday novella" with the "unmentionable" Diesel. Not surprisingly Joe and Ranger are both out of town when Diesel shows up. This book is set on Valentine's Day and "Cupid" gets herself accused of stealing a necklace from a down and out pawn man. The Pawn owner is trying to avoid the necklace's owner since he sold the original and had a fake made to replace it. "Cupid has to hide from the necklace's owner since he now thinks she has the necklace, and misses her court date. Somehow Stephanie gets the responsibility of covering for "Cupid" and plays matchmaker to some locals, she also gets Valerie and Kloughn married since they are expecting baby #2.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Twelve Sharp: Janet Evanovich

I feel like a missed a book in between 11 and 12. When I finished 11 Stephanie was working for Ranger and had quite Vinnie's Bail bonds, 12 picks up as though 11 never happened. I did like how they tied the Mysterious "Carmen" from book 11, where the guys tease Ranger about her as though she wouldn't be happy about Stephanie being close to him. In chapter 12 we find out Carmen is "Ranger"'s wife. Ranger has had his identity stolen by a psycho who also kidnaps his daughter- I think we'll be seeing more of this daughter in the future books. The book never really goes into how this guy finds out Ranger has a daughter when Ranger is pretty secretive. The thief wants to kill Ranger and take over his life, including having Stephanie. They end up getting him after he kidnaps Stephanie and holds her and the daughter in Stephanie's apartment. Ranger walks into the apartment knowing "Ranger" is there and gets shot several times. The other stories include Grandma trying to sing with Sally and Lula. Lula also starts a relationship with Tank.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Eragon: Christopher Paolini

It's hard to believe this was written by a 15 year old it is soo well done. I must admit I am a little envious. This was very reminiscent of Tolkien. A boy, who is orphaned and lives with his uncle, finds a strange stone. The stone ends up hatching and he realizes it was a dragon egg. Dragons will only hatch for certain people, so he becomes a dragon rider. Dragon riders had been nearly extinct for the last 100 years and his appearance creates a lot of trouble. The king sends soldiers out to bring him back because the King wants to control him and his power. There are a lot of travels and more stories, but that is a rough summary. He meets up with an elf and seeks refuge with dwarves and another creature. I will be reading the series, I know they are aimed for kids, but it is easy to get into them.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eleven on Top: Janet Evanovich

This book was pretty original for the series. Stephanie decides she doesn't want to be a bounty hunter anymore and tries out some new jobs. After the button factory, the laundry mat, and the chicken joint all failed she gets a job with Rangerman. Her sister gets married in this book and decides to elope last minute, which pleases Stephanie who didn't want to wear the eggplant bridal gown nor play the Cello which she claimed to be able to do. After eating too much of the unused cake she goes off sweets. Stephanie divided her time between taking care of Morelli, who had a broken leg, working for Ranger, helping Lulu (her replacement for Vinnie), and trying not to fall victim to her latest attacker, who happened to be the funeral director Stiva. This was very clever and enjoyable.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cat's Cradle: Kurt Vonnegut

I love Vonnegut's characters and the dryness with which he presents the story. A man decides to write a book about the atomic bomb scientist who also developed a substance called "ice-nine" which freezes anything it touches. The author corresponds with the scientist's children who live on an island controlled by what seems to be a cult, he then visits the island. On the plane he meets a "Hoosier" who seems obsessed with that fact and insists that other Hoosiers she meets call her "mom". The humor is delightful and subtle throughout Vonnegut's stories. I liked this quote" And we all vied, in saving face, to be the greatest students of human nature, the person with the quickest sense of humor". In the end the leader of the island drinks the ice-nine because he is dying of cancer, then the inhabitants of the island all drink it too. (Think Jonestown) and only the tourists are still alive at the end. We are meant to believe the release of the ice-nine into the ocean (the leader's body fell into the sea) killed all of mankind. I liked that the Cat's cradle represented making something out of nothing at all, but then you realize the cat's cradle is really nothing too...excellent story that you could reflect on for a while.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ten Big Ones: Janet Evanovich

I enjoyed this book, it was original and didn't seem scripted where there is a car destroyed by chapter 3 (though her car was in fact set on fire during a robbery in the first chapter) Morelli's grandmother threatens by chapter 7, grandma goes to a funeral home etc. Ok, I guess grandma also went to a funeral in this one... Anyway in chapter one Stephanie sees a burglary and Lula accidently shoots out the tire of the getaway bike. The robber ended up being a gang member and now the gang is after Stephanie since she identified and got the burglar arrested. In the meantime she and Morelli have another fight and since Ranger is out of town she finds his house and stays there, using his shower gel. Sally the cross dresser makes an appearance in this one and in the end saves her from the gang that kidnaps her from her sister's bridal shower- using his bus (new job).

Friday, May 17, 2013

Visions of Sugar Plums: Janet Evanovich

This was an odd book, the author calls them "between the numbers holiday novellas". It had a mystical twist and seems to be the inspiration for the Wicked series. In this one Stephanie is searching for Sandy Claws who skipped bail. He owns a toy store and hires little people to work for him. There is also a grinch-like character and a big hulky man to make Stephanie compare him to Morelli. Evanovich must have a thing for big hulky men? Another car gets trashed and I didn't really care for Stephanie tossing the "elves" off her car.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

To the Nines: Janet Evanovich

This was another book where a LOT of stuff happened. I could have done without the pages of complaining about screening procedures and would have liked more on the game at the end, but oh well. In this one Stephanie is back living with Morelli and his grandmother comes over often saying the same thing over and over again about the evil eye. (I know it's late and I am cranky while writing this up, but I don't see the purpose of this Morelli grandmother)Stephanie's sister had a baby with Kloughn and in the end they are getting married and moving into Stephanie's Apartment since 5 people were sharing a room at her parent's and it was too hectic. A person disappears and Stephanie gets a tip that he is in Vegas, so they hunt him down only to get him killed. The killer "the webmaster" has orchestrated a killing game and Stephanie became the target. Once all the other players are dead the "webmaster" creates a hunting game in a warehouse where Stephanie is the prey. She ends up shooting the guy and Ranger saves her.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hard Eight: Janet Evanovich

Book number...err 8 of the Stephanie Plum series. In this one a friend from school goes missing with her daughter after a messy divorce. She looks for the two as a favor to a neighbor, not really as a job. During the search, she and Ranger hook up, she takes in a very overweight person that skipped bail, and she gets accosted by someone in a rabbit costume. By the end Stephanie found her friend. She was being chased by a killer, who Ranger ended up "taking care of" making it look like a suicide. Apparently Stephanie and Morelli are together again.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bedwetter: Sarah Silverman

This was one of the oddest books I have read, of course I haven't read many biographies from comedians before. She pokes fun of herself constantly and I guess Penis and fart humor really aren't my thing. There were entertaining parts though.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Seven Up: Janet Evanovich

This book was a little different than the rest. There was a murderer, but the person she spent most of the book looking for was just an old mobster trying to right a wrong after taking a deseased person's heart because he is hard of hearing. It was still a funny read and entertaining. Stephanie's car is wrecked AGAIN and she has to borrow a motorcyle, which both Lula and Grandma get to ride on. She and Morielli break up after she tells her parents they are getting married and she gets a dress. At the end of this book Ranger is in her bedroom.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hot Six: Janet Evanovich

It seems like every book keeps building with more stuff going on in each. In Hot Six Stephanie sort of inherits a dog and is given the challenge of bringing Ranger in, which she passes on. Grandma moves in with her for a while and buys a red corvette because she is trying to get her driver's license. Ranger asks her to keep an eye on a house and that job nearly gets her killed, or at least she nearly loses a finger. She is also involved in a few other FTA's creating a lot of comedy. Morelli hints at marriage at the end of the book.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

High Five: Janet Evanovich

This was another quick and entertaining read. I liked how the ending left you wondering who exactly Stephanie invited over to "look at her dress". In this book Stephanie's cheap Uncle Fred goes missing and some photographs of body parts are found in his drawer. Stephanie starts doing side jobs for Ranger for some extra cash and loses two of his cars, one to a bombing and one to thieves. Morelli is still her significant other, though Ranger is starting to flirt. On top of this Stephanie has to bring in a little person and smashes his door down in the process. Once he goes to trial he needs a place to stay until his door is fixed and stays with Stephanie. More people go missing or are found dead until they discover money laundering behind the crimes. Uncle Fred though he could black mail, but ended up dead instead.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Four to Score: Janet Evanovich

I like the Stephanie Plum series better than the Wicked series. After reading them back to back, the characters in this book are more enjoyable because they are not quite as flakey. In Four to Score Stephanie is looking for a bail Skipper who is a woman getting out of an abusive relationship. She leaves town and her friends and family end up getting fingers chopped off or if they don't suffer other injuries they are found dead. At the same time Morelli is working a counterfeit money case. After Stephanie's apartment is burned she and her transvestite helper move to her parent's house. The counterfeit money and the woman who skipped bail all end up being connected. This book had a lot of things going on to keep it entertaining. Joyce, who Stephanie caught with her ex-husband, is now also working for Vinnie and there seems to be more going on between Joe and Stephanie.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wicked Business: Janet Evanovich

The second book in the Lizzie and Diesel series. More magical stones are found and a new character is introduced..."Anarchy" she is also looking for the stones to do evil. This book had a lot of crude humor and repeated ideas from the first one, like dressing the monkey like a kid again. I am surprised Clara's bakery is still in business with how little work she gets out of her employees and how much food is given away or destroyed. Overall it was still an entertaining read. Lizzie is less spunky than Stephanie Plum, but gets the job done as the detective's assistant.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wicked Appetite: Janet Evanovich

This series has even more slapstick humor than the Stephanie Plum books. The characters are almost identical, but this book is based on the supernatural... and takes place near Salem. Both Lizzie, the main character and cousins Diesel and Wulf, who appeared one day, have special powers. Instead of the hamster in the Plum series,there is a monkey and a cat, both who have more personality than Rex the Hamster. The friend Glo plays with spells and Lizzie's love interest, Diesel is an "unmentionable". The Protagonist possesses a special power where she can determine if something is magical, they go around looking for magical charms, but have competition with the cousin Wulf who wants them for evil. In the end they all seemingly find the treasure and get what they want. It was still entertaining in a hardy har har way.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Atheist Manifesto: Michel Onfray

This was an interesting, thought provoking book. Some of the quotes are noteworthy. "Creation of the divine coexists with terror of the void in a life that must end." "The word "atheist" entered the French and English languages in the 16th century...but the idea of godlessness is old". It became taboo and misused where "The word described not the individual who emptied heaven of its habitants, but one who peopled it with his own fabrications." The section that explained the creation of the word "Atheism" was also very interesting, like most names, it wasn't one Atheists gave themselves, but was given to them. Onfray wrote about how some priests did good by preaching religion to give people something to be afraid of (hell) so they would do good and wouldn't rape, plunder, kill, lie, drink to excess etc, but then on the flip side numerous wars have been fought to preserve a certain religion. (Although on that point, I think Greed actually causes wars and religion, race, etc. has been a way to rally the troops, bringing one person territory, money etc.) The section on circumcision being unnecessary on girls though associated as a religious practice (up for argument) but not as big of an issue for boys was interesting. In the United States 60% of males are circumcised, for unreligious and supposedly hygienic grounds. He argues that it is not necessary for either so why is it still such a popular practice? He also made a good point on how Pontius Pilate would not be able to talk to Jesus since they spoke different languages. He brings up a valid point on why would Pontius even bother since Jesus was a mere prisoner, they were of different statuses. This book made me wonder if there are some books on religious revivals throughout history...this has been very interesting.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Three to Get Deadly: Janet Evanovich

This was another cute detective story. This is the third book in the Stephanie Plum series and was as humorous as the original. Stephanie is given the chore of bringing in the local candy man "Uncle Mo and gets a lot of chastising from the community. Then a bunch of drug lords turn up dead and Mo goes missing. After a hair accident, where it turned out orange, and arresting a teenager in a chicken suit (who missed his court date) Stephanie makes the connection between Uncle Mo and the murders. Of course the bodies in Mo's basement helped move things along.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Time To Betray: Reza Kahlili

A humbling book told in a very wistful voice. This was reminiscent of Khaled Hosseini's books with the sickness in which they view violence in their country, but cannot speak up for fear of being killed themselves. I hated how helpless he felt and how he had agreed to be a spy for the United States, yet they used his information to their own benefit and didn't seem to help the people of Iran at all. I had a feeling when the book began that both of his childhood friends would end up dead, but I could never have imagined the deaths like they happened. I am still Appalled by the entire episode at the prison, His best friend's sister Parvaneh being paraded in front of him and then executed, the torture the two brothers endured, Roya's suicide, the stoning, the other's stories. How can a society heal from a regime that allows this? This story was haunting, He risked everything, it put a crack into his family life and I feel like we as American's did nothing for him or his country. I believe in staying out of others countries because we make mistakes- Hussein, Pinochet etc. but other countries really view us as peacekeepers and protectors and we are ruining that imagine. This book really causes one to think about human relations and obligations

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Black Swan: Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This is an interesting, serious read. A lot of the things he mentioned were obvious when you think about it, but most people don't- like "Beginner's Luck" where the people who aren't lucky at the beginning get out, so the lucky people, who continue playing- all claim the same thing-you're lucky in the beginning. The Italian Toddler story was interesting too, in a war torn country were millions were being killed and the people were worried about one little boy who fell in a well in Italy. They had 1 face to picture and worry about which seemed more real than the mass of people they may not have known.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Two for the Dough: Janet Evanovich

The second book in the series. Stephanie is still working for her cousin Vinnie (bail bonds) and trying to apprehend Joe Morelli's cousin Kenny Mancuso. Kenny had worked with two buddies to steal high powered guns off a military base. One friend worked as a mechanic and borrowed a truck that came in for overnight maintenance; the other friend was an undertaker and bought surplus military caskets off the military base, which was where they hid the guns to get them off base. The guns were then to be sold on the black market. Another entertaining read where Stephanie takes her grandmother along with her on stakeouts at the funeral home.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A God Who Hates: Wafa Sultan

This book was as hopeful and uplifting as it was depressing. I liked how the book was started with a biography showing firsthand how she has seen women damaged and then moved on to society as a whole. She mentions that the children (which has become 40% of the population) in the Muslim world are either brainwashed or looking to the west for opportunity and knowledge. Yet many who live in the United States bad mouth it when talking to other foreigners. The story she told about coming upon two young boys ripping feathers out of birds and believed they were superior to a grown woman was terrifying. Wafa also talks about the difference in non-Arab Muslims and Arab Muslims since the Koran is written in Arabic, which many non-Arabs can't read. She mentions those who don't know what they are saying in the rote prayer aren't as damaged because they don't know the words of hate they recite. She Says the Koran is a book of violence "Muslims are the inalterable product of what they read. They are negative people, and their negativism is reflected in all their attitudes toward life."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Trouble With Islam: Irshad Manji

I really liked the writer's voice in this book; her statements were so straightforward and spunky. "What makes us righteous and everyone else racist?...I am a Muslim Refusenik. That doesn't mean I refuse to be a Muslim; it simply means I refuse to join the army of automatons in the name of Allah". The section explaining the error of expecting 70 virgins as a reward for martyrdom was hilarious. There is some belief that the word was translated wrong and was actually Raisins. (They were expensive delicacies.)This section was educational. I didn't know some the text in the Koran was translated into Arabic from Judeo-Christian culture. Later in the book there is this quote "That is why", says Sardar, " Whenever the shai'ah is imposed- out of context from the time when it was formulated and out of step with our- Muslim societies acquire a medieval feel. We see that in Saudi Arabia, Iran, the Sudan, and Afghanistan after the Taliban." Ok, I guess I am just going to quote all the "ah ha" moments from this book "In North Africa, Jews and Christians wore shoulder patches with pictures of pigs and monkeys, respectively... In Baghdad, seat of the Islamic enlightenment, the Dhimmi peoples dressed in clothes bearing yellow symbols- a marker resuscitated by the Nazis." I really enjoyed reading this; it was equal parts educational and entertaining.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wanted Women, Faith, Lies, and the War on Terror: Deborah Scroggins

I liked how the author picked two completely different people on their views towards Islam and alternated chapters between comparing their lives. It was obvious Scoggins didn't like Ayaan Hirsi, she remained neutral when discussing Aafia Siddiqui (until the end), but inserted her own judgments on Ayaan. Some were that she didn't think through her speeches, she didn't consider other Muslims who weren't extremist, etc. It bothered me because it seemed like she was promoting Aafia through judging Ayaan (until you get further into the book). Aafia was an interesting person. She kept pushing her husband to join the jihad, yet when the FBI starts investigating her she flees back to Pakistan fearing for her life. It was as though she thought her life was more important than her husband's. She was obsessed with being a martyr's wife. I can't believe she would put her children through that and they never did determine what actually happened to her baby. Aafia's story is sad because you feel for the children's father. The children were taken from him and even when they showed up again, living who knows what sort of life, he wasn't allowed to have them back. I learned through this book that Ayaan's book Infidel was actually written by a ghost writer. I was also surprised that Ayaan was upset about Holland cancelling her protective service when she gained American citizenship. First off, they advised her they were stopping at a certain date, extended it, advised her again and she still didn't think it would happen. Plus her actions are what caused her to need bodyguards in the first place and she was no longer a citizen of the country paying for the protection because of lying on the immigration paperwork!. The Book did a good job on summing up the comparisons between the two women with very strong, very different beliefs. Ayaan fought with words for peace and seems to live happily ever after; Aafia was plotting murder and will spend the rest of her life in prison.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Rajneesh Chronicles; The true Story of the Cult the Unleased the AFirst Act of Bioterrorism on U.S. Soil: Win McCormack

This was a scary read. I had only heard of the Rajneesh cult poisoning and knew nothing about how they operated, or who they were. The way they took over the town of Antelope Oregon is frightening and could still happen so easily today because in a democracy, the majority win. The entire time the town of 40 was being taken over by religious fanatics the townspeople could see what was happening, why they wanted into the school system, though they had their own schools etc., but were powerless to stop them. “Antelope seems likely to join a long list of American Communities that have been utterly changed by the perfectly legal settlement of a different group, but the change here is so sudden and yet so complete, and contrasts both in power and in values between the two groups so sharp, that locals feel not only outnumbered but also strangers in what they had thought to be their land." There were a bunch of great quotes in this book "The greater a man's brilliance, the greater number of truths he has insight to...the more dangerously destructive that man has the power to be- if his core is evil" Once the cult was dismembered the evidence of the AIDS virus and salmonella was found. The destruction this cult could have done is unsettling. The leader predicted 2/3rds of the world's population would die of AIDS. It appeared he was going to be responsible for it.