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Stephaniemiller

Stephanie's books and other things

I like books. I like art. I have opinions.....you've been warned.

Currently reading

A Clash of Kings
George R.R. Martin
The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto
Tavis Smiley, Cornel West
The Wind Through the Keyhole (The Dark Tower, #4.5)
Stephen King, Jae Lee
Master Strokes: Watercolor: A Step-By-Step Guide to Using the Techniques of the Masters
Hazel Harrison
The Mad Art of Caricature!: A Serious Guide to Drawing Funny Faces
Tom Richmond (Illustrator)
Growing Up Humming - Mike Spinak Wow!

I received an ebook copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. His inquiry was professional and in no way did I feel he was harassing me for a review.....so he gets a review.

The photographs in this little book are impressive. I have no clue how one can capture a humming bird in mid flight and stop it in order to put in on the page, but Mike Spinak has done it here.

The story is written for children and is about the growth of baby humming birds from chick to flight, to a life of their own.

Well done.
Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao - Wayne W. Dyer A book by Wayne W. Dyer is typically a book I would not pick up. But this particular book of his was about the Tao Te Ching written by Lao-tzu in ancient China about 2500 years ago……a book I typically pick up on a regular basis (cause I love it.)

The Tao is only 81 verses long, but there have been many translations over the years. The one I am most familiar with is the translation, [b:Tao Te Ching : A New English Version|15752419|Tao Te Ching A New English Version|Stephen Mitchel|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1342338250s/15752419.jpg|21447426] written by Stephen Mitchell, and is probably the easiest to follow. Dyer used several translations in the writing of this book (which is unfortunately named) including the version I mention above.

Wayne Dyer took a year to study each verse, research it, and write an essay on each one giving his thoughts on what each verse meant. He put a lot of work into it and I thought he did an excellent job, though I’m not sure I would have came up with the same thoughts myself…….but that’s why I read, for different ideas.

I didn’t read this book as it was intended to be read. I plowed straight through it instead of reading one verse and essay a day, and let each one sink in for that day before moving on. I plan on re-reading it that way……maybe even moving it up to four days for each verse and writing out my take on it and post it here..…somewhere, when and if time permits.

The one thing I took away from this book is that ‘force’ is never effective, in any circumstance. I have tried my whole life to force things to happen, and the results have not been positive. A person can plan, prepare and pursue, then you just got to let things play out as they are supposed to.

There is something I would like to mention about the author. He lives what he believes and what he writes……he practices the Tao. He gives his money away, pretty much all of it…..and there is always more that comes back to him in return. He’s one of the good guys.
Red Dragon - Thomas Harris Now that I’ve just finished reading this book, I feel the need to scrub parts of my brain with steel wool for the purpose of removing certain scenes that Thomas Harris has so rudely embedded there. Thanks a bunch Tom!

Will Graham has the rotten luck at being really good at his job. He is a profiler for the FBI and while he was on the job catching Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Lecter caught him with a big sharp knife. Will decides that was enough for him, so he makes the wise decision to retire.

But nooo! Jack Crawford, Will’s former boss, shows up at his house asking for help on a new case of a new serial killer dubbed the Tooth Fairy, because the creep likes to bite his victims.

Here’s how the conversation goes between the two, broken down to its simplest form.

Jack: Hey I need your help with a case because you’re the best at what you do.
Will: But I don’t want to on account I was nearly gutted last time I helped you.
Jack: But you’re really good at your job.
Will: Okay…..since you put it that way, I’ll help.

Francis Dolarhyde, or the Tooth Fairy/the Dragon, had a pretty awful childhood (to put it mildly.) Born to a mother who rejects him because of a deformity, a hare lip, then raised by a sadistic grandmother who adopts him for the sole purpose to get revenge on her daughter (not because she loves the boy). As a result of growing devoid of all love, he turns out a little off. Surprise!!

Where Dolarhyde has no empathy, Will has too much. This is what makes him a good profiler; he is able to almost ‘become’ the person he is hunting, to understand them.

“Graham had a lot of trouble with taste. Often his thoughts were not tasty. There were no effective partitions in his mind. What he saw and learned touched everything else he knew. Some of the combinations were hard to live with. But he could not anticipate them, could not block and repress. His learned values of decency and propriety tagged along, shocked at his associations, appalled at his dreams; sorry that in the bone arena of his skull there were no forts for what he loved. His associations came at the speed of light. His value judgments were at the pace of a responsive reading. They could never keep up and direct his thinking. He viewed his own mentality as grotesque but useful, like a chair made of antlers. There was nothing he could do about it.”

That’s pretty dark stuff to deal with and still fight to maintain sanity.

When all was said and done I suppose I ‘enjoyed’ this book. But yet I didn’t enjoy it at all. It was very well done……it kept my attention throughout, but I don’t think this type of book is all that good for me. While I love dark books, I seem to need them to be a bit fanciful…….not of the real world. All the stuff that happens in the real world is depressing enough, bombings, school shootings, and kids shooting other kids to death, I feel the need to escape from that.

Books like this are just more of that. Oddly enough though, I think the new TV show is fantastic.

I now am reading a book about the Tao de Ching (that has an unfortunate title) hoping it will clean up my brain……..

Also posted on Shelfinflicted
Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World - Dalai Lama XIV, Alexander Norman I love the Dalai Lama. Every time I hear him in an interview I smile from ear to ear, I can't help myself.

But I have read several of his books and each and every one was difficult to get through. I listened to this audio, which helps me actually finish books like these, but I had a hard time focusing on what was being said. My mind kept wandering every which way. Funny thing since a lot of this was, of course, about meditation practice, which is all about focusing the mind!

I had to laugh at myself many times through this because invariably he would be talking about focusing the mind while mine was happily off somewhere else.......I would think "Crap! Stephanie he said FOCUS!"

Rewind

Rewind

Rewind

Oh, I give up.
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson “What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn't that be wonderful?”

Would it?

I believe everyone would love a chance to go back and change things in their past. Correct mistakes in order to change their life or their loved ones lives for the better. But changing one thing may only lead to a new problem……then you have to go back, change the first mistake, then the second one, and so on. I don’t know about you, but this sounds exhausting to me.

Ursula gets the chance to get it ‘right’ over and over again. She is born on a snowy night in February 1910, but since she is born with no doctor present, and with the umbilical cord around her neck she never breaths a breath. Ursula is born on a snowy night in February 1910; the doctor makes it in time to save the little girl from nearly straggling on her own umbilical cord. Through it all, Ursula lives many lives and dies many deaths. Each time she is reborn in the same life, same date, same circumstances but each time she has a certain amount of recall from former times around and she is able to make choices to avoid catastrophe….but new catastrophes, and new deaths, always crop up and they need a fixing the next time around.

Every time she made the right decision and avoided some horrible fate it I would be so happy and I’d hope that maybe this time would be the last time for Ursula, that she would finally get to rest (even though I didn’t want the book to end), but no, there was always the snow.

This book is just beautiful. Painstakingly researched and sublimely written, Life After Life has found a place on my Favorites shelf. Kate Atkinson wrote about life in WWII England and in WWII Germany in such a human way that I don’t believe I ever really felt, or understood, what it was truly like until I read this book. What it was like to live with the threat of being bombed every single night, horrifying. Or what it was like to live under the rule of a crazy man, loving him and worshiping him as the savior of your country only to realize, too late, who he really was.

I love this book and this quote that I hate to admit hits a little too close to home.

“Ursula craved solitude but she hated loneliness, a conundrum that she couldn’t even begin to solve.”
War Horse - Michael Morpurgo I listened to this on audio and was listening to this while making my way to a ‘gig’ at Wooster College in Ohio, where I was to draw caricatures. Drawing caricatures for the public requires a certain amount of upbeat interaction, so it might not have been a good time to cry over Joey the War Horse. I hope my Eyes weren’t all puffy.

Joey is a special horse. Special enough to be purchased to serve in the first world war as a Calvary horse. But the whole time he is in the war he longs for the day he can go home to his boy, Albert. Joey was sold to the war effort against Albert’s wishes by his father and Albert vows to join up when he’s old enough and bring his horse back against all odds.

Joey’s time was not easy in the war. Quite frankly he went through hell. He suffers many losses along the way, but he keeps going. Will he find Albert? Read it and find out.

This is a wonderful little book.

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry - Jon Ronson “There is no evidence that we've been placed on this planet to be especially happy or especially normal. And in fact our unhappiness and our strangeness, our anxieties and compulsions, those least fashionable aspects of our personalities, are quite often what lead us to do rather interesting things.”

Jon Ronson, in preparation of writing this book took a course from a top psychologist on how to spot a Psychopath. Below is a list of traits from the first factor called "Aggressive Narcissism". The statistics show that 1% of the population is psychopathic....gulp. One person out of one hundred.

Come along with me and play 'spot the psychopath'....shall we?

#1. Glibness/superficial charm
#2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
#3. Pathological lying
#4. Cunning/manipulative
#5. Lack of remorse or guilt
#6. Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
#7. Callousness; lack of empathy
#8. Failure to accept responsibility for his or her own actions

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin

#1. Everything she has ever said is Glib.
#2. Truly believed she could be vice president...NO, PRESIDENT!
#3. "What newspapers do you read (Sarah)?"..."Ah, you know, all of 'em." LIAR! "I can see Russia from my house"....sure.
#4. She got herself nominated for the vice presidency didn't she?
#5. Enjoys shooting wolves from a helicopter without a care in the world.
#6. Duh....check.
#7. Does not give a fuck have empathy for the poor and the sick.
#8. Has not accepted the responsibility for destroying the Republican party....or maybe that falls on McCain.

Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney

#1. Glibness? sure. Charm? Well you can't win them all.
#2. Made himself president.
#3. Weapons of mass destruction? Anyone?
#4. Again, made himself president.
#5. Shot his friend in the face. He not only wasn't sorry, he made the friend apologize for getting his face in the way.
#6. Do cyborgs have emotions?
#7. Does not give a fuck about anyone, for any reason.
#8. Started an unnecessary war that has killed thousands for personal profit and has never "I'm sorry" once.

Alex
Alex

Start reading at comment #49. Okay a personal joke.....I kid, Alex. Sort of.

This could go on and on, so I'll stop here.

“Suddenly, madness was everywhere, and I was determined to learn about the impact it had on the way society evolves. I've always believed society to be a fundamentally rational thing, but what if it isn't? What if it is built on insanity?”

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Jon makes us look twice at the world around us and how we are all defined by our 'maddest edges'...all of our edges are a bit mad. He shows us a look at the 'madness industry' and how one Doctor took the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) from 40ish pages into the 800s. Being normal is a disorder these days.

Here is Jon's TED talk on this book

If you are worried about the above traits, well....

“At the end of our conversation she (Martha Stout) turned to address you, the reader. She said if you're beginning to feel worried that you may be a psychopath, if you recognize some of those traits in yourself, if you're feeling a creeping anxiety about it, that means you are not one.”
Room - Emma Donoghue I listen to a lot of audio books…… I don’t have the time to sit down and read all the books I want. I’m a slow reader *sigh*, but along came the Ipod and the Audible and yay for me!

I don’t passively listen to books (unless I’m driving) It is always when I am actively doing something else, usually something quite boring like housework or grocery shopping. Or something that is not boring but is second nature like artwork. So, I’m listening to Room and something odd happens….. I want to sit down and take a break from whatever I was doing at which point I would usually put on the TV, but I really didn’t want to because the darn book was so good, and the voice actors were equally as good. I had a dilemma here; I couldn’t justify sitting and listening. It was too weird. But I really wanted to sit down for a minute. ….and I didn’t want to stop listening.

I know, first world problem.

To Jack Room is all there is. It’s the world. He has no concept of anything beyond it. He knows there is an “outside” but he has no way of conceiving its’ true nature because he has never seen it, not even through a window. Room only has a sky light. Because it is only Jack and his Ma, everything in Room becomes his friend out of loneliness. There is no ‘the’ rug or ‘the’ sink; everything has a proper name like Rug, Sink, or Meltady Spoon.

Room is home for Jack but for his mother it is a prison. In reality, Room is a backyard shed that a psychopath named Nick tricks out with lead lined walls, central heat and air, refrigerator, stove, sink, bed and toilet. Everything a good psychopath needs to keep a sex slave alive in. Nick (old Nick to Jack) kidnapped Jacks’ Ma when she was a 19 year old college student and keeps her locked in the shed for seven years. She tries, early on, to escape but every attempt fails. When Jack is born she turns her focus on raising him and keeping him as safe as she can. But one day Old Nick does something that scares Ma and she comes up with a daring escape plan that relies on five year old Jacks’ bravery, to go out into the world he doesn’t believe is real.

I have had this book sitting in my library since it came out. I never felt I was in the mood for it, it seemed so depressing. But the other night, the book I was listening to finished and I still had to get through some really boring stuff and I had no way of getting to my computer to download anything. Room was there and I started listening. I’m glad I did.

A superbly written gem.
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us - Michael Moss I can honestly say I am one of the first people on the planet to have eaten a Chicken Mc Nugget.

This is my dad a few years back
dad

He is a mechanical engineer and a total genius. Before I was born my dad had to find a job to support his family (they already had my older sister). My parents wanted to stay near family, so dad started looking around in the Sandusky Ohio area……He got two job offers, one with NASA (yes….NASA) and one with Stein Associates, a brand new company that saw the need for mass food production…..processing it, if you will. They needed someone to design breaders and fryers that ultimately went to companies like Mc Donald’s, Tyson, and Mrs. Pauls, and my dad was the man (Stein offered 10 cents more, NASA lost). They were the only ones out there doing this and had a monopoly on the industry. If it’s been breaded and fried and you didn’t do this yourself, thank my dad.

Dad loved his job was good at it. Really good, he has numerous patents and a Da Vinci Award (a big F’n deal). For years he stood at the end of the line taste testing the food. He brought it home for us as well….hey, anywhere you can save a buck with four kids to feed. He traveled the planet working with various companies to get their production lines working. Japan, The Soviet Union (where he was followed by KGB, he wanted to turn around and point out to them that they asked him to come, but he was wise enough not to), England…..pretty much everywhere.

All of the travel resulted in bad eating habits not to mention the ‘taste testing’ took its toll. He gained weight and eventually became a type 2 diabetic, and has many other weight related health problems.

I don’t know if working at NASA would have been better for his health or wallet, but it would have been way cooler. If I would have ended up with a skinny, healthy dad?…..even cooler.

In Salt, Sugar, Fat the author calls out these big food companies. The CEO’s of companies like Kraft and Nabisco actually sat down one day after studies shown that Americans were getting fat, and it looked like it was their food that was causing the problem. On the chart (they had) showed a steady rise in the average Americans weight after 1980, while before that date we chugged right along at a normal weight. What changed? We didn’t suddenly lose control, in mass, for no reason. It was because of what was being done to the food…..don’t get me started on high fructuous corn syrup. So, these asshat CEOs thought about the problem, thought about making a change, actually tried and failed at a few ideas, and in the end they said “fuck it, let’s just make money”.

The stuff they do to the processed food is done in such a way it actually causes a person to become addicted to certain foods. It activates the same part of your brain as heroin does. I can’t go into all the details about the subject; you’ll have to read the book for that.

Moral of the story, don’t eat processed foods if you can get away with it. Don’t eat fast food like Chicken McNuggets. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and avoid all the bad things that taste sooo good.


Reviewed on Shelfinflicted
A Breath of Snow and Ashes - Diana Gabaldon *Poke* *Poke* *Poke*

"AAAAHHHHHH!! What the?.....who the?....where the?"
"When the?"

"Stephanie wake up! It's Claire Fraser. What are you doing here? And should you be driving that contraption? You smell like a brewery!!"

"Oh Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!....whaa....I'm not *hicup* a-saxtly sure how I ended up here. Oh look..hee...hee... I'm sitting on the time mower.....Kemper ish going to be sooo pissed at me, but what else is new?....haaaaaaaa!" *slowly sides off time mower in heap*

“Claire, what happened to her?”

“Jamie....do you remember Stephanie? She’s another time traveler like me, but she’s from somewhere in the 2010’s.”

The corner of Jamie’s mouth twitched in a wry smile, “Aye, I do. I’d say that lassie is drunk!” he rubbed his knuckle on his long straight nose.

Holding my hand up “That’s because I am....very, very drunk. Ya see, I read another book *hic* in the series that has been written about your lives, A Breath of Snow and Ashes. Don’t ask me how this is poshsible, I don’t know, but it’s most likely something to do with you messing about with time. Anyhow, just for funnzies I decided to make a drinking game out of the book, whenever you said “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ” I took a shot of whiskey since you all drink the stuff like water and I thought whatzz good fer the goose is good for the gander.......Haaaaaa.......weeee!

“Why would you do that? Not a wise move if you asked me, I say that ALL the time.” Said Claire. “I KNOW! That was the point......Well, I didn’t ask you Claire because I don’t think you make the wisest choice with the whiskey yourself! By the way, who the hell do you think you are judging me about my alcohol consumption? Around here it’s the answer for everything. Pregnant? Drink some whiskey. Just vomited from being sedated with homemade ether? Drink some whiskey. Been gang raped? Drink some whiskey....okay that one makes sense. Whatever is going on the answer is “drink more whiskey!!” One has to admire that. It’s a damn good thing that I didn’t pick the words ‘wry, knuckle, or rubbed’ or I would be in an alcoholic coma or worse, dead.”

Jamie looked at me and narrowed his cat eyes “If our lives and the words the lady who writes these books uses bothers ya so much, why do ya keep reading them?” The corner of his mouth twitched in a wry smile and he rubbed his long straight nose with his knuckle......again.

“That’s an excellent question Jamie and I don’t have a good answer for you other then that I can’t quit you.....either of you.” *sigh*

“Awe Stephanie, that’s so sweet I could cry. I think we need to drink to that!” said Claire. “Suuure…..what’s a little more whiskey gonna hurt at this point?” Said I. Jamie pours us all a dram of whiskey, says something in Gallic, and we all drink it down in one swallow. He then rubs his long straight nose with his knuckle and smiles wryly.

“One thing I can say in the positive about the authors’, Diana Gabaldon, word choices is that she never ever uses the words ‘throbbing’ and ‘member’ together, and with all the sex scenes in all of these books that’s saying something.”

*Blushes* “She writes about…..mm hmm? What happens at night between me....and my wife?” asks Jamie. “Oh sure…between the two of you, and between Roger and Brianna, between any two people who may cross paths, I’m pretty sure that’s why so many people read the books.” I said.

“She’s also obsessed with describing hair. Seriously how many times must we hear about hair? I know everything there is to know about everybody’s hair in the history of ever. Yours Jamie is always a fire and Claire, you constantly have escaping curls.” I said “but I guess that’s better than the last book, The Fiery Cross, where Diana was obsessed with describing every detail about every dirty diaper, or clout as you call them, that adorable little angelic Gem produced. Forget about the obsession with lactating breasts…..and sex with, around, and about lactating breasts…..and the sticky aftermath. I couldn’t even come back and talk to you about it, any review I tried to write just came out dirty, and not always in a good way.”

“That sounds disgusting.” Said Claire. “At times it was” I said.

“Well, I better get this thing back to its owner before he misses it. I’m not scared of the guy, he likes to pretend he’s evil and all by wearing fake felt mustaches….but he doesn’t fool me.” I said, and then set the time mower for home instead of Kansas; if Kemper wants his time mower back he’ll just have to come to Ohio and get it.

“Haahaa ha…..Mwa ha ha……MWAHAHAHHAHAHAAAAA!!!”

I did enjoy this book more than the previous one. It's a 3.5. There was a new time traveler from her time that enter the story and I was disappointed with how the author handled this character. There was a potential there for something really interesting and she decided to make the character boring instead. But overall it was entertaining.
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything - Joshua Foer,  Mike Chamberlain Cross posted atShelfinflicted


People do the oddest things in the name of winning.

I’m a competitive person (as are most of you reviewers out there). A few years ago I would have added the word “very” in front of competitive; I’ve mellowed as I’ve aged but I remember the lengths I went to in order to be the best at whatever I deemed important. But I’m fairly certain I would not go to such lengths to win a memory competition.

Joshua Foer thought it was a dandy idea…..

Joshua found himself in the world of competitive memory when he decided he wanted to do a journalistic book about the subject and the people in it. Apparently, and I didn’t know this, there is a world competition for memory. These people memorize long lists of numbers, decks on top of decks of cards, poetry….ect, all to repeat what they remember to some judges in hopes of winning. My question was why? What purpose could this possibly serve? Who needs a skill like this and when would one have the need to memorize 20 decks of cards?

As the author points out in the book, we no longer need to remember much of anything these days, all our electronic gadgets serve as our external memory. When was the last time you memorized a phone number? Pretty close to “a really flippin long time ago” I would guess.

To accomplish the mind boggling feet of, say, memorizing the order of cards in many set of cards in just minutes, they use the technique called mnemonics. What this is, is making a visual backdrop for each card, or number, or object and putting them in ‘memorable’ situations doing strange things……and apparently the raunchier the better. Trust me you don’t want to know what his mind had conjured up for Bill Clinton and a Watermelon, but I will never forget it.

Competition got the better of Foer, and he went from writing a book about memory competitors to being a competitor himself. He wanted the American memory championship bad! So bad he resorted to wearing blacked out goggles with small holes in them to see whatever he studying and to wearing earmuffs to minimize distractions. That's dedication.
The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway I was sitting outside of a bar in Key West Florida. It was August, it was hot. The bar was on the beach where there was lots of sand and water. In the water I saw dolphins and waves. The dolphins jumped and the waves waved.

My glass was empty. The waiter walked up to my table. “More absinth miss?” He asked. “No, I better not.” I put my hand over my glass “I read somewhere that it can cause hallucinations and nightmares. Just some ice water please.” I said. He put and empty glass in front of me, tipped his picture of water over my glass until it was full, at that time he stopped pouring.

A man I did not know walked up to my table “No one in Key West is to stop drinking alcohol while they are conscious, you know the rules Manuel!” said the stranger to the waiter. “Don’t make me repeat myself; did you hear me? Don’t make me repeat myself, it’s annoying.”

“I’ll drink to that”. I said and held up my ice water, then put it to my lips and drank. It was cold. I set it back down on the table. “I just finished a book where everyone repeated themselves over and over……drove me to drink!”

“Sorry Mr. Hemingway” said Manuel “she said she wanted ice water, so that’s what I gave her”. A cat ran by, it was fast. “Meow” it said…..it was orange. “But you know the rules Manuel, you know the rules.” Said Mr. Hemingway “I know the rules Mr. Hemingway, how could I not? You tend to repeat yourself continually….it must be all the absinth…..” muttered Manuel.

“What did you say Manuel?” Asked Mr. Hemingway “Nothing….” said Manuel. “Bring the lady some Champagne right away!” said Mr. Hemingway. Manuel walked away towards the kitchen.

“Who are you?” I asked the man I did not know. “Hemingway…..you wouldn’t happen to be related to the writer, would you? His book The Sun Also Rises was the book I was just referring to; I don’t remember ever being quite so bored. On the bright side, I think it did wonders for my blood pressure.” I said.

Dressed in worn khaki shorts and a Hawaiian shirt with one too many colors, he stood there at my table and squinted at me, sweat rolling down the side of his face into his gray beard. It was hot. He set his drink down on the table, hard, and pulled out a chair and sat down. “May I sit?” he asked as he put his dirty bare feet up on the table as he tipped the chair back. “Sure, you’re already in the chair. Besides I don’t think it will be long before you fall on your ass.” I said, I drank some water, it was cold. “Language! I’m Ernest Hemmingway the guy who wrote that boring book” he put his feet on the ground and the chair dropped down with a bang. He put his right hand out to shake mine. I stared at it for a while then took it. “Stephanie. Hey, I don’t want to come across as insensitive but aren’t you dead?” I asked “Really? I don’t feel dead….at least I don’t think I am.” Said not dead Ernest “Damn! Absinth lives up to its reputation. “I said and smacked the left side of my head with my left hand. My head was hard.

“Manuel!! Where’s that champagne? “I shouted in sheer panic. “So” Ernest picked up his drink and drank the whole thing in one gulp. “I am one the greatest American writers, if not the greatest, everybody says so. And you…..” he paused and pointed his finger at me using the same hand that still held the glass, the melting ice clinked “you didn’t like the Sun Also Rises?” he asked and set his glass down. “I know, I heard the same thing, that you were one of the greatest American writers, so imagine my surprise that I didn’t love it like the rest of the human race. In fact, I really didn’t like it AT ALL! Please don’t hurt me.”

Manuel walked back to the table caring the bottle of Champagne and two glasses. He sat the glasses in front of us and went about the task of opening the bottle. “Thank god your back Manuel, I think I’m hallucinating. I hope champagne helps things to normalize.” The bottle said “pop”. “It won’t help because you are not hallucinating.” He said and poured the Champagne, he turned and walked off. I picked up the glass and drank, it was bubbly….and cold.

“What else didn’t you like about my book?” Asked Ernest “I’m really not comfortable telling you to your face, but, alright” I said “I found all the characters aimless, unlikeable, drunkards that didn’t have any idea what to with their lives but travel about the world constantly drunk….which doesn’t sound all that bad on the surface, but it was so not interesting.” I said “they were so excruciatingly boring that I couldn’t even care enough about them to remember who was who.” I said “it felt like it would never end, but when it did end the only thing that I liked about it was the fact that it was over…..finally. No big payoff ending. ” I sighed and finished off my Champagne, poured myself and Ernest another glass.

“Wow. Sorry you hated it. I suppose you can’t please everyone.” He said. “I’ll by you dinner to repay you for putting you through that”.

“That’s not necessary, but I could eat. I must bathe first.” I said. “Well sure, it is hot after all.” He said “Yes, I must bathe you understand? One cannot dine without bathing first, so you will have to wait until I bathe.”

“I must bathe. I must bathe. I. must. Bathe.” I said.

“Now you’re just making fun of me.” he said.

“Yup……I will make you suffer the way you made me suffer.” I smiled

“Great. I look forward to it.” Said not dead Ernest. We rose to our feet, steadied ourselves and stumbled off into the sunset.

Also reviewed on shelfinflicted
The Diviners - Libba Bray This book irritated the crap out of me.

I gave it 3 stars, but it hovers around the 2.5 mark for me. While I enjoyed the story and it held my interest throughout, the cutesy vernacular made me insane and ruined it for me.

This book is set in the 1920’s when prohibition was in full swing and you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a bobbed haired flapper girl. Evie (said flapper) was sent away from her fake Ohio town of Zenith to New York City, after a party game showing off her divining power angered the wrong people, to stay with her Uncle Will. But did she call him Uncle Will or just Will or just Uncle? Nope, she insisted on “Unck”. Her uncle asked he if she would “not call him that” (and I cheered) but the annoying little brat refused and every time she called him “Unck” (which was every other sentence) I wanted to reach into the book and pos-i-toot-ly (another frequently used annoying word) grab her by her bobbed hair, look her in the eye and yell “STOP IT”!

*sigh*

Evie isn’t the only Diviner as it turns out, there are several that all end up meeting each other quite conveniently, none as grating as little Evie. One of them, Memphis, is very likable.

Libba, I know this is New York in the 1920’s. I realize that is the way people spoke then, but you really didn’t need to hit the reader in the head with it over and over and over again.

List of annoying words…..

Unck
Doll
Pie face
Pos-i-toot-ly
Jake (apparently this means “everything is alright”)
Sheba

I have read most of what Libba bray has written and I have enjoyed everything up to this point. And I liked the story of the Diviners, but I couldn’t get past them words……
Among Others - Jo Walton "I care more for people in books than the people I see every day.”

uh....kind of the truth sometimes.

Morwenna Phelps is a fifteen year old who is a veracious reader, especially for anything Science Fiction, or 'SF' as she calls it. I was tempted to write down every book mentioned as this book moved along, but seriously that would have been more work than I really had the energy to do.

I'm not sure how to review this book without putting out a spoiler or two. I'm going to try to avoid it, but....

Among Others is written in the first person in the form Morwenna's diary, which begins after a horrible car crash that both Morwenna and her twin are in. Mor's leg is severely injured and her twin doesn't survive. Mor takes refuge in her books to get though it and heal.

“It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.”

Morwenna and her sister grew up seeing fairies and doing magic (very vague magic). Mor's mother is a very powerful and evil witch, for whom she blames for her twins death. Mor runs away from her mother to stay with a father who she has never met and is sent off to boarding school.

Everything that happens in this book, or diary, is all filtered through Morwenna and her SF books. Morwenna IS her SF books, so what might actually be happening and what Mor is telling us are likely two different things altogether. I kept expecting that it would come out that Mor had a mental break after the crash and the loss of her sister, and that all the belief in magic and fairies were a part of it.

“I don’t think I am like other people. I mean on some deep fundamental level. It’s not just being half a twin and reading a lot and seeing fairies. It’s not just being outside when they’re all inside. I used to be inside. I think there’s a way I stand aside and look backwards at things when they’re happening which isn’t normal.”

I really enjoyed Among Others, a unique read, written in a style that I I truly liked. I haven't come across anything quite like this book. It doesn't give you many answers, it doesn't tie things up nice and neat, and I liked that.

“This isn’t a nice story, and this isn’t an easy story. But it is a story about fairies, so feel free to think of it as a fairy story. It’s not like you’d believe it anyway.”

Also posted at Shelfinflicted
Columbine - Dave Cullen April 20th 1999 was a Tuesday. I remember this fact because my day off was Tuesday. I was probably doing some laundry and cleaning with the TV on in the background. Then I remember stopping and watching as the news came across the TV. There had been a school shooting......a bad one. My first thought was "bad things always happen on Tuesdays."

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 and injured 24. Eric was the mastermind behind the massacre and young psychopath. Dylan was depressed, seemingly a bipolar individual. Eric planned the day extensively for a couple of years and they both documented everything with journals and videos. These were used by the author who did a fantastic bit of journalism with this book.

There was so much more to what happened than we were told. This wasn't supposed to be a shooting, or at least not just a shooting, Eric had a vision of total destruction. The two had planted bombs in the school inside duffle bags as well as in their cars. The bombs were designed to kill 500 people. Eric wanted to kill everyone and thankfully he failed to figure out how to detonate his bombs. So Eric and Dylan were forced to use their guns instead, guns they could only get at a gun show.

David Cullen a reporter on the scene April 20th 1999 made it his mission to learn everything there was to learn about this tragedy. He spent the next ten years doing just that with this book being the result. Columbine not only takes us into the minds of the killers but into police cover-ups on prior incidents with Eric and Dylan and how glaringly obvious it was that they were going to do very bad things. It follows up on the families of the victims and what has become of them over the years.

A bit of a personal rant here. I am not a gun fan. If I had my way I'd melt every last one of them down. I know this isn't a terribly popular opinion in this country but it is how I feel. I don't understand the love affair many people in the United States have with these things designed for nothing but destruction. I know that melting down all the guns won't happen (yet), but I do believe we have to start coming up with some strong regulations to stop future Eric-s and Dylan-s, James-s and Adam-s. Because no matter their mental state, their killings would not have been possible if they didn't have access to an arsenal.

After reading Columbine I came to another conclusion. Every parent needs to go through their kids personal stuff. Screw privacy. I can't figure out how these two guys could have amassed the fire power and bomb makings, video taped themselves and wrote the whole plan out in journals in their parents houses and their parents didn't know! They were basically screaming "I am going to kill as many people as I can!!"

I would be one nosy, annoying mom if I had any children.....boy would they hate me and I wouldn't care.
The Coal Tattoo - Silas House Easter and Anneth are sisters who are different from one another. Easter is a very proper and God fearing young lady. Anneth is the opposite, she loves to go out drinking and dancing and generally getting into trouble. Easter being the older of the two tries her best to keep Anneth under control, but it ain't easy.

The two lose their parents as young children and are raised by their grandparents. But the two end up alone while still very young after losing their last surviving grandmother. Yet they stay on their ancestral land alone despite their young age.

The Coal Tattoo is set in the 1960's and covers all that time period has to offer, from the Vietnam war to Eastern Kentucky's battle with strip mining, and how Easter and Anneth fight this issue personally with their own land.

This was a 3.5 star book for me and I enjoyed it. If you like this time period, and location you will enjoy it too.