Monthly Archives: August 2013

August 29, 2013

You know the type of person who, when you tell them something, always says, “I knew that.”  It doesn’t matter how obscure the fact may be, they knew it already.  That would be this next author.

tracker

Tracker:  Hunting Down Serial Killers by Dr. Maurice Godwin

It’s said that hindsight is 20/20.  For Dr. Maurice Godwin, hindsight means he was right.  As far as I can tell from reading this book, “Doctor” Godwin has never solved a case yet.  Why?  Well either the police don’t consult him or, if they do, they don’t listen to him.

FBI profilers (John Douglas, Rob Ressler, Roy Hazelwood) are all WRONG!  They’ve never solved a case!  Mr. Godwin however is brilliant and had he only been listened to, INNOCENT LIVES would have been saved!  But fear not FBI profilers and average citizens, Dr. Godwin is now on the case.

You may notice that I didn’t post the copyright or the publisher.  This is because I sold this piece of crap before I could write down that information.

explorers

Explorers of the Infinite:  The Secret Spiritual Lives of Extreme Athletes – and What They Reveals About Near-Death Experiences, Psychic Communication and Touching the Beyond by Maria Coffey, copyright 2008, published by Penguin Books

The first half of the book seems to consist mostly of, “I hiked Mount Everest and found God.”  No doubt they did.  Especially the ones who went without oxygen.  Some, like Robert Falcon Scott, found God in a more permanent manner.  During his return journey in the South Pole (1911-1912) when frostbite “forced Scott to stop walking.  His team opted to stay with him, dooming them all to die.”  Only a bunch of men would think that was a good plan.  Women on the other hand would have built a travois and pulled Scott the final 11 miles to the supply depot.

So, for most of the book no near-death experiences, no psychic communication.  “Spirituality” abounds however.  That’s fine, but it’s not what I want to read about.  The last few chapters of the book finally get more into the paranormal and the stories get quite interesting.  I would have enjoyed reading more.

Looper

Looper is a 2013 sci-fi/action film written and directed by Rian Johnson and starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt.  In the film, time travel is invented by the year 2074 and, though immediately outlawed, is used by criminal organizations to send those they want killed into the past where they are killed by “loopers”, assassins paid with silver bars strapped to their targets. (Wikipedia)

Except for the fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s overly darkened eyebrows made him look like a clown, this was an entertaining, fast-paced movie.  Oh, and the part where Bruce Willis takes out a building-full of trained, heavily-armed assassins all by himself was completely unbelievable, even if he is Bruce Willis.

Still, I would recommend this film for a good night’s entertainment.

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August 24, 2013

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Hey Ranger! True Tales of Humor & Misadventure from America’s National Parks by Jim Burnett, copyright 2005, published by Taylor Trade Publishing

To quote the author:

“The tone of the book is intended to be light, so I have included only those events that had at least a relatively happy ending.  It’s not my intention to poke too much fun at anyone, so where appropriate, the names have been changed or eliminated to protect the innocent (or the guilty, as the case may be).”

Well where the hell is the fun in that?  No deaths, no finger pointing, no fun.  Well, I take back the no fun.  It’s a nice, enjoyable book but you won’t find yourself jumping up and saying, “Ha! You dead dumbass!”  It’s more like, “Well, you got lucky.”

This is the kind of book you would let your mom read, which now that I think about it, sounds like a terrible review.  If your library has this book and you’re looking for some brain popcorn, this is an enjoyable book.  If however you’re looking for absolute idiots and a high body count, let me suggest Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon by Michael Ghiglieri.

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Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China by Paul Theroux, copyright 1988, published by Ballantine Books

As is obvious by the title and the copyright date, this is a book about traveling through China by rail in the late 1980’s.  This is a sizable book.  A huge book.  A 451-page book.  Unless you enjoy travelogues (I found this shelved under True Adventure), I wouldn’t recommend this book.  However I enjoy travelogues, especially Paul Theroux.

I doubt however that I would enjoy China.  At least in the late 1980’s.  The people distrust and dislike tourists, the accommodations sound worse than an outhouse in the Appalachians and what’s more, everyone spits.  to wit:

“They spat all the time.  They cleared their throats so loudly they could drown conversation – they could sound like a Roto-Rooter or someone clearing a storm drain, or the last gallon of water leaving a Jacuzzi.”

Perhaps you handle the sight and sound of people spitting better than I do, but when I see it, I dry heave.  Rail through China for me would consist of spit and vomit.  Yuck.

As this is an older book, I have ordered a more up-to-date travelogue on China (Oracle Bones 2007) from the library to see if anything has improved.  I will let you know.

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The Tall Man 2012 Crime/Thriller was our latest Netflix movie. 

Plot:  When her child goes missing, a mother looks to unravel the legend of the Tall Man, an entity who allegedly abducts children.

Why this is listed under “Thriller” is beyond me.  I’ve had more thrills going through the drive-thru at McDonald’s.  This is neither a good nor bad movie, it is simply a movie.  If you’re looking to entertain your stodgy aunt from Pismo Beach, loan her a copy of Hey Ranger! and this film.

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Early Christmas

I know it’s only August, but I had to share this with you.  My sister-in-law (who is currently residing with us) receives a plethora of catalogs.  During a bout of boredom last night I perused the Terry’s Village catalog and found The Russian Christmas Tree!  Unfortunately I am unable to post a photo as every time I right click on the picture it only enlarges and I am unaware of how to circumvent this.  To view:

http://www.terrysvillage.com/lighted-christmas-tree-a2-13602213-12-1.fltr?Ntt=lighted%20christmas%20tree

I swear this is The People’s Tree.  The Official Tree of Chernobyl.  The orphanage in Oliver Twist had a nicer tree than this.  Scrooge at his Scroogiest could do better!

I know that for some sick reason you love Dickens G., but no arguments allowed!

 

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August 14, 2013

war

War by Sebastian Junger, copyright 2011, published by Twelve

Perhaps you have heard this “rhyme” before about books:

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss $2.50 goodbye

Of course it was a good 25 years ago that we’d say the $2.50, but back then you could get a Pocket paperback for around that amount.  Now it’s literary robbery.  This rhyme does NOT apply to this book at all!  I had to change it to:

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, this is the best book you’ll buy

Which depending on your taste may or may not be true but this is one hell of a book.  You will laugh and you will cry.  Have tissues ready.  I was sorry when this book finished and am now giving serious consideration to A Perfect Storm which is by the same author.  The subject matter of said book has never held interest for me, but Mr. Junger writes a mean book.  If you have any interest in military history read this book.

You can find out more about Mr. Junger as http://www.sebastianjunger.com

You can find out more about the publishing company (they only publish 1 book per month) at http://www.twelvebooks.com

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The Walking Dead 17:  Something to Fear by Robert Kirkland, copyright 2012, published by Image/The Walking Dead 18:  What Comes after by Robert Kirkland, copyright 2013, published by Image

The Walking Dead is my graphic novel soap opera.  I can’t miss them.  I won’t say they’re the best graphic novels ever written, they’re not.   My vote for that goes to V For Vendetta.  But these suckers are addictive.  The action never stops.  I tried following the TV show for a while but quit once it started deviating too much from the book.  Comparing notes with the hubby (who does watch the show), people have been killed off in the show who are alive in the book and vice versa.

Now, I don’t know if any of you follow the book or the show, but one character I wish they’d both kill off is Rick.  He is such a wishy-washy little wuss.  No leader here.  Frankly Michonne should be the leader.  She kicks ass!

I’m sorry to yet again have such a nice, positive blog but I’ve had the luck to have read some really good books recently.

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August 7, 2013

As a true crime reader are you sick of the usual?  Ted Bundy?  Jeffrey Dahmer or The Beltway Sniper?  Well, I’ve got some old new murders for you.

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My Strangest Case by Police Chiefs of the World edited by Kurt Singer, copyright 1958, published by Doubleday & Company

18 stories from around the world (mostly homicides) and as you can see from the copyright date, all occurred before 1958.  So voila!  New old crimes or old new crimes to read about!

Try http://www.bookfinder.com to check for availability and prices.

P.S. Sorry about the glare on photo, but I took it myself.

P.P.S. As a non-true-crime reader, maybe you should branch out G.

P.P.P.S. It’s a fun little book.  Try it.

devil in the detail

Devil in the Details: Scenes From an Obsessive Girlhood by Jennifer Traig, copyright 2004, published by Little, Brown and Company

This is a book I’ve had on my to-read list for years but kept passing by until I found it in a used bookstore.  This is a great book to read if you have even the slightest suspicion that you suffer from OCD.  You don’t.  Not that I know you personally, but compared to Ms. Traig, you and I are majorly mentally healthy.

I enjoyed reading this book.  Not because it was really good (it wasn’t really bad either).  I enjoyed this book more as a sense of relief as in, “Oh my God I am so sane!”  Kind of like watching Hoarders on TV and realizing that no, I don’t have too many books despite what the hubby says.

So you know what, unless you need reassuring like me, I’m not going to recommend this book.  If you want a really good book about a really dysfunctional family, read The Glass Castle.

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Alita: Last Order Volumes 16 & 17 story and art by Yukito Kishiro, copyright 2011 & 2012, published by Kodansha Comics in the US

Ok G., let’s go over this again.  Despite the name of the publisher, these are not comics.  These are Japanese manga and no, manga is not just for children.  We will discuss graphic novels later when I cover 17 & 18 of The Walking Dead.

As you can see, there are a lot of Alita books, and that’s just the New Order series.  I first encountered Battle Angel Alita

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in some small town in California 15 years ago and fell in love with the art.  Then I read it and fell in love with the story.  Yukito Kishiro is an excellent artist who tells amazingly wonderful (and violent stories).  Should you decide to give Alita a try, start with Battle Angel Alita and perhaps stop after that series (9 or 10 books).  Alita New Order is good, but not as good.  Mr. Kishiro seems to be skimping on the art this time around and half the time Alita isn’t even in the book, which leaves me wondering why call it Alita.

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A Slight Correction

morning's work

The book identified in my last post as Civil War amputation photos is actually A Morning’s Work: Medical Photographs from The Burns Archive & Collection 1843-1939 by Stanley B. Burns, M.D., copyright 1998, published by Twin Palms Publishers

As there are numerous photos of civil war soldiers with amputations I trust you will forgive my misidentification.  That having been said, I would like to point out that this book is tastefully done (if such a thing could be said about medical photos).   A few examples:

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There are, of course, photos in this book that are more intense per se, but nothing horrific.  At least not by my definition.  There are detailed notes in the back of the book that cover each photo.  This is a fascinating book.  Give it a try.  (Go on G. live a little).

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August 2, 2013

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Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach, copyright 2013, published by W. W. Norton & Company

According to the Washington Post, Mary Roach is “America’s funniest science writer.”  I wholeheartedly agree.  As you can tell by the cover art and the definition of alimentary (concerned with the function of nutrition; nutritive), Gulp studies how the digestive systems works.

I rather pride myself on having a strong stomach, but by the time I hit the chapter on saliva I was feeling a tad queasy.  Should this occur while you’re reading this book (and you should read this book), take a few deep breaths and continue. 

My only bone to pick with Ms. Roach is in chapter 9 when she recalls the chest-bursting scene from Aliens as happening “during a meeting.”  I was sure it actually occurred during a meal.  But, just to be sure I looked that up (http://tiny.cc/tk170w).

March Roach has also written (from most recent back):

  • Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
  • Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
  • Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

If you enjoy this type of book, may I also recommend Mutter Museum Historic Medical Photographs by College of Physicians of Philadelphia.  (I’d loan you my copy G., but you won’t even look at my book on Civil War amputation photos).

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And now on a negative note, let’s briefly talk jobs.  I landed the second transcription job I wanted with Net Transcripts, Inc.  Hurrah you say?  Not yet.  Ask me how my first day at work was.  My first day at work was so bad I found myself drinking beer and reading Nancy Drew at 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.  I can hear you now.  “Nooooooooooo, not more Nancy Drew!”  HA!  A bad day at work loves company, so:

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Nancy Drew: Mystery of the Glowing Eye by Carolyn Keene, copyright 1974, published by Grosset & Dunlap

But wait, you are in luck!  Only one quote:

“An ambulance with a police surgeon and a patrol car with two other officers reached the house within minutes.  Dr. Tompkin quickly examined the injured guard.

“‘Dooley got a severe blow on his head.  We’ll take him to the hospital at once.  Probably have to operate.'”

“‘That’s dreadful!'” Mrs Gruen spoke up.

“‘Indeed it is, ma’am,” said one of the remaining men, who introduced himself as Erman.  “And so is all crime.”

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No, really?

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