Category Archives: Books

I’m back

Been away due to chronic illness and resulting depression. However, have had a lot of time to read so let’s get started back up.

Currently reading The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw and Adventures of a Surgical Resident by Phillip Dobrin.  As it is 5:41 am and I feel unwell, I will update on those later.

Will just leave on a question.  Why is the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy being done in three films?  Certainly not artistic value.  More like rampant greed.  Who’s behind this?  Peter Jackson?

You want a good Peter Jackson film?  Go buy a six-pack of beer and rent Bad Taste.

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October 20, 2013 – Yitta Halberestam, Phil Cousineau and Mark Victor Hansen

I’ve been a little slow lately getting my posts up but frankly I’ve been too busy playing with my new Kobo eReader.  It has a built-in light which is the main reason I bought it.  I can also browse the internet, etc.  Would I recommend it though?  Nope.  It needs major tweaking.  First, you can bookmark pages but once you’re past the bookmarked page you no longer have access to the bookmark and have to flip through the entire book again.  Even my ancient Sony eReader has working bookmarks.  Secondly, you can press the screen for ages trying to turn a page and nothing happens, but accidentally brush the book as you momentarily place it down and suddenly you’re chapters in.  Return it?  Nah.  I bought it at a local book store run by a friend of mine and it’ll work well enough for my needs.  I confess to looking at the latest Kindle Fire but I really don’t know who has the best eReader or tablet.

The three books I’m covering today I consider to be related:  Miracles/Angels/Coincidence.

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Small Miracles: Extraordinary Coincidences from Everyday Life by Yitta Halberstam & Judith Leventhan, copyright 2008, published by Adams Media

“Incredible-but-true” stories of miracles and supposed synchronicity experienced by the authors.

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Coincidence or Destiny? by Phil Cousineau, copyright 1997, published by Conari Press

Collected episodes of synchronicity that defy explanation from the lives of real people.

According to Wikipedia, Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, whereas they are unlikely to be causally related.  The subject sees it as a meaningful coincidence, although the events need not be exactly simultaneous in time.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity)

What these authors call synchronicity in their books I’m inclined to put down to luck or happenstance.  However, I’m willing to admit (or perhaps hope) to the possibility.  I enjoy books of this sort.  The stories or short and often intriguing.  Carl Jung believed in synchronicity and even coined the term so ’tis said.

If I had to chose, of the two I consider Mr. Cousineau’s book to be the better read as it covers stories contributed by many people, not just personal encounters.

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels Among us by Mark Hansen, Jack Canfield and Amy Newmark, copyright 2013, published by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing – eBook

101 supposedly inspirational stories of “miracles, faith and answered prayers”.

I may be a confirmed atheist but I love reading these stories.  I just disagree with the religious slant.  To me it’s more paranormal then an act of God or of angels.  What if it’s just your great granddad come back to take the piss out of you or give you a helping hand?  How do these people know for sure it’s angels except that they believe in angels and therefore it must be so.

“Children often have imaginary playmates.  I suspect that half of them are really their guardian angels.”  – The Angels Little Instruction Book

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What if more than half of them are really demonic entities?

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My husband believes I should just take it as fact that the paranormal and God exist, but as I keep saying, I’m a disbelieving believer.  I enjoy reading this genre but I’m still looking for proof.  SO if any of my readers have a story they’re willing to share in the comments that would be great!

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October 15, 2013 – James Patterson and Amanda Lindhout

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Cat & Mouse by James Patterson, copyright 1997, published by Vision

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Pop Goes The Weasel by James Patterson, copyright 1999, published by Warner

Okay, okay I confess.  I’ve become a Patterson junkie.  I’m pretty sure that Patterson is actually Carolyn Keene.  After all he writes about wardrobes and meals just the same.  The only difference between Nancy Drew and Alex Cross is that Cross has sex.  Lots of it.  Mr. Cross seems to be always thinking to himself that he never felt like this about a woman before.  Except for the last book and the book before that.

You might note I didn’t put in a synopsis of the plots.  You know why?  Because I’ll be damned if I can remember what these books were about.  Alex Cross solving murders – as usual.  Oh, and having sex.

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A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout

What’s most striking about Amanda Lindhout’s harrowing, beautifully written memoir, A House in the Sky (4 stars out of four), isn’t that she survived 460 days as a hostage in Somalia. Or that she endured gang rape, beatings and starvation at the hands of her teenage captors. It’s that she was able to forgive them.

An aspiring journalist, Lindhout’s plan was to go to Somalia, dubbed “the most dangerous place on earth,” to put her on the fast track to establishing herself in the news industry.  (see USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2013/09/07/a-house-in-the-sky-amanda-lindhout-review/2758935/)

What’s most striking about Amanda Lindhout is she willingly put herself in that situation.  Aspiring to go from small potatoes to owning the whole farm is not a good reason to go to Somalila where you know you might get your ass killed.  This book was picked by the non-fiction book group I attend so I pushed myself to finish it.  Frankly I quickly tired of little miss poor me and would have thrown the book across the room (except I was disinclined to destroy my new eReader).

Is she brave?  Yup.  Is she a survivor?  Hell yes.  But mostly she is S-T-U-P-I-D.  I’ll enjoy the next James Patterson more.

dumbcat

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October 6, 2013 – Ginnie Siena Bivona and Cassandra Eason

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Haunted Encounters: Ghost Stories from Around the World edited by Ginnie Bivona, Mitchel Whitington and Dorothy McConachie, copyright 2004, published by Atriad Press

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Psychic Suburbia by Cassandra Eason, copyright 1994, published by Foulsham

I really enjoy paranormal (aka new age) books, especially those with multiple stories.  They’re fun and they’re a quick read when you need a break from The Perfect Storm.  The stories in Haunted Encounters are all by different authors, many of them quite good.  The author of Psychic Suburbia is British and covers the topic of mediums, spiritualism, out of body, near death, etc.

These are both books I would recommend for anyone who enjoys this genre.

ghost cat

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October 5, 2013 – Robert Lesslie M.D., Ozzy Osbourne

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Angels in the ER:  Inspiring True Stories from an Emergency Room Doctor by Robert D. Lesslie, M.D., copyright 2008, published by MJF Books

Urgent care physician Lesslie believes that emergencies are opportunities to demonstrate God’s grace! Here he shares stories of the miraculous from his 25 years in the ER. You’ll witness the handiwork of angels—friends, doctors, nurses, strangers, and unseen “others; learn to hold onto faith during tragedy and triumph; and embrace the healing balm of hope.  (http://www.christianbook.com)

The fact that I got the above synopsis from a Christian site, it’s obvious that Angels in the ER is a God book.  Having bought it on sale in Barnes & Nobel and not reading the inner sleeve synopsis closely enough (yet again), I failed to realize this until I opened the book and saw all the scriptures starting each chapter.

Having pointed that out, aside from the scriptures this was an enjoyable book.  I found many of the stories to be, and I almost hate to use this word, touching.  This is not a genre for everybody but for those who enjoy angel or paranormal books I would say try it but get it on loan from the library.

In finality I re-wrote the following scripture because it was wrong:

All man are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers in the field.  – ISAIAH 40:6

My version:

All men are like grass, and need to be mowed down every week or two.  – ELVEGA 1:43 AM

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Trust Me, I’m Dr. Ozzy:  Advice from Rock’s Ultimate Survivor by Ozzy Osbourne, published 2011, published by Grand Central publishing

This is not an autobiography.  This is based on his columns in the Sunday Times and Rolling Stone wherein idiots would write in and ask “Dr.” Ozzy for medical advice.

I have never bought a Black Sabbath album nor watched The Osbournes and yet people kept recommending this book to me.  Having become annoyed with The Perfect Storm which I’ll cover in another post, I reserved this from the library.  My husband was busting a gut in the passenger seat all the way home from the library, and I confess to having had a few LOL moments myself.

My friend G. flipped through the book during dinner at Risky Business yesterday and proclaimed that after a chapter or two, the book would get boring.  But as Captain Tenneal from dubbed Japanese game show MXC would say, “Well, you’re wrong!”  If you’ve never watched MXC you should, right after you finish watching The Young Ones.  Captain Tenneal – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzCc5qpycTc

I’m going to share a few of my favorites so you won’t have to read the book but what the hell, give it a try.  I’m glad I did.

DIY Surgery – What NOT to Try. . .

Self-circumcision with a pair of old nail clippers.  A bloke in Hertfordshire tried this in 2009 an ended up in the emergency ward with a plaster cast on his knob.  “This is something we would advise men never to attempt,” said the hospital.  No fucking shit, man.

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Dear Dr. Ozzy:

I want to look like a celebrity but can’t afford the high cost of getting my acne scares removed by a surgeon.  If I buy my own silicone on the Internet, could I simply treat the scars myself (I’ve seen how doctors on reality TV shows do the injections)?

No, no, fuck no, absolutely no way, and NO again.  Times a million.  I saw Neil Armstrong land on the moon on the telly, but that doesn’t mean I could pilot the Mars Rover, does it?

ozzy cat

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September 23, 2013 – Luis Alberto Urrea, James Patterson and James Patterson

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The Devil’s Highway A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea, copyright 2004, published by Back Bay Books

The journey of 26 Mexicans who decide to cross the border in the Sonoran Desert, during which 14 of the 26 die.

I’m going to take the middle ground and not give my opinion on illegals crossing the border as this is a very touchy subject, especially here in Arizona where I live.  Suffice to say that Mr. Urrea writes so well that it seems his talents are wasted on a book that few might read due to the subject matter.  G. suggests The Hummingbird’s Daughter (fiction) as being a good Luis Urrea book to read.  I doubt I will, but feel free to take her advice.  However be aware of the fact that G. believes China Melville to also be a good author.

patterson<—– Not my best work

I’m going to cover two James Patterson books because A) I read them; and B) Two of shit is still shit.  Granted Mr. Patterson is my new Nancy Drew but I had hoped for better.

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Hide and Seek by James Patterson, copyright 1996, published by Warner Books

The trial of a woman who shot her first husband and is possibly guilty of killing her second husband as well.

My first reactions upon finishing this book were as follows:

1.  Vas is das?

2.  What in tarnation?

3.  What in the name of Sam Hill?  (For possible origins of Sam Hill:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Hill_%28euphemism%29)

4.  DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB!

You know what this is?  This is a romance loosely disguised as a mystery.  Romance!  If I wanted to read romance I would check myself in to the nearest psychiatric facility to have my head examined.

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Jack & Jill by James Patterson, copyright 1996, published by Warner Books

In the middle of the night a controversial U.S. senator is found murdered in bed.  The police turn up only one clue: a mysterious rhyme signed “Jack and Jill”.

The third of the Alex Cross series, Jack & Jill is better than Hide and Seek but not by much.  You know why?  Here’s why:

“She slithered up and down his long, powerful pole, his strength, his exquisite maleness.”

I’m sorry, I thought I was reading a mystery not a bodice buster!  Slithered?  Da fug?  I’m pretty sure that Nancy Drew has never slithered.  Ever.  On anything.

horrifiedcat

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September 20, 2013 – Michael Connelly, Firoozeh Dumas and Craig Roberts

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The Reversal by Michael Connelly, copyright 2010, published by Little, Brown and Company

Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited to prosecute the retrial of a brutal child murderer exonerated by new DNA evidence.  Haller is convinced the killer is guilty, and he takes the case on the condition that he gets to choose his investigator, LAPD Detective Harry Bosch.

I still can’t figure out why Mr. Connelly is so popular.  I have certainly read my fill and would not have read The Reversal had it not been chosen by the mystery book club as the September book.  This is however partially my fault.  Had I not missed so many previous meetings, I could have voted to oust this pick.

This is the sequel to The Lincoln Lawyer, a book I never read.  I never saw the movie either.  Perhaps if I had I might have appreciated The Reversal better.  I doubt it.  In my opinion, Mr. Connelly commits a cardinal sin by skipping back and forth between first and third person.  I hate that.

This is why it is so important to vote!

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Funny In Farsi: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas, copyright 2003, published by Random House

In 1972 when she was seven, Firoozeh Dumas and her family moved from Iran to Southern California, arriving with no firsthand knowledge of this country beyond her father’s glowing memories of his graduate school years here.

And the gut-busting laughter supposedly soon follows.  NOT.  I checked briefly to see if I could find out how to say not in Farsi but nothing came up quickly enough and I couldn’t be bothered for serious research for one word.  This is another book I’m happy I borrowed through the library.

I get recommendations from Goodreads and Amazon and then read other customer reviews.  Apparently I am not in the majority when it comes humor.  Funny in Farsi is Funny-ish.  Customer reviews promised me “Hilarious”, “Laugh out loud” and “Funny”.

Dave Barry can have me laughing out loud the day after my cat dies.  Laurie Notaro makes me laugh until I cry.  Firoozeh Dumas had me coming up with adjectives such as cute and nice.  But not like puppy or kitten cute, not an Awww kind of cute.  These words may not really go together but I’m going to call this a monotonous cute.  No real ups or downs.  A consistently nice book.  Nice.

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Crosshairs in the Kill Zone: American Combat Snipers, Vietnam through Operation Iraqi Freedom by Craig Roberts and Charles Sasser, copyright 2004, published by Pocket Books

Okay, now we’re getting on to my kind of book!  Yet sadly even this book as enjoyable as it was, especially for military combat buffs, had its shortcomings.  Every second or third chapter, instead of covering the story of a sniper, covered the history of snipers schools.  Yawn.

My husband patiently (snottily really) pointed out that snipers have to learn their craft before being sent out in the field.  And as I often say, that’s fine but I don’t want to read about it.  I had to learn to read and write before I could start this blog but I’m not going to bore you with the details.

Skip the chapters on sniper school and you’ve got a good book.  To prove it, I’m going to end with a few paragraphs from a sniper in Vietnam that made my day.

A Bird Dog, a Cessna spotter plane, who happened to be cruising the skies in the vicinity overheard the radio chatter.  He banked, dropped lower to the south of us, and flew back.  He came up on the channel.

“I see enemy elements across the river,” he reported.  “I’ll mark them with red smoke.”

We watched him through field glasses.  That Air Force pilot was one ballsy dude.  He nosed the tiny plane down, came in hard and swept on through the tracers blasting out of the forest at him.  A red puff of smoke marked one end of the enemy’s flank.

He then marked the other flank.  Through binoculars, I saw him extend his arm out the window of the Cessna as he made his pass, a .38 pistol in hand.  Green tracers webbed the sky all around the little plane as the gooks unleashed everything they had at him – and he returns fire with a pistol.  A guy with courage like that, I would have kissed his ass in Macy’s window.

And I would have watched.

guncat

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