Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cochlear Implant

So I had the cochlear implant yesterday and need some time to recover. Head hurts and ears are yelling at me. Usual tinnitus sounds like far-off chain saw with a bit of tonality. Usually in morning I come up with droning scripture song or chorus that will fit the sounds and end up listening to the bit of song all day long, which is okay. Now am listening to motors rev, clicking, bubbling, tapping, pure tones. Wonder if I can sleep it off. Do not want to move, but need to if I'm going to get back in bed.
In two weeks might start first level of activation. Will I start to hear? What will I hear? Would be nice to hear people talking and understand what they say.

Review of Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-Earth by Jill Richardson

I really enjoyed this devotional, even though I did not know it was a devotional until I got it in the mail. I normally don't care much for devotionals, but this one spoke to me. I think all fans of the Hobbit book or the hobbit movies will get a kick out of the irreverent analyses of the different characters and how you can see characters like them in Scripture. I would be careful about who I hand the books to as many people cannot tolerate fantasy. But if you know a young fan or the hobbit book or movies, the short chapters and pithy, sarcastic writing should draw them in, and they will learn much they may not have thought much about. Oh, I need to buy another one for the other grandson.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Review of An Elegant Solution by Paul Robertson

What an elegant book by Paul Roberston, a man whose other books I am going to search out. Paul writes about a time when men thought they could worship God by the study of math as well as they could sitting in a pew.
Let me quote a paragraph in the book where the main character is contemplating Newton's math of gravity:
The stars were vast, but their infinite sum still was only a finite portion of the sky. They were vastly far away, and who would know their bright essence? I knew I was very small on the great planet, beneath the greater heavens, but it was within me to comprehend them and know how they were governed. What could it mean that God had put in finite man the chance to study the infinite?
The sweet, humble main character is the type of student who makes his teachers look good. He notices all of the seen and much of the unseen. Because of that ability, there is a point in the book where I do not know if Leonhard is talking to his father, to a vision of his father, or to God.
There is the mystery of a murder that Leonhard wishes to solve, but that is a fairly small portion of this rich, rich book.
Some people will find this book slow as Leonhard thinks about everything he sees, but I loved every word. I would have liked more words, especially near the end where Leonhard did a lot of things without the author letting us know why. Perhaps the author wanted us the readers to be as surprised as all the characters in the book were. It's a technique I don't care for. There is also a convenient Deus ex machina (well foreshadowed) at the end which would annoy if it weren't so fitting in this setting.
I don't know how much of the book is bafflegab and how much is true, but everything I looked up is true; and everything I could comprehend and remember from prior study is true. One surprise for me was to find out how many kinds of spirals there are.
I can heartily recommend this book for anybody you know who has an intellectual bent, or who has an interest in history, or who enjoys convoluted murder mysteries. Really, this will make an elegant gift.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review of Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Neitz

The title makes you think of a train wreck, the kind you drive by slowly so you can look even though you know you shouldn't. In this case, the slow down and look is worth it. Despite the camp title, Kerry plays the story straight. I even think he treats the Amish viewpoint with respect. He does disagree with said viewpoint, but does not make the mistake of saying that anyone who thinks a particular way is stupid. In the whole book with a large cast, there are only two people cast as stupids, and they aren't Amish. And for the few Amish that act like jerks, you get the feeling that they are not twirling their mustaches with glee, praying bwa ha ha, but rather, that they are being pushed off a cliff, and like anybody being pushed off a cliff, they are grabbing hard and hanging on to keep from going over.
I need explanations, or at the end, I want to throw the book away, so I was glad that Kerry provided explanations by the end.
WRITER'S RANT: Kerry. I understand the rationale for writing novels in sentence fragments and three-word sentences: the short sentences and fragments make the pace of the novel feel faster, and reluctant readers don't get lost between the start of the sentence and the end. I understand that writing in bits is standard for thrillers and today's readers with the attention span of gnats, but this chop, chop, chop style of writing makes my skin bunch up with tension. Could you sometime in the future, please, oh please, write a novel, as you are quite capable of, in longer sentences that will glide through my brain and over my skin? END OF RANT
If you like science-fiction mixed with a little horror and some humor (the vampire goat cracked me up) you should like this thrilling tale of Amish Vampires in space.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Review of The Jackel and the Giant by Braden McElroy

Somewhere between the ages of maybe eight, maybe ten to around sixteen to eighteen I ate up and loved every single allegory I could get my hands on. Now, at age 61, I have completely lost my taste for the stuff, and so I did not finish this book. But as such books go, this is well-written, and were I ten, I would have loved this book about a constantly beaten on kid learning to face his fears. I can recommend this book for kids who like fantasy, for adults who like allegory, and for all kids who can't tell allegory from an alligator who like adventure stories.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review of I AM NOT SICK I Don't Need Help by Xavier Amador

This is a book I bought for my sister when her husband's medication for Parkinson's sent him into an episode of paranoid schizophrenia. He's still in it somewhat, but he has learned not to say everything he is thinking around us or bad things happen. She gave it to my husband and said he NEEDED to read it. Well, I read it first.
The subtitle is How to help someone with mental illness accept treatment. I saw that as something we needed to know, which is why I bought the book in the first place. What do I think after reading it?
Wow. Oh wow. The doctor, who has a brother with schizophrenia, talks about how not seeing that one is ill is a Symptom of the illness, not stubbornness, not willful meanness. A Symptom. And the doctor gives a variety of ways to have conversations with the mentally ill that will not demean or further frighten the person who knows (the government, the drug lords, the aliens) are after them.
I feel enlightened.
Everybody who has to deal with someone with schizophrenia NEEDS to read this book. No, really. They do. I'm going to buy some more copies to give to relatives.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Review of two books

The Sky Beneath My Feet by Lisa Samson: If you like literary fiction, you might like this book as much as I did. The characters were all believable and engaged in understandable struggles. I did think the main character was a bit of a bitch, nag, nag, nagging her husband. I kept thinking, "What is her problem?" until near the very end of the book when we discover he husband has never apologized to her for anything. What? That is a problem, and suddenly everything in the book slipped into place. Since I come from a tradition that honors "prayer mountains" and have read a lot about solitary retreats, I could not understand why the husband going on a solitary retreat was supposed to be such a bad thing and "weird".
The spiritual crisis of the wife was beautifully handled. I think anybody who likes reading about relationships will like this book of friends and frenemies and children and church.

A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller. As it is with a lots of Donald Miller's books, it's a little difficult to say exactly this book is. It is sort of a memoir about the making of the movie Blue Like Jazz. It is sort of a devotional. It is sort of a philosophical treatise. It is all over entertaining and thought-provoking. I am giving this book to a couple of my sons who I hope will enjoy the book as much as I did.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Post in which I whine a lot

After my Monday morning shift of taking care of my adult autistic daughter, I drove to the grocery store to pick up some more diabetic blood test strips and bought some more lettuce.
As I walked up and down the aisles while waiting for the pharmacy to fulfill the order, I got sadder and sadder and madder. You know those people who talk about how delicious their recipes for non-allergic, low histamine, real food are. They lie.
I cannot eat over 99% of what is sold in grocery stores. Of what I can eat, I dislike much. I don't know why beautiful bell peppers make me gag with just their smell. I wish I thought carrots and celery tasted as good as pepperoni pizza. It seems like everywhere I look is another NO. I found out two weeks ago that tasty raspberries full of ellagic acid and fiber and delicious give me an allergic reaction that lasts for two days. I grow raspberries and every summer fill our freezer with them. I can't eat them anymore. I can't eat any fruit. None. I came back from our trip to Florida sick and with blurred eyesight. Doctor informed that I had uncontrolled diabetes. No matter how low sugar my food was, I could not get the blood sugar below 200. Even fasting did not drive down the blood sugar. Started Victoza. Oh, what a wonderful drug. For the first time in decades I am not hungry every second. I am finally losing weight  because much less food makes me feel full. That is so great. But I still cannot eat any fruit or the blood sugar shoots straight up. No fruit. No bread. I was eating bread only once or twice a month (sometimes you just want a ham sandwich) but now I can NEVER have bread, or oatmeal, or rice or potatoes or noodles. Already I can't have wheat or cow dairy. I should be focused on how I can have goat cheese and most nuts (walnuts give my tongue sores) and I can have celery and carrots and green beans and onions and garlic and lettuce. But, instead, I am grieving over what I can never have again.
And I have to cook, again. I've cooked for decades because it was part of the job description, but I have never liked the chore. When all the kids moved out, my husband started complained that I was making too much food at a time and should learn to make smaller meals. My perception was I could never make enough food, enough to last for a month, or even better, for a year. So I just quit cooking and got used to eating ingredients and chinese food from restaurants. But now I'm back to chop, chop, chop for hours and end up with a hurting back and food that will only last a short while.
I wish I could go to a party or family gathering and just eat what is set before me along with everyone else.
How will I ever be able to go to another country when I can no longer slip nutrition bars into my purse so I can have something to eat in airplanes and airports? I cancelled my trip to Rwanda. Our pastor might go in my place with my husband. Since he is taking over the presidency of Come And See Africa, my husband has to go to the dedication of the Kim Foreman Bible Institute. I'm going to stay home with my hearing loss and restricted, restricted diet. I'm sad.

Review of Rain Song by Alice J. Wisler

I think this would make a great study book for high school English classes or book groups. I have to confess that the first time I read this book, a couple years ago at a sister-in-law's home, the book annoyed the snot out of me. The eccentric Southern relative kept on nattering about the rule of not serving cucumber sandwiches alongside egg-salad sandwiches. I had never heard of such a rule, thought it was a stupid rule, and disliked the relative going on and on about it as she wanted to violate the rule. I kept thinking as I read, Look, take the cucumber sandwiches to the reunion, don't take the sandwiches, eat the sandwiches before you go to the reunion, I don't care. Just stop talking about the stupid sandwiches!
The second time I read the book, I suddenly realized the theme of the book: what are the rules we live by that enhance our lives, what are the rules that destroy our lives? How do we decide what rules to live by? Those are important questions. And those are questions any book club or women's group should enjoy discussing.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Review of the Windrider Saga, A Greater Strength and Valor's Worth by Rebecca P. Minor

The next two books in the Windrider Saga are fun fantasies. In A Greater Strength, the elf hero, Vinyanel, reminds me for some reason of Horatio Hornblower, a man who does not believe he deserves to be in the position of power he has and continually second-guesses himself, and yet won't get out of the way because he knows what needs to be done. And he is determined to do what needs to be done, even if the doing will damage him.
And speaking of damage, in Valor's Worth, there is gangrene. I have experienced the smell of gangrene (an amputated leg stored in lab refrigerator until the pathologist could get to it) and it is a smell you never want to experience again and never forget. The writer handled the issue of gangrene correctly. So there is some Eww factor in the book, but, hey, it's war. And there is also a cutie-pie baby dragon that all my friends will adore if they read this book.
I think I can safely predict that if you like fantasies with people riding flying dragons, you will enjoy these books.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Another outside of our regular scheduled programming

I always thought that I would not mind a nuclear power plant in my back yard. After what I saw happen and is still happening in poor Japan during that horrific tsunami, I have changed my mind. I think now nuclear power plants should be built near the Grand Coulee Dam where there is already a power grid to hook into and minimal threat of earthquakes. The Rocky Mountains were created by uplift, not volcanism. We who live amongst a multitude of volcanoes know volcanoes are not to be trusted.
There is this about volcanoes, though: they give you lots of warning before they explode so you have a fair chance to get out of the way.
Not so with earthquakes. The first Vancouver, a city across the Columbia from Keep Portland Weird, is far enough inland that tsunami damage from a sea bed earthquake would be relatively minor. So that's not my concern about local nuclear power plants.
My concern is this: we are overdue for a Richter 8 or 9 earthquake. We all know that within a few seconds to a few centuries from now the Big One will hit.We're fairly well engineered to handle a 6 or below. 7 and above, a lot of things are going to break, including the concrete parts of a nuclear power plant.
My brother worked in a nuclear power plant for many years. They are generally safe. I wish a hundred nuclear power plants had been built ten years ago so we could all be zipping around in electric cars (and yes, I realize the real problem with electric cars are their batteries), instead of being held hostage by people who hate us, US. But we ought not site the plants in fault zones.

Outside of our regular scheduled programming

From time to time we drive from the first Vancouver to Pasco and back, a little over four hours each way. At least 90% of the trip is spent alongside the Columbia River. Over the past few years we have noted the erection of hundreds of bright, white windmills on both sides of the Columbia. I like watching the blades turn. I like their graceful shapes the same way I like many bridges. I see in them a poetry of engineering. I like that the rental of the pads they stand on give another income stream to beleaguered wheat farmers and ranchers.
But despite all that poetry and help for farmers, I still hate those wind turbines. Why? They kill birds. They whack hawks and eagles and owls, the predators that allow a wheat harvest to be made. They whack the insect-eaters and songbirds. They kill bats. The turning blades produce an alternating pressure pattern that shreds the tender lungs of bats.
Another reason that I dislike the wind turbines along the Columbia is that they make absolutely no economic sense me. The windmills cannot possibly provide enough electricity to pay for the mining and refining of the minerals in them, the transportation of the minerals, the making of the parts, the transportation of the parts, the assembly of the parts to make electricity that run part-time.
And maintenance has to be nightmare. The turbines are scattered along hundreds of miles of access roads in a land of tiny cities few and far, far between. On the east coast of the US there is at least a village every ten miles on any road. Not so here. Where are the maintenance workers housed? How much driving must be done to reach any one turbine?
The Grand Coulee Dam, the John Day Dam, The Dalles Dam and all the other dams on the Columbia (that have blessed us with cheap electricity, flood control, and the water for the irrigation of the former sagebrush desert of eastern Washington and Oregon) have all their turbines clustered in easy access places. They have relatively simple designs and relatively few moving parts.
The more moving parts there are in any machine, the more parts there are to break.
These wind turbines are ALL moving parts. What isn't moving is straining against the movement to hold the windmill in place.
I look at these beautiful windmills and I see metal fatigue and toxic motor chemicals multiplied by hundreds with no reason for the turbines not to break down, catch fire, or fall down.
I do not think the making of jobs to maintain these machines is worth the steep increase in the price of electricity and the ecological cost.
We need massively oversighted nuclear power plants.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A question about the movie Percy Jackson and The Sea of Monsters

Recently, best beloved and I went to see the movie Percy Jackson and The Sea of Monsters. We did a lot of laughing and really enjoyed the show, but there was one scene that left me confused because I did not know how to interpret it.
Apparently Dionysus has offended Zeus, and every time Dionysus pours out wine, the wine turns into water. During one of the multiple times Dionysus is pouring out wine, he grabs the cup of water and says something like, "You know, the humans have a god that did the opposite." He holds up a forefinger and roars, "Now that's a God!" I get the reference to Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana. And the gods in the movie do not seem like gods exactly, but more like powerful people with supernatural powers. And there is a lot of humor about how silly these gods are.
So here's what I don't understand: is the scene cleverly inserting a truth claim using the upraised finger that meant in the late sixties and the seventies that there is ONE God (and none of these guys are it) or is it a goofy bit of blasphemy?

I posted this question in Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy on Facebook and received these fascinating replies:

question of God. The book says:

"Wait," I told Chiron. "You're telling me there's such a thing as God."
"Well, now," Chiron said. "God--capital G, God. That's a different matter altogether. We shan't deal with the metaphysical."
"Metaphysical?" But you were just talking about--"
"Ah, gods, plural, as in, great beings that control the forces of nature and human endeavors: the immortal gods of Olympus. That's a smaller matter."
"Yes, quite."

 Kat Heckenbach I also found him quoted as saying: "In Western
Civilization, we’ve always had an uneasy mix between Classical mythology and Judeo-Christian values. As a culture, we tend to believe in one God, but we also grow up steeped in these wonderful old stories about the Olympians. As long as we recognize them as stories that are part of our heritage and long-since stopped being any kind of serious religion, I don’t see the harm in learning mythology."

Rod Bennett The actual quote in the SOM movie is "I hear the
Christians have a guy who can do that trick in reverse. Now THAT'S a God." Interestingly, several of the early Church Fathers noticed this reverse parallel between Dionysius and the Cana miracle in writings from the 3rd & 4th centuries. Wonder whether the screenwriter was aware of that?


Review of The Constant Tower by Carole McDonnell

I think this may be an important book. This certainly a well-written book, full of detail and observation and metaphor. The Constant Tower is also a subtle book, and one that eludes my immediate comprehension.
I had some difficulties with the book on this my first read-through. I kept reading it like it was set on Mars when I suspect I should have read it like it was set in Fairyland. I understand the world Psal lives on to be tidally locked onto its sun. Okay. There are questions about how livable such a planet would be, but such a setting has been used before and I could accept the concept as a given. But, but, there are nights in which unprotected people are dissolved and then randomly reconstituted elsewhere on the world. Night? Without rotation how can you have a night on the sunny side of a tidally-locked planet? There are three moons, and I could understand there being a lot of eclipses, but night? If a moon is large enough to cause an eclipse long enough to be called a night, it is no longer a moon and planet, it is a double planet, and then the two would orbit each other and neither of them would be tidally locked to their sun. Carole is too careful a writer to make such a glaring mistake, so she must have found a way to make a night that I can't figure out, and the question drove me nuts throughout the whole book.
And that dissolving and reconstituting thing. For a while I wondered if she was using quantum mechanics and indeterminacy. I think now that I would have better off thinking "magic".
The last third of the book shows how the author breathes Scripture. Many authors, when they try to incorporate Christian Scripture into their works, they end up with awkward sentences, awkward scenes, just awkward: A cherry on top of a bowl of stew. Here, the dialogue is so natural, that unless you already know a lot of Scripture you will have no idea she is mirroring or quoting Scripture. Once she used a sort of apocryphal quote from an atheist scientist and subverted the intention of the atheist.Well played, Carole. Then it occurred to me that if I was catching dozens and dozens of allusions that most people won't, what else has she written in this book that I did not see, might never see?
You have to bring attentiveness and education to anything you read. Complex, deep works often contain more thoughts than I am capable of perceiving. When I first read That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis, it seemed to me to be a jumbled mess. After a few more decades practicing reading and education, I can now read That Hideous Strength with pleasure and far greater comprehension. I suspect The Constant Tower might provide a similar experience with some readers.
The main character's name is Psal. I wondered first if the author chose that name to set up a Saul/Paul dichotomy, but that proved not to be the case, I think. Then I wondered if the name was meant to bring up echoes of the Psalms. If so, I could not see it. I gave up looking for symbolism in the names.
I had sympathy for four or five of the characters in this long book filled with thousands of people. I had empathy for absolutely none. I hated the evil society depicted and I disliked most of the characters. Their thinking was so orthogonal to mine that it hurt to try to understand the characters. Their behavior and  thoughts baffled me.
I have no right to complain about that bafflement as I have often complained that books and Hollywood too often portray aliens as middle-class Americans with rubber masks. I happen to approve of the majority of middle-class American values, but it seems unlikely that aliens, American Indians in the 16th century, European peasants in the 13th century, etc would have the same attitudes as my suburban neighbor mowing his lawn.
Part of what reading novels are supposed to do for us is help us understand how others think and gain more supple minds. I flunked this lesson. I finally identified part of the character's mental landscape as something I call Tribethink. I see Tribethink (which surely has a more scientific name somewhere) as an unmitigated evil. But of course Tribethink is mitigated or else most of the world would not engage in it. Tribethink can reduce anxiety and provide explanations. I still hate it because it allows you to be evil to people not in your tribe and have no guilt about your evil. Hmm, maybe that's a point of the book.
The people in this book spent a lot of time talking about power. I've never had power and never will have power, so I have no temptation there and little understanding of the temptation. I come from a subset of English/Scot immigrant descendents for whom one of the highest life-ordering principles is Mind Your Own Business. I found the characters' constant bossing each other around to be exasperating.
Once, a son of mine was urging me to watch the television series Galactica and I replied that I didn't want to because all the characters were creepy and they all behaved badly. My son retorted, "No. You don't like the show because none of the characters have your temptations." Hmm. How many of you have a son who tells you more than you want to know?
Confession here: I am the oldest of my siblings, and, yes, from time to time I have told them what to do. I did so knowing they would never listen to me. The handful of times I have been heeded terrified me. I would bear part responsibility for consequences. Noooo, I don't want that responsibility.
Since I hang with people who in public never express anything more violent than mild disapproval, I found these pushy, bossy, violent people tiresome.
At the end of the book, the teacher/narrator begins to tell the story of the warrior son of the king, and I was repulsed. I never want to hear the warrior's side of the story. (Oh boo-hoo, I felt jealous so I murdered those people to feel better) I just want him to be executed for his crimes and murders. But as in real life, in this book, criminals escape judgement and the innocent are harmed.
And speaking of repulsed, my tribe also strongly believes that there are certain things you DO NOT talk about in public. I squirmed through the sex scenes.
By this time you may be wondering why I gave this book five stars when there was so much in it I disliked. I gave it five stars because it is a great book. Stranger In A Strange Land by Heinlein is also a great book. I happen to hate that book, but what has that to do with its quality?
And there were many things I liked. I liked what little symbolism I was able to decipher (The longhouses represent the mental structures we inhabit, right? Please tell me I'm right.). I loved the kaleidoscopic explosion of Scriptural imagery in the last third of the book. I loved the stance that people with disabilities are people of worth. And I can live with likely missing all of the big themes of the book. I expect to catch more the next time I read it.
It's possible that if I would just admit that I'm as big a sinner as the sinners in this book, that the core of the book would crack open for me and the Constant Tower would welcome me and heal me.

After I posted this review on Amazon, Carole McDonell posted this info for me on FB
 Carole McDonnell Lelia, yes..the longhouses are mental strongholds, the towers are our
conscience..seared or other wise. God is the greater light, we live by the lesser light . There is a bit of qunatum physics in there with sound. Psallo is greek for song or making music..cause the towers live by music and he works and tunes the towers. Odunao is Greek for torment. Nachas is hebrew for pride and accomplishment. The Constant Tower is a mathematical term in physics. Gaal means loathing. Biblical name. Netophah and Maharai are Biblical names. Netpophah means slope.

Review of Primary Source by Alan Oathout

I enjoyed this book. I think almost everybody who likes conspiracy, secret U.S. History, and supernatural stories will like Primary Source.
The main character works as a concierge. I've read the word before and thought in meant someone who works in a hotel. I was only partly right. A concierge is a professional finder, cousin to a valet or detective. I had no idea someone could make a living doing that.
The first thing that struck me about the book was its physical beauty: an attractive cover, a beautiful blend of typefaces, the bar that tops each chapter, the little thistle spacer. If there was a typo anywhere in the book, I did not catch it. Most of us don't notice the interior design of a book unless there are numerous typos, misspellings, transpositions, or print too small to read. We only want the design to adequately carry the words to our eyes. But for some reason, I noticed how well put together this book is.
But beauty counts for nothing if the words are worthless. Here, too, I was delighted by a story well told.  All the main characters are likable and/or interesting. Almost all the bit players are interesting, which I consider quite a feat.
No book is perfect, and I have a very few nits to pick. I found the concept that a piece of knowledge could destroy U.S. society a bit of a stretch. Our motley nation has enough experience with shocking information that I believe any awful info would be slotted somewhere into existing belief systems or would cause flat-out denial.
And I should warn those of you who hate all the evil religion has wrought that, while you will find a character or two you will identify with, on the whole you will dislike this book filled with religious characters. If you are a Christian, as I am, or a history buff, or a genealogy researcher, the odds are high that you will like this  book despite some of the character's religious views. Me, I like to read books about people whose religious views are not mine because I like to know how other people think.
There is some romance in the book, but there is no head-spinning, so I forgive the author.
I am looking forward to more books by Alan Oathout.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review of Children of Dreams by Lorilyn Roberts

I found out the author is a captioner. I love captioners. They are the people who let us who are hearing impaired know a little bit of what is going on around us. So, THANK YOU, Lorilyn.
I thought this was an interesting book. I have also adopted two children from the exotic land of El Paso. We were going to get our children from Panama, but President Reagan got into a bit of a tiff with General Noriega, and the orphanages closed to Americans. I had tried local adoption and been turned down because I already had three children, one severely handicapped. And when I tried to adopt older, handicapped kids, the social worker I would call about each kid would sigh and say, "Ma'am, why can't you understand that you're the wrong race?" I never could understand, no, why the state of TX would only place kids in same race homes at the time. And then an adoption agency, that had to get their last two kids off the books before they closed, gave those kids to Los Ninos, the adoption agency we were going through. Race did not matter to Los Ninos, and so we got our last two children from El Paso before they were dumped into a foster care system that they would have aged out of before they were placed.
I had difficulty understanding why the author was so fearful through the adoption processes, which were, granted, difficult, lonely, and full of roadbumps and deceptions. She was also an experienced traveler, so much of the unpleasantry of the experience should not have been new to her. I also felt like that sometimes she confused or equated the results of poverty with that of depravity. That there was some depravity I will not argue with, as we have our own share in the U.S. I will also agree with her (after spending time in Asia and Africa) that it's amazing that sometimes it seems only North Americans care enough about plumbing to make sure it continues to work.
As I am a Christian, I was comfortable with her constant use of Scripture as illustrations and teaching throughout her story. Were I not a Christian, I might be tempted to conflate her hyperemotionality with religiousity and dismiss her. I do not think she should be dismissed. Her story is important. Yeah, I did not care for all the emotion in the book. But I'm a bit of a cold fish, and I notice in other reviews that other women loved all the emotion.
If there is a moral to this book besides the ones she gives you, it would be this: Make sure you go through an established, reputable agency to adopt. And make many many many copies of everything you need and of things you think you might not need. And Do not break any of the rules thinking everybody will make an exception for you because your heart is pure.
All in all, I think anybody interested in the subject of adoption would find this book fascinating.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review of Becalmed by Normandie Fischer

As I was reading this novel and enjoying the specialized language of sailing and the interesting characters of this seaside town, I kept thinking it felt like a Jane Austin novel. I tried to think of why when Normandie is a less wordy author and the setting is so very different. Like Jane Austin, she focuses on the many details of domesticity of a certain class of people. Every time she shifts the point of view, the story is told in the language of the person she is showing us. Her skillful writing draws us into the lives of many people so that we feel like we understand them all, and deeply sympathize with most of them. As I was still thinking about Jane Austin, the author started quoting Jane Austin. Oh ho, influence much? Well, as far as I'm concerned, there can never be too many people who write like Jane Austin.
I don't want to call this a romance; there were no spinning heads, and I hate romances. This was a book about love, looking for love, trying to avoid love, grieving about love, and falling in love.
I thought the nine-year-old girl was a little too precious. I was not precious when I was nine, and neither were any of the other nine-year-olds I knew. In general I found little girls to be noisy and spiteful beasts. On the other hand, the allure of dressing up a little girl is strong, so strong that when I gave birth to a girl who would never let me dress her up and who ate all the earrings I put on her, I adopted a girl I hoped I could dress up and fix her hair and play with and read to. Sigh. Instead I ended up with two girls who tore everything cute thing I sewed for them. But, you know, I have known only a few thousand people in my life, and there may well be precious little girls out there.I may have even run across them and simply didn't recognize them because I was too busy chasing around my autistic and my fetal alcohol affected daughters and trying to keep them from damaging other little girls. So, in the book, Jilly was a cutie and everyone treated her like a cutie.
Most of the people in the book were the kind of people you would like for friends and they treated each other well.
Save for a few scenes, this was a pleasant world to be immersed in. I enjoyed the family love, the neighborly love, the friend love, the erotic love, the married love depicted in the book. I look forward to reading more books by the author.

Review of New Blood by Ferguson

I started reading this, thinking the book would be just awful, but ended up caught up in the storyline about this girl with porphyria plus, enough plus to make her a vampire who really, really doesn't want to be one. She moves to the new world, hoping for a new start, but ends up with many of the old problems she had before. I was enjoying her story and her Latin prayers when, aargh!, romance, swirling head and all, broke into the book. Well, I hate the conventions of romance, but I'm fairly singular in that, so I know most of you will like the book all the better for the romance. There's lotsa, lotsa blood, especially during the big boss battle at the end of the book. If you like vampires, axes, native Americans, and romance, you will really like this novel. I am now wondering how the rest of the trilogy will get to the granddaughter in Alaska. Should be an interesting trip.
Part of why I downgraded this to a three star instead of a four star on Amazon, was the romance. There is a scene where White Hawk grabs our heroine and mashes his lips onto hers. She struggles a bit, and then melts into him. Grrrrrrr. Any man who mashes his face onto mine expecting that I will eventually melt into lust for him is in for a surprise. I understood why she could not rip off his head, as she had agreed to marry him so that a captured colonist would be returned to her family, but still.... And I could not believe that White Hawk would attempt to have a companionate marriage as modern Americans see as ideal. But these are common tropes that other people seem to have no trouble with, so my animosity may be misplaced.
There was the idea that I usually read in children's books: Because God made you that way, you could save the day. Actually, that's a valuable lesson, so I have no idea why I felt grumpy about it. Maybe because I was overtired when I read the book and was feeling grumpy about everything at the time.
At any rate, I think most people will like the book more than I did, and I did enjoy most of it.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Realm Makers

After missing the connecting flight in Chicago (they changed the gate and I waited two hours in the wrong place) I arrived at St. Louis for the Realm Makers Conference, for Christian writers of Speculative Fiction, without a single scrap of information since I left it all behind at the Portland, OR airport and I hadn't bothered to memorize the info since I would have the paperwork with me. I did remember that I needed to take a train into the campus from the St. Louis airport. It took several people to decide which train to board, and then a couple passengers to figure out where I should get off. Good thing I'm not afraid to ask for directions. Ended up sitting next to someone who gave me a long, spitting lecture about Hitler and WWII. Kept wiping my face, but he never noticed.So once I got off in the gathering dusk I ran down a University of Missouri student and asked her to help me find the conference. She needed the name of a building which I couldn't give her. She called the campus police who had no idea what I was talking about, but fortunately the campus is small enough that there is only one place where visitors stay, and that is where the cop drove me, and stayed long enough to see that I was checked in.
The next morning I followed a batch of people to where the conference was being held. The lecturers were good, the atmosphere friendly. I bought a batch of books. Got to have short meetings with Jeff Gerke and Randy Streu. Tried to go back to cafeteria but could not recognize any landmarks when I left the bldg. A kind stranger drove me to the cafeteria, where all I could eat were the green beans. I had filled out the dietary restriction forms, but apparently my filling them out and whoever cooks reading them were not the same thing. Bonnie Lacy drove Kathy Tyers and me back to conference. And thereafter kind Bonnie drove me everywhere.
The costumes at the banquet were wonderful. I got a kick out of Graham (Tales of the Dim Knight) wearing a Superman outfit above his kilts. Becky Miner (The Curse Bearer) was a perfect elf. The book Starflower won the Clives Staples Award. I hope I catch when they open nominations for next year's award for I intend to nominate Quintessence by David Walton.
I bought some more books. Nathan Paul Williams (Ripper Grimm) said, during the panel on horror, that horror lets us talk about the things we don't otherwise talk about. Really? I need to think about that a bit.
I bought New Blood by Ferguson. Liked it, for the most part. Bought a few more books, including Son Of Truth, by Busse, which she signed.
I got overtired and had to skip the book signings.
And again, the university could not be bothered to feed me, even though I had paid for them to do so. Good thing I brought a big box of Lara bars.
Still tired and lost the next morning, I wandered into kind Bonnie who took me to the airport. I remembered that I had tried to put in enough time to go to church before going home, but without the tickets I could not remember how much time I had, so I opted to just go to the airport and find out how much time I had. So I checked in eight hours early, which was too early to check in my suitcase. So I looked around for some place to sit for a few hours, and there was NO place. But the check-in clerk felt sorry for me, so she gave me a new ticket for a much earlier flight. Then while I was waiting for my new flight, another clerk came over and told me to sit here(!) and gave me a pre-boarding pass and told everyone around me to talk slowly. I wanted to laugh, but, honestly, Talk Slowly is good. Who knew you could get a pre-boarding pass for being pathetic?
In Phoenix, I was bundled onto a motorized bench and whisked to my next gate. My goodness, the Phoenix terminal has a lot of long empty halls. Everyone was so kind to me on the plane I began to wonder just how bad-off I looked.
I was amazed at the quality of the itty-bitty conference and the size of the industry presence. I came back with another TBR pile. I'm glad I went.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review of Pandemonium by Warren Fahy

Even though the body count got a lot higher than I like, I enjoyed this thrilling adventure. Ecosystems. Scary ecosystems! Russian history. Soldiers. Bombs and monsters. Neat structures I did not want to see destroyed, but were anyway. Caves. Geography. Understandable hatred and vengeance. Nasty end of the world possibilities. There was a lot in this novel.
I loved the animal sketches in the back of the book. I loved the biology.
I did not know there was a prior book to this book which is a sequel to Fragment. Now that I know, I intend to read it also.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Review of Mask by Kerry Nietz

I normally dislike stories told in sentence fragments, but Kerry Nietz made that practice work for me in this quick, page-turner, sci-fi thriller. One can feel the constant, breathless terror of the hero who keeps reciting mantras about the good society and about himself. Somewhere past the 80% mark of the novel, the hero stops trying to hide from or side with the terror, and actively fight the terror. And when he does, he starts thinking in complete sentences. I don't know if that is a deliberate stylistic choice or not, but to me it symbolized the hero's brain working again as he stops gibbering in terror. For a while, the hero had sided with the terror, not so he could provoke terror in those around him, but so that terror would overlook him. I found that to be an extremely believable motive. The ten-year-old girl was odd. But since some of us are odd, I accepted her oddness. Her uncle went so far past odd, I had a little difficulty with his weirdness. He seemed over the top to me. Yet over the top may have been needed at that point in the novel.
The final boss monster battle was slightly less disgusting than the final battle in the Galactic Mage trilogy. Oh, and speaking of disgusting, vegetarians, be warned. There is so much close up grilling of meat in the book that it will read to you not as sci-fi or thriller, but will seem to you like horror. The grilling scenes were integral to the plot as the hero is a fry cook in the day, yet I found myself getting faintly nauseated with the many descriptions of spattering fat. I had to eat a lot of cold, crisp lettuce after finishing the book. I finally found out what the Japanese girl meant when I laid out a huge Thanksgiving turkey for a group of Japanese friends, and she said she couldn't eat because the volume of food I laid on the table filled her up. I think she meant what I felt after closing the book: overwhelmed by a sensory experience. Weekend Warrior grill chefs and fry cooks should love the many descriptions of meat.
I lived in Seattle for six years long ago, and have sons in Kirkland. I got a kick out of Kerry's mentions of Seattle. I thought transmogrifying Sea-Tac into See Tee was funny.
People who like fast-paced, dystopian, sci-fi thrillers will likely love this book.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A review of The Linen God by Jim O'Shea

I enjoyed reading this book. The characters are interesting and likable people. There is the shroud of Turin, an exorcism, a massive conspiracy, writing that is not literary but is good enough that you don't want to snap shut the book and throw it across the room as one does with, ahem, some other thriller and/or conspiracy writers. There was even some romance that did not make me gag as romance usually does.
There was a spot where I started shouting at the author in my mind where he says the clone would not look exactly like the original because he had a different mother. "Because of epigenetics!" I thought, and then thought some more. The biggest epigenetic influence is indeed the state of the womb growing the fetus, hence looking different because of a different mother. Palm to forehead *bap* and note to self: Do not use the word epigenetics in your novels. The author correctly oversimplified the science so his book could be accessible to any average reader. He goes past our present science by implying that appearance can be influenced by genetic manipulation. Um, no, but it makes for a fun plot point in a fun, fiction book.
There are also some interesting real life prophecies that need a lot of streeetching to fit real life history. Watching the stretch is fascinating.
The end of the book exemplifies the proverb that Liars lie.
If you like thrillers and conspiracy books, you will likely enjoy this book.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 28, 2013

After men worked 11 hrs in 90 degrees to load the cargo container, we have a multiply punctured driveway, trash everywhere, piles of stuff that didn't fit in, etc. Then this morning a weigh station called and said the container is overweight. Now my husband must round up some people to help him unload 1,200 lbs of stuff. The first to be jettisoned are Gary Friesen's books. Sorry, Gary. They will go back into our garage and then we don't know what. It is a wonderful thing to be helping with the building of the Kim Foreman Bible Institute in Huye (Butare) Rwanda, next to the National University of Rwanda, but if we had known we would have so many setbacks (much more than mentioned here) we might have passed on the honor.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review of Quintessence by David Walton

The book reviewer at Christianity Today recommended this book. I'm so glad I saw that and then bought the book.What a Ride! This alternate history/alternate physics!/adventure has everything: good writing, delightful dialogue, explorations of science and religion. There are hatreds, there are loves. There are puzzles galore. There are really fun animals.
The book opens with the sentence: By the time Lord Chelsey's ship reached the mouth of the Thames, only thirteen men were still alive.   You want to know more, yes?
If you like the works of China Mieville, you will like this book. If you like metaphysical and physical exploration, you should like this book. If you like the clash of grand personalities, you might like this book. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I'm looking forward to reading it again.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Driving Men Women

At one time my sister-in-law and I could not get our husbands to put gas in the car before the fuel gauge dropped below one quarter empty. They preferred to drive on empty or leave us the cars on empty since the gas gauges were liars and you can drive for miles with the gauge on empty. It took a few decades before the men could hear what the women were trying to tell them. The world for us women is a lot more dangerous than it is for men. I suppose a healthy, adult male could run out of gas and then some roving predator could rape him, but I'm fairly certain the odds of that are much, much lower than it is for women. It's not so much that the inconvenience in a hurried life of pumping gas trumped my safety, it's more that he simply did not think about what we women have to think about all the time. But he finally did get it, and now I almost never start out a trip with an empty tank. Sometimes I fill it, sometimes he fills.
He fills the car tank at the cheapest gas station that takes cash. I fill at the gas station three blocks from our house. The filling is more expensive because I opt to let the station attendant fill the car. I want that gas station to continue in business. That means that I and a lot more people need to patronize the business. So my supporting a local business trumps my husband's saving a few dollars. For him, frugality trumps patronizing a local business.
My husband will drive miles and miles out of the way to avoid red lights. He seems to find a red light holding him back a grave insult. He wants to choose when to stop and when to go.
I find the looking and calculating Can I go? Can I go? frustrating and tiresome. And I dislike merging; looking over my shoulder and calculating and looking and calculating all the while going forward at 60 miles/hr. I would much rather take a straight route, stop at the red light, go at the green light. Simple. I can think about things other than whether or not today I die in a car accident.
Of course, my husband knows that he will never be in an accident because he is a good driver.
I have no such delusions about myself.
There was the day we were taking all our adult children (except the wookie) to the beach to have a fun day while discussing family matters and I told my husband to not take hwy 26 because there were too many head on collisions from sleepy drivers coming back from the beach. He did not want to take the long way with red lights on it, but he said he would. Except he lied. I was reading the paper and so did not notice when he took 26 anyway, and I never saw the car with the sleepy driver that ran into our car. I just saw the air bag deflating through the tear in my newspaper. Years later, one of the kids still has a hurt spine. One kid had to delay boot camp for a year. All of us were sore for weeks. At the family meeting, he told the boys to listen to their wives. Yeah right. He still drives where and how he wants no matter what I have to say.
I dislike being stuck in stop and go traffic. My husband gets frantic about being trapped. He might characterize his attitude differently, but that's what it looks like on my side of the car. He gets irate at people who "cut him off". What cut? I say. The car got into our lane in front of us. So what? He had to get in front of some car. Why not ours? What difference does it make? Then he gets irate at me.
I'm not being fair here. The biggest factor in his traffic frustration is the pain he is in. He crushed his feet several years ago, and although he can walk (Thank God) simply being awake any period of time makes his feet hurt. He is always in a hurry to get home so he can put his feet up.
And that brings up another difference that I do not know is male vs. female or just him and I. He thinks that if he thinks about being careful, he is being careful. He went on the roof, two days after his mother died, to put on zinc to kill the moss, and he thought about being careful while he was up there. If I had been awake that early morning, I would have insisted that he place a board or ladder near the edge or tied a rope around him and some stay, because unless you put up physical barriers, you are not being careful. So, his mind drifted, and he stepped off the roof and fell 20 feet to the concrete driveway, crushing his feet and lower legs.
Odd thing: for decades before that happened I would often wake up from nightmares about me pleading with him to be careful while he worked on something, sometimes it was a tablesaw. He would ignore me, and then he would accidentally cut off his hands. Control issues much? Um, yeah.  Nightmares about the children involved my trying to call them back to shelter whilst they ran out into the path of tornadoes. Anyway..... after that incident I never had another nightmare like that.
So.... Driving, men have such different attitudes from women.  Or am I the only one who thinks that?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Some thoughts about reviews of The Hunger Games Trilogy

WARNING: SPOILERS  If you have not read The Hunger Games Trilogy, do not read the following. One: it has spoilers.    Two: you will have no idea what I am talking about.
Whenever I post a review of a book, I like to look at other people's reviews because we all can see things so differently. Sometimes I wonder if I and the other reviewers even read the same book. This was especially true of The Hunger Games Trilogy, which I gave five stars to.
I was astounded at the number of people who hated the third book after loving the first book in the trilogy. Since the third book was a natural outgrowth of the the first, this made no sense to me. One person complained that Katniss had no character arc; she started out a whiny 17 yr old and ended up a whiny 17 yr old.  Excuse me, but whiny is the person who walked the same city block as everyone else in the group and now has to share that their feet hurt, they're hot, they're hungry etc. Complaining about legitimate hardship and trauma is not whining. Another person complains that the kick-ass Katniss they love went away in the third book. So did she change or not?  And excuse me, but Katniss broke. When you are subjected to continuous pressure, you are liable to break. I had the comparatively minor pressure of raising a violent, destructive child and I broke. No, I don't suffer PTSD. All I have to show for it are some nearly invisible scars and a knowledge that I don't do well under pressure. I would like to wish that knowledge away, but there it is. I have sympathy for the policeman and soldier who breaks performing their duties. If adult men break under such pressure, why should a kick-ass 17 yr old girl not break?
Some reviewers complained that the writing was bad. Sometimes I wish that I had not become a writer, because bad writing I never noticed before now repels me. I could read only a few pages of Stephenie Meyer before I gave up in disgust, and two paragraphs in the Left Behind series. But what was wrong with the writing in The Hunger Games? I thought about that a long time before I finally decided that perhaps they meant that the book is not written in a literary style. Totally irrelevant. I like literary writing and if a fantasy or thriller are written in a literary style, so much the better, but that style is totally unnecessary for this type of story. The writing became invisible as one raced to the next page to find out what would happen next. I noticed that those who complained about the writing still had trouble putting the book down as they felt compelled to keep reading.
I find myself impatient with books that have the heroes never getting sick, the heroes fighting on despite broken bones, the heroes taking a day or week to recover, the heroes never being traumatized by the trauma they are undergoing. That's partly why be the end of The Scarred King, my hero is suffering from PTSD.
But apparently, most readers don't want to hear it, thus the almost universal dislike of the third book. So, if I want to sell a lot of books, which I do as I want to buy a glass kiln and support some friends in Africa, maybe I need the make the hero more durable and kick-ass. But then, what self-delusions am I feeding into?
Oh, and what did you think of the part where Katniss votes yes with President Coin to restart the Hunger Games using the surviving Capitol kids? Since Katniss had spent the year trying to stop the Hunger Games, I was shocked and thought, "No, this is where you kill the evil president." (I am not a pacifist. Sometimes the only way you can make evil people STOP is by killing them.) So then I thought, "Okay, this is a tactic. Why did she vote that way?" and a few pages later we find out.
One of the reviewers complained that Gale just disappeared. Did they miss the part where Gale figures out that Katniss will always blame him in part for the horrendous death of her sister? Even an idiot should be able to see that romantic love cannot survive that.
Another complaint: there was no foreshadowing in the books. I don't know what to say to such a blatantly wrong statement. Another complained that they felt like they were being beat over the head by mentions of the mockingjay pin. Which reviewer do you think was right?
Well, on and on. What did you think of The Hunger Games trilogy, and why?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review of The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I spent this Memorial Day weekend reading The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. By the time I had finished the last book, I realized that I had made an appropriate choice because by the end, everybody, except a few sociopath villians, is struggling with PTSD.  One would think there would be some good treatment for PTSD so far in the future, but there does not seem to be.
My daughter-in-law, who loaned me the books, did not like the third book at all, though she loved the first and second books. I think what she missed was the spark of humor in the thinking of Katniss. In the third book, Katniss is so thoroughly broken by all the horror she has gone and continues to go through, that you do not know if she will ever recover. The breaking of Peeta was excruciating to read.
I thought the third book was the natural outgrowth of the first two, and followed a progression of events that made perfect sense. The third book breaks your heart over and over again. It shows what civil war is like, and what civil war does. It also shows that taking down an evil government does not guarantee a good government will take its place.
The thing I admire most in Katniss is her ability to retain her ability to do what must be done, no matter what. Of course, what must be done is defined by what the end goal is. Katniss never lost sight of the end. What astounded me most about Katniss was her ability to take the tiniest clues and then understand what was going on. Since I am perpetually clueless, the ability to understand from tiny clues looks like a superpower. She exemplified the saying: It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.
I had expected the writing to be awful, but Collins is a good writer on many levels.
If your books must have a happily ever after ending to justify the time you spent reading it, these books are not for you. If you are willing to have a sorta happy ending with the hero limping for the rest of her life, this book will give you a lot to think about. If you want to know what PTSD feels like, this book will tell you even though the phrase is never used. Warning: a lot of people you really don't want to see die do die.
I liked the movie The Hunger Games when I saw it several months ago. It was interesting to see where the movie deviated from the book, simplifying the plot line and reducing some of the gore. I have no idea how the moviemakers are going to handle the third book.
I had very few quibbles with the book. I cannot understand how the woods did not get hunted out. Where was New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Russa? They ALL got wiped out? Well, never mind. Bringing them in would have interfered with the morality play.
All in all, I'm glad I read the trilogy.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review of Someone To Blame by C.S. Lakin

Wow. I enjoyed this book. Maybe enjoy is the wrong word. I appreciated this book even though the story wrung some tears out of me. To feel as much grief as this book forces you to feel was hard, as grief is hard. I think it is important to know that life and grief are hard. I think we need to understand that when people hurt, they lash out at whatever they think is hurting them. Some of us are too quick to connect the dots and jump to conclusions, as did many in the book. You find yourself sympathizing with almost every character. And I found myself getting irritated at the nice sheriff in the cold town who really didn't want to be there. Because he would not do much of a job, the townspeople took things into their own hands.
There are several shocks in the story. Despite that, I think older teens could read this and maybe gain some insight into their parents. Parents of teens might find this book hard to read as parents' worst nightmares are vividly brought to life.
This book gave me a lot to think about. We all have push-all-the-wrong-button relationships, and it is good to think about ways to change the dynamic.
A good book that I thought was well-written.

Thoughts about the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness

I think this is easily the best Star Trek movie ever made. Some may think that is not saying much, but no, I loved the movie. I enjoyed the non-stop action. Everybody said what you wanted them to say. There were some really nice mirroring and inversions of previous episodes and movies. Lots of pretty people to look at. And, oh! Wasn't that cool when Scottie got to be a hero? He doesn't have that same sly look the old Scottie had, but he does have that beautiful Scot bur. Doesn't everybody love a Scottish accent? And the running fight on floating platforms: Yeehaw!
Another thing I loved: the theater provided tech glasses with dangling battery and mechanics box that let me put the captioning anywhere I wanted it. Yay! Since I understand, on average, three words per movie, most movies are confusing until we can rent the DVD and caption it. Captions are desperately needed for IronMan 3. Why did Tony Stark blow up all his Ironman suits, why oh why would he do that? But at home I miss the big screen and subsonics. Some young men laughed at me when I walked across the lobby of the theater wearing those glasses. I did not care. I was too delighted to understand the movie while watching it in a theater.
Did I have quibbles? Oh yeah. Why were they chasing down to keep alive a blood-donor for Kirk when they had 72 other donors that only needed to thawed?
I would have deleted the three seconds of Kirk in bed with lion-tailed, lovely ladies. I guess the director needed to remind those of us who don't know the ST universe that Kirk is a womanizer, the trait of his I like the least. I never did like Kirk. People like him who bluster and swagger and assume the universe will mold itself around their wills are dangerous and not good leaders. IRL they end up killing people.
So if I don't like Kirk and think most Star Trek plots are absurd, why do I like the franchise? Because I love the Star Trek universe. I love Spock. I love Worf. I love Uhuru and everybody with an interesting accent. I love that humans in this universe are wealthy and not killing each other for the most part. (Do I think Earth could ever be such a peaceful place? Uh, no. Not gonna happen.) I like that you can be a Spock or a Barkley or anybody and still have a place in society (unless you are a homicidal maniac.
Quibble:I will never understand how people are able to run off with ships or infiltrate ships with false identities in such a universe.
Big Quibble: the renegade has a sweet southern accent. Because, of course!, Hollywood knows all southern US military are war mongers. I think of the TV show, 24, and others, where over and over again the bad guy is someone in the US military and/or corporation. Sigh.
But despite quibbles that I thought of after the movie, the experience of watching the movie was delight. OK, not when people were flushed into space. Or when buildings were being crushed. Nooooooo!  But overall, the movie was a fun ride.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Review of Winter Haven by Athol Dickson

I enjoyed this book so much that I read it in one day. I found all the characters interesting and their dilemmas fascinating. The main character, Vera, has an interesting history with an overbearing faith-healer pastor father and an autistic brother who spoke using Scripture and herself with visions of her brother surrounded by white. Later she learned to call her times of vision and collapse epilepsy, but since her father refused to call doctors, she had to feel her own way through things. And she had to use his interpretation of his abuse and anger at her.
I loved the beautiful descriptions of the granite island fifty miles off the coast of Maine, where Vera must go to claim the body of her brother found on one of the island's beaches. But she cannot at first believe the body is her brother's as he has not aged in the thirteen years since he ran away from home. And he has on his body a Viking artifact.
The story grows spooky as Vera is chased by a ghost and showers of stones like the ones on the beach where her brother was found, and warnings from her angry landlord and the island sheriff. Who can she trust and believe on an island filled with hostile people and ghost stories?
In the end, she solves the mysteries and makes almost everyone tell the truth. And the truth sets her free.
I liked the descriptions of the autistic brother and the problems he created in church for his father. After I read an article about a research project involving siblings to autistic people when we were living in Alaska and attending a church where the people did not want to deal with our daughter's severe autism, I asked my oldest son  what it was like having an autistic sister. In the pause between my question and his answer, my daughter squealed and then groaned in the basement (she is still non-verbal, which does not mean quiet.) My son answered that it was like living with a wookie in the basement. We've called her Wookie, ever since, because if you tell her "No." she might rip your arm off. So we've had to come up with all sorts of new strategies to live with that.  When I see autistics described as Indigo Children or wise sages, I lose all patience. A high enough percentage of those of us on the spectrum are savant so that I can stand another literary description of a savant autistic, which we have here. Vera's brother has memorized the Bible in several languages. That turns out to be a useful savant skill (most aren't) though it is misused by the father as he tries to maintain his status as a healer.
Elegantly written with a satisfying puzzle and plot, I can recommend this book to anybody who likes good literature and is not scared by charismatic gifts.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Liebster Blog Award

 “Liebster” is a German word for favorite, and the Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers deserving wider recognition, and who have less than 200 followers. The purpose of the Liebster Blog Award is to spread the word about these folks and their fine work.
Thanks to Yvonne Anderson,, for nominating me. I hereby take up the gauntlet and pass it on to eleven more bloggers.
Here are the rules for participation on the Liebster Blog Award:
  1. Tell 11 things about yourself.
  2. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
  4. Post 11 questions for those who will be nominated by you.
  5. Get in contact with those 11 bloggers in order to inform them that you nominated them.

Eleven Things About Myself

1. I am a Christian imbedded in NW U.S., protestant, charismatic culture
2. Married over 40 years to the only man who would ever put up with me.
3. Mother of five children and grandmother of five grandchildren.
4. Obsessed with gardening.
5. Obsessed with reading and libraries. (read hundreds of books a year)
6. Went to Rwanda three times on short mission trips.
7. Helped Pastor Nahoyo of Butare Christian Mission introduce golden grain amaranth to Rwandan farmers.
8. Helped Come And See Africa  and Africa New Life start 11 elementary school libraries.
9. Helped Pastor Nahoyo help a 39 woman cooperative become successful in growing mushrooms and increasing their incomes from 30$/mo to 45$/mo. Yay!
10. Enjoy watching movies, but tend to over analyze into plot gaps, nonsense, and flying snowmen.
11. Discovered at age 45 that I have Asperger's. SHOCK. So my wookie got her autism honestly rather than out of the blue as previously assumed.
1. Why did you start blogging?
After spending a long time trying to remember the impetus, I finally recalled that it was to make a way to interact with readers.
2. What is your favorite genre to read?
Science Fiction hands down. But I also love horticulture, science, history, mysteries, spiritual life, etc. I hate most horror and dislike most romance.
3. What fictional character do you most wish were real?
Cheshire cat.
4. Describe your dream office for writing.
The mess of a one I've got is ok. My computer here, my husband's desk over there, everywhere boxes filled with books for Rwanda, a hundred books I intend to review someday, papers, papers, papers, and a window I can look out to see birch and cherry trees.
5. Name one thing you couldn’t live without.
6. If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
The Bible.
7. If you could magically transport yourself into any book, which one would you choose, and what character would you be?
Most books have more drama than I care to live with, but perhaps Narnia.
8. Do you have any phobias?
Heights. Spiders dropping onto me from heights. My husband still laughs about the time I was floating on a tube under a railroad trestle and a spider fell onto my chest. That's when he may have lost part of his hearing.
9. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Misspelled words in a projected song during Church service.
10. Describe yourself in five words.
Creative, slow, Child of God.
11. Who is your favorite well-known author and your favorite rising star author?
I love so very, very many authors I cannot truly say, but I can mention among them C. S. Lewis. The two authors I have discovered recently and am now buying all their works are John C. Wright  and China Mieville.

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