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.