A Book a Day (and 10,000 steps) for Thirty Days

For every like I receive on this page until the end of the project, I will donate $0.25 to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. For every unique person comment, I will donate $0.50.

1.  3/17/2013

For 30 days I will read and review a book a day, while logging in 10,000 steps as recorded by my Fitbit as well.

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Doing my steps and reading

Today I will start with W1ck by Michael Bunker and Chris Awalt. 196 pages

I started the book at 1:41 pm and finished at 5:45 PM. I have completed 8,080 steps, so I have 1,920 to complete my 10,000 for the day.  As will happen with the other books in this attempt, the books will be of varying lengths and selected from eReader1 USPixel of InkEreader News TodayAmazon Kindle. I enjoy most all genres, but historical fiction is my favorite. When I sit down to read a book, I like to follow the author wherever s/he might lead. I usually give a book no more than 10 pages or about 5% on a Kindle to decide if I will continue reading it.

When I started reading the book about a man, Clay Richter, who sets out on a backpacking journey with little to no preparation and minimum experience; I always have to tamp down my fundamental fury at anyone who attempts something so stupid. The movie, Into the Wild, had me roiling for days. Having hiked a few long trails myself and met some Appalachian Trail though-hikers, I have a deep and abiding respect about the host of dangers awaiting the unprepared hiker.  This did not deter me, however, as Into the Wild demonstrated such fools abound and they can fall into some pretty incredible situations.

Initially, Clay is a very lucky man and meets some wonderful characters, who take him in and befriend him. First a homeless man, a widowed (?) mother, and the extraordinarily rich cowboy. Each with their own philosophy about the world.

The homeless man tells Clay, “…people are political prisoners, jailbird of circumstance who just happen to find themselves on the wrong side of whatever 51% of the people have decided is wrong at a particular time in history. Walk around drinking laudanum on the streets in 1850 and you’d fit right in. Get caught with some Vicodin not prescribed to you in 2012 and you’ll likely get to see the inside of a jail cell.”

Of course, as Clay ambles along his journey, some of his own convictions or those of is father get dropped in.

His father had once put it like this: Suppose that everyone in the world were taken from their homes at a very early age and given the exact same education, the exact same nutrition, the exact same nurturing, and so on. the goal of the experiment would be to make everyone equal, down to the minutest detail. How long, his father then asked, do you think it would be before the children started separating themselves out by who was taller, or who had what color eyes, or who could run faster or sing better? The point his dad was driving at was that it was natural for people to sort themselves into categories. 

Clay starts out from Brooklyn, believing that he is freeing himself from the cage that society has built for him. His lack of planning, a catastrophic snowstorm, and ignorance of orienteering lead him to the Charm School. At this point, the story takes a bizarre turn into the surreal. He crawls into what appears to be a military installation, inhabited by Russians. The Russians are supposed to be part of a training school to provide spies for America into Russia and are part of a plot by a “third” party that wants the United States to be destroyed from within. One of the leading characters in the Charm School proclaims: “All of history is a lesson in the third side using lies and wars and manipulations to get what they want.”

W1ck is part of a series about a dystopian future and will most likely not be contained in my review. I enjoyed W1ck, but I’m ready for another adventure.

3-17-2013

2.  3/18/2013

Today’s book: Three Moons Over Sedona by Sherry Hartzler 314 pages

Start: 11:30 AM
Finish: 10:27 PM

Georgia Mae Brown’s husband dies suddenly and, in the style of Nelson Rockefeller, in the arms of another woman. Georgia is humiliated and devastated. Six weeks after the funeral, she goes out for ice cream and keeps on going. A chance encounter sets Sedona as her destination. Georgia brings warm sunshine to whomever she meets and is able to attract some wonderful characters to whom she radiates her warmth. But what about the sunshine for Georgia? Georgia’s adventure emits a warm soft glow, leaving you nice and toasty.

Naturally, Georgia is a great cook. I say naturally, because the women in so many romance novels are really great cooks. I like reading about great cooking and wonderful decorating skills, but let’s just say that Martha Stewart would vomit if she came to my house. I don’t have a problem with cat hair and dust bunnies.

I’ll let you know what’s up tomorrow.

3-18-2013

3.  3/19/2013

Today’s book: The Big Bend by Gary Showalter. 300 pages

Start: 11:15 AM
Finish: 9:00 PM

The Big Bend is a thriller with the typical tough cop/PI as the lead character. Terry Rankin owns a security firm to which he is very dedicated and he likes to choose his clients wisely. When Sheila Adamson strolls into his office, she leaves a path of destruction and dead bodies that lead Terry into a no-man’s land of rogue FBI men, a Venezuelan cartel, and just to add a touch more craziness to the mix, Hamas gets mixed in. The author really knows his way around boats and the Everglades, where the bad guys provide alligator food and shark bait. Poor Terry gets banged up and has more stitches put into him than most emergency room docs see in an evening. The story almost made me want to buy one of those boats, but there could be some limitations, like, it wouldn’t fit in my driveway.

I enjoyed the romp with Terry through the Everglades. Now I know how to get rid of anybody that wants to chase me on a high-powered watercraft, if I ever get around to it.

At this point, I’m a little panicked as to what to read for Saturday when I have a Belly Dance recital with Saffron Dance Studio at Darna Restaurant in Arlington. Do I stray from my present method, which is simply pick the first title that grabs my attention in my extensive list of books, or do I check on the page count to make sure I can get through it in one day while allowing for my dance recital? I guess I’ll think about it when I get there.

3-19-2013

4.  3/20/2013

Today’s book: Khe by Alexes Razevich. 285 pages.

Start: 11:30 AM
Finish: 9:45 PM

Khe lives a simple existence on a farm commune until she is altered by the “Powers,” then she begins to question the rules. What is her purpose? Must she live only to serve the commune? Khe gives relentlessly to her peers as she feels her life being drained way. She escapes to find answers for her condition. We are able to identify easily with Khe in her search for clues to what is happening to her. She is both sweet and powerful and so much more than she appears.

I found the cover illustration a little misleading and quite different from the graphics inside the book. Khe appears much more human, almost like the famous National Geographic photo of the Afghani girl with the haunting eyes that draw you in and make you wonder what happened to her.

I enjoyed reading this book and found myself anxious to follow Khe on her journey. Definitely recommend reading.

3-20-2013

5.  3/21/2013

Today’s book: Beloved Enemy: The Passions of Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Novel (The Queens of Love and War) by Ellen Jones 576 pages

Start: 10:00 AM
Finish: 12:00 AM

Phew! I did it! And quite the romp it was. I spent the day ensconced in the early passion of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitane as they forged the empire, striking alliances, and changing allegiances. Ms. Jones brings the early days, before “The Lion in Winter,” to life, setting the stage for the later antagonism.  The reader is able to see Eleanor’s deft hand in Henry’s rise to greatness and feel her heartbreaks and triumphs at his hand. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I look forward to the completion of this set to follow Eleanor from beloved helpmate to prisoner in the tower.

3-21-2013

6. 3/22/2013

Today’s book:  Young Moon (Water Worlds) Book 1 by H. S. St. Ours  119 pages

Start: 1:00 PM
Finish: 3:30 PM

In celebration of World Water Day 2013, I chose this title thinking it would be about water. It is, but only partially. Set over ten years in the future, some of political situations resemble present day North Korea and China. America is on the decline. The novel sounds an alarm over the lack of cooperation in space exploration, specifically, what do we do if a large asteroid threatens to strike Earth.   As the giant asteroid, Apophis, hurtles toward earth, its projected path of destruction is aimed at China. Moon’s father imagines a way of breaking up this tremendous space rock to prevent the catastrophe and the Chinese government supports his efforts. Moon has premonitions of the coming disaster, that she cannot understand. Written in the singsong tone of the Chinese language, the reader follows Moon and her family anxiously as  the story plunges the world into the Apocalypse.

The book was quick read and a great relief after yesterday’s  Beloved Enemy: The Passions of Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Novel (The Queens of Love and War). It’s a thought-provoking book. It raises questions about today’s space program, what can be done about asteroids, and what can happen if those plans go horribly wrong.

3-22-2013

7.  3/23/2013

Today’s book: French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley by Linda Kovic. 275 pages

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be an au pair, so I thought this book would be really fun.

Start: 2:30 PM
Finish: 11:00 PM

I was a little disappointed with this book, both with the author and her employer. With the author, I find myself a bit perturbed at her deception by promising something she couldn’t deliver. She arrives in France knowing she won’t be able to speak French and has to tell her employer as soon as they meet. Her employer, especially the wife, was thoroughly disgusting and clearly riddled with some strong insecurities. In spite of these misgivings about the characters, I still found enough to charm me and want to know more about what happened to Ms. Kovic after her misadventure. I wish her well.

3-23-2013

8.  3/24/2013

Today’s Book: Ambush: A 30 Pieces of Silver Prequel (Betrayed Series) by Carolyn McCray. 40 pages.

Start: 8:20 PM
Finish: 9:10 PM

I had to cheat a little today because I had a dance recital. I had to be there for eight hours.

The story concept is fun, but I have to agree with another commenter that the book needs editing and some of the plot lines are too crazy to believe. For one thing, the “flying squirrel” suits require a parachute to land. You try flying into a building with one of those things on, you’re bug blood. I’ll have to give the next volume some thought as to whether I want to continue.

3-24-2013

9.  3/25/2013

Today’s book: My Emily by Matt Patterson. 98 pages.

Start: 2:20 PM
Finish: 3:00 PM

I chose this book because of the accolades attributed to it. Since I aspire to be a writer myself, I wanted to see what others considered great writing. I enjoyed the book even though it was very sad. My only problem is that I found myself wanting so much more–more praises for Mr. Patterson’s wife; more about Emily before she got sick; more about how they dealt with a new child in the face of losing one; just more. The author tells us that Emily’s life touched so many people, but I would like to hear more incidents of her behavior that were so endearing. I felt like the author also needed to give other characters, especially his wife, a little more depth than found in the story. What was going on in their relationship? As couples have to endure such tragedies together, how the Pattersons overcame this great loss would have been interesting.

3-25-2013

10.  3/26/2013

Today’s book: The Bearwalker’s Daughter (The Native American Warrior Series) by Beth Trissel. 224 pages.

Start: 9:00 AM
Finish: 9:00 PM

Historical fiction is my favorite genre. Ms. Trissel places this story immediately after the Revolutionary War. As Americans, we tend to forget that some Americans did side with the British and an even lesser known fact that some Indians also supported the British, in light of a promise by the British to limit the spread of territories. Jack McCray fought with the Tories. Even though the war is over, resentment remains among the patriot McNeals. When the rival factions meet, sparks fly. The thing that fascinates me with historical fiction is when they throw in the romance. How many different ways can you describe sexual attraction and the follow up sex? And how realistic is it that two people meet, make love passionately, and live happily ever after? But that’s why it’s fiction. I enjoyed “Bearwalker’s Daughter.” The characters were vivid and warm and I love the spiritual part.

3-26-2013

11.  3/27/2013

Today’s book: Begging (Invisible Child) by Mary Hayward. 133 pages.

Start: 2:30 PM
Finish: 9:00 PM

Mary’s excellent recall of her early childhood and riveting writing style, keeps you involved with this devastating tale of child neglect. Mary relates how she was brought up in this dysfunctional family and forced to go begging for food to provide for her family. You wonder at the lack of involvement by authorities and Mary’s determination not to relinquish any control over her little family unit at such a young age. This book is not for the faint of heart.

Another frightening topic the novel touches on is the effect of daycare on a child. In light of today’s working mothers, daycare provides a necessary service. If the caregiver is changed too frequently, however, what is the danger of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)?

In the character of Andy, Mr. Landay derides the jury system. I found this argument a bit specious and conceited, as though judges and lawyers cannot be tainted somehow. It’s something to contemplate.

3-27-2013

Hey, I know I did 10,000 steps! There must be a glitch here.

12.  3/28/2013

Today’s book: Defending Jacob (A Novel) by William Landay. 431 pages.

I am reading this book at the recommendation of my sister-in-law. It’s not in the list of free eReader books, but I borrowed it from Arlington Public Library‘s eBook selection. I have a limited amount of time to read it. It’s longer than most of my other selections, but I don’t have any doctor’s appointments, laundry, dance classes or Zumba so I should be able to make it. (Fingers crossed.) I might do some housecleaning tomorrow.

Start: 1:45 PM
Finish: 9:30 PM

“Defending Jacob” is a really gripping read. Jacob Barber is the son of Andy Barber. When Jacob is accused of a classmate’s murder, Andy is sent into a tailspin of denial and self-deception, while his wife sees through her son’s veneer. Since I’ve seen this parental nightmare through my mother’s defense of my brother, I fully understood the father’s blind spot. “My son couldn’t do this,” he thinks, “not these sweet babe I brought into the world.” Throughout his life, Andy denied his parentage. He could admit to no one, not even himself that his father and grandfather were murderers. This revelation forms the pivotal point in the narrative.

The dilemma has been presented in different ways, most notably in the movies, “The Bad Seed” and “The Good Son.”  The setting in Newton, Massachusetts brings to mind the recent mass murder in Newtown, Connecticut; the situation, the murder of Natalee Holloway ostensibly at the hands of Jan van der Sloot. Do we accept that in child rearing it’s nature versus nurture? Can parents do nothing to change the pathology of their child’s DNA? If it’s true, what do we do with children who have the “murder gene”? It’s a scary thought.

Another frightening topic the novel touches on is the effect of daycare on a child. In light of today’s working mothers, daycare provides a necessary service. If the caregiver is changed too frequently, however, what is the danger of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)?

In the character of Andy, Mr. Landay derides the jury system. I found this argument a bit specious and conceited, as though judges and lawyers cannot be tainted somehow. It’s something to contemplate.

3-28-2013

13.  3/29/2013

Today’s book:  Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction by Amy Metz. 284 pages.

Got a late start today. Had to clean the fish tank.

Start: 3:30 PM
Finish: 9:00 PM

From the title I thought this book would be a laugh a minute. I was disappointed, but I was still somewhat amused. What drew Tess Tremaine to this oddly named little town  amazes this city girl. Having lived in small towns as a single woman, I found the atmosphere stifling. But this is Tess’s story. The characters are endearing. The townspeople greet her warmly and take her immediately into their bosom, at least most of them. When Tess starts to dig up the mystery surrounding the former owners of the house she has purchased in the town, mayhem ensues. She also meets Jackson Wright, a mystery writer to whom she is attracted instantly and new descriptions of sexual attraction abound. I found some of the definitions of Southern speech a bit annoying. You can usually pick up the meaning from the context and the definition becomes superfluous, but some are absolutely necessary. Not the laugh I expected, but still fun.

3-29-2013

14.  3/30/2013

Today’s book: Trusting Evil by Mary Leo. 316 pages.

Today’s book will be a challenge since I have to do a Snake Talk at Gulf Branch Nature Center today.

Start: 5:30 PM
Finish: 10:30 PM

Starting a book with a suicidal character from the outset can be difficult, but Ms. Leo pulls it off. Carly Rockett’s sarcasm and her ever-loving supporter Mike form an interesting duo, who play well off of one another. Their interaction allows you to want to cheer for Carly and urge her to enjoy life. The story’s premise is based on the horrific murder of eight nurses by a German sailor, Richard Speck. I remember the tragedy very well and the sensation it caused at the time. It never occurred to me to consider the crime’s effect on the neighboring community. When she was a Beatle-crazed teenager, Carly met and spoke to Richard Speck. She and her friends reasoned that since he was from Germany and the Beatles played in Hamburg, Richard would have an inside track to deliver their love letters. As an adult Carly investigates Richard Speck’s almost luxurious life in prison, it may lead one to reconsider the death penalty and the treatment of prisoners.

3-30-2013

15.  3/31/2013

Today’s book: Dead Case in Deadwood (Deadwood Humorous Series #3) by Ann Charles. 357 pages.

I don’t know if this has anything to do with the HBO Series, “Deadwood,” but I thought I’d go with something a little more light-hearted than yesterday’s chilling story.

Start: 3:30 PM
Finish: 12:00 AM

I think I was a little overconfident in choosing a book of this length. I had to get up early (7:30 AM. I usually sleep until at least 10:00 AM.) to go to church, then we went for Easter brunch at Lyon Hall. But I still did it, just barely made the midnight deadline.

The book had nothing to do with the TV series, Deadwood, but everything to do with the town. I’m always amazed that women over 30 are able to find eligible men in a small town, but then two friends fall for the same guy. That I can totally relate to. Been there. Done that. It ain’t pretty.

The lead character’s name, Violet Parker, calls to mind Parker Posey. Whether that was intentional or not, I can’t tell. Aside from that, Violet is a curly haired blonde, mother of fraternal twins with a nose for trouble. I enjoy plunging  into someone else’s fantasy of false bravado, which this book allows me to do. If I witnessed a colleague doing something hokey, I’d dash away. Not Violet. She doesn’t mind checking out her detestable work mate’s extracurricular activity to satisfy her curiosity. And then there are the ghosts and nightmares. I could do without those.

I loved the language and howled at some of the descriptions of “manhood.” “Twig and berries,” “fish and tackle,” and other such phrases never occurred to me. I live in the environs of Washington, D.C., where political correctness reigns. Any one uttering such phrases would end up in court slapped with a big lawsuit. This book is #3 in a series. I would read the other books, but not as part of this project.

4-1-2013

16.  4/1/2013

Today’s book: Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut. 290 pages.

Even Kurt Vonnegut couldn’t decide if this book was his best or his worst. I haven’t read any of his books for quite some time, so that may be difficult for me to discern. We’ll find out.

Start: 1:30 PM
Finish: 4:45 PM

I felt like I was in a Hieronymus Bosch painting, where all manner of things are contemplated and few are immediately apparent. As America implodes and China explores other planets, conquers hunger, and invents teleportation, the former President of the United States in the person of  Dr. Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain campaigns on the slogan, “Lonesome No More.” He devises an artificial familial system to replace the close communities of relatives that has been destroyed by technological advances and a belief in the individual. The system devolves into a Nigerian tribal organization on steroids. The “Hey, Buddy! Can you spare a dime?” mentality proliferates. Warring factions split the country apart. Governmental apparatuses disintegrate, leaving citizens at the mercy of the strong and making education irrelevant. It is a sad review of our time. What have we lost through blind ambition? Are two heads really better than one? The book leaves America’s future in doubt and forces a reflection of our present status. I’ll have to read “Slaughterhouse Five” and some other works to decide if I really like Kurt Vonnegut. This book was a little too far out there for me.

4-2-2013

17.  4/2/2013

Today’s book: The Pickle Boat House by Louise Gorday. 287 pages.

I have to accomplish this one while doing the laundry. We’ll see how it goes.

Start: 2:30 PM
Finish: 11:30 PM

Well, I finished the laundry and the book. Almost. The last load didn’t dry completely and I had to run one load 3X to get it rinsed. I don’t know why that happened. Maybe too much in the dryer. I still have to fold it. Richard was also having a very bad day. It was an off-steroid day.

The opening chapter begins with two friends talking at the airport. I found the dialogue a bit contrived, also the book was single-spaced making it harder to read. Usually it’s double. I considered ditching the book, but then at the end of the chapter one of the conversationalists, James, dies. A  man whose behavior he and his friend had derided is hit by a bus and James’s soul inhabits his body. That kept me reading. I wanted to find out what would happen next. I was glad I kept going. Vanessa as a grieving mother leaves her husband to live in the  Pickle Boat House where she had spent many holidays with her parents and grandfather. She finds solace in the arms of the man who was hit by the bus and whose soul James now inhabits. James was Vanessa’s son. Getting over the incestuous nature of their attraction and the age difference, required me to dismiss some of my own prejudices in this matter. Ryan Thomas is not her son, but her son’s soul influences great changes in this otherwise black-hearted individual. His past clings to him and bad stuff happens. I enjoyed experiencing the transformation of both characters as they surmount the dangers involved. I also liked reading about the Chesapeake Bay area, its culture and history. The story about land speculation by nefarious investors rings true for many Eastern seaboard communities.

4-2-2013

18.  4/3/2013

Today’s book: Monstrous by Sean Platt and David W. Wright. 265 pages.

Start: 3:00 PM
Finish: 12:00 AM

After the horrific murder of his child and himself, Henry Black is given a choice by the gatekeepers in Purgatory: Spend eternity in the Nowhere or go back to Earth to see his family. The white gatekeeper, Randall, warns Henry that he might not like the consequences should he decide to return to Earth. Henry ignores Randall’s cautions and follows Boothe, the black gatekeeper, back to the living realm. Boothe tells Henry that while on this realm, there are rules that he must follow. The problem being that Henry isn’t very good at following rules and his anxiety over his family’s fate trounces common sense. Along the way, Henry’s faith is challenged. A casual observer at best, a complete cynic at worst, Henry encounters good and evil in himself and others. Within very vague guidelines, he must choose to believe in a God who permits iniquity or the to allow the malevolence he begets through his own actions to escalate. It’s an age-old dilemma presented in a very entertaining fashion.

4-3-2013

19.  4/4/2013

Today’s book: Children of the Fog by Cheryl Kaye Tardif. 230 pages.

Start: 6:00 PM
Finish: 11:00 PM

Richard and I walked all around town today and I got my 10,000 steps done by 3:00 PM. First we went to the audiologist to have my hearing tested, since Richard always complains that I can’t hear him. My hearing’s fine. I just need to listen better. From there, we went to Ballston Mall so I could pick up my Victoria’s Secret free underwear and some belly jewelry at Claire’s. We wound up the day with lunch/dinner at Mr. Day’s.

I don’t like dealing with depressed and suicidal people, which is who you are faced with in the Prologue. Sadie O’Connell is a depressed alcoholic, ready to pull the trigger. One little niggling element that bothered me in the Prologue was that Sadie stares at a picture of her departed son, Sam, with a chipped tooth from falling off a bike, then later she is buying a bike for his birthday. I found that a bit bewildering, but the story is well-written enough and just the right length to keep  the reader involved. When Sadie interrupts the kidnapper as he is abducting Sam, the Fog threatens to kill Sam in front of her. He threatens that if she reveals his description to anyone, he will return Sam in bloody pieces. Sadie starts hitting the bottle, her opiate of choice. Sadie’s philandering husband, Phillip, is distant and unhelpful. (Are all husbands in novels unfaithful?) His career crashes through shady financial dealings, landing him in jail and leaving Sadie alone to face her demons. Fate leads her to a small cabin in the woods, where children begin to visit her, begging for help. Who are these children? And what do they want from her? We follow Sadie anxiously as she struggles to find answers.

4-4-2013

20. 4/5/2013

Today’s book:  Drowning Mermaids (Sacred Breath Series, Book 1) by Nadia Scrieva. 287 pages.

Start: 4:00 PM
Finish: 12:00 AM

Each character in this story has a distinct voice. The reader can easily dive into the plot line and follow the mermaids and the fishermen into their perilous water world, where lives can be lost in an instant. Aazuria Vellamo and Captain Trevain Murphy are magically drawn to one another. Captain Murphy’s initial rejection of all that Aazuria represents, however, is hard to bear. The harsh words and actions seem unforgivable, but Aazuria and Trevain redeem themselves through the strength of their love and the realization of a greater purpose as Aazuria’s kingdom is plunged into war. Seeing modern weaponry introduced into this ancient world is frightening. Where it will lead we don’t know. Ms. Scrieva leaves an opening at the end for the next book in the series. Would I like to read more? I think so.

4-5-2013

21. 4/6/2013

Today’s book:  Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer by N. Gemini Sasson . 422 pages.

This could be rough.

Start: 2:40 PM
Finish: 12:00 AM

Phew! Did it! As I have said before, historical fiction is my favorite genre. In the beginning, I was a bit jarred by the use of the first person point of view for the Queen and Sir Roger Mortimer, but it works in the story. The novel opens with Isabella’s ill-fated marriage to Edward II. We watch as she seethes under relentless neglect and mistreatment, while Edward attends to his favorites. Edward’s misrule leads to widespread discontent in the kingdom, enabling the Queen and her consort, Sir Roger Mortimer, to gather allies and depose him. Queen Isabella refers to him as my “gentle Mortimer,” which is a bit surprising in light of some of his actions. I enjoyed the story and the descriptions of the landscape and surroundings place the reader directly in the spot of the action. The book is part of a series about this period in England’s history. It aroused a hunger in me to learn more about this era, but I think I would rather read the real history than slogging through another volume.

4-6-2013

22.  4/7/2013

Today’s book: The Butcher’s Boy by Michael Robb Mathias. 242 pages.

I have a lot to do today since I’m getting ready for a performance at Darna Restaurant with the Oriental Apprentice Group at 5:00 PM today. Better hop to it!

Start: 8:00 PM
Finish: 1:00 AM

I didn’t make the midnight deadline. But seriously, folks, that was a lot to take on.

The book was a scary ride in an Amityville-type Horror house with a succubus, protective Rottweiler, and ghostly possession thrown in just to keep your hair standing on end. Janet Hale moves into her dream house only to find out that it’s been the site of horrible murders in the past. As she transfers her new furniture into the house with her son, Michael, and his dog, Luce, she meets a host of characters who play a role in the subsequent hauntings. I found the book gripping, but a little predictable as the identity of the perpetrator is a little too obvious. There’s also a little slip up in continuity at the end, where the detective loses his cell phone but is still able to make a phone call while en route to Janet’s house. How did that happen?

4-7-2013

23. 4/8/2013

Today’s book: The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson. 192 pages.

I’m not posting the start and finish time for this one, because I didn’t finish it in one day. It’s almost cosmic that I chose it today of all days though, because I’ve been a little depressed. Richard Matheson’s description of the shrinking man portrays clinical depression at its most desperate. The world enlarges and you shrink in significance until the battle proves monumental. As Scott Carey shrinks from a rather tall (6’2″) man to 58″ to 38″ to 10″ to almost nothing, his relationship to his coworkers, wife, and child frightens and distances him from them emotionally. The world transforms into a place where he can no longer fit in, a world he formerly dominated. He is subject to bullying, mistaken for a child by a pedophile, and a tasty snack for a bird then a spider. As Scott grew smaller and his difficulties greater, I questioned whether I wanted to stay with him, to drop into the twisting nether that seemed his fate. I’m glad I did.

4-8-2013

24. 4/9/2013

Today’s book:  The King, His Son, Their Sorcerer and His Lover (Vengar the Barbarian) by Chris J. Randolph. 27 pages.

I know it’s a short book, but I need a respite.

Start: 9:40
Finish: 10:10

This book was fun. Just the respite I needed for an afternoon read. A very tongue in cheek narrative about raucous bloodshed. When Vengar the Barbarian comes too town, mayhem ensues. Strong as a bull, but dumb as an ox, Vengar enters Tensara with plunder on his mind. A voluptuous maiden entices Vengar to save her sister with a promise of riches. Vengar plunges headlong into the quest and unknowingly catalyzes a civil war. While Vengar escapes with the “sister,” the King and Sorcer’s factions battle over which one is responsible for kidnapping the Lover. Mr. Randolph uses alliteration, exaggeration, and repetition to riotous effect.

4-9-2013

25.  4/10/2013

The Neighbors by Ani Ahlborn. 233 pages.

Start: 3:00 PM
Finish 9:30 PM

Andrew Morrison pulls up to the house on Magnolia Lane, believing that he has left the nightmare of his agoraphobic, alcoholic mother behind. The house is perfect, white picket fence, manicured lawn, freshly painted. Next door sits a frown of a house, almost like the one he left. But surprise, the dilapidated wreck where his childhood friend and roommate-to-be, Mickey, lives will be his abode. When Drew meets the neighbors, Red and Harlow Ward, he doesn’t think his life could get any better. Harlow embodies the perfect wife, June Cleaver in person. Red appears to be the perfect doting husband. In his vulnerable state, Harlow exploits Drew’s weaknesses to seduce him into her scheme to perfect the murder of her son. We watch as Andy relentlessly plunges deeper into Harlow’s snare; her husband tries to prove his loyalty; and Mickey slowly realizes he must stop it. The book is chilling and brutal. A good one to read on a dark and stormy night in front of the fire with a glass of chilled white wine. I would read “Seed” by this same author.

4-10-2013

25. 4/11/2013

Today’s book: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. 256 pages.

Start: 3:00 PM
Finish: 12:15 AM

As the novel opens with an introduction to a reproduction plant, where humans are decanted en masse to suit a specific purpose. In it we learn of the new morality, where recreational sex is expected. This section reminded me very much an episode of the “Coneheads” on Saturday Night Live where the father and mother are aghast that their daughter didn’t have sex on her first date. Later on we meet John Savage, who lives on a reservation where natural reproduction remains. Because his mother hails from the land of civilization and does not understand the society’s rules, her wanton behavior invites derision from the neighbors. John suffers as a result of his mother’s outcast status and is confused by his mother’s teachings from her Hypnopaedic memory. When Lenina Crone and Bernard Marx visit from civilization, they bring John and his mother back with them. John becomes a famous curiosity in the Brave New World and the light of his fame shines on Lenina and Bernard, a light that is destroyed when John refuses to entertain high society members. Unable to bear the spotlight, he retreats to a lighthouse where his bizarre behavior is spotted and filmed by a ravenous media. The resulting press of curious visitors drive him to madness and suicide.

The novel can be viewed as a warning to modern society against rampant homogenization and commercialization, but it was written during the rise of Fascism, Communism, and Industrialization where society’s needs trumped individuality. It’s certainly thought provoking.

4-11-2013

26.  4/12/2013

Today’s book is a short one since we have to do our taxes and I have belly dance rehearsal: The Ice Cream Man by Jimmy Pudge. 67 pages.

Start: 9:00 PM
Finish: 10:00 PM

The book was fast paced and loaded with gore, but the editing was horrible. Prepositions were omitted frequently, as though they don’t matter. The language is harsh, but well suited to the low life characters. This is probably my least favorite genre, but Mr. Pudge did keep me involved in the action. It reminded me a little bit of “Ghost Rider”

4-12-2013

27. 4/13/2013

Today’s book: Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. 306 pages.

This book came up for sale through one of the eReader sites (sorry I don’t remember which one), so I grabbed it. As promised after reading Slapstick (#16 in the project series), I am trying out another Kurt Vonnegut to see what I think.

Start: 5:00 PM
Finish: 12:00 AM

Kurt Vonnegut really pokes fun at organized religion, government, and science in this book.  The title refers to the child’s string game, Cat’s Cradle. When your fingers form the design, you see neither a cat nor a cradle. On the island of San Lorenzo, the state religion of Bokononism is based on lies and is outlawed to make life more interesting for its citizens . Science is based on fantasy and government does not govern. The journalist narrator Jonah joins the family of Felix Hoenikker, the father of the atom bomb, in San Lorenzo; where he meets “Papa” Monzano, the island’s ailing dictator, and his adopted daughter, Mona Aamos Monzano. Jonah falls immediately, desperately in love with Mona. Before he died, Felix Hoenikker left a container of “Ice 9” in their summer cottage where his children discovered it. They divided the substance among them and kept this potent material in a thermos, hidden from the world, that is, until they get to San Lorenzo.

Cat’s Cradle is a rather short, but dense novel that one would have to read again and again to absorb all the little nuances that Vonnegut describes. Much has been written about the book and it has inspired references in music and literature. I will definitely place Slaughterhouse 5  on my future reading list.

4-13-2013

28. 4/14/2013

Today’s book:  Color Her Red by Crystal Shaw. 288 pages.

Note to self: never read a trashy romance novel after perusing the lofty words and notions of truly great writers. It’s a real let down.

The editing errors in the book were pretty atrocious, non-matching verb tenses and a huge incongruity in the plot line. The plot line is reminiscent of the movie, “Fatal Attraction,” crazy ex-girlfriend won’t let go.  The soft porn is fine. Nothing wrong with that. But the character of Thomas Grant was only superficially explored. His dialogue makes him seem rather threatening and controlling, yet he remains a good guy to the end. A plot twist was in order. Michael, Thomas’s mysterious guy Friday,  was better off left in the background. Toward the end, he somehow ends up on vacation with Emma and Thomas in Bora Bora and in New York on a date with Kate, Emma’s best friend, at the same time. The side venture was totally unnecessary. Some pulse pounding moments, but overall better reserved for a light beach read.

4-14-2013

29. 4/15/2013

Todays book: I Shall Live: Surviving the Holocaust against All Odds by Henry Orenstein. 308 pages.

Went overtime again today. Two hours of bellydance, crepes stuffed with fresh fruit for breakfast, late getting started. Whatever!

It was a difficult book to read, especially on the day of the bombing at the Boston Marathon. It is heart wrenching to hear about the relaxed attitudes before the Holocaust. You keep wanting to scream at the people: “Leave now, please. Please get out of there.” But you know they don’t. As more people are denying that the Holocaust really happened, we need to keep reminding ourselves: This was real.  Mr. Orenstein does a great job of showing us what it felt like to be the human rat: hated, despised, trapped, massacred.  Through a curious twist of fate and pure luck, Henry and his brothers, Sam and Fred, become members of “The Chemist’s Commando,” which allows them to survive the worst of the concentration camp even though the terror surrounding them abounds. The book has a lot of pictures, documents, and diagrams of concentration camps that are hard to read or see well on the Kindle. This did not make the book any less enjoyable, but I wish Kindle had a way of posting these graphics online for readers to view them in full on a large screen.

4-15-2013

30. 4/16/2013

Today’s book: Bossypants by Tina Fey. 289 pages.

I needed a real change of pace.

Start:  2:30 PM
Finish: 11:00 PM

And I got it. Ms. Fey’s statements support my theory that successful people require less sleep than the average person. She describes late night writing sessions where she goes to bed at 1:00 AM and has to wake up at 5:30 AM. She nods off at a meeting, but her understanding staffers wait until she wakes up. Just the idea that she was able to get her head off the pillow astounds me. She also exhibits some symptoms of the common female ailment, body dysmorphic disorder, in that she constantly disparages her looks: shark eyes, pasty thighs, round hips, brown hair. Come on, Tina. You’re gorgeous. Her early association with the gay community is heartwarming, until she realizes that gays actually want to sleep together when a pair of her friends start making out in front of her. Blechh! Overall the book is very funny and Ms. Fey seems almost ordinary. One of us. Since I require 12 hours of beauty sleep a night, I know she’s nothing like me.

Thank you, Ms. Fey for writing this book and letting us into your life. I enjoyed reading it, but your doctor’s right. Get some sleep!

4-16-2013

Please note that the start and finish times contained herein are approximate and not intended to be accurate.

4/18/2013

$19.25 will be sent to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society today.

3 thoughts on “A Book a Day (and 10,000 steps) for Thirty Days

  1. Pingback: A Book a Day for Thirty Days | Esther Massey

  2. Great idea, thanks for sharing. You are doing the reviewing that will help me in my book selections. Good luck with this project. And thanks for the contributions to nhl

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