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EricaO

EricaO

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Frackistan: The Promise and Peril of America’s Energy Revolution
Russell Gold
Savaging the Dark
Christopher Conlon
The End-of-Life Handbook: A Compassionate Guide to Connecting with and Caring for a Dying Loved One
David B. Feldman, S. Andrew Lasher, Ira Byock
Final Journeys: A Practical Guide for Bringing Care and Comfort at the End of Life
Maggie Callanan
A Better Way of Dying: How to Make the Best Choices at the End of Life
Jeanne Fitzpatrick, Eileen M. Fitzpatrick, William H. Colby, William Colby
Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness
Joanne Lynn, Janice Lynn Schuster, Joan Harrold
Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success
Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
S.
Doug Dorst, J.J. Abrams
Dances in Two Worlds: A Writer-Artist's Backstory
Thordis Simonsen
Tigers in Red Weather
Liza Klaussmann, Katherine Kellgren
Attachments - Rainbow Rowell

We hope you have enjoyed our presentation of Attachments: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell says the audiobook reader at the end of the book.

No. No, I really haven't. Thank you, though.

Hello, I am the Lone Dissenter.
I am here to say that I know what this book should have done for me and why I should have completely loved it. I know why it appeals to everyone else and their sisters. I get all that. And yet...

See, here's my problem: This book runs parallel to my back-then life; the characters are my age, I lived through Y2K in a very similar fashion, I've done the e-mailing daily conversations to work friends in the late 90's, I've both e-stalked someone and given them all the attributes I wanted them to have and then fallen in love with the creature I created in my head and I've had it done to me (which resulted in real, actual stalking and was scary as hell), I've spent time in Nebraska (waaay too much time), I've stopped my life to live for someone else, someone who didn't love me like I loved him...everything in this story was incredibly relatable when seen through the goggles of my own history.
And I hated it.

I think maybe I'd have liked this had it actually been written in 2000 and had I read it then. Maybe I would have found it sweet and not unhealthy. Had this come out around the same time as Bridget Jones, I'm sure I'd have gobbled it up as a read-alike and been completely delighted.

It's too late for me, though. It's not too late for all of you who have not become cynical, bitter curmudgeons, for those of you who still think someone counter-stalking their stalker is romantic, for those of you who don't need their characters to have self-worth or to be strong or to not be unknowingly beautiful. For those of you who wonder why Beth and Jennifer don't have any other friends.

I thought chapter 88 was going to pull things around, put it all into perspective. (view spoiler)
It didn't work out that way and I was left disappointed.

This wasn't the story for me. It was and is, however, a wonderful story for many other readers and I appreciate that.

The Gentle Art of Preserving: Pickling, Smoking, Freezing, Drying, Curing, Fermenting, Bottling, Canning, and Making Jams, Jellies and Cordials

The Gentle Art of Preserving: Pickling, Smoking, Freezing, Drying, Curing, Fermenting, Bottling, Canning, and Making Jams, Jellies and Cordials - Katie Caldesi, Giancarlo Caldesi I haven't actually read this. I've only flipped through it, examined some pages, drooled over some photos. However, after seeing both a recipe for elderflower cordial (my mom has elderberry bushes and they don't get used for anything!) AND pictures of dried chives on things (ok, see, I have this thing with dried chives. I make chive-blossom vinegar - this recipe: http://www.stonegableblog.com/chive-blossom-vinegar-tutorial/ - in the early summer but always wind up with leftover chive blossoms. So I dry them. Then I use them in the winter and they're so pretty and have such a lovely, subtle flavor but then people who get the food with the dried chive blossoms are all, "What ARE these?" and I say, "They're dried chive blossoms" and the people scrape them aside thinking that flowers are inedible and I launch into my, "Oh! You can EAT those! I have lots of dried, edible flowers..." and you know what? In the end, it makes me sad that no one else appreciates my beautiful and mild-tasting seasoning. Except, obviously, these people do because they put chive flowers on food!), I felt I had to purchase this book.

If a book can make me purchase it unread, I'm going to give it five stars. That will make me feel better about myself and my spending.
Alas, the book will arrive too late for the things I want to make but I figure, we're not really canning this year with Mom so I'll have lots of extra jars. May as well put them and the garden to use, right? It will be fun to have new things to make. New, non-yucky things (pickled beets = SO gross)

The Visionist

The Visionist - Rachel Urquhart Hahaha!
This is another "Aw, shit" production!
I love Hachette.

So this wasn't the story for me.
I think all the things I was supposed to get from it, I missed. I got a lot of other things, instead.
The story is ok, though I never bought into it which is probably why I didn't enjoy it as much as others have. I think I was expecting more [b:The Scarlet Letter|12296|The Scarlet Letter|Nathaniel Hawthorne|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1404810944s/12296.jpg|4925227] and less melodrama.

For me, this was tale made of throwing the following into a blender and then hitting the FRAPPE! button:
Polly
 photo virgin-mary-wallpapers-1401_zps803be44f.jpg
who flees the farm with her mother and brother to live amongst:
 photo download_zps36f75761.jpg
PLUS
Charity
 photo Single-White-Female_zpseda24f10.jpg
whose story looks like this:
 photo soap-opera-digest_2317_2011-01-25_zps4d838232.jpg
PLUS
Simon
 photo HolmesandWatson_zpscb3a6365.jpeg though not as smart, only as arrogant.
His story looks like this:  photo DoRightCast_zps837544db.jpg
PLUS
 photo Shakers_Dancing_zpsb4f52b31.jpg
PLUS
Buffonish, bullying boor of a bad guy who is described as dressing more foppishly than one would expect for the 1840's. He probably should have been described more as a dandy, right? Well, whatever.
 photo Foppishdandy_zpsce157485.jpg
And the disproving Shaker eldress
 photo dagladyquaker1_zps626a6bf6.jpg

Mix those all together and that's what the story looked like to me.


How to Quinoa: Life Lessons from My Imaginary Well-Dressed Daughter

How to Quinoa: Life Lessons from My Imaginary Well-Dressed Daughter - Tiffany Beveridge For me, this should not have been a sit-down-and-read-in-one-go type of deal.
Quinoa will blast me for saying that.
I will respond by wearing toe socks and Walmart pajama pants with sincerity.

The pictures are as delightful here as they are on Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/tiffanywbwg/my-imaginary-well-dressed-toddler-daughter/ and several others), the most-best part, as always, being the names of Quinoa's friends.
 photo Quinoa_zpscf370334.jpg
While little Vidalia gnawed on the side view mirror, Quinoa explained to her cousin Anhedonia that when somebody leaves the keys in the ignition of their vintage car, they actually want you to take it for a spin (Source: Pinterest page linked above)

But the text? It was way too much to handle all at once. Instead of smiling wryly over the not-so-subtle jabs at pop-culture, haute couture, and the lemming-like devotion so many display for trends, I began to grow irritated at the harsh reminder of how narcissistic, self-indulgent, and completely ridiculous portions of our first-world culture can be.
Granted, my mind knows this has always been the case. I mean, look at what happened to Marie Antoinette. But, even as a parody, this was too overwhelming, even depressing, to gulp down in a single sitting.

I would have enjoyed this far more had I paced myself, taken tiny sips of Chevron's idolatry of her BFF, mused longer on Ramen's quirks, or slowly pondered Twerk's life philosophy (No shirt, no shoes, no drama, no high-fructose corn syrup, and no gluten).

Also, if you step back and strip the actual pictures of their sardonic-yet-charming captions, you begin to realize how terrifying the marketing world is, creepily sexualizing children to sell products or heavily pushing the colorful sentiment of childhood innocence to create a desire for, again, products. Whoever dreamed this marketing scheme should probably be shot but is actually probably already long dead so that would be a pointless endeavor.
Still. It's super creepy.

Yeah. I'm going to stick to the Pinterest page. Smaller doses, less agitation, more faith in humanity.

The Sugar Queen

The Sugar Queen - Sarah Addison Allen I think this is now my favorite Allen book.
Part of the reason I liked this so well is because it was exactly what I needed right now...essentially, I inadvertently pulled a Chloe in that this book showed up on my holds list and I checked it out and listened to it and it helped soothe my troubled soul. Well, if I had a soul. It helped calm the oozing, black miasma that takes the place of my soul, is probably a more-accurate statement.

This is a story about oppressed women, people who are kept in little boxes (closets?) by their mothers, their fathers, their grandmothers, their significant others, their perceived roles in society, and by themselves. These boxes are dismantled to varying degrees in a number of ways throughout the book, though only for the main women of the story that we know of. (Olivia's granddaughter is probably still under the old woman's thumb)

So! It's probably fairly obvious to readers of this genre or of horrorish/supernatural tales that Della Lee, the closet-dweller, isn't what she seems.

That's all fine and fun but what I liked was the friendship Della orchestrated between Josie and Chloe which was followed by a reluctant bond between Josie and Della. Female friendship is such a strange thing; I find that many women can't do it. They have this idea that women are essentially evil and untrustworthy. I get that; I thought the same thing all through college because my female peers were often catty, untrustworty, horrible people. You get burned enough times by girls and you avoid them. But that's not actually how female friendship really works. If you can find it, it is so worth having and keeping forever and I like that this is a theme throughout the book. The InstaFriend thing is explained which didn't do anything for me one way or another but does magically make sense of the super blossoming adoration between Josie and Chloe.

And speaking of Chloe - I love LOVED her books. LOVED THEM! The whole idea of books appearing as needed is charming! I guess I have the next best thing in that I work with books all day, four days a week, but still. This is like magical readers advisory and I completely loved that.

The romance is probably really nice and wonderful. I hate romance so that was just background noise for me but I'm sure people who like romance will think the two main and one side love stories are adorable and sweet, etc. I couldn't connect with Chloe and Jake; I don't buy the whole "accidental moment of indiscretion" thing and I've always believed that if he cheats once, he'll do it again but...her situation, not mine.

I was torn on my feelings about Helena. How much of her is a big stereotype? Is it a racist stereotype? I don't know; I'm not the one to answer that. Still, something about her rudimentary English and her superstitious ways and her little Oldsie/Oldgret joke rubbed me the wrong way, though I don't know why. It's not like I haven't met people who speak broken English and who are highly superstitous. This representation just bothered me for some reason, maybe because she was a pivotal background character and I wanted more from her? I don't know.

It was the overall feeling of the story, the building of friendships which lead to the breaking down of walls which lead to new experiences and richer lives, that had me all in love with the story. It makes me feel good to know that, at least in FictionLand, tiny touches of everyday magic can help move a body along to a healed place. That was a message I needed to hear right now.

Hunting Season

Hunting Season - Andrea Camilleri This is ok.
Two stars means "It's ok"
I'm not going to read this again, though.

Usually, when you get a bawdy tale like this, it's a facade for some biting social commentary and there's usually a zinger at the end, like all the jerks get their comeuppances or the women really rule the town or he would have gotten away with it, too, had it not been for you meddling brats or something similar.
This one...well, I think most readers know there's murder afoot and recognize the culprit because, come on, a guy who used to live there who watched his father murdered and barely got away with his life then returns with a vendetta and people start dying? And the guy is a pharmacist? Also, the one remaining member of the family doesn't think any of this is weird? And she likes the pharmacist? This isn't Holmesian science, here so all that remains is to amuse through bawdy humor and witty one-liners on the general patheticness of humankind then wrap it all up with a twist!
Only that didn't happen so much. Yes, there was lots everyone having sex with everyone and their goats plus ridiculous situations and general silliness but that undertone of "See how I mock the [target]?" was missing or if it was there, it was far too subtle for an ogre like me to pick up. I didn't find the story wry, I wasn't really amused, I never giggled with snideness. And the twist is only a twist if you haven't already figured it all out. I thought the pharmacist was gay, though I'm not sure how that would have impacted the overall story, but no. That wasn't it at all. The twist fell flat.

I'll chalk this one up to lost in translation and move on.

Goodnight Darth Vader

Goodnight Darth Vader - Jeffrey Brown This was a charming and adorable idea in [b:Darth Vader and Son|13163846|Darth Vader and Son|Jeffrey Brown|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1392020416s/13163846.jpg|18342898] but now it begins to wear thin.
Vader is trying to get the twins to go to bed and they want a story. He tells them this rhyming ditty that covers everyone from every Star Wars movie, the cartoons, and probably a video game, or two, as well.

This seemed a bit show-offy to me, sort of "Look how much I love Star Wars! I will even call the trash creature by name! (Dianoga) I'm the most Star Warsy fan of all fans."
The rhymes are often forced and the couplets follow no set meter. It's clunky and I would be very frustrated if I had to read this out loud.

To me, this is definitely a case of "too much of a good thing" not being so great.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce, Jim Broadbent There's something about British...what genre is this? domestic fiction? Whatever it is, when it's done in England, it's often done so well.

Had this been American, more than likely Harold would have slept with some woman along the way, Maureen would have had an affair with the neighbor, it would have been gritty and seedy and Hobbesian (is that a word? GR says it's not. I'm too lazy to look up the proper term) with lots of solitary, poor, and nasty. But it's not. It's English and it's a soft-spoken story of too many broken things coming together at once and one potential healing as a result.

I love that the storyline begins with blahness then jumps into hope, then swells into inspiration from which determination, a sense of Buddhist-like awareness, and an acceptance of self evolves and then it ends with reality and brings about forgiveness and acceptance and those, in turn, lead to knowledge. I appreciate that there's not a fairy tale ending, that it isn't all rainbows and sparkles but is, instead, what would probably really happen.

I felt the story was beautiful in how it mirrored the dullness and smallness of life, how everything gets battered down to nubs, but how sometimes that can spur big steps (many big steps, in this case) and, in the end, maybe a dull and small life is shiny enough if you keep it polished.
Man, that makes no sense.

I'm having a hard time describing what charmed me about this story and I'm failing but I think this story will stick with me a good, long while.

Graceling

Graceling - Kristin Cashore As far as family-friendly girl fantasy goes, this is ok. I'd recommend it to younglings new to the fantasy genre, readers of light action/adventure/fantasy, and fans of Tamora Pierce. In fact, this is the audiobook that you take with you on a family roadtrip wherein you are stuck in the car for five days with an 8-year-old, an 11-year-old and a 16-year-old. There's violence but it's mostly "We're learning to be fighters" or "bad people made me do this." There's sex, yes, and it's pre-marital which is sort of a focal point, but it's also not obvious if you're not aware of what boys and girls do after kissing. It's like old romance novels where they kiss, there is clothing coming off, there's some smiling into each other's eyes and then the next day dawns sunny and bright with everyone happy. It's that kind of sex which is to say it's safe for the 8 year-old and romantic for the 16-year-old (unless the 16-year-old is like I was at that age, in which case she'll be vomiting in the backseat and not just from car-sickness. I've always hated romance and the romance in this one is nauseating)

If you've been steeping in fantasy for 30+ years, this might come across as pandering, irritating, high-handed, and maybe even boring. Yes, there's an epic quest. Yes, there is fighting and plenty of it. Yes, there is a strong female character who is all "No man will own me!" All good elements. There's also a ton of dull dialogue, a lot of pointless thinking during travel (I'm not saying girls shouldn't think, I'm saying readers shouldn't be subjected to the same three lines of thought over and over for pages and pages. 10 minutes of Why I Don't Want To Ever Get Married No Matter What every CD for 3 CDs is a bit much. I got it the first time. Stop. Think about something else and NOT how you can't believe this guy likes you but what does it mean to be a lover instead of a wife and how is that going to work OR how you don't belong to any man because you're your own person. I am up on that, too, so let's just move on) and their actual quest is rather boring. Come to think of it, Katsa's boring. She's like a focused, badass Kristen Stewart. All front, no personality.

I have to go back to the "I will NEVER marry" stuff. I'm all for this idea but I didn't understand why this message was so important. I didn't feel that this world forced marriage upon women but maybe it does? I think Raffin is probably gay but there is no gay marriage, from what I can tell. So marriage is a thing for men and women but I couldn't tell if it was expected or mandated, ergo, I couldn't tell if Katsa's refusal to marry was a huge, shocking thing or just something that people were like, "Oh. Well. We thought you would get married eventually because it's not like you have land or a job other than being a hired killer, sooo...guess we were wrong." The only people who are upset by her constant assertation are the people who worry for her future (because once you're not a hired killer, where do you go and how do you live?) and the one guy who thought he was going to marry her. So how much of a statement for female liberation is really in place? Who knows.
I completely support women not getting married. I don't think anyone should have to spend their lives, incomes, property, time, bed, body, what have you with another person if they don't want to. Hell, I said I was never going to get married (and then I did. Twice. Because I'm a sucker) and if I succeed in killing Gabe and burying him in the garden, I really will not marry again. There's nothing wrong with being unmarried and, frankly, marriage can be a giant pain in the ass, much more so than being unmarried. Thus, I'm not all, "Oh, no no no! This anti-marriage agenda is not going to fly in MY cd player!" No, it was her constant assertion that she would never marry and my lack of understanding as to why that was soooo important that made me want to yell:
 photo 76190-oh-my-god-who-the-hell-cares-m-W4nV_zps9f7e2050.png

Then there was the whole running around the countryside with the rescued princess (what? A rescued princess? Oh, she's 10, so it's ok) that sort of just kept going...and going...and going...omg, it's STILL going. That got tedious. And then BIGGER SPOILER: po' Po got all blinded and decided to live in a cabin in the mountains as a result. Why? Why is he going to live in a cabin in the mountains because he's lost his sight? In fact, I really don't understand why his secret grace is such a big deal, especially not after seeing how his family works. I know what HE said and what his mother thought but, no, I didn't believe it for a bit. It seems that he could easily have said, "Oh, I hit my head, went blind, and now my other senses are filling in. It's probably part of my supposed fighting grace remanifesting itself" and everyone would have been all, "Oh. Ok. That makes sense. Sorry to hear about your blindness" and that would be that. All the HIDE ALL THE GRACES! didn't make any sense to me and that made the story fall apart.

Adding to all that is the Full Cast Audio performance. Man, I hate those things. I didn't realize that's what this was until I popped it into the CD player. Unless they're radio productions (think Star Wars), these audiobooks often come across as disjointed and jarring because there's the narrator and then all the different voice actors for the different characters and they read at different paces and there are weird pauses between dialogues and...ugh. Some people really like all that and it helps them get into the story. I don't like it and it keeps me out of the story.

Again, I would enthusiastically recommend this to beginning or light fantasy readers and to fans of Tamora Pierce. I would not recommend it to cynical curmudgeons like myself.

The Thickety: A Path Begins

The Thickety: A Path Begins - J. A. White There are some kids books that retain their charm well into adulthood. For me, [b:Bunnicula|281235|Bunnicula (Bunnicula, #1)|James Howe|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348802537s/281235.jpg|1142982], as well as most books by [a:Beverly Cleary|403|Beverly Cleary|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1197935108p2/403.jpg] and [a:Judy Blume|12942|Judy Blume|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1195238650p2/12942.jpg] rank highly in that category. Then there are other books that were amazing when I was a kid but when I read them now, I wonder how I was so easily hornswaggled. [b:Grandmother's Heart|5642044|Grandmother's Heart|Jim & Dee Patton|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/book/50x75-673c574e721a5d4c3fd6e25b74d42bf2.png|5813491] is a perfect example of such a tale. I was probably in fourth grade when I got that book and I fan fictioned the hell out of it. I still have some of my drawings of what I thought everyone should look like, how and where I would interact with the characters, and other amazing scenes I'd made up out of love for that story. I've tried to re-read it many times and I always fail. It's a short book. It's also an awful book. But it wasn't always awful and I still love it because I had loved it so well when I was 8. 7. Whatever age I was when I first read that marvelous (horrendous) story.

This book probably falls more closely to the latter category. It's a story about a girl, Kara, whose mother was killed for witchery seven years ago and the consequences that has had on Kara, her brother, who was a baby when it happened, and her father as well as upon the rest of the island town's inhabitants who adhere to the Path of Timoth Clen, their religious inspiration, and shun witchcraft and all its evils.

The writing is probably better than what you'll find in Grandmother's Heart, but the story, itself, leaves a bit to be desired for the adult mind. I had some serious problems buying Kara's twelve-year-old self. She seemed closer to fifteen or sixteen. I had a hard time believing in Grace, the Nellie Oleson of this tale, before and after her discovery. I couldn't quite follow the story and had to bridge all the gaps myself. I rolled my eyes vehemently at the last few chapters.
These are things a young reader will overlook. A young reader with imagination will fill those gaps automatically, will insert themselves into Kara and her brother, will insert their enemies into Grace. It will all fit together perfectly.
And the illustrations, simple and stark, are delightful, so that's a plus.

This will be a wonderful book for the 7-12 year-old set. As a read-together with an adult, though...well, the adult is probably going to need a bit of patience and understanding. This was not written for us. It was written for them, the childrens, and I hope they love it. I would have.

iZombie Vol. 4: Repossessed

iZombie Vol. 4: Repossessed - Chris Roberson In case you've read this series and thought to yourself, "Man, I sure do wish this was a TV show...only, I wish her name was funnier than Gwen. You know what would be hilarious? If she were actually named Olivia and went by "Liv" because get it? Live? And she's dead? Hahaha! Oh! Oh! Make her last name Moore! Liv Moore! SO hilarious. Also, I wish she had been an anal-retentive, goal-oriented med student before she died so she could come back, all Dead Like Me-style, and get a job where no one would recognize her but not as a gravedigger. I think it would be more awesome and sexy if she worked in a morgue because who wants to see a woman perform manual labor on TV? No one, that's who. And I think they should switch out all the original zany characters for more standard characters because it's far more believable to have a zombie with a neurotic former roommate as a best friend. Who would ever believe a ghost from the '60's as a best friend? No one, that's who. Yeah, I'd like this a lot more if they could just change everything but the part where there's a zombie who has to be sneaky about eating brains."
Well, then, your wishes have been granted because CW is turning this into a series and it seems to have very little to do with the story in these graphic novels.
http://www.cinemablend.com/television/Rose-McIver-Eats-Brains-Shows-Off-Her-Zombie-Moves-First-Look-CW-iZombie-64112.html

So what does it say about me that I find the cover to be awfully romantic? Dude, there's something wrong with me.

The story has come to an end. It's not a surprising end in any way and it's a bit of a cluster, actually. There are just so many storylines that need tying - and they get tied - so many characters who need to be placed in the action at the end, so much going on. I found it flustering and almost silly, especially in light of what was happening.

So, yes, it did turn out to be a grown-up's Scooby-Doo. Am I satisfied with the overall story? Sure. Will I read it again? Probably not.

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Those Who Wish Me Dead - Michael Koryta I was completely engrossed in this book, jaw open and dangling, heart beating a bit too quickly, and everything up until maybe the 70% mark. Then a few things happened that made me knock off a star and a half but those were probably things peculiar to me, alone, and won't bother other readers.

So, here's the story: We start with a kid who is trying to tame his fear of heights when he finds a dead body and some killers. There is no wading into this tale, it is all SMACK! POW! in your face right away. I was impressed.

As for the cast, we've got two evil, creepyass brothers,
 photo BlackwoodBrothers_zps9f67e691.png
who talk like this
 photo MisterAnderson_zps779a8103.jpg especially in the audiobook (which, later, becomes a highly-apt association and probably where the reader and perhaps even the author got the speech patterns)

a former SERE trainer and his tough, kickass wife, a bunch of troubled kids in the ready-to-conflagrate mountains of drought-ridden Montana, and a damanged wildlands firefighter. Suspense builds as the cats start out after their nervous-but-hopeful mice and wind up getting a few other rodents along the way. In addition, there's a big, ol' forest fire and the storm season is here so that means lightning strikes all over the place and you know what? It's all going to come together to be suspenseful and thrilling. Who will survive? Not the pine trees, I can assure you.

Is this fine literature? Of course it's not. Is it highly entertaining and easy to comprehend? Why, yes it is! The writing style is fast, there's enough description so you get the gist of the situation but you're left to paint the rest of the picture yourself most times; it's all perfect for this type of story.

The gripes I had that did NOT lead to de-starring:
-I know the story wouldn't have been intense had there been more reality applied, but how did so many people get into a wild fire zone during the burning? When our fires hit, we get put into serious lockdown and when it gets close, evacuation. Apparently, Montana does things differently. "Oh, well, this mountain is burning down and it's pretty dry up there and windy and so we expect this place to go up like hell, but, you know, just stick to the trails and such. You'll be fine. Don't dehydrate." Um, no.
-I was never clear on time and distance in this place. I'm not sure how everyone managed to make it as far as they always did or seemed to go in the right direction and meet up with the people with whom they met up...night and day and travel distance didn't seem to mesh in my head. I was skeptical.
-If there's a forest fire on a mountain, things around the mountain do not get dark at night. It glows for miles. There should have been more glow, more noise, more heat, more smoke while everyone was out in the wilderness as it burned. That bugged me a bit.
-Really? A native American tracker? Because that's really all Native Americans can do if they work for the forest service, you know. They're all trackers. <--sarcasm.

But those things did not keep me from loving these things:
-Jace. Man, that kid is no dummy. Did he know things beyond his age? Maybe, but remember, he's been studying survival on his own for awhile because he's paranoid about what happens when one is not aware of one's surroundings. Plus, some kids are just clever. He's one of them. I liked that a lot.
-Allison. Wow. Well, up until the part that made me roll my eyes because come on, she's not the terminator. Still. Wow.
-Hannah. My neighbor is a hot shot. At least for now; he's soon to be not my neighbor and not a hot shot because he just got a different job in another state. But right now, he's on fires, he's like Hannah. I've heard some stories. Nothing in-depth, of course, but I like to know about what he and his team are doing out there, right up with the fire, fighting it back, moving it forward. It's incredibly interesting. Some of Hannah's knowledge mirrored some of those stories. That was neat.
-There are good how-to-be-in-the-wilderness tips throughout, which made me very happy. There are also some bad ones (really, seriously, please NEVER practice your fire-building skills while in drought-ridden pine forests. Just don't do it for any reason at all ever)
-That horrible, almost deliciously-awful irony of footwear choice. So much cleverness leading to so much NO NO NO-ness when it was supposed to be the exact opposite.

Based on all that, this is a solid 4, maybe 4.5 star story.

Here's why it's only 3 for me, and seriously, I'm going to spill secrets so if you don't want to know, do NOT open the spoiler:

1. Just, no. A burn victim who has had the shit smacked out of her is not going horseriding the next day, not even to find her husband and another woman's missing child. No, the hospital is not going to let her sign herself out. In fact, why is she even awake? Shouldn't they have her drugged up and sleeping so she can heal? She is burned up, full of smoke, and her jaw is broken. I had a really hard time with her and what's-her-head going horseback riding into the wilderness to find fire, children, and husbands. Just...no.
2. SURPRISE!
 photo Surprise_zps0164a0e8.jpg
NO! That's dumb! Ok, I didn't quite buy that what's-her-name was Jace's mom but, really? REALLY? In the words of Dr. Evil, "Rigoddamndiculous" One star died right there.
3. Hannah's sentimental end. I was all ensaddened until that point and then I was pissed off because I could hear some editor somewhere going, "No. This is too harsh. She's been a hero. You've gotta give her something, man. You know in that scene in Beetlejuice where the football team all shows up in solidarity? Yeah, make it like that. That will make this all sappier and the girls will cry and everyone will love this book. They'll make it into a movie. Just don't make it so horrible and realistic, for the love of all things safe and undamaging." Well, F-U, editor. We don't all need candy to get over our boo boos. Sometimes, we have to bleed and we have to deal. Stop softening the blow.


karen, I think you're going to like this one, probably for the same things I liked. Survival tips! Hooray!

I do NOT recommend this for residents of Washington, Oregon, or Utah this summer and definitely not for anyone who is still tender about the firefighters in AZ last year.

The Mystery of the UNDERCOVER CLITORIS: Orgasmic Fingertip Touching Every Woman Craves

The Mystery of the UNDERCOVER CLITORIS: Orgasmic Fingertip Touching Every Woman Craves - Dr. Sadie Allison I love Allison's books; I find them delightful.

This one is full of cute illustrations of over-the-top couples with gigantic smiles having a good time so that these cartoony people are less pornographic (or offensive, if cartoon sex is upsetting to a reader) and more looker-friendly, which helps if there are questions about the text. (Moon Goddess illustration on print page 84 is my favorite. They're obviously really excited about what they're doing)

While I don't always personally agree with all of Allison's information/suggestions, I 100% support the greater goal of these books: To create a conversation. Because these books are so non-threatening, they're a great way to open a dialogue with a lover who may be reluctant to admit s/he has something new to learn. I think we've all run across that person a time or two (some of us would like to run over them. With a truck. So they know how it feels) and while discussing your needs with that person can be difficult, leaving this book lying around - it's got a provocative cover so it's going to get noticed - might be a gentle, playful way to ease into what you've been wanting to say but didn't feel you could. In addition, for those who are not yet familiar with their own workings or the workings of their partners, the information and suggestions in these books are frank, honest, friendly and easy to understand but not preachy or dirty (for lack of a better term). It's not dry or boring and the embarassment factor should be pretty low because everything is presented in such a fun and happy fashion.

Pretty much, this book, as well as the others I've read by this author, are wonderful I-want-more-from-sex-but-don't-know-what-or-how-to-find-out primers.

California

California - Emma Galvin, Edan Lepucki Haha, this is narrated by the same woman who narrates the Divergent books so this sounds like the altnerate Tris and 4bias story.

Alright, so...I made a poor decision in choosing this one. After I read karen's review, which, by the way, would make a fine opposing viewpoint to this review, I knew it would be a story that irritated me. But, see, we were having computer problems and I couldn't get Overdrive to work so I went to Hoopla and they had this there, front-n-center, and I ... after all the buzz and Sherman Alexie-ing (and I really like that guy) and Colberting and Down-with-Amazon!ing (it's fun to say that on Goodreads!) well, I just thought I'd give it a shot.

I can't one-star this because there is a plot and the writing is fine and there's nothing technically wrong with it.
I just couldn't believe the premise.

That was the thing: I could not believe the story. None of it. My skepticism started with Cal and Frida. How in the hell had they survived for 2+ years on their own in the wilderness? They're morons! Complete and utter imbeciles. They should have been eaten by a bear in the first chapter. My problem came when Frida (I started calling her Frito in my mind just to make her more entertaining because I hated her)(HAAAATE) was late with her period and decided that meant she was pregnant. There were discussions here and there about "Are you sure? Because maybe you're not for this bunch of reasons," but it was never seriously doubted, her pregnancy. Now, ok, let's break this down:
Cal and Frito had both come from a crumbling society but were still well-fed and relatively healthy.
Cal and Frito left the crumbling society for Reasons and have been living in the wilderness for 2+ years.
Cal and Frito suck at hunting and their gardening seems limited to beets (this is the real reason you liked this story, isn't it, karen?) Frito can find mushrooms in the forest, though Cal really can't.
Cal and Frito should have lost a LOT of weight on their new lifestyle plan: eat raw foods and whatever rabbit they can ensnare + work all day on surviving and homesteading + SEX all day, every day + stress over the world ending, etc. All extra fat = GONE!
SO! Why is Frito still even able to have periods after 2+ years of this new lifestyle plan? Why hasn't her body stopped using precious resources to bleed? That's what a body often does in times of extreme duress, weight loss, and when in survival mode, especially when a body has been soft and pampered and not used to any of this stuff. It's going to protect itself and stop having periods. So why didn't that happen? Six months in, sure, I could buy a pregnancy. 2+ years of eating mushrooms and beets and having a lot of sex and hard labor and very little protein? No.
From there, everything else fell apart for me. I couldn't buy into the whole premise of the story, ergo, there was no story.

Other gripes:
-Cal is a creeper. His fondest dream has been to be trapped alone in the world with only Frida and his dream came true! He looks at her a lot, just watching her because he looooves her with all his heart and possessive nature. He has a thing for 1950's American societal norms and wants to be the next (and last) Ozzie and Harriet which...why did he marry someone who is always talking about how she doesn't have to do what men want her to do because she is a human and a person and blah blah blah?
-Frida is a giant waste of words. She is an ardent feminist in lipservice but never in action. She's shallow. She may have some sort of disorder that is never addressed but that seems to drive most of her behavior. She's pretty out of touch with reality. I really do not understand how she's survived at all! And you know what really chapped my hide? Frida takes her first good shower in ten bajillion years and you know what she does? She shaves. She shaves and is thrilled to be hair-free again. This is the mindset I could not get over. A woman who has been "surviving" in nature for over two years, a woman who has supposedly had to let a lot of stuff go, a FEMINIST who believes women and their images, roles in society, and general actions should not be dictated by the opinions of men...is excited about shaving her fucking legs and armpits. And then she goes on to judge another woman, one who is actually good at surviving and homesteading and being part of a culty team, for having hairy armpits. OMG! Seriously? This is what Frida does. She constructs a ghost of a shell of her former life around her so that she doesn't have to deal with her actual environment and it's frustrating because there are no consequences to this behavior. She's not eaten by a bear, she's not trapped in a cave under fallen rocks, she's not sold into slavery by the roaming bands of pirates (what?), etc. No, instead, she winds up living in StepfordWifeLandia with her soon-to-be baby and her cake baking and her shaved legs and her domestic life because feminism was just a passing phase.
-The forms?/spikes: Why are they so scary? They're super big, right? Like 6+ feet? No one is going to accidentally impale themselves on these things, they're too tall. Are they all razor-edged so that if you get too close, you get sliced up? Even if that is the case, you don't actually have to try to squeeze between them, though if they're not all razory, why wouldn't you just squeeze between them? I had no idea what this was all about, why they were so scary, and how they kept out intruders. I also didn't understand how so many could have been created and erected in five years. Was it five years? It was a short amount of time and there were limited resources so...no. Didn't get that.
-The children! Why won't someone think of the children? Well, because if you think of them too hard, none of it makes sense. Not even a bit. I was all, "WHAT??? Is this serious? No, it can't be. It is? WHAT?"
-Logic doesn't work in this place.

Here are the list of questions I wrote down while reading this, though I will skip the ones I've asked above:
1) Why does the idea of pregnancy set off a sudden and unconvincing need to be with other people? I know why I would want that but I don't understand why she does.
2) Isn't Cal from a farm? Why, then, is he so damn worried about everything in nature? Why is he so bad at nature, actually?
3) Why has the world run out of mountain lions and swordfish? Why are there so many bears and coyotes?
4) Am I getting an anti-feminism message from this? Frida is supposedly all Woman Power! but makes herself look stupid in that regard. It seems there's an underlying message about the superior health of women who are sexually active, who find domestic tasks to be pleasant, who are submissive helpmates to men, and who have rid themselves of the notion that their opinions matter.
5) Does a person know if carrots are bland if one has been foraging and living off the land for 2+ years? It seems carrots would be anything but bland after a diet of beets, mushrooms, and the occasional rabbit. But what do I know. My palette is highly unsophisticated.

Ok, so, if this is actually a cutting social commentary on how our reliance on technology, our allowance of ease, and our encouragement of monopolies to control all our resources will create a societal breakdown in, what? two or three generations from now, it's an ok story. It shows that people need to understand how to take care of themselves, need to understand where resources come from, how trade works, how things are made and they need to learn to do so before it's too late because otherwise, the world is going to devolve into gated communities for the rich and everyone else will be struggling to survive, dying, dead, or enslaved as menial labor in gated communities for the rich. Oh...hey, wait up. We might be there already.
As a post-apocalpytic survival story, though, this doesn't fly. You're not going to get any helpful tips on what to do if you go homesteading in the California wilderness because LA is dead.

iZombie, Vol. 2: uVampire

iZombie, Vol. 2: uVampire - Chris Roberson, Mike Allred Overall, this story is enjoyable.
This volume, however, leaves a bit to be desired. The artwork seems rushed - lots of wonky perspective and laziness in the background.
The writing is still not all that great, actually.
And this particular story could have been tightened up. There's a lot going on - three or four different plotlines that sort of relate but are also stand-alone-ish - and if it weren't for the pictures, the tales would be vague and anbiguous.

Is anyone else wondering if there's a connection between Dixie the Diner Owner and Dixie Mason, Detective Girl? Because that seems like an awful lot of Dixies for one story.

iZombie, Vol. 3: Six Feet Under and Rising

iZombie, Vol. 3: Six Feet Under and Rising - Chris Roberson, Gilbert Hernández, Mike Allred I enjoyed this one a little more than the second installment; the artwok wasn't quite as wonky and the story is leading to something less Scooby-Doo and a bit more serious, bigger-picture.