Friday, July 29, 2011

GOOD NEIGHBORS by Gorman Bechard

Finished Fr 7/29/11

I usually dislike a mystery in which the reader is forced to navigate a "who dunnit" plot, but in the case of GOOD NEIGHBORS the plot was so well thought out, and the characters so vivid, that it all worked.

I hope that this leads to a "Juke Miller Series", because I will read every one of them.

Set in a bedroom community near Yale University, Juke Miller is an ex-cop who runs the local tavern, and he is not even close to accepting closure in the murder and rape of his wife which occurred seven years earlier.

His older and wiser, next door neighbor and dear friend, Reggie, has a beautiful Lab,"Molasses" who is the center of his life, and is married to a wife who is twenty-five years his junior. The dog is poisoned by an eminently popular fifteen year old quarterback who lives next door, Reggie kills the kid, and a cop kills Reggie. Or so it seems, and over the next one hundred and fifty pages, 'what really happened' unfolds like a bad dream.

I really found this novel so well written that it was hard to put down. I would recommend this book to anyone!!

Monday, July 25, 2011


Finished Mo 7/25/11

Aimee Semple McPherson might just be the prototype for Oprah Winfrey. During the 1920's and 1930's she was the most popular female in America, she owned and operated a radio and publishing mega-corporation, and also happened to be the most successful evangelist of all time. And, she also had a rather lurid personal and professional life.

I am surprised that this woman's life hasn't made it to the silver screen. I would imagine that dozens of Hollywood's leading ladies would die for a chance to portray this multidimensional character.

This book is kind of a novelization of McPherson's life, and it has whetted my appetite for more about this amazing woman. However, it was not a bad place to start.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD by Margaret Atwood

Finished Fr 7/22/11

"CorpSeCorp" Corporations Security Corps

"Eating a nosebleed" (eating meat)

"Caviar is like eating salty bubbles"

This is a novel that I read because of my book club. We met at 6pm, Wednesday 7/27/11 at 6pm at the library. I rode the bike to the meeting, and the temps were in the triple digits for the Discomfort Index.

Nice discussion, and I was surprised that everyone seemed to like the book. They were not fans of Science Fiction, even 'Social Science Fiction', in this case, but they really liked the writing style of Margaret Atwood.

Here are some links, that might help to fill in the blanks:

Monday, July 18, 2011


Finished Mo 7/18/11

This is my second book by Luntz, and I have the same problem with this book as I did with, WHAT AMERICANS REALLY WANT...REALLY. Every issue has many different sides, and various ways of interpreting the controversy. Luntz could very well support the views of Slave Holders, or promote the concepts of Freedom From Slavery. There does not seem to be A Moral Center to his work, and I don't think that it really matters to him. He is the man who changed "Inheritance Tax" to "Death Tax". He claims that he is only interested in clarity of speech, but I think that in this instance he very much makes it look as if the government is doing something downright immoral. And, this tax only applies to multimillionaires and billionaires, yet it sounds like it would apply to the common person. This is a time in our nation's history where the tax base is the lowest that it has been since the late 1950's, and we do not have the money to pay our debts and provide needed government services. And, I think that if you are against any kind of tax on huge fortunes being passed along in these hard economic times, I think you are extremely naive, or maybe just in the employ of rich and greedy Americans.

However, what Luntz has to say is extremely informative, and regardless about how I feel about his politics, he has definitely changed how I "see" almost any political or social statements.

I think that this book should be read all high school students. What this country needs desperately is a nation of 'Critical Thinkers', and I think that Dr. Luntz understands that as well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

GRINDER by Mike Knowles

Finished Th 7/14/11


Hamilton, Ontario

Paolo Donati, Mob Boss

Armando and Nicola, nephews of the boss (missing-reason for his call back)

Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island in Quebec- Where Wilson worked on the fishing boat

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

GRAVEMINDER by Melissa Marr

Finished We 7/13/11

Three hundred years ago in the town of Clayville, "Mr. D" (Charlie, The Devil, An Angel, A Demon, a hobgoblin??) made a deal with a lovely woman named Abigail. Because this entity was in love with the woman, he allowed her to enter the Kingdom of The Dead. However, this connection between worlds allowed the newly dead to come back to life, and feed on the living if they were not properly interred. To keep the townspeople from being killed by the newly dead, he set up a system where there would be a "Graveminder" and an "Undertaker". The "Graveminder" would comfort the dead, and make sure that they would stay in their graves, and "The Undertaker" would guard and protect the tunnel that separates the town from The Underworld. In exchange for this portal to The Otherside, the residents of Clayville live till 80 years old, and are free from crime and disease. Although, when you are born in Clayville, you can leave for a while, but you must come back to die. However, the novel takes place in the present, and the story is about how the new "Graveminder" and "Undertaker" learn of their new destinies. And, there are plenty of Walking Dead in this novel, but they have much more personality than the usual zombie persona.

This is the setup, and sounds kind of corny, but the premise worked. The novel is a slightly innovative take on the Vampire genre, and I suppose this could be the start of a series.

I think that Stephen King could handle this theme a little better, but was not a complete waste of time. GRAVEMINDER would not be a bad book to take on an airplane or to take to the beach.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Finished Mo 7/11/11

I found out about this novel when I listened to Terry Gross interview the author on a podcast of Fresh Air. This is probably one of the better satirical novels to come along in quite a while. However, the structure and style reminded me of Albert Brooks, "2030", yet "Super Sad True Love Story" is better written, and more sarcastic in tone. It is the story of a love affair between Lenny Abramov, son of a Russian immigrant, who works for a government agency called, Post-Human Services. Although already thirty-nine years old, he falls madly in love with a chic and psychologically shattered twenty-four year old Korean-American from New Jersey. In the beginning, the novel is set in Italy, but most of the action takes place in 'a not so distant future' in New York City. Phone and computer services are quite a bit superior to what we have now, but the system seems more than invasive. Streams of data on every imaginable thing are broadcast to all people including Credit Scores, and even the sexual 'hotness' of the individual.

I found the novel kind of lost me about three quarters of the way in, and it did not have the exciting edge of Albert Brook's book. But, Shteyngart's novel was better written, and could be called literature with a capital "L".

Friday, July 8, 2011


Finished Th 7/7/11

DIGITAL FORTRESS is a novel about computers and The Internet which is now terribly dated (it's set in the late 1990's), and comes across as quaint, or even, 'campy'. At one point near the end of the novel, one of the characters needs access to The Internet, and he is all but ecstatic to find that he has, "the best Netscape has to offer". Also, Dan Brown's writing is nothing to write home about, however he is better than James Patterson(with or without his collaborators), but not by much.

TRANSLTR is a multi-billion dollar NSA computer system which was designed to break encryption codes. The ethical quandary which the novel examines is the limitation placed upon Free Speech. How can a nation allow complete privacy if foreign enemies can use The Internet to communicate and plan terrorist operations? The novel positions The National Security Agency and Electronic Frontier Foundation on opposite sides of this question. The NSA wants access to everything, and EFF desires complete privacy.

"Digital Fortress" is the name of a piece of software which was designed by Ensei Tankado which is an encryption code which cannot be broken. Susan Fletcher works for the Crypto department within NSA, and her boss is Commander Strathmore, and they are working to prevent the release of this program. If this software goes viral then America's enemies will be able to utilize this program, and hide dangerous information at will. David Becker is Susan's fiance, and is sent to Spain by Strathmore to track down the key to Digital Fortress.

Several plot twists unfold, and in the end, all codes can be broken because all things encrypted can be unmasked after all.

"Who will guard the guards" is a worthwhile thought which is introduced to make the reader ponder this question. If the government has access to ALL correspondence, who will take steps to ensure that it doesn't misuse this power?

All in all, DIGITAL FORTRESS only rates a C minus.

Susan Fletcher


David Becker

Commander Strathmore

TRANSLTR multi-billion dollar NSA computer system which was designed to break encryption codes

DIGITAL FORTRESS is an encryption code which cannot be broken

Ensei Tankado

DaVinci Code Angels and Demons

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Finished Tu 7/5/11

This book proved to be a very disquieting or disturbing read. The author clearly made the point that knowledge is power, but it left me wondering exactly what he meant. Is it that once the facts are presented, then one can accurately ascertain the will of a population, or is it that once the facts are uncovered they can be enhanced and spun to control the attitudes of the people? Do focus groups and sociological research teach how society really operates, or do these studies merely provide those in power with new and more effective ways in which to bend the status quo to their will.

Dr. Luntz has a very novel interpretation of voters as 'consumers', and 'government' as product. And, also it would seem to follow that churches are really 'stores'.

The author's observations of the latest generation, Generation 2020, is really quite provocative. These young people are so radically different than their elders that all of the old rules and assumptions clearly no longer are viable. And, I think that he makes his point that if this nation is to grow and prosper, this is where the new challenges will be found. Not to herd these young people back into the fold, but in capturing the desires and aspirations of this new and emerging market.

However, I can't help but feel that Dr. Luntz's approach has no moral center, and he doesn't even seem to feel that it is necessary. You find out what the people want, and then you give it to them as quickly and cheaply as possible. Since any social issue has a variety of points of view, and there always exists a body of facts which support each and every position, then all solutions are equally viable. Therefore, Dr. Luntz could have paved the way for a more universal acceptance and understanding of civil rights, or he could have just as easily put forth and sold the views of the oppressors.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King

Finished Su 7/3/11