A customer in the store yesterday was telling me about her goldfish, and how it had its own Facebook page. This was moderately cute until I realized that she was telling me that her goldfish told her what to type, and that obviously it couldn’t do it itself without a waterproof computer. Because clearly, that’s the only impediment to fishy bloggers – the lack of good waterproofing. Cue backing away slowly, as she is telling me about her plans to mic the aquarium and live stream (no pun intended) her talking fish… On a different note, I had a customer who told me he had no idea Nelson Mandela was a member of the Illuminati. Why did they think he was a member of the Illuminati, you may ask? Because of the Coretta Scott King award on the cover of Kadir Nelson’s children’s book, Nelson Mandela. Sigh.
If you love a good dystopian YA, Victoria Aveyard’s debut novel, Red Queen is for you. With a lot (and I mean a lot) of parallels to The Hunger Games & Divergent, the characters and plot twists make this read different enough to still be enjoyable, without feeling like you’re just reading on repeat. If you have read Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, this is like a weird parallel universe to that book.
Red Queen is a little more rooted in fantasy territory, and has a unique take on the dystopian theme. The nobility of Red Queen‘s world is distinguished by their innate ability to channel fire or electricity, or possess extreme strength or psychic powers. Their control over the lower class is absolute, who don’t possess any superhuman talents. Imagine the uproar when Mare, a girl of perfectly common blood, suddenly displays her own power – and no one’s surprise is greater than Mare’s.
I won’t get too deeply into the plot and spoil it, but there are some great twists, a little romance, lots of intrigue. Lots, and lots, of intrigue. Like baby Game of Thrones. If you have a teen who is looking for an entry to more sophisticated story lines, this is a good place for them to start.
This is clearly the start of a series – it should be a fun ride.
I think most diet books are bullshit, but Dave Asprey’s The Bulletproof Diet stinks more than most. At this time of year, a lot of people are coming into the bookstore for diet and exercise books, self help, “new year, new you” stuff. I had heard of Asprey’s “Bulletproof coffee with butter” (another one of his diet tips that helps you achieve “mental clarity”), and decided to have a look at what he was putting in the book – curious to see if it could possibly be as dumb as his coffee. It can.
The first page I flipped open to contained a weird rant about how garlic and onions are “Suspect” (the capitalization is his). He claims you need look no further for evidence of their evil than the fact that in the Koran, garlic and onions sprang from the cloven footprints of Satan. Yep, that’s right, the scientific reasoning is that obviously these are Satanic plants, so they will make you fat. He ranks all foods on his pseudo-scientific scale of toxic to bulletproof. Apparently he’s not a veggie person, and hey, raisins are toxic. Who knew?
He also wants you to skip breakfast, despite the many, many scientist who share an opposing view, because obviously he knows more than some “scientist” who went to “school.”
He has a handy-dandy line up of Bulletproof branded products that are even more expensive then the stuff at Whole Foods, so they must be extra good at weight loss! Of course he is only making these products out of the goodness of his heart, to help you lose weight! There is no profit-based motive here at all!
As far as I can tell, The Bulletproof Diet is your personal guide to malnutrition for you, and enrichment for Asprey. What a sleaze.
I am reading my (signed) copy of The Boundless right now. You know those perfect stories? Like Harry Potter, or The Princess Bride. Those books where the story transcends age brackets, genres, and is just perfect? This is that book. Give it to everyone as a gift – they’ll thank you. Would probably make an excellent chapter-a-night bedtime story with ages 9+. Do not leave adults off your gift list with this one. It has also won a few awards already, proving that my opinions on books are always right.
Part David Eddings’ Elenium trilogy, part Princess Bride, all addictive. Funny, gripping, edge of your seat adventure. I’m on book 3 of Michael J. Sullivan’s fantasy trilogy, and this is as much as I’m going to write so I can get back to it. Almost called in sick to work. Seriously.
Beyond the Gates of Gomorrah is the true story of a psychiatrist who is beginning a new job in the forensic unit of a mental health hospital in California (which he refers to as Gomorrah). Every day he walks among rapists and murderers, all there because the justice system deemed them not responsible for their actions due to mental illness. Despite being terrified to go to work, being the target of threats of and witnessing violent attacks he is able to see the humanity in his patients and even misses one of them when gone.
Dr. Seager also deals with several current issues, most notably proposed gun law changes after the Newtown, Connecticut shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school. To target those who have been treated for some kind of mental illness would do nothing to reduce mass shootings, he says. Those who commit this type of crime are a specific, small subset of those afflicted with a mental illness: paranoid, but organized (are able to hold down a job, handle money, etc.).This type of person will refuse treatment and would be less likely to be picked up by a background check. The assumption that the mentally ill are, as a whole, dangerous is false; they are more likely to be victims of crime, rather than the perpetrators.
I was drawn to this book because I did a co-op at a similar facility in Toronto when I was in school. I could relate to the duality of feeling that even knowing you are speaking with someone who has committed a terrible crime, in that moment you can still get past what they have done and relate to him. Although some of the things he describes can come off as surreal (for example the staff vs. patients baseball game), it made me remember things like pick up soccer games in the courtyard during recreation periods.
In the book, Dr. Seager continually tries to figure out why he stays despite his fear. I remember the feeling of helping to care for people in the margins of society, of giving compassion to people who probably haven’t seen much compassion in their lives and I think I know why he stayed. The time I spent at my “Gomorrah” was an experience that really changed my mind about mental illness, crime and the law – and if this book is read with an open mind I think it too can make a difference.