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Friday, August 29, 2014

What If? - Eldon Taylor

As we get older, we often become more certain of our opinions. Sometimes it feels like we've known our positions on topics for our entire lives. But do we really? Growing up we are influenced by our parents and other respected leaders. We learn things from the media and our peers. Our cultural and religious upbringing can have an impact on us, as well. So are you so certain of your own mind?

Taylor chooses controversial topics, such as abortion, marriage, and capital punishment, for each chapter and challenges the reader with different scenarios. His goal isn't to change the reader's mind, but to challenge the reader to consider why he holds the position.

Many readers may find this book a useful tool for finding insights into their own mind and feelings.

Recommended Reading:
The Myth of Choice - Kent Greenfield
The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives - Leonard Mlodinow

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Walking Dead: All Out War Vol 20 - Robert Kirkman

Rick and his party storm up to the gates of Negan's compound, only to discover they've been sold out. But that won't stop them from fulfilling their plan. If they can't break in themselves, there's always the Walkers.

In the confusion and mayhem many lives are lost and there's no telling who will be able to rejoin at base camp. Negan's taken a prisoner and there's not doubt he'll use her to his advantage when he comes back to retaliate against the troublemakers.

All action in this volume, complete with zombies attacks, knife fights, heavy guns, and death. With an open end, I'm excited for the conclusion of this story arc.

Books in the Series:
The Walking Dead: Compendium One
The Walking Dead: Compendium Two

Friday, August 22, 2014

The First Fossil Hunters - Adrienne Mayor

Paleontology, the study of dinosaur bones and fossils, is a fairly new discipline having only been established in the 18th century. Or is it?

In recent years scientists have suggested that dinosaurs may have been feathered due to the preserved feathers that have been found among their remains. After seeing bones and fossils in areas where griffins were reported, Mayor suggests perhaps these mythological creatures were based on just that. When researching the bones and fossils of the east, she wonders if perhaps this is the same case. And what about the giants of myth and legend? By studying folklore, myth, and history Mayor explores the possible lost roots of paleontology in the past.

While not all of Mayor's theories are complete or comprehensive they are still interesting to consider.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Walking Dead: March to War Vol 19 - Robert Kirkman

Tempers run hot and argument ensue as the partnered towns prepare to attack Negan. Making ammunition is an arduous process that just doesn't seem to be making enough. With the high population in the immediate area, it is growing more difficult to gather supplies to keep both themselves alive and Negan satisfied.

Negan has his own code of honor and conduct, but it's unpredictable and dangerous for everybody. Rick has had enough and decides it's time to take Negan out while he's vulnerable. Unfortunately, Negan having been at this game for a while is prepared for anything and Rick's gamble could cost everybody their lives. If they do it right, though, maybe they can take Negan out and gain their freedom from a crazy oppressor.

Each time I pick up an issue of this series, I can't wait to get a hold of the next one.

Books in the Series:
The Walking Dead: Compendium One
The Walking Dead: Compendium Two

Friday, August 15, 2014

Red Rising - Pierce Brown

Darrow is a member of the working class called Reds. Despite being one of the least respected castes in the society of Mars, he and his fellows risk their lives every day in the mines to prepare the planet for habitation of the other colors. He takes pride in being a hell diver, knowing that he is the reason the planet will soon be ready.

Until he discovers the truth: the planet has been inhabited by the higher colors for hundreds of years. His whole life is a lie. And when he loses the most important person to him, Darrow is prepared to throw his life away. That is, until he's given the chance to take down the people who put him here.

But to even have a chance, he'll need to give up his identity, undergo a serious transformation, learn new habits, and finally make his way through the training of the peerless scarred, where he'll be forced to kill and endure pain unimaginable.

I originally started this book by reading the text version, but I wasn't fond of the style with the short and stunted sentences. It did, however, work well as an audiobook because it was as if I was listening to somebody telling a story aloud. The entire novel is brutal and violent. It begins with the the toil of working in the mines and starvation, continues on to beatings and medical procedures, and then on to the detailed descriptions of war in the training school.

I enjoyed watching Darrow's changing personality as he goes from proud hell diver to uncertain recruit and finally into the flawed leader commanding loyalty. I look forward to the second installment of this series.

Recommended Reads:
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
The Mazerunner - James Dashner

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Walking Dead: What Comes After Vol 18 - Robert Kirkman

After losing one of the best in his band, Rick is prepared to give Negan what he wants. Although there the majority of the townspeople disagree with his decision, including his son, they decide to trust his judgment. Negan stays true to his word, only taking fifty percent of the supplies; however, half is more than they can afford. He only takes half of the medicine, but all of the antibiotics. He takes takes only half the ammunition, the most versatile kind.

In order to keep his plan on track, Rick has to keep his counsel, causing turmoil within his inner circle. When his son disappears, Rick fears the worst. Carl finds out himself exactly how brutal a leader Negan can be.

With the help of Jesus, Rick hopes to recruit King Ezekial and his town to rise up against Negan. But in a world ever changing, nobody can be certain who is friend and who is foe.

With detailed black and white illustrations and a solid story line, readers will be enthralled with the continuing struggles of the survivors of the apocolypse.

Books in the Series:
The Walking Dead: Compendium One
The Walking Dead: Compendium Two

Friday, August 8, 2014

House of Darkness: House of Light - Andrea Perron

When Carolyn, the matron of the household, sees an advertisement in the paper for a large house out on a farm, she can't resist taking a look. After viewing the house with a realtor, she puts down the good faith deposit without consulting her out-of-town husband. When he returns they fight at first; however, when she reminds him of how their neighborhood has been getting worse, he decides maybe she's right. With a combined effort from the entire family to save pennies and earn change, they manage to get enough money to move in.

In the beginning, the home seems perfect. Each of the five children can have her own room, they can play in the barn, and spend hot summer days in the river on the property. But soon strange events happen. Items disappear, unfamiliar sounds haunt them, and encounters with unfamiliar people ensue.

This is only the first book in a three volume set by Andrea Perron of the unusual, disturbing, and sometimes harrowing true events that occurred during the many years her family lived in a haunted house. Being the eldest of the five sisters, Andrea was privy to many events that the other girls never revealed to their mother. And since she originally came to her mother about her own experiences, she and her mother shared their experiences with each other. Knowing so many of these secret encounters gives Andrea an understanding of the full scope of the strange events surrounding their stay.

Because it is written in a novel narrative, I found this book easy to read. Some of the experiences of family and friends in the house are classic haunting symptoms, while others are unique. I'm looking forward to reading the following volumes.

Weird Encounters: True Tales of Haunted Places

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Walking Dead: Something to Fear Vol 17 - Robert Kirkman

Rick and his crew have taken on Walkers, hardened prison inmates, cannibals, and more. So when the neighboring town tells them about a man named Negan keeping them "safe" from Walkers in exchange for half of their supplies, Rick is certain he can take this army on without any trouble. His gang's first encounter with Negan's men goes well, but the retaliation is more than they can handle. In the midst of battle he loses an essential part of his group and with it the trust of the people he has taken charge of.

In the face of defeat, Rick has to decide between continuing the rebellion or giving in to the demands of the deranged leader of the neighboring town.

The series continues to get gorier and darker as civilization crumbles. Although black and white, the details of the violence are no less disturbing. Fans of dark zombie stories will love this series.

Books in the Series:
The Walking Dead: Compendium One
The Walking Dead: Compendium Two

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Sacred Bedroom - Jon Robertson

People tend to spend a lot of time in the bedroom for a multitude of reasons. They are used for sleeping, of course. It's also used for having relations between people. They can be safe havens for meditation or creativity. A place where a person can be alone or invite special people in. With how much time is spent in the bedroom, Robertson believes that how a bedroom is arranged and utilized can have an effect on each person.

In the first chapter Robertson suggests the reader answer a few questions in order to evaluate how one feels about the bedroom. He then gives examples of fanciful tidbits about famous people and how they felt or used their own bedrooms. He provides examples on how to bring God back into the bedroom, using examples from major religions.

Throughout the book, he will refers to Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, Judaism, and others. One of the things I especially like is that he emphasizes the importance of finding symbolism and ritual that matches the reader's religion or personal practice.

Robertson explains the basics of Feng Shui and how to use it to arrange the bedroom for the best results. He includes the use of "cures", which is utilizing things like water, mirrors, and plants to complete a room that does not have desired placement for Feng Shui. He also provides ideas on the best materials to use within the bedroom, such as sheets, beds, and end tables.

In order to keep the mind in sacred space, the author suggests the use of of stimulating the five senses. Creating altars and decorating the room for visual, candles and incense for smell, music or white noise for hearing, teas or snacks for taste, and soft or interesting textiles for touch.

Sleep is considered the essential reason for a bedroom, so he explains various ways to make the room more comfortable for just that. He also emphasizes the importance of romance and sex. While the exercises for couples are both meditative and interactive, he only provides meditative exercises for singles. In this chapter, he also reinforces gender stereotypes by listing features like initiator and objective for masculine and the follower and subjective for the feminine.

In the last chapter, he provides further ideas and examples on how to bring all of the information together to make the bedroom a sacred space. This book is useful for those who want to create a sanctuary of the bedroom.

Recommended Reads:
Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You - Sam Gosling
SoulSpace - Xorin Balbes
Altars - Denise Lynn