I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Secret Life of Sleep by Kat Duff

I wouldn't be true to this blog if I didn't write bad reviews too, so this is one.  This book, which I hoped would provide me with insight and perhaps help in my twenty-year long battle with sleep, did neither.  It was completely biased against using medications, which do happen to work, at least for a while, and believes that if we don't keep our children in our bedrooms until the age of five, they will become poor sleepers as adults. 

She approaches this from various angles; the mystic, pseudo-science, anthropology, and first hand accounts.  Her only saving grace, is her belief in the use of cognitive behaviorism, which is actually a helpful way to deal with problems like sleep.  First you must understand and fix your ideas about sleep; making it less a battle.  Then, you must also provide a good sleep environment, with the use of few electronics before sleep and using your bed for only sleep, so that your body will know what to do once its there.

A better book on sleep is Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David K. Randal.  He is a journalist who has had sleep problems, including sleep walking, for years.  His book, is unbiased and really examines the issue from a very real and scientific view.  It also offers good suggestions to help you sleep, for example, turning the lights down an hour before you go to sleep so that the melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, will begin to produce early and help you to go to sleep.  I've used this method with some degree of success.

In the end, there are better books out there to read on sleep than The Secret Life of Sleep.  Unless, of course you want something to read to put you to sleep, because this book is so boring, it just might do that.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Good Talk, Dad: The Birds and the Bees..and Other Conversations We Forgot to Have by Bill and Willie Geist

First off, you don't have to be a guy to read this book.  As a woman, I related to it in the way one relates to a father, regardless of the sex.  Bill Geist, a former columnist for the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times and a contributor to CBS Sunday Morning (a really good show on at 9am) and Willie Geist, a co-host on MSNBC's Morning Joe and co-host of the Today Show, have written a rather funny and touching story of their lives as fathers and sons.

From summer camp, where Willie's sister was sent to a horse camp and got saddled with a horse one step away from the glue factory and his camp which was run by gang members on probation to stories of going fishing and never catching anything.  There are also the hilarious stories of the red jeep they bought in 1984, when Bill got an advance of $10,000 on his first book.  They went hog wild and decided to get the add-ons of doors and a radio.  Eventually this jeep would go to Willie, who used it to deliver pizzas, recklessly in a vehicle with no shocks or first gear. By the time his sister inherited it, it would only go forty-mile-per-hour and broke down frequently on the way to school.

There's also the story of everyone's crazy Uncle, this one called Herb, who sold his vitamins and supplements company to a larger company and spent his money collecting all sorts of animals, including rare fish, the envy of aquariums, and alligators.  He would also supply the "herbs" at any family get together and the Rolling Stones concert he and Willie went to in Atlantic City.

Yes, there is talk of sports.  They both root for the Yankees (they lived in New York and New Jersey for most of Willie's life and live there now).  Willie was a champion football and basketball player in high school.

But its not all fun and games.  There's a chapter where Bill finally opens up both to his family and the reader, for the first time, about his experiences in Vietnam as a photographer and the horrors he saw and his pictures that were seen on the front page of newspapers across America.  He received a Bronze Star for his service, which sometimes involved the use of a gun and not a camera.  Also, Bill describes his twenty-year battle against Parkinson's and the many years he hid it and tried to deny that anything was wrong.

Finally, the book delves into the life of Willie and his rise to where he is now and his family of a three and six-year-old.  One weekend, when his wife is out of town, he finds himself helpless trying to figure out what to feed them and where the missing leotard is for his daughter's ballet class.  And taking them next door to the police station for friendly visits, or serious chats with the boys in blue, when they have done something seriously wrong.

In the end, this delightful book delves into the lives of two funny and great guys, a father and son, that we can all relate to, even if we are females, as we may have similar experiences with our parents, or be married to one of them.

 The pamphlet set forth the rules of sexual conduct.  Sex was definitely restricted to a man and a woman.  Only one each.  Married.  In a church.  Intercourse was to be conducted in the missionary position, with the lights off.  And not for fun!  For family.  If you could manage to avoid the act altogether, so much the better. (Hey, Mary and Joseph pulled it off.)  Oh, and nothing with the suffix  -job or –style.  Those rules were from GOD!
----Bill Geitst and Willie Geist (Good Talk, Dad: The Birds and the Bees.. and Other Conversations We Forgot To Have p 7)
I’ve never understood why fishing has to be at dawn.  Basketball, football, baseball—no other sports start at such a painful hour.  It may be the fault of the fish.  Perhaps genetic engineers will solve this problem in our, or your lifetime.  A large, colorful, easily mountable sport fish, stupid enough to go after fluorescent lures, skips breakfast and eats a big lunch.
--Bill Geitst and Willie Geist (Good Talk, Dad: The Birds and the Bees.. and Other Conversations We Forgot To Have p 46-7)
I told Lucie we were rooting for Columbia because they’re the New York team (she’s too young for me to explain that no one roots for Harvard in anything—in sports or in life).
--Willie Geist (How To Take Your Four-Year-Old Daughter To a Football Game)

When I see TV commercials using patriotism to sell military service to impressionable young men and women, it seems there really ought to be the voice of that announcer in pill commercials warning, “May cause neuroses, psychoses, severe burns, paralysis, loss of limbs, premature death, and lifetime sorrow.”
---Bill Geist (Good Talk, Dad: The Birds and the Bees.. and Other Conversations We Forgot To Have p 166) (He is a Vietnam Vet and recipient of the Bronze Star)
During its long run at the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Nets organization did whatever it could to distract the fans from remembering they were watching a bad team in an empty arena in the middle of a New Jersey swamp.  Larry Bird called it the arena he hated most during his long career, saying of the fans, “It’s as if they’re not even there.” That wasn’t just your impression, Larry.  They weren’t there.  It was the kind of place where you could see a friend across the arena during a game and, I kid you not, yell across the court to make postgame plans.
--Bill Geitst and Willie Geist (Good Talk, Dad: The Birds and the Bees.. and Other Conversations We Forgot To Have p 217)

Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Good-Talk-Dad-Conversations-Forgot/dp/1455547212/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466168402&sr=1-1&keywords=good+talk+dad+by+bill+geist+and+willie+geist

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ghost Hunter by Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Jayne Castle

Jayne Castle is the name Krentz publishes under for her futuristic suspense novels.  They take place on the planet of Harmony two hundred years after the curtain closed, that had been opened for a while to allow humans through to colonize other planets.  The years of Discord followed and for a while it was every man for himself.  Soon, however, the humans began to develop paranormal abilities unique to the planet.  Underneath the planet, the former aliens who had lived there, left green quartz, and to navigate underground you need tuned amber, or you'll get lost forever.  Amber is also used to start cars, lock doors, and many other common things.  In the catacombs, ghost hunters are needed to dissolve para disonence energy, which takes the form of a ghost, and can fry your brain.  Detanglers are also needed to unravel traps that block doors.  There also dust bunnies that are unusual pets who are great protectors and have two sets of eyes and six feet.

Cooper Boone, recently made Guild boss of the Aurora Springs ghost hunters is engaged to Elly St. Clair.  For months, he has canceled dates, or shown up late, and he gives her no more than a chaste kiss goodnight.  When he fights a duel over her with Palmer Frazier, a man she dated for a while, but realized he was only after her father's influence on the council to make him Guild boss, she gets really pissed off.  The gossip could cost her her job at the University, where she in a botanist and makes her believe that Boone is only interested in the Guild position himself, so she breaks up with him and moves to the big city of Cadence and opens up an herbal shop, where she uses her secret psi talent of being able to "read" plants makes it possible for her to brew up special individual  brews for her patrons. 

One night, her friend, a ruin rat, who is someone who doesn't make it to the University level of para-archeology, but has talent, and goes into the catacombs looking for things to sell, finds someone's hidden stash of illegal drugs and makes a run for her life.  Elly becomes concerned, and as luck would have it, Cooper is in town on "business", which is trying to win back Elly.  He helps her find her friend and de-rezes the blue ghost, a mythical ghost that is watching over her friend, which he shouldn't be able to do, but his talent is a Guild secret. 

They soon find themselves embroiled in a drug operation and murder as they try to find the person behind it all and why this is happening.  This isn't Castle's first Harmony book.  The first one is called Afterburn; but you don't have to read one to read the other.  They are both excellent books and great reads if you want to read something different in the sci-fi genre.  I love them both!

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Hunter-Jayne-Castle/dp/0515141402?ie=UTF8&keywords=ghost%20hunter&qid=1464027842&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1