Monday, November 25, 2013

Not In Kansas Anymore by Christine Wicker

Not in Kansas Anymore: A Curious Tale of How Magic is Transforming America, Christine Wicker.  New York: HarperCollins e-books, 2005, 2008.  e-book, 228 pps.

     Not In Kansas Anymore is an expose of various magical belief systems and the people who believe in them.  There are witches and voudon queens and vampires and lycanthropes and communion at a Christian service.  The author is a bit skeptical yet her take on it is one of the soft atheist or perhaps someone who wants to believe rather than someone who is opposed to belief without evidence. 

 sapphoq reviews says:  I found this book to be disconcerting in spite of the author's inclusion of sources and an extensive bibliography.  I interpreted the descriptions of many of the people and events described in Not in Kansas Anymore as belonging to someone who is saying, "Don't take these people seriously, folks."  Yet there were bits of the author's philos about transcendence that gave the lie to how she was depicting her subjects.  Not really recommended.

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Let the Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist.  New York: Thomas Dunne Books/ St. Martin's Griffin, 2004.  ebook, 421 pps.

     Let the Right One In is John Ajvide Lindqvist's first novel.  There is a boy-- Oskar-- who is picked on mercilessly by some of his classmates.  He lives with his mother in an apartment and acquires a friend named Eli who lives with her dad, sort of, in the building next door to his. 

     But there is a vicious serial killer on the loose.  This gives Oskar's mother fits.  She is uneasy whenever Oskar leaves the house and orders him to stay out of the woods.  But woods are irresistible to boys and girls all over.

sapphoq reviews says:  John Ajvide Lindqvist's first novel is full of win.  Oskar and the other kids are realistically drawn.  The city drunks are also believable.  The killings are vicious.  Every word of Let the Right One In builds up to a very satisfying ending.  Not for the squeamish.  Highly recommended.

Blinding Light by Paul Theroux

Blinding Light, Paul Theroux.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Company/ First Mariner Books, 2005, 2006.  e-book, 440 pps.

     Slade Steadman, an author who had written one bestseller a couple of decades ago and gotten rich off of a line of clothing and a movie and other spinoffs, had been unsuccessful in his endeavor to write a second book.  The editor wanted more of the same but he wasn't able to produce.  He and an ex-girlfriend took a [tourist trap sort of] trip to the Ecuadorian jungle to a remote village and the offering of an hallucinogenic drug.  The experience changes Slade and illuminates the foibles of others in a new light for him.  His writer's block dissolves and as a side benefit, he gets his ex-girlfriend back.  

sapphoq reviews says:  I especially enjoyed Paul Theroux's not so subtle poking at the insincerity involved in the travel industry-- the allure of exotic lands and strange experiences so that tourists would have a story to tell at parties.  Although Blinding Light was given to extensive interior monologues, these monologues added to the novel.  There are also many pages devoted to the recall of various sexual experiences which had partially defined Slade Steadman.  These are not to be missed.  Paul Theroux has proven his versatility in writing slow, steamy sex scenes.  I also liked the peripheral involvement of President Clinton and that various [actual life] authors were on the list of party invites.

     Fans of Paul Theroux's travelogues really ought to give his fiction a fair reading.  I loved Blinding Light!  A super book.  Highly recommended for fans of Theroux and for any mature adult who does not object to fiction which borders on the confessional.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Terms of Enforcement by Steven S. Richmond

Terms of Enforcement:  Making Men Pay for What They've Done, Steven S. Richmond.  [self-published] Victoria BC: Trafford Publishing, 2002.  e-book, 174 pps.

Steven Richmond has written a book the likes of which I have never read before.  According to Terms of Enforcement, his second book, he went through a strenuous divorce from a vindictive woman who falsely accused him of being a perpetrator of domestic violence.  Although I cannot vouch for his M.S.W. or his qualifications as a psychotherapist [the web revealed a paltry singular interview with him], some of his message impressed me and some did not.  That he would wind up in a State Mental Facility left me to wonder exactly how that could have occurred.  That he was taken off of a psych drug suddenly had no explanation offered other than the sort "Doc was a big meanie poo-poo head."  Why he may have needed said psych drug in the first place is not told in this book.

What is told is how vindictive his now ex-wife was/is, how he unfortunately put his grown daughter in the middle of his marital woes, and how badly the system fails at protecting men who are the abused rather than the abusers.  And there is a psychotherapist who figures prominently in the pages of Terms of Enforcement-- a Doctor Morgan-- who practices some special kind of psychobabble that I've never heard of.  The way that the author describes paradoxical therapy is quite different from the few professional papers I could locate on it.

sapphoq reviews says:  Having not seen the police reports or court transcripts, I cannot comment on the truthfulness of the author.  That the author maintains almost zero presence on the web is also disconcerting.  Terms of Enforcement is itself a paradox:  On one hand the book argues quite strenuously that the legal system [as well as police departments] has and continues to fail men who have been falsely accused of abuse and on the other there is little evidence presented other than anecdotal or hearsay to support his thesis.  Terms of Enforcement is a book with a specific agenda.  As such, the reader must tread carefully.  I would have wished for a book with [links to] court documents and other official papers verifying the author's experiences and alleged area of expertise.

The last page of Terms of Enforcement lists an address in New Hampshire.  The New Hampshire licenses look-up website yields only one license for an individual named Steven S. Richmond-- -- a lapsed license for a real estate salesman.  The Nanziba site-- -- yields no person named Steven S. Richmond who practices "bioenergetics" which is an unproven "energy work" sort of thing: 

While it is possible that Steven S. Richmond, author of Terms of Enforcement is an M.S.W. who has also taken a four weekend course in order to practice bioenergetics, I did not find enough evidence to verify this claim to my satisfaction.

Steven S. Richmond is welcome to contact me via the comments and provide a link to his M.S.W. licensure and current practice as a psychotherapist if any.

I am sympathetic to people-- men, women, and children-- who have been abused by the current System, falsely accused of things they haven't done, and/or wound up in the clutches of an abusive mental health "treatment" modality.  Terms of Enforcement reads like a book with a personal vendetta.  As such, I say, skip it.

sapphoq reviews books and more

Friday, November 15, 2013

Grumpy Cat by Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book, Grumpy Cat.  San Francisco:  Chronicle Books, 2013, 75 pps. E-book.

@RealGrumpyCat  [on Twitter]

note from and quoted from the book:  copyright (c) 2013 by Grumpy Cat Limited.  Grumpy Cat Images Copyright and "Grumpy Cat" Trademark are the exclusive property of
Grumpy Cat
Limited, Ohio, USA

Grumpy Cat lives in Arizona with is bio-bro Pokey and a dog.  He professes to not even know the dog's name.  His book is full of pictures of Grumpy Cat looking-- well-- grumpy; and some witty captions which clearly illustrate the value of grumpiness over other mood states.  There are a few quizzes and word games as well as a recipe for litter box cake. 

sapphoq reviews says:  If you love @RealGrumpyCat on Twitter, you will love this book!  I've added this book to the collection of things I read to make me laugh on an emo-sad day.  Sorry Grumpy Cat, you make me smile!

Monday, November 04, 2013

50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True

50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True, Guy P. Harrison.  New York, Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2012.  e-book, 473 pps.

@Harrisonauthor on Twitter

If you are an atheist and you are unfamiliar with Prometheus Books, you owe it to yourself to check out their catalogue.  The publisher focuses on books written by and for freethinkers and cover a variety of topics.  The catalogue itself is organized; something that I very much appreciate.

50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True is also very organized.  Guy P. Harrison employed subheadings in order to organize his subjects.  The subheadings read: Magical Thinking, Out There, Science and Reason, Strange Healings, Lure of the Gods, Bizarre Beings, Weird Places, and Dreaming of the End.  Each belief has its' own chapter.  At the end of each chapter is a reference list of other books and websites if the reader wishes to explore a particular topic in-depth.  The author takes on predictable topics-- creationism, astrology, my god is better than your god, and the end is near.  There are a few topics which are not so predictable-- "All Scientists Are Geniuses and Science Is Always Right" and "Biological Races Are Real" are two examples of those.

sapphoq reviews says:  Guy P. Harrison exhibits the best of rational thinking in 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True.  This is an engaging book especially for those who are new to skepticism.  Freethinkers who have been around for awhile may want to also check out this book.  I did.  Highly recommended.