Saturday, November 22, 2014

Passport through Darkness by Kimberly L. Smith

Passport through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances, Kimberly L. Smith.  Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2011. eBook, 204 pps.

     I was pleasantly surprised by Passport through Darkness. Some percentage of books by Christian authors I have read-- in my opinion-- suffer from less than adequate writing skills. Although Smith insists that she is not a natural writer and that she had to be taught how to tell a story, she excels at writing now.

     Kimberly and her husband Milton from Birmingham, Alabama felt something missing from their lives and Christian walk. They were accepted by a missionary agency, sold everything, and went to minister in Salamanca, Spain. While there, they happened upon a house in nearby Portugal where orphans were being held in a bad situation. This changed things up a bit. It was a longer than it ought to be process to get the kids to safety.

     Some other stuff happened. Kimberly and Milton started their own agency. Milton's diabetes got worse and Kimberly started spending months at a time in the Congo apart from her husband. They remained faithful to each other. 

     The Congo is not such a great place to live. There is lots of poverty, war, sickness, and other stuff. But Kimberly did live there and also helped some kids out. You will have to read the book if you want the rest of it.

sapphoqreviews says: Kimberly L. Smith has written an excellent book about her life-changing experiences in the Congo. Christians will enjoy this book immensely. Atheists who object to any sort of religious stuff will not be interested. Some Muslims may be insulted because of events described in the book that happened in the Congo.  At any rate, for Christians, highly recommended. For Christian teens not so much, unless parents or legal guardians review the book first due to some of the subject matter.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, Gabriella Coleman. London: Verso Books, 2014. eBook, 416 pps.

     I have oodles of respect for Gabriella Coleman. She is an anthropologist, and she works at McGill which is one of my favorite universities. She writes about things that I am interested in. It was with great anticipation that I waited for the release of Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy. I did something that I almost never do-- I pre-ordered the book. I knew that I would love the book. And yes, I love this book.

     Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy gives much insight into some of the personalities behind the idea Anonymous. I enjoyed her re-counting of the emergence of some of the Secs. I was infuriated all over again with the treachery of he-who-must-not-be-named (and that isn't a reference to Voldemort). I was tickled by her descriptions of the I.R.C. chat-rooms. Talk of o-days and LOIC are things that hold my interest.

sapphoq reviews says: Gabriella Coleman has written a wonderful book. Anyone the least bit interested in Interwebz culture ought to find and read this book. Those who are not technically savvy will find the material presented to be readable. Those of us who are will relish the stories and the LULZ. Absolutely highly recommended. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Another Atheist in Recovery by SpikedUp Frog

Another Atheist in Recovery, SpikedUp Frog. self-published, 2014. eBook, 107 pps.

@SpikedUpFrog on Twitter (tm)

     Yes, this one is also mine, written under my Twitter (tm) alias. Unlike Up the Rebels!, this one is not fiction. It is about my experiences as a recovering non-theist addict in 12 step programs and also how I had to re-write the steps in order to remain clean. 

     Many people "in the rooms" object to changing the literature in any way. Bill Wilson was actually the first one to give approval to modifying the steps to the first A.A. group of atheist Buddhists in New York City. Some deaf folks years ago modified the twelve steps into a form that they related to better-- these were the twelve ideas of A.A. Charlotte Kasl, in her book Many Roads, One Journey presents several ways in which the steps have been modified for groups of people. And I've been reading books put out by AA Agnostica up in Toronto that illustrate how other atheists and agnostics work the steps, complete with their revisions.

     Another Atheist in Recovery presents the steps in the way that I work them. If you don't like that sort of thing, then stay away from this book. Ditto if you are not interested in addiction matters.

     The deal is that for me to use again is to die. I have done and will continue to do whatever I have to in order to stay abstinent. I don't have an ax to grind with believers. I respect that other people have religious practices. If you are an atheist with sincerely held non-beliefs and you are in recovery-- especially if you are new-- then yeah, Another Atheist in Recovery is for you.

     I am in the midst of my second NaNoWriMo but I will endeavor to post more reviews of stuff I've been reading within the next couple of days.

     Sail Strong!

Up the Rebels! by SpikedUp Frog

Up the Rebels!, SpikedUp Frog. self-published, 2014. e-book, 131 pps.

@SpikedUpFrog on Twitter (tm)

     I cannot be disingenuous here. Up the Rebels! is my book written under my Twitter (tm) alias and one of my pen names. So what I will say is that Up the Rebels is dedicated to my brother Stanley Cohen [@StanleyCohenLaw on Twitter (tm)] and to my hero Edward Snowden. Early excerpts from it have appeared in one of my other blogs. Now I have learned how to format the thing [a very long process of over ten hours and a steep learning curve].

     The book just hit the Barnes and Noble online site this morning. It is an ePub with NO DRM. I gave it a creative commons license because I support releasing my books on the torrents. And hey, if no one else puts it out there, I'm going to do it myself. Just as soon as I recover from learning how to format.

     So if you like hacker fiction or slacker fiction and want to read a book with a Muslim fella named Jesus in it, some Anonymous protesters, N.S.A. drones, a rather hefty cat by the name of Majestic, a fourteen year old, a cute kitten named Freedom, some homeless folks, some prostitutes and their evil bosses, a hapless mental health professional or two, and a few folks who escape the clutches of the ahem behavioral health system, then this book is for you. And Dree RainCave is in it. He is Ed SnowDen used in a purely fictitious manner hiding from the government in Newark, New Jersey  of all places.

     Some of my Twitter (tm) buddies are also in it, again as pure fiction. You will find That Damn Stan (@StanleyCohenLaw), Kenneth Lipp (@kennethlipp), and Tor Ekeland (@TorEkelandPC) within the story.

     Briefly mentioned are Todd Kincannon (@ToddKincannon), Ashely Kincannon (@AshelyKincannon) [Todd and Ashley Andersen in the book] and Noodle Kincannon (@TheNoodleK), again as fiction.

     I'm sorry that I couldn't fit all of my Twitter (tm) buds in the book. There will be more books to follow.

     I endeavored to keep the cursing down to a minimum but there is bits of cursing in it. Enough that parents may wish to read the book before allowing their teens to do so.

     Take care everyone and know that today-- the first day of the release of Up the Rebels! as an eBook-- means that I am happy happy happy!


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Kickstart Your Recovery by Taite Adams

Kickstart Your Recovery: The Road Less Traveled to Freedom from Addiction, Taite Adams. self-published via Smashwords, 2014. e-book, 153 pps.

     Taite Adams is a pseudonym. I felt it necessary to say that because in the author section of Kickstart Your Recovery, she self-identifies as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous with a decade plus of sobriety. She has written other books about addiction to specific drugs. One book title gave me pause. It is about how to detox at home safely. I found the notion to be a bit scary. Withdrawal from most substances requires medical treatment in order to do it safely and come out of it alive. 

     As of date, Kickstart Your Recovery is available as a freebie. After reading it, I wondered at the subtitle since what was described in the book was standard twelve step addictions industry treatment protocol. To go to rehab or not. To get a capital H capital P Higher Power regardless of sincerely held non-christian beliefs or no religious beliefs. Sponsorship and clubhouses and (the topic I abhor) a part on meeting etiquette. Nothing really new here.

sapphoq reviews says: I found Kickstart Your Recovery to be disappointing. One of the ideas that Taite Adams presents is that the word alcoholic includes addictions to other drugs. It most definitely does not. The word that does is the word addict. I have no quarrel with recovering addicts who choose to attend Alcoholics Anonymous only and respectfully identify as alcoholics (because all addicts are pretty much addicted to alcohol anyway). The bone that I am picking is with the author's specific notion about the word alcoholic. Folks who identify as atheists or agnostics or nones will recognize the standard apologetics in this book regarding the use of religion in the twelve step rooms. Folks who are committed to a return to a program without the glitz that modern rehabs have attached to the rooms (such as the use of chanting phrases in A.A. or holding hands in A.A. or the notion that "addiction is a disease") will also not be satisfied with this one. Verdict: not recommended. People considering abstinence will do better reading other sources for information about recovery from any addiction.

Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

Into the Wild (Warriors Series #1) , Erin Hunter. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. e-book, 205 pps.

     I have seen the extensive postings from readers on the B&N site under reviews in which they pretend to be sentient felines from various clans. I didn't understand the motivation for such scribbles until I started reading Into the Wild.

    Rusty was a typical indoor outdoor house cat with stirrings of his wild nature. He was hunting mice when he was attacked by  Graypaw, a young kit in ThunderClan. There are four clans-- ThunderClan, ShadowClan, WindClan, and RiverClan, plus a farm cat who is clan-less-- inhabiting the forest and fields around it. The book, first in a series, deals with the adventures of Rusty and his changing fortunes. It also delves into the problem facing all four of the feline clans.

     A most interesting concept for me was how Erin Hunter used re-naming in order to indicate change in status of an individual cat in a clan. The ritual of naming and accepting membership into any community is one that is rich in tradition and narrative of homo sapiens. Who we call ourselves says something about who we are. Those folks with some forms of personality fragmentation have parts with different names and characteristics. When the associated trauma is too deep, integration may occur with one of the sub-personalities at the forefront who is known by a different name other than the one given at birth. Nicknames also may be telling. They may be a shortened or modified version of a legal name like John to Jack, an endearment such as Little Grandma, a sign of status as in Michael Junior or Chatsworth III. Rusty himself is endowed with two name changes as he transforms himself into a warrior of ThunderClan.

sapphoq reviews says: As a result of reading Into the Wild, I have stopped flagging the reviews at the B&N site that role-play being a feline in a clan. I now understand why people do this. The pull to create one's own animal story (also reflected in lycanthrophy, vampyre lore, and Otherkin) is a theme that has been written about extensively in the fantasy genre. Cats that are more than what they seem had a certain appeal to me. Into the Wild was an excellent read for this adult fan of Mercedes Lackey and her Valdemar series. The series is suitable for pre-teens and teens. Highly recommended.