Required Reading

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Books I have authored.

Many times I receive books for FREE to give them an honest review. I do not get paid to give a good or bad review. Spotlights are promotional and should be regarded as advertising for the book spotlighted. Regardless of where or how I got a book, my review will be as honest as I can make it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mother’s Day Flowers

Recently we moved my 94 year old mother to my brother’s home. She fell a couple of times last fall and no longer felt secure living on her own. Moving her stuff evoked a lot of past memories. The rocking chair in which I would squeeze in beside her while she peeled apples we shared seemed so small. Even at her current diminutive size, there is no way she or anyone else would be able to squeeze into that chair with me. The table, hand made by my Dad, that was in the corner by the window even after it moved from her home of 40 plus years to her apartment of 10 years ended up in my bedroom. The “blood” lamp sits on the table just as it did in her home. The “blood” lamp so named because a grateful store owner gave it to my Mother after she donated her rare blood to save his daughters life sometime in the 1940s. Mother was not upset about losing her “stuff” because it was going to good homes. Sons, daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren received the benefit of her largesse. That is hardly surprising, she is our Mom, Grandmother and Great Grandmother and that is what they do. They give, that is how they were raised to give to their families.

Mother’s day is one of the official times we should make sure we give back to our Mothers. Forget about what they say when they tell you don’t go to any trouble or it’s nothing special. It is and it should be. Check out the Mother's Day Flowers at . They have beautiful arrangements for Mother’s Day that are sure to put a smile on any Mother’s face. Try and be there when she gets those Mother's Day Flowers, it will put a smile on your face too. Happy Mother’s Day!

Hell's Faire By John Ringo

Rousing, non-stop adrenaline inducing action characterizes this entire series. Ringo’s stories are “in the trenches” military scifi. He paints vivid, dynamic, larger than life characters and surrounds them with believable associates. Reading about Ringo, he appears to think he is a cynic but from his stories you can tell the man is a pragmatic optimist. His characters exhibit the highest moral values and the most human desires. Whether is a child turned into a teenage assassin or a father who thinks he has sacrificed his daughter for the greater good, the characters are likeable and genuine. As an aside, we begin to get hints that the villains of the series may not be responsible for the actions. We also see a closure of the action that seemed entirely too abrupt with too many loose ends. I have since started “The Hero” which takes place sometime long after the end of this book and it ties some of the ends that I had hoped to see tied. I truly enjoy the stories, the sacrifices and the nobility of the characters. I recommend the book. If you can’t find it in print, go to Baen and download it.

Body of work of John Ringo


Web site:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hunger Hurts

Hunger isn’t just your stomach growling at 11:30 A.M. in anticipation of lunch. Hunger for millions of people is a debilitating condition faced daily, that drains resolve, crushes enthusiasm and stifles growth. As you read this, more than 500 million people are living in "absolute poverty" and more than 15 million children die of hunger every year.

There are estimates that 1/3 of the world’s population is starving and another third is chronically hungry. Guess where that puts you, the third that is striving to lose weight and stay fit, rather ironic. Even in our good old US of A we have people going hungry, every single day. In this economy, the food pantries are be overwhelmed by not just the traditionally impoverished but by white collar, formerly middle income folks who are suddenly jobless and destitute.

Heifer International is partnering with Bloggers Unite to heighten awareness of a endemic problem that we are all loathe to face. Pause for a moment the next time the Boy Scouts or the mailman are publicizing a food pantry drive and think how you feel when you are hungry. Now magnify that feeling ten fold and pull some things out of your pantry and donate them. The next time you grocery shop and they have a buy one, get one free, buy two and donate the two free ones to your local food pantry. It truly doesn’t demand a terrible sacrifice for anyone if everyone thinks a bit beyond themselves and gives a little. Lots of little donations by lots and lots of ordinary people can help starve off the hunger afflicting so many.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wheels of Fire by Mercedes Lackey & Mark Shepherd

My guess is the goal of the Serrated Edge series is to address social issues. The exploited children theme was in the last one I read as well. I like that they tailor a story to emphasize a social ill and at the end of the book have phone numbers for help. The book’s target audience may be the teen age years but I am young at heart. I enjoyed the book. It deals with cult type of pseudo-religions and their impact on both parents and children. It also paints a sad but often true portrait of how greasing palms can smooth the way for all kinds of nefarious activities. The easy access to AK47s mirrors the current trouble with the arming of the Mexican drug cartels through our southern borders. I recommend the book.

Body of work of Mercedes Lackey
Body of work of Mark Shepard


Site: none found for Mark Shepherd


Friday, April 24, 2009

Making Pregnancy More Pleasant

I know how can a guy, especially an older Dude such as myself, have any clue on how to make pregnancy more pleasant and why would he be audacious enough to write about it? Well, keep in mind that in most cases pregnancy is something that both sexes at least initiate. Then as the none carrying partner, we do live with the burden carrier. Not that babies aren’t a blessing and welcome, at least in our family but guys, face it, your bride is doing the grunt labor (I know bad word use) in the pregnancy deal. As a teacher, I once had my male students carry a medicine ball in a bag hanging in the approximate position for carrying the unborn baby. Needless to say at the end of the day the guys had a much greater appreciation of the stress and discomfort that can occur while pregnant. That was after a single day let alone nine months. So it behooves those of us with a sense of self preservation to make pregnancy as painless as possible.

There are a variety of ways to do this. Chocolate, foot massages, picking up household chores, loving consideration and clothes. Why clothes? Sadly many women have difficulty appreciating the beauty of pregnancy. Some idiot guys also describe pregnant women as fat which just does wonders for a woman’s self esteem. Clothes can help maintain positive self esteem. The right pregnancy wear can help a woman to feel attractive and chic. SimplyBe is a site that has a very flattering selection of pregnancy fashion. They have a complete selection of other clothes but I thought their maternity selection was particularly chic. (Are guys allowed to use that word?) They also have a wide selection of very flattering plus sizes. Gentlemen take my work for it, after my own kids and grand kids, if your lovely wife is pregnant, the happier you can make her through that pregnancy will benefit, you, her and the baby(ies). If dressing better helps her feel better, then find her some sizzling maternity wear.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Guardian of the Balance by Irene Radford

I am new to Irene Radford. This is the firs book of hers I have read. I have read more Arthurian tales than I can recall and am always amazed at how the same story can be told in so many entertaining ways. One review said this book was upbeat. Hmm, my take was more gritty. Merlin’s daughter, Wren, spends the entire book agonizing over her own behavior and every other characters behavior. She, herself, suffers a variety of travails. The overall theme as noted in the title is to maintain balance. This means that the bad guys win almost as often as the good guys. Sadly that is more realistic than most novels. I enjoyed the story and look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

Body of work of Irene Radford


Friday, April 17, 2009

Five Hundred Years After by Steven Brust

Maybe I have overworked this author. I just didn’t find this book interesting even knowing some of the characters. The plot didn’t just plod, it made watching ice melt interesting. If his name wasn’t on the book, I wouldn’t believe the same guy wrote the Vlad Taltos series. This is a follow up to the “Phoenix Guards”, which I didn’t like either. Perhaps that should of alerted me to a possible trend. The setting is the same, the stilted speech is the same but the sizzle is gone. The best thing about the book was the cover art. I was really disappointed in the book and I don’t recommend it.

Body of work of Steven Brust



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Born to Run by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon

A book with a morale is not surprising from Lackey. I guess the surprise for me was to discover she and Larry Dixon on spouses. Didn’t know that. The story doesn’t seem dated at all, in spite of being published in 1992. The cast of mages, elves and ghosts, both good and evil, provides a good story. A young “do gooder” mage’s concern about the welfare of a runaway permeates the story line. Depiction of the dangers of running away and the potentially despicable consequences provide the grindingly realistic morale. I particularly liked the after note that provides an 800-999-9999 number for runaways to call for help. Since the book was dated, I called the number and it is still a crisis hotline so I put it here as well. I liked the fact the author and the publishers seemed concerned about their reader’s welfare. I recommend the book.

Body of work of Mercedes Lackey
Body of work of Larry Dixon

Not Dixon’s site but interesting:


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Web Hosting Explained

Periodically I have someone ask me if I can host their web site. I create web sites and I manage them but I do not host them. There seems to be a little bit of confusion as to what hosting a site means. As defined by “hosting (also known as Web site hosting, Web hosting, and Webhosting) is the business of housing, serving, and maintaining files for one or more Web sites”. A host provides a computer (server) that has space for multiple web sites. This server is generally connected to the Internet by a really fat pipe. This fat pipe is a very fast and broad internet connection such as a T-carrier line. I could host a site on my home server but if by chance the site was popular, the traffic would soon swamp my cable connection forcing the web site down.

Therefore the choice of a web host can have significant impact on the success of your web site. I used to recommend iPower as a host. I can no longer recommend them as their ability to deal with problems has degraded dramatically. To find a new host I turned to WebHostingChoice, a guide to web hosting. They have in depth reviews of hosts that will enable you to make an intelligent choice on which host will best serve your needs. With the advent of so many relatively easy web creator software packages, there has been a major upswing in people doing their own web sites. If you are one of those folks generating your own site, it behooves you to make a wise choice in hosts. This site may help you make the best decision.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Body Language by James W. Hall

Hall is a captivating author. I have tried to buy all his books, haven’t read them all yet, but I have tried to acquire them. He has the ability to grab you in the first few pages and then keep you turning pages until your done. I enjoy his characters and his style. “Body Language” introduces Alexandra Rafferty, a police photographer. The book starts with an incident that defines her character and then moves to the present and a series of murders she is documenting with photography. Plenty of action and good characterizations will keep even the demanding reader busy. I recommend it.

Body of work of James W. Hall


Web Site:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bad Business by Robert B. Parker

I thought that I had already read all of the Spenser novels and was delighted to discovered I was wrong. It is a story of corporate greed run amuck which seems surprisingly apropos considering it was published in 2004. Parker is consistent in painting Spenser as a smart mouth, hard boiled detective. I was a little disappointed that Hawk (the ying to Spenser’s yang) did not play a larger part in the story. The repartee between those two are generally the highlight of the book. It is a quick read, not intellectually challenging and eminently enjoyable.

Body of work of Robert B. Parker

Thursday, April 2, 2009

World Autism Day, April 2, 2009

Autism seems to be the most recent ubiquitous disease. There are many definitions and even more arguments regarding those definitions. Bottom line is if you have someone you care about suffering from some form of autism it can be searing. It is extraordinarily difficult to watch a child grow up unable to conform to social boundaries. An inability to conform to acceptable behavior whether it is 1st grade or church, tends to isolate and alienate the child thusly compounding the effects of a disorder with emotional issues.

Early diagnosis of autism can have a major impact on the life an autistic person may live. Frequently providing a consistent emotional environment with a clearly defined structure can help a child develop internal controls. I recently saw the results of an out of control child moved from a inconsistent environment into a structured environment. In merely a matter of months, a child that was impossible to be around, has made remarkable social progress. On the other hand a teen that has had inconsistent structure is unable to maintain social control under any kind of emotional stress.

Too many people feel that drugs or firm discipline is the panacea for autism. Each individual who displays symptoms must be appropriately diagnosed and a treatment plan developed. Autism is a disease and must be treated as such.