Orson Scott Card is one of my favorite authors of all time. So I was very excited when I found Shadows in Flight (The Shadow Series) on hold for me at the library. I could tell it was a short book, maybe a one or two-day read, so I held it until I was not ensnared in any other book to maximize enjoyment. Shadows in Flight (The Shadow Series) is his newest book. It is the final chapter of Bean; one of the supporting characters of Ender’s Game (Ender, Book 1). If you haven’t read this series, it is well worth it. However, I wouldn’t recommend reading Shadows in Flight first. Although this series is not linear, but written more like narrative spokes coming out of Ender’s Game, a lot of the narrative is based on prior knowledge of the series. And this is definitely not the best entry point. But if you are already a fan, you will enjoy it.
In this book, we follow the last travels of Bean, self-exiled because of a genetic mutation to a space ship to extend his life. His children, who share his mutation, travel with him, while researching for a cure. This is a nice wrap up to his narrative. As many of his books are, this is a youth novel, with the children as precocious heroes. The writing is clear and a little simple. All of his books for teens are written this way. I found it more obvious in this book where the narrative was less complicated. As always he manages to capture many of the feelings of a child with accuracy. For example, in this book, one of his characters experience that angry feeling that a child has when he knows he can take more responsibility – if only his parent would notice. Then, he is confronted by the realization and mixed feelings that develop when the parent does assign a task that is more responsibility than he has ever had.
If you are a parent looking for a book for a kid, this series is a great choice for kids from about the eleven years old and up, especially boys. There is some violence, mostly between children, which may be a little unnerving for a younger child. The books do have self-contained morality that is excellence for kids.
Shadows in Flight (The Shadow Series), Orson Scott Card, Tor Books, 2012
Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail (BK Currents (Paperback)) by Paul Polake is an interesting take on poverty. Instead of looking to give out hand outs, or to work top down, he went to poor people and asked them what they needed. They, of course, said, “more money.” But this is where it gets interesting: instead of offering them money, he thought about how they could make more money themselves. The answer in this case, since he was talking to subsistence farmers, was low-cost irrigation so they could produce higher value crops. Then he went about developing affordable irrigation systems, and created affordable lending so the farmers could get the systems. With a group of people, he started International Development Enterprises.
The book stands on an interesting concept – listening and learning what people in poverty need – rather that assuming we know best because we happen not to be impoverished. He also talks about the idea of using the market as a tool to bring things to people in poverty that they need, instead of using donations which can be corrupted or misused. It’s interesting as a business model, because what business person wouldn’t like to open a new market of millions of people? Also, I believe that most business people would like to make a difference, as well as, make money. I have both motivations. Often, but not always, in my life these have been separate endeavors, but when they come together as one, it is the best.
The book itself is well written, and simple. Although it gives specific successes, the author sustains his central thesis through the whole book, and spells it out clearly.
Out of Poverty: What works when Traditional Approaches Fail, Paul Polak, Non-fiction, September, 2009
And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road by Margaret Roach is a manifesto of a corporate woman, who ditches it all to live on her farm in upstate New York. She goes on to start a blog and then use that blog as a start for this book. I guess I expected funny farm anecdotes. Instead it is a spiritual journey with the wild animals playing symbolic parts. This is the second book I have read recently about ex-Martha Stewart employees who have left high paying jobs in New York to live on a farm. I also read The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir (P.S.) by Josh Kimlar-Purcel. Now, it is actually his partner who worked for Martha Stewart, but still it makes you wonder what she does to inspire her employees to give up the corporate life. Anyway, if you want a book with a more interesting narrative of “how I became a farmer”, chose Bucolic Plague. Neither book comes through with the hilarious anecdotes, but at least Mr. Kimlar-Purcel has a biting sort of style that is fun to read. Ms. Roach style is dreamy and somehow rushed; like she has so many words and ideas she has to hurry to get them all in. It is more about an internal journey than a physical one.
And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road by Margaret Roach, Non-fiction, Grand Central Publishing, February 2, 2012
I just finished this book: Terminal Mind. It is billed as science fiction thriller. In the near future, two friends from disparate pasts have a hand in causing a disaster and then launch an investigation to get the real villain. They get tangled up in a larger conspiracy. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t get completely caught up in the book. I figured out the mystery fairly early on, but the ride to rid the world of the villain, save all the characters who needed saving, and setting up a new world was intriguing enough to finish the book. The technology and the imagined future world were not particularly new, although the imagined world was seamless and plausible.
Terminal Mind by David Walton, 2008
Here I go again… a new blog. You can see by the title this blog will have a broader scope. I am beginning it due to the need to keep track of my reading. I had initially set up a book list on April Sewing Journal. However, I soon realized that without being able to search and sort, I will not be able to access my book list the way I want to. I am an avid reader, often reading two or three books a week.I used to keep a little card catalogue of my books, but I got tired of it. Nerdy, yes, but useful when someone asked me about a book, I remembered an odd bit of information I wanted to look at again or I wanted a gift for a friend, I could find it. This blog will take the place of that little card catalogue. I think it may also be an useful resource for people to access the list for reading inspiration. I will also incorporate other thoughts and ideas that don’t necessarily fit in the scope of my other blog: April Sewing Journal.
In other news: my husband, Steve Brooks, has just published his first book: How I met Van and Numan Future, Present and Past: Or my first impression of the future by So Cal Punk. I wrote the first chapter which can be previewed at his web site, Buns on Mars. This is a science fiction story in three parts. It’s about two clones, Van and Numan, who manage to destroy their ship, get sent from the future back to earth and get sent back again to Mars. Through these misfortunes, they get awarded with medals, almost fall in love with an earth girl, and end up on a dream remote viewing misson to steal plans from the Chinese Martians. This narrative plays with time and space in an ironic and amusing way to entertain the reader. If you are interested in ordering the book, it is available on amazon.com or createspace.com.