Archive for the ‘book review’ Category

Two book Revues: Erotic Romance

April 11, 2019

This blog is a review of two books I’ve read recently: “Pretty Boy Problems,” by Michele Grant, and “Huntsman and Eve: Joining Forces Security Series Book 1” by Annette Stephenson.

These books are both of the ‘Erotic Romance’ genre. It goes without saying that both stories are contrived fantasies—but what fiction isn’t contrived? In reading drafts of my own book, the issue my early readers had was that this is fantasy. No man could be this good. That is romance: the guy meets all the heroine’s needs and desires. He’s always perfect. Rarely, if ever, does the main female character give a described blow job. She is always the receiver.

Our guys are always handsome with great smiles. We never fall in love with alcoholics, drug addicts, deadbeats, two timers, trouble makers, guys who are in debt, guys who turn out to be gay, or, of course, guys who aren’t experienced lovers.

In addition, the guys are always masculine and self-assured, have money, clean up after themselves, and will do whatever they can to please the heroine. If this is not for you, move on. However, if you’ve never had mind blowing sex, and aren’t aroused by visual pornography, but want a description of what it is…and want a good story to go with it, consider the genre.

Michele’s book is of the ‘urban erotic romance’ genre. Her main characters work in the fashion industry and are former models. Her main male character, Beau, is known as a player, and her main female character, Belle is very cautious. But Beau turns out to be a talented guy in many ways. Lots of white Americans don’t know there is a black middle class, and this is a realistic story. Beau is Cajun, and Michele includes a glossary at the back of the book.

Annette’s book is about a young widow, Eve, traveling around the country. She starts a blog, writing under the nom de plume ‘Dawn Early’, and a print magazine with a girlfriend. It turns out her blog is read widely by currently serving military personnel and is very popular. Eve sort of stumbles into Dean’s arms, and there is an interesting side plot. Women who are particularly patriotic will like this series.

I know who I want to read my book, but are they the same people who read the genre? I started doing some research, and according to Sources: Nielsen, Bookstats, PEW Research Center, RWA, Entertainment Weekly: Author Earnings’ (July 2014 Author Earnings Report, Harlequin )
Top 10 Fiction Genres.1 $1.09 billion, Thrillers 2.$1.08 billion, Romance 3.$811 million, General4.$548 million, Literary5.$442 million, Mystery & Detective6.$377 million, Fantasy7.$185 million, Comics & Graphic Novels8.$156 million, Historical 9.$143 million, Contemporary Women10.$113 million, Action & Adventure Reading.

Behavior : 29 percent of romance readers usually carry a romance novel with them. Romance readers typically begin and finish a romance novel within 7 days. On average, romance readers read more than one book: A Week —25.5 percent. Every Week —20.9 percent. Every 2-3 Weeks —17.8 percent —16.1 percentRomance Vs. All Adult-Fiction Purchases: PaperbackRomance: 51 percent Adult Fiction: 46 percentE-Book*Romance: 38 percent Adult Fiction: 30 percent: HardbackRomance: 10 percent Adult Fiction: 21 percent AudioRomance: 1 percent Adult Fiction: 3 percent
At A Glance: Age30-54; EducationCollege-educated; Average Income: $55K. Relationship Status :59 percent are coupled, 84 percent are women, 16 percent are men .

Since E.L. James published 50 shades of Grey, are more men reading romance?

The favorite sub genre is historical romance, but other genres are catching up. Who reads this stuff? According to Kristian Wilson:

Despite being pooh-poohed as lowbrow literature for middle-aged women, romance novels comprised nearly one-third — 29 percent — of the 2015 fiction market. In 2013, romance novel sales exceeded $1 billion, according to Romance Writers of America. There are even entire bookstores devoted to romance novels!

So why does romance — and the people who read it — have such a bad reputation? I’ll give you a hint: the answer starts with sex and ends with ism . Seriously, there’s a giant, gendered pock mark on books women write and read.

And believe me, romance is women’s fiction. Male authors who write romance novels are encouraged to publish under female psuedonyms to help their sales numbers — making romance the only corner of the industry that doesn’t have women writing under male names.

The whole erotic romance genre is relatively new. Not even 30 years old. Most books are self-published, at least at first, and the writers have a formula. Many start out writing fan fiction and evolve from there. They are able to succeed because they have a fan base, and they work to develo[p the base by encouraging interaction with fans via their blogs and on social media—-usually Facebook.

I want to encourage readers to check out these writers. Ask at local bookstores and , of course, they are on Amazon.

My own book is in production, and if you are interested in dogs, dog grooming and training, performance events, recent African history and development issues, that fantasy rock star (yes, that’s also a genre, as is the billionaire…), what it’s like to be ‘other’ in a dominant culture, good sex, and issues of integrity, I hope you will seek out my book (‘soon to be published’: ‘Polyandress) .


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Book Reviews: Lower River by Paul Theroux & 3 Cups of Tea by David Oliver Relin & Greg Mortenson

November 2, 2018

I love Paul Theroux as a writer, and he served  in Peace Corps in Malawi (where I also served about 40 years after him). Thus, I was interested in  this book, which is a bit of a horror story,  His main character, after a divorce and selling his business, chooses to go back to the village he served in  to  support the school he helped build.  Unfortunately, it is merely a shell, & other misfortunes befall the guy.  I know it is fiction, but I also know the story is plausible.  If you’ve never ben to Malawi, his description is accurate.

I recently picked up “Three Cups of Tea,” as it is ubiquitous in the book bins &  resale stores.  For those who don’t know the gist, Mortenson, who was actually raised in Tanzania, became a mountain climber, attempting K2,  and got lost.  A villager in a very remote area in Pakistan found him, and he promised to build  the village a school. That he did.    He networked among other climbers to help find  donors and sponsors,  and in the end, in the  1990s, Th Central Asia Institute (https://centralasiainstitute.org) was founded.  Now, their board is mostly Asians who oversee fundraising  and project development.  You can go on Wikipedia and learn Mortenson was charged with mismanaging funds and taking liberties with the truth.

That said, you  DO get the gist of what Mortenson did and what he was up against, and some of the history of what was going on at the time.  Both books are worth the read if you are the typical American ‘do-gooder’ type.  You learn  that nothing gets done without local ownership of the project.  You also learn that, as we Americans have allowed our government to  give foreign aid to both countries among others, and  what a waste it is.  Should we have to give up Social Security and Medicare to fund corrupt governments in the name of democracy? What a joke!  Should our military veterans have to wait over a week for care, or be homeless, so we can  give weapons and training to  militaries that rip off their citizens (and even brutalize them)?  Yet… that we do.

Both books are great reads.

Book Review: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, by Farahad Zama

December 9, 2017

I  live in a culturally mixed community, and have many friends who are either from  the Middle East and India, or their parents are.  If you’ve seen the movies, “Meet the Patels,”  or “The Big Sick,”  you know that  parents are heavily involved in choosing mates for their children. Their parents did it for them, it worked, and ‘love matches’—that is, children finding their own spouses, is strongly discouraged.  Marriage is not so much about love as  maintaining communities. Obviously, it  does happen that people meet  and fall in love, and  that’s why there are ….stories.

This delightful, charming book is about a re8ired man who decides to start a match making  service, and  the nuances involved in helping people find partners.  It might help to know something about the caste system in  India, but Zama  describes this  well enough that you get  a good idea  of what people consider, and how they go about finding partners.

This is a great story.  Zama is not overly wordy, and the story is tight.  He describes his characters well.  The Ali family, Muslims, hire Aruna, a Hindu girl, to assist with office work.  She is supporting her parents and younger sister because her father’s  pension got screwed up and he can’t work because his health is poor (this is so very typical in  India).  Aruna is educated, and was supposed to marry, but her dowry was used to pay her father’s medical bills. This  dowry issue is still very much a fact in India.   As a subplot, the Alis’ have 1 son, who is an activist,  and this distresses his parents.  The dialogue is very  interesting, and  you get a better understanding of  how life in modern India is for educated people.

For  people who want a  nice read, who are considering a trip to India,  I’d  recommend  going on Amazon and searching for this book.

Book Review: Start Something That Mattes, by Blake Mycoskie

October 12, 2017

Blake Mycoskie, is the founder of TOMS shoes.  The company motto is, “for every pair we sell, we donate a pair.”  This is a very  quick read, very well edited, about how he started TOMS, and  how other people started businesses to make the world a better place.  I thought the book would be  hokey, but it isn’t.  Thing is, starting a business is really not as easy as chronicled.  Mycoskie had been a serial entrepreneur, and he had the capital to experiment when he started TOMS.  He acknowledges that he got lucky very fast, and his family was very supportive.

He doesn’t say how long it took for him to develop a working prototype, but he does say he had capital to live on while he was working on getting his shoes developed and manufactured.

I found this book very uplifting, but  I am not sure what value it would be  for the  entrepreneur who doesn’t have access to capital,or who has never even drafted a business plan.  I am really amazed at how many people  make a good pitch on  social funding sites like Indigogo or GoFundMe.  I have been supporting Prosper for over 10 years, where you can ask for a loan for any reason.

If you have an idea for a business,  you can look up  business plan outlines on the internet, and  find a business in your industry where you can  possibly intern, but be realistic and know the amount of money you will need to keep afloat until you break even.  I  want to open a resale store, but I estimate, with rent and overhead, I would need at least $30,000 and at least a year before breaking even.  Is that doable?  Mot for me…. unless I was given rent for free.

One of my favorite TV shows is “Shark Tank,”  where  entrepreneurs make a pitch  for funding and technical assistance to  ‘venture capitalists’ to grow their businesses. The Capitalists ask tough questions, and won’t fund an idea just because it is  ‘good’.  If you really think yo have a money making idea, write it down and  put down on paper  how much it will cost  to  either  manufacture your product or provide your service.

2 Great Autobiographies About Young Jewish Men Coming of Age With Special Circumstances

September 28, 2017

When you’re a Jew in America, you are always an ‘other’.  Even if you grow up in a neighborhood filled with Jews,  as you mature and go out in the world, you meet people with a totally different  belief system, mindset about what is right and good and moral, and  you are always challenged about what you believe.

When Jews pray, we glorify God. We don’t  pray for things or events.  We don’t really worry about an afterlife. Our  commitment is always to community. However, that is not clear to a young child. I know Passover is our most dramatic even involving children, as we have ritual ways to eat, we have the  four questions, and we  explain , in our dinner  ritual, why we do what we do.  But that is not  like getting candy and toys on Easter and Christmas (even though it is a gift giving holiday for children—-by ritual).

I found these books pretty much  around the same time at book swaps.  “My Sense of Silence” is  by Lennard J. Davis ( University of Illinois Press, 2000) is probably out of print, but can be found on Amazon.  It’s mostly about growing up with deaf parents, not  necessarily about being Jewish.  However, because they were Jewish—Orthodox, that somewhat added to  his complexities. For those who don’t know , Deaf Culture is a culture. American Sign Language is not universal, but it is a complex language. Also,  in most families, the children interpret for adults.  Many people are born deaf,  some become deaf, and, amazingly enough, even though Jews are a minority, there is a minority of deaf Jews.  Davis describes his frustrations and how he coped, and  how difficult is was. Then, in retrospect, he realizes that his parents did the best they could…although he also understands that he has a lot of responsibility as a young child.  This is a short book, very well written, and  would be a good read for young adults dealing with  maturing and parents, deaf or not.

The other book was a best seller:  “Choosing My Religion,” By Stephen Dubner  (Harper Perennial 1998). Dubner was raised a devout Catholic by parents who converted from Judaism to Catholicism.  He writes very well about it—not really discovering his Jewish routes until he was a mature adult.  His childhood was fine, considering that he was  one of 8 kids and his parents could barely support themselves without farming.  He hardly met any of his relatives.

It was a girlfriend who encouraged him to learn  more about his family’s history, and why his parents converted from Judaism to  Catholicism.  As a  Jewish woman whose sister decided to become Christian, I m somewhat familiar with the dynamics of what went on.  Judaism is  full of questions.  Catholicism is  full of answers …as well as absolutes.  It’s impossible to get straight answers about faith from  our scholars. Forget asking your parents.  But we  Jews are such a minority, it is  a big blow when  one leaves our flock  and chooses to join another.  Dubner  does a thorough  job of researching his family, as well as exploring his own beliefs,  returning to Judaism in the end, for personal reasons.  If you have ever pondered why you believe what you believe, this book chronicles how  one man made  decisions.

Move on? Resist? What’s the Plan? 2017

February 24, 2017

Me (Robyn) at Vic Falls

Me (Robyn) at Vic Falls

When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi, in 1992,  the country was  undergoing a big shift. There had been a president, who had named himself  life president, and had served, at that time, 26 years:  Hastings ‘Kamuzu’ Banda.  He was s dictator:   he terrorized the country.  He was supported by the Europeans & the USA because he was NOT a communist, and  he  supported apartheid in South Africa. About the only good thing he did for the Malawians was build a  decent road infrastructure.  The school and health care systems were virtually nonexistent.  It was a country run by elites. who went for medical care out of the country.  Malawi was socially stratified:  if you had a decent job and were literate, most likely you employed an illiterate servant to clean your house & probably cook for you. There was no way to improve your lot unless you were (or are) particularly ingenious.

Of course, I worked with elites.  They  two I worked with were honest, and had integrity.  Things were the way they were.  Pick your battles. but I explained to them that  democracy did not bring good government, but representational government.

And here we are, over 30 years later, and our  representational electorate has elected  a guy who lied, who had no plan, who  disrespects women, minorities, the handicapped…. people who are not white Europeans.  It will be interesting to see how  his Orthodox Jewish son-in-law works with the white supremacist  Bannon, who is a close advisor.  Really interesting….but I think they are sell-outs. I have some friends who I really lost respect for.  It’s one thing to think your friends are  uninformed—but to see they voted for the white guy because they believed ‘fake news’ (what we used to call lies….as ‘toxic assets’ were liabilities) and just didn’t like  or trust Hillary.   Was it because she was a woman?  Doesn’t matter—she actually got the popular vote. She won!  But due to the political mumbo jumbo of the electoral college, these former friends who voted for Trump think—really, that HE won!  It’s like saying 5-3=10!  So this is the new reality.

I fear for the environment.  Even the Clean Air & Clean Water acts were signed by Nixon—a Republican.  It is proven that when you offer free birth control and family planning information—the unplanned birth rate goers down, and the community prospers….but our rulers  really have a mindset that women should be punished for having sex—the punishment being raising  children, and this will lead to a surplus in labor.  Our economy can no longer absorb uneducated people—as it can’t absorb the educated ones! What other explanation can you  come up with for  defunding  Planned Parenthood or making abortion illegal?  It’s not like the people who make these laws are fostering or adopting orphans or kids in the child care system.

I also think  the Democratic Congress made the banking industry more accountable. Trump thinks it is too much regulation.  Education would  fix this, as kids would understand more, but with DeVos, they have demonstrated that  making sure kids learn math & science is not a priority.  it’s up to us…in the states…to work this out.

So, as a result of all this, I am much more in touch with my elected officials.  I let them know how I feel about everything.

But  are there  citizen movements emerging to develop strategies to  change it all back….or…?

While   I have big issues with the Affordable Care Act, the problem is with insurance companies, and it is time for Single Payer.  If Trump wasn’t flitting off to Florida every week, there’d be plenty  of money  for  people of all ages to buy into Medicare. You wouldn’t have to—you could still pay for private insurance if you really believe you’d get a better deal….but, having had to  deal with  health insurance a lot recently (Bursitis, and I was bitten by a dog), I can tell you, the government couldn’t make a bigger mess out of what things should cost & how hospitals get paid than the insurance companies have!

If we are going to ‘resist’ and make things better, we must educate ourselves, so we have talking points.  I want everyone who wants to make a difference get  4 books and read them.

  1.  The First is, “Lies My Teacher Told me, ” by James Loewen  You really have to understand American History, first, or you will be ‘condemned to repeat it.  It’s outrageous, what we learned in school and  what we think is real;

2. “Charlie Wilson’s War,”  by  George Crile.  Aaron Sorkin made a pretty funny movie by manipulating facts.  All of what Charlie did, and why,  is sort of ‘funny’ in an ironic way.  It’s important to understands what he did and who influenced him, as he changed history.  You will learn  that he actually armed what became the Taliban, ISIS, and all the others who hate  freedom;

3.  You ought to read a book on economic history.  “The Big Short,” by Michael Lewis, again, was a funny movie.  Not so funny  is that is our history, and he documents it and writes about it in a way you can understand.  Bottom line:  because we are  an innumerate nation, and so few of our schools teach  people real math and budgeting, our neighbors trusted the banks—even thought the numbers were right in front of them. We all lost, big time.

If this seems too convoluted, get a copy of Robert Reich’s book, “Aftershock.”  We could have saved ourselves, but Hillary didn’t make it engaging enough (that, and the Russians and FBI director Comey put the final nails in her coffin);

4.  Finally, how do we actually  get the hearts & minds?  You have to read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point.”  We’re not going anywhere in a hurry unless we know the dynamics of social change.  In simple language,  this book tells us how it’s done.

Book Review: Charlie Wilson’s War, by George Crile.

June 3, 2016

The movie (created by people I would call the ‘dream team’:   director Mike Nichols and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts), came out in 2007… about 9 years ago.  This is the Wikipedia link to the review:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Wilson%27s_War

I came across the book (which I didn’t know existed) while traveling.  Crile was an amazing writer.  This is an absurd, almost unbelievable story. It’s actually a story about how ‘democracy’ works.

Do you remember where you were in the late 1980s?  I was in undergraduate school, working part-time grooming dogs,  and modeling for artists.  I had had a roommate who had volunteered with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.  Related to that, I had an FBI file.  That’s another story, which I blogged about previously: https://disparateinterests.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/how-i-got-my-fbi-file/ .

The reason  my roommate volunteered to work for the Sandinistas was because of our ‘covert’ was in Nicaragua.  President Reagan wanted to  help the ‘contras’—a really ragtag group of’ anti-communists’ with no real strategy to govern the country, fight communism.  Unfortunately for them, in spite of  Reagan and the CIA pouring money into training and paying soldiers, they  really weren’t getting support of the Nicaraguans.   They did not exist at all, but were a contrivance.  Apparently, not only were there  several other political parties besides the  Sandinistas, the Nicaraguans did not fear communism or socialism the way we Americans had been led to.

This only matters because the war was not ‘covert’:  the news media knew of it, as did many Americans, who  pressured Congress to cut off funding.  We all knew Reagan was not a deep thinker, and he allowed key players  in the Republican Party to set policy.  What this has to do with the story of Charlie Wilson, and the war in Afghanistan (also covert—and a secret to us), is that, at one point,  Oliver North/the Reagan Administration asked the CIA and the Appropriations committee to hide money for the Contras in funds earmarked for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan.  :”Wait!” you  shout.  “The mujahedeen?  Aren’t they the people  waging  jihad against us now?  Haven’t they been since…?”  Yep, You got it.

The movie  was written  as a comedy.  Charlie Wilson was a playboy congressman from Texas, whose constituents didn’t ask much from him.  Having served in the navy, and grown up during the cold war, he was  strongly anti-communist.  On the advice of a vivacious socialite, Joanne Herring, who had met the  president of Pakistan ( Zia ul-Haq…who had his predecessor assassinate…), Charlie, who sat on the Appropriations Committee in  the House of Representatives,  got money  appropriated for arms for people in  Afghanistan fighting Russians/Soviets.  The Russians were in Afghanistan to prop up a  socialist government.  As we believed at the time—and it could have possibly been true—according to the domino theory:  if the USSR got a foothold in  south Asia, they could dominate the world.  The reality was—and is—that Afghanistan —as a country—is a contrivance.  It is a geographic parcel of land within a border.  It will probably never be a country with a viable economy.  It is a failed state without ever really being a state.

Who writes our history?  Is it what we get in primary school history books?  Is it journalists who write news  reports and turn them into books?  No matter. At the time the CIA was  buying and providing arms for the Afghan rebels, I was a student working part time.  What I DO remember is that very suddenly, the Soviet Union fell into chaos, and the Berlin wall came down.  I don’t think many Americans understood why this happened.  All we really knew of the Soviet Union was that it was a dictatorship with no press freedom, and only of consequence to us insofar as their influence on other countries.  Crile  gives us a better understanding  of what really happened.

We have to  understand what we  did in the rest of the world.  While the do-gooders took to the Afghanis, who were not united in any way, and have proven to not be unitable, what the do-gooders did—with out tax money, was ignore their human rights record, ignore how they treated  each other—let alone women, and gave them the power to  terrorize us after they finished with the Russians.  As I write this, in early 2016, we have Syrian refugees fleeing the middle East, and a bunch of right-wing politicians calling them all terrorists…meanwhile ignoring the fact that  they supported the cause of all this.

Worse, the front-runner, Hillary Clinton,  the former Secretary of State, continued to allow the Pakistanis to hold us hostage, along with President Obama, so we could kill off Osama bin Ladin and temporarily slow down jihad leaders.  We are not going to stop how foreign aid is doled out unless we  organize for a radical shift in leadership (which is another reason I support Bernie Sanders). The   countries receiving it hire lobbyists, and the  companies manufacturing weapons also have a huge stake in  continuing the status quo.

Book Review: Without Sin, by Spencer Klaw

March 18, 2016

I became interested in the Oneida community when I was in high school, in the late 1960s’s.   I  read a  popular book on sex, and  the physician who wrote it suggested, for the inexperienced, they find members of the Oneida community to initiate them. Of course, they no longer existed.  However,  it got me curious  about the community, as I was interested in Utopian communities.

The Oneidans were a ‘intentional community’ practicing  Christian communalism.  They were organized as a commune, shared labor and  learned different tasks.  They were led by the eccentric , John Humphrey Noyes, who had, in retrospect, a very convoluted Christian view.   They were concentrated around Putney and Oneida , New York.

The most interesting thing about them, I think, was their conscious feminism and advocacy for women. Marriage was allowed, but monogamy was discouraged.  But more, since in the 1860s, there really wasn’t much  birth control available, men were encouraged to practice sexual continence  (not ejaculate), and, as a result, the community controlled its fertility, and there were very few unplanned pregnancies.

Using the writings and letters of Noyes, as well as other members, Klaw has put together a very good description and history  of the community.  They are remembered for ‘free love’, but, in fact,  sex was relatively discreet.  Indeed, the leader, Noyes, seems to have been having more sex than anyone.  That the community  existed for over 30 year (from 1848) and became quite wealthy due to their work and enterprises, is really the remarkable thing.    This is attributed to both the shared labor aspect, as well as the equality of women in  learning job tasks.

They became quite wealthy,and their  best known enterprises were Coates & Clark thread, and Oneida Silverware.   But this was after they had been established for several decades. At the disbanding of the community, these enterprises became corporations.

Why did the  community fold if things were  going so well?  Several reasons: 1.  John Humphrey  Noyes was the undisputed leader, and his word was law.    He was  ultimately threatened with  being charged with sexual crimes and fled the country, moving to Canada.  He never was charged, but leadership after he left becamse hotly disputed.; 2.  It was a religious  commune, and  they discouraged people not fully committed to Christ from joining ; 3.  They  would not work with other communes; 4.  When Noyes left, new leadership  emerged and  members started thinking   about whether they wanted traditional marriage or  how they had been living, and the younger people chose traditional marriage.

In any case, the  commune ‘devolved’ to a corporation, and was in decline for a couple of years until John Noyes son, Pierpont, was able to take the reins  of the silverware company, which exists in some form to this day.

This is a well researched book, and would be  of interest to anyone interested in communes.

 

I always like to include the wikipedia  post because  it is concise and  generally  well documented. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oneida_Community

Book Reviews: “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill”:, and “Life, Love, and Elephants”

October 23, 2015

I love books about animal behavior, and I have  two to recommend to anyone interested  in caring for animals, or who just wants to learn more about animal behavior.

The first is, “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill,”  by Mark Bittner.  Bittner is  (or was) a sort of lost soul/hippie, who  had a hard time finding his way in life. He spent time as a street musician, and lived  off friends and the kindness of strangers, as well as by doing odd jobs, for years, in San Francisco. He lucked into a job as  ‘caretaker’ of a house that he knew would ultimately be sold.  Having a lot of free time on his hands, he noticed a flock of conures, and started feeling them.  From feeding them, he started observing their  behavior, and the dynamics of the flock.  He’s very observant, and an excellent writer.  He realized that the conures are not native birds (to San Francisco), and started learning all he could about them, by going to his local library, bookstores, and seeking out experts.  This is  a great book for any bird lover, and especially for anyone thinking of buying a pet bird.

I had  known about the Sheldrick Trust (of Kenya) because I had seen a feature on their work with orphan animals on the  TV show, 60 Minutes.  This book is an autobiography by Dame  Daphne Sheldrick, who was married to David Sheldrick (who died young of a heart attack).  Her family had  originally  been farmers in South Africa, and were enticed to Kenya.  Yes, her family  were settlers.  It’s a rough life.  However, early on, they were committed to environmental conservation.  She and her first husband went to Tsavo to manage the ‘conservancy’ and address poaching, One thing leads to another,  and she  developed a system to  save orphaned elephants and rhinos.  She saved other orphaned animals, too.  When her husband died suddenly, she was really at a loss, but the Kenyans working in the Wildlife Department, as well as the founders of the African Wildlife Foundation, recognized that she had  worked unpaid along side David for much of her adult life. Kenya needed her.  The Sheldrick WildlifeTrust  not only  nurtures orphaned animals, but also provides environmental education  to the students in communities around the parks.

Both of these books are excellent histories/environmental studies for  animal lovers. The first  book partly addresses how the pet industry impacts wildlife.  The second book addresses the economic as well as social aspects of environmental conservation.

 

Book Reviews: Over My Head, by Claudia L. Osborn

October 2, 2015

Long story short:  in the late 1980’s, physician Claudia Osborn was taking a bike ride with a friend through her neighborhood, when she was hit by a car and sustained massive head trauma.

On the outside, she looked healed and perfectly normal, but it was obvious to people close to her that she was not healed, and could no longer work as a physician.  her  biggest problem was short-term memory.  She could drive a car, but could never remember where she was going, Indeed, she could not follow through on a lot of activities unless she made a list.

She was lucky to find a program that treated people with head trauma. Although she lived in Michigan with a friend,  she was able to  attend a specialized program that attempted to retrain  people how to think and manage their thought processes, based in New York City.

Her long-term memory was still ok, and she still knew  medicine, and she wanted to practice medicine, but she also realized that  she needed a lot more recovery time and  practice  thinking and managing her life. This is what this book is about.

The idea that she  could even write this book, and explain  her healing process as well as she did, is a miracle.  What is more astonishing to me is that she  could not only pay for this specialized treatment (I guess, as a physician, she had excellent insurance), she could also  afford to fly back & forth between Michigan and  New York City for months.

I am sure strides have been made in treating head trauma in the past 30 years, but  recovery is, I am sure, still a slow process.  Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head, can tell us about that.

This book is very well written, and i would suggest it to anyone  who cares about a person who  has had a stroke or any traumatic brain injury.