Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Aviatrix, First Woman Pilot for Hughes Airwest, Mary Bush

I read this book because it came up free on Book Bub, I needed a book set in the past for summer reading and because my dad is a hobbyiest pilot. It was kind of hard, in a heartbreaking way, to read. Now, I don't sympathize with the new wave of "feminists" who are extremists in their demands about women-how they would rather see a quota of females in male-dominated professions than see those women earn those positions. And in some areas, forced women participation is absolutely necessary. I AM a firm believer in equality and people being treated fairly no matter what. I may personally feel my highest calling is in the home, but I am NOT going to judge a woman who chooses to feel differently. That's what this country is all about! Or well, it SHOULD be. It should be about being able to believe how you would like and not be punished for it. For the most part, of course, exceptions are always going to exist (ie we shouldn't let people get away with murder because they believe the person deserved to die).

Mary Bush kept impeccable integrity in the onslaught of shauvanist males in her chosen profession. I read of incidents of rampant pornography, sexual innuendos, public humiliation over intercom to passengers, and other things which led Mary to have very real physical symptoms as a result in working in a hostile working environment. And becuase there were no laws, there was nothing anyoen could legally do for her. How sick! That people wouldn't do the right thing becuase it wasn't legally required of them. It's disgusting. She gave some men-and women-benefit of the doubt. Maybe some people WERE truly innocent and niave enough to not realize that sexual harassment was and is a real issue. I'm disgusted that it still happens today. And I'm disgusted to know that if it's going on towards women, then there will be-even if it's to a lesser extent-sexual harassment towards men as well. The way Mary put it was although they "were morally wrong, were not legally wrong."

One thing I found infinitely amazing was that her psychiatrist gave her an initial dianosis and recommendation for treatment (leaving the profession at least temporarily-which then turned permenant), and then later wrote her a letter apologizing and recongnizing that he believes his assessment and assertions for treatment were wrong. And what he wished he would have recommended for her. It takes a really amazing person who will admit that as a professional he was wrong and wishes to apologize and track down the person in order to do so. Mary was very frank and forgiving. She said people make mistakes, it wasn't his intent to do harm or ill. And my personal note states "What a great assertion, to realize that mistakes are just that, and not intentional sabotage." Mary said of it "Even though, by that time, it was too late [to go back to the profession and fight for equality], I appreciated the gesture. It made me realize that we are all just making our way in this world, doing the best we can. We don't always do the right thing, but it's not that we do the wrong thing intentionally either. We learn, we pick up the pieces, we keep going." I think society as a whole would do better to think this way.

Her faith in God was nice too. A really interesting perspective she shared when going through a crisis of faith was this: "Cristis in faith is normal, though, and i realize that I expected too much from God. he wasn't at fault; my expectations were." I think I'm guilty of this as well at times!

Even though she gave up her dream career, she talks about where one door closes, another opens. She said that had she stayed in the field, she probably would have not chosen to have children and she was able to have 2 boys who greatly enriched her life. She learned the delicate balance between being independant and interdependant, she states: "I've learned that too much independence can be problematic. We need others, too. There's a healthy level of interdependence than people, in general, need to strive for. I was forced to examine my life in order to make sense out of everything that happened. This examination has only made my life better."

As far as writing, Mary isn't a writer, so this book read in a way that was remenisceint of someone just telling their story. There's a lot of technical jargon that she does a good job of explaining, but sometimes it was a little lost on me-even though my dad is a pilot. This could be a stumbling point for some readers. There are photographs at the end of many chapters that are really fun to look at!

It was enlightening to know more about the struggles my forebearing women have been through. I am grateful for their efforts to better the world for me and my daughters. I long for the day when people are no longer judged by race, religion or gender. When everyone is looked at for what they can bring to the table. For those who don't get a job to automatically assume the discrimination victim card because they know discrimination is no longer a thing, but that everyone gets a position based on their merit and ability and nothing else. I don't know if such a world is possible, but I'd love to live to see the day when the mere idea of treating anyone lesser for any reason is as preposturous as the medicinal remedies of the midevil times.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Until We Meet Again, Renee Collins

Oh goodness. I have just finished this book and it is one of the most beautifully tragic love stories! I laughed and cried (oh how I cried! But that might also have to do with the fact that I’m overly emotional facing the fact that my family has to move from the little town I’ve grown to love and all the people around me).

I don’t know if it was the differing genre, but Renee Collin’s writing has come alive for me in a COMPLETELY different way from her first published novel, “Relic”. Because I know Renee in real life, reading “Relic”, I often heard Renee’s voice while reading. I expected it to happen again. It didn’t. Cass (Cassandra) has SUCH a strong voice, that even though I expected to hear Renee’s voice, from page one I didn’t. And Lawrence…..well, let’s just say he’s every girl’s dream (insert over-dramatic sigh here)!

But I’m getting ahead of myself…Let me give you the synopsis on the back cover:

“Country clubs and garden parties. The last thing Cassandra wants is to spend the summer before her senior year marooned in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. Cass craves drama and adventure, which is hard to find when she just feels stuck. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on her family’s private beach, claiming that it is his property-and that the year is 1925-Cass is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making. As she searches for answers in the present, Cass discovers a truth that thrusts Lawrence’s life into jeopardy. It won’t matter which century he is from if he won’t live to see tomorrow. Desperate to save the boy who’s come to mean everything to her, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.”

It’s a modern day Gatsby with a MUCH happier(?) satisfying (?) ending, despite the tragedies that occur within. And it also felt reminiscent of a Nicholas Sparks novel love story, geared towards the YA audience. And of COURSE there are mobsters. There are a couple things that are left unresolved, but they are fairly insignificant and I’m probably just weird to be wondering about them.

The teen logic and thought process is authentic-even within the era of each character. The 1925 lingo is almost cliché, but in the most endearing way. The questions of time travel are ever present, trying to figure out what will and won’t have a drastic effect on now….the idea that time exists concurrently and parallel….that’s always been mind boggling to me. I want to know HOW IT WORKS! But it’s not real, so how on Earth can it be logically explained? It can’t! I mean, is the evidence of one thing proof of an event? Or can everything be changed in the blink of an eye if something did or did not occur? But don’t we have little bits of our lives that are like that? Little coincidental, seemingly insignificant events that later prove to have life altering consequences in our lives. For example, when I was 11 and starting 5th grade, we were given the option to start band. I had this burning desire to be in band. I was inexplicitly drawn to music, having BEGGED my parents to let me take piano lessons when I was 8, and now I wanted more! But I had to choose an instrument. At first I wanted alto sax because I loved jazz, but I also loved the sound of the flute. When I realized that piano was a jazz band instrument, my dilemma was solved. I’d play flute in band and piano in jazz band. And because I chose flute and then later became a music major, I met and became friends with a girl named Brandy. Who let me stay with her at her aunt’s house one week in the summer to attend a summer flute clinic with my flute professor. And Brandy took me out every night with her friends from high school. Where I met a guy named Cory. Who would later become my best friend and husband. Who knew picking the flute would have led to all that?? What would my life be like if I went back in time and chose a different instrument to play?? So many of the things in time travel certainly SEEM plausible. If time travel were to indeed exist J But I digress again.

The other thing I loved about this book is how self-centered Cass starts out and to see how she evolves. She may still be a bit egocentric at the end-but what teen isn’t? But her view of life, of love, of what it means to LIVE changes so drastically that you can’t help but know she will live a much deeper and richer life because of it. When you have to pour yourself into someone else’s cause, you’re bound to change. Even if you think you’re doing it for yourself more than anyone else.

There’s also the element of misjudging someone. We don’t always know what motivates people to do what they do. And unless we know that motivation, then maybe we ought to withhold harsh judgments. Of course, you’ll need to make judgments to decide whether or not to associate yourself with certain people to ensure your safety or whatnot, but we cannot judge an individual unless we have the whole story-and you usually don’t get the whole story.

It was so refreshing to have a single, stand alone novel to read that’s not a series, no sequels (and you don’t feel like it NEEDS a sequel either). Would to the powers that be that this would turn into a film. It would be so AMAZING!

I don’t know a lot of actress names….but I’ll try to pull up some who are dopplegangers for my imagination at least based on looks.

Cass: http: Maddie Hasson//www.imdb.com/name/nm4487976/
Claire Junlien http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4903197/ (photo 17)

Lawrence: This one is proving MOST difficult…
Asa Butterfield (with dark contacts) http://www.imdb.com/media/rm283246080/nm2633535?ref_=nm_phs_md_2
Gabriel Basso (with died hair, he’s close to the right age) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2773059/
Liam James (with dark contacts) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0416699/

Fay: (this one requires more imagination since you have to picture current actresses with 1920’s hair and make up….and the voice would need to be just right too) Phoebe Tonkin http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2100081/
Maia Mitchell http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2314596/

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Graduation Day, Joelle Charbonneau

The 3rd and final book in the Testing Trilogy.

It was pretty good, but after having read such livid dialog in the Unwind series, I felt like Cia's voice was a little flat. Or maybe she's just been through so much it became that way.

I'm ok with some of the ending, but there are too many unanswered questions. I feel like there needs to be another book, but it wouldn't be exciting, just information, so there probably won't be another installment.

The BIGGEST thing that this book does is make you question 2 things. 1: do the ends justify the means, even if the means are against everything you believe in (for the most part)? and 2: The world is a very, VERY gray area. Which makes for interesting philosophical debate....because even in Christian Scriptures, there have been times when even murder has been a necessary means to an end, even endorsed by the God who said "Thou shalt not kill." There are people who would like to draw a line for everything. I am definitely a black and white thinker, but there is ALWAYS an exception to the rule.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
One aspect just BARELY touched on is medical/scientific studies on humans. We have a lot of controversy over using animals for testing, but a LOT of medical advancements that keep people alive are only here because of animal testing. If test subjects are treated in as humane a way as possible, many people feel the ends justify the means. And after all that, we have humans volunteer to be test subjects for medicinal trials when they have run out of other options. In the Testing Society, there have been MANY issues with mutations due to radiation. We find out some students are "Redirected" to become a resource. Where they are purposefully exposed to radiation and have to report back what they are experiencing in order for the Dr's an scientists to hopefully find a cure for the mutations and help the other people who have hopelessly mutated and were "turned out" to basically fend for themselves in a semi-controlled environment. And because the results are promising, Cia actually thinks that it's worth continuing-just under slightly different protocols. I don't think any of those people ought to be subjected against their will. But there are NOT enough people in the "secret colony" to explain ALL the "Redirections" mentioned. Which was a bit frustrating to me.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

UnEnchanted, Chanda Hahn

This is my "first book in a series" that I got because it came up on BookBub as a free book the other day. Super quick read, entertaining, and an intriguing premise.

So the idea is that Mina Grime (really Grimm) is a descendant of the Grimm Brothers. They got involved with some of the Fae (fairy creatures) as they collected fairy tales. They are cursed to complete, or live through, ALL of the tales in order to defeat them and send Fae people back to their own realm and leave humans alone forever. If they were unsuccessful, their descendants would be chosen in their stead. It's never passed to a female descendant before. The last person, Mina's father, died in the quest to complete the tales. I have no idea how many books are in this series, but it could be fairly unlimited as there are over 200 tales.

It wasn't the most sophisticated writing I've read, and there were times when I thought something was over done, but now I'm wondering if it was over done on purpose because of the spell/curse that was at work? One thing I did like was how the fairy tales that Mina has to re-live are modernized and morphed into things that resemble the here and now. Because she's forced to see things differently, I can imagine that readers of these books will hopefully learn to look at situations with several angles of perception. That does a lot of good for anyone to see things through another's eyes or even just look for another solution to a problem.

I'll probably pick up more of the series every once in awhile when I need something quick and easy to read.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Reader's ADD....the Adult Summer Reading Program

I am SO scattered with my reading right now! I want to read one at a time, but I always want to fill in my Adult Summer Reading Program Bingo Card! I know I can sub 1 hour of reading for ANY of the squares, but I view the squares as a challenge! Read a new genre! (Wait, is there a genre I HAVEN'T read? Contacted my editor friend, Wuxia it is! It's Chinese Martial Arts...other than that I've pretty much dappled in EVERY other genre).

So I'm in the middle (or end) of several series (The Selection, Unwind, The Testing-I'm on the last one right now). I need to read the first book in a series. So I downloaded a freebie on my Kindle (UnEnchanted), it's short-only 24 chapters, 200 some odd kindle pages. Not 1,000% impressive yet, but it will fill in a square! But Cinder (my original choice for a book 1) just got to the library (I thought it'd be on hold longer). Read a book published in the year you were born (Thank you Goodreads for your suggestions of popular books published in any given year!) I picked one written about Nikola Tesla (because my husband is obsessed with the new Tesla vehicles and while I am NOT a car person, when I test drove that car, I had FUN!). It's a bit longer than I'd anticipated, but I can do it! Download and listen to an audio book (Ella Enchanted, although I'm only in part 2 of 5, it still counts, it didn't say to FINISH the book, right? Plus I've read hours of other books to more than satisfy it, and I DID do what it said....), Read a "classic" by anyone's standards. I'm reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (well, re-reading for me, I read it in high school for a book report) out loud with my older daughter (even though she complains the language is hard to understand, not the King Arthur court language, but Mark Twain and that style of writing). I'm wondering if I can have one book count for two squares because another one says to read a book set in the past, and the Twain book would do that, most of my other books are futuristic, post apocolyptic, dystopian. I JUST finished The Widow of Larkspur Inn set in the 1800s, but I'm not sure I should count that because technically I read it BEFORE the summer reading program started.....I have never been in the middle of SO many books at one time! I knew I had literary ADD, and I put things on hold and think that they'll come in at a nice steady one at a time pace, but that's NEVER how it goes, is it? It's always feast or famine. Ah...and I'm trying to finish it all before I move. Yeah. We have to move. Again. After we were so CERTAIN we wouldn't have to anymore. But we're going back to Boise. So I want to collect on my prizes here and then go to Boise and get THEIR summer reading program and collect prizes from them too! It's the little things. Hopefully I can keep up on here as well!

Happy Summer Reading!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Heir, Kiera Cass

I was really excited for this book. I was a little disappointed. But I think it was because I ADORED America Singer and who she became. And her daughter......is a very flawed character. Where America focused outward, Eadlyn (Eed-lyn) focuses inward. She has a very clear idea of what SHE thinks a female ruler looks like, but it pushes people away and makes her seem off-putting. *However, I MUST give props to Cass for giving Eadlyn a TOTALLY different voice from America.

But then I can't help but wonder something else. Something I worry about in my own parenting experience. I grew up without a ton of money. I never cared about it. I never even realized it. I went school clothes shopping at Good Will and had no clue that that wasn't the norm. But as I grew up and I understood the implications of that, I realized that the experience really shaped who I was. I grew up to be grateful for possessions because I didn't have a ton. I'm sure I had a lot more than others, but that was mostly because they were hand me downs. I learned about saving money and managing money. I learned about being frugal. But I've grown up, I've got kids of my own and I can't help but want to give them what I never got: special experiences at a young age. I got to take piano lessons starting at age 8 because we found a teacher who came to our house to teach us and charged $5/lesson. It wasn't  until later in life when my mom was also working that I learned flute and then desired private lessons on that as well. And I did sports that required special shoes or uniform fees. I always felt a little guilty for how much it cost. But I always wished I could have taken dance or gymnastics or ice skating (any olympic sport, really!) but missed that window since I couldn't pursue it from the moment I could walk. So even though sometimes we've had grandparents pay, my older daughter has been able to do an activity since she was 3. It was dance for 4 years, then it's been art lessons for the past 3. My current 4 year old has not made a decision yet, and we may or may not need help with affording that at this point. But we make sacrifices and ask for help. I don't think we've ever spent our own money on a full new school wardrobe in the 6 years my daughter's been in school. Grandparents have always been able to take care of that for us. And it's not at the Good Will.

Sometimes I'm wondering if I'm doing my kids any favors. Is Eadlyn's off-putting personality due to the isolation she's grown up in? The fact that she's never had to work to contribute to family finances so she could eat a decent meal like her mother did growing up? That she has no real concept of the struggles the people of her nation are experiencing? She only has reports to read. And paperwork to complete. She feels that strength and independence can only be achieved alone. So of course she HATES the idea of being part of a Selection. She doesn't have time or patience for romance. She doesn't even see the POINT or VALUE of such an emotion. She canNOT be vulnerable in ANY way. And to love is to be vulnerable. She constantly mis-judges people and makes snap judgements. She keeps thinking she's fixing things when it nearly always backfires. She has no idea how to have fun. She doesn't know how to have a meaningful relationship with anyone aside from her twin brother. She's narrow minded and shrinks away from any discomfort. Is that a product of a pampered life? With no exposure to anything unpleasant? Is THAT what creates such a girl? It makes me think that I ought to subject my kids to discomfort every now and again. Because it's good for you. It makes you a better person to broaden their perspective and push the limits of what they think is good. They complain about hiking, but I'm going to make them do it more, so they can appreciate that they CAN. Their physical bodies are perfect enough to do it and the creations of the Earth can be appreciated better that way. They hate doing chores. But I'm not going to have them grow up thinking that chores are somehow beneath them. I don't enjoy chores, but every now and then I get a certain satisfaction in being able to say that I did something myself. That I learned that hard work-even if it's mundane-has made me a better person. That fun is not just found in the absence of work, but is made sweeter by earning it, and sometimes you can even have fun WHILE you work!

Let me warn you that this book ends on a BIG, HUGE cliffhanger. Ugh! I didn't realize it was turning into another series! Eadlyn is starting to realize what a prick she can be-or at least see how she could be perceived as being one. She's starting to look at people for being PEOPLE. Even her 14 year old brother Kaden seems to have a better handle on what it would take to not only become a good leader, but a beloved leader. He would get out and get to know the people and find out their actual needs and wants. Eadlyn thinks that's a waste of time. Or at the very least inefficient. I really hope she evolves to be more like her mother. I wish her parents would tell her more about their history-the country, themselves, their selection. I think that also contributes to her ignorance of the way the world works. I think her parents are trying to protect her but in so doing are doing a great disservice to her. She's 18 now and I think she could handle more of the truth beyond what she learned in history class. Maybe all our kids could benefit from knowing more about our pasts, to help prevent them from being entitled today.

UnSouled, Neal Shushterman

Ahhh! To saga continues. There are twists and turns that are pretty crazy. Excellent split narratives again. Starkey is the guy who makes you understand WHY people think Unwinding is a good idea. Nelson is there to make your skin crawl. More back story. More with Cam. A glimpse into Lev's time before he ended up at the graveyard.

And the political undertones. WOW. All signs point to the same organization playing BOTH sides of the Unwinding issue. They pay for pro and con ads. All under different names of course. Really makes you think. Oh, and there was a DEFINITE stab at the pharmaceutical industry. At least I think so. Part of what keeps Unwinding alive is the profitability. This has been an accusation of the pharmaceutical industry for years. My father-in-law works for a government national laboratory (he does project management not experiments) and he's told us that they've discovered a sound and fairly solid cure against cancer. But that the results are being suppressed or belittled because the pharmaceutical industry does not want to lose money on what they make with cancer treatments. He's even gone so far as the accuse that the American Cancer Society doesn't really want a cure. Because a cure would mean they'd become obsolete. Now, I don't know anyone personally who is on the ACS board or anything, but I know people in my personal life would be THRILLED to have no reason to have Relay's for Life, or Race for the Cure, or the Susan G Komen (sp?) Foundation around anymore. Because honestly, there are still other things we don't understand or are close to finding cures for that they could all just totally shift their focus if they needed a cause. But it's true, the one word that puts fear into any industry at all is: obsolescence. And so it is with the industry of Unwinding. There was a poignant part, where the book talks about how the industry first created want, which then turns into a need.

I think this a very prominent thing in our society. How many times do we let advertising affect us. Let's take gluten intolerance for example. Let me say upfront that this is NOT to marginalize anyone with Celiac Disease or gluten allergy, or any diagnosed issues with the substance. There was a guy (Gibson, I believe his name is) who did a study that basically showed that gluten sensitivity existed. BOOM goes the GF market. He followed up about year ago with a study done where he grouped self-diagnosed gluten sensitive people into 3 groups and exposed them to 3 types of gluten exposure. High, moderate/low, and no. ALL groups reported the SAME amount of GI distress, although none of them knew what level of exposure they were given. He has several ideas of what COULD be causing GI issues other than gluten. And wouldn't we want to know the REAL culprit? So we could eliminate that? But science "proves" both sides http://www.medicaldaily.com/gluten-sensitivity-isnt-celiac-rigorous-study-finds-evidence-sensitivity-without-323718  http://www.buzzworthy.com/science-proves-gluten-sensitivity-isnt-real-people-are-just-whiners/

Maybe the problem is the people involved? Maybe one study used self proclaimed sensitivity vs. a sensitivity by blood test result? I have no doubt that there are people sensitive to gluten, just as there are those who are lactose intolerant, etc. But I think for a majority of people, there is no reason to avoid something. Unless you want to support the multi-billion dollar GF industry. Just for fun. Or to be a food martyr (I've met people like that). But I've found blogs where people (who I have no way of verifying credentials if they even HAVE any other than quoting what someone else said) who basically tell you why Gluten is basically a poison for our systems. Then WHY has wheat been used as a staple in many diets from the earliest records of man without it causing HUGE population issues? I'd find it more plausible that a pesticide or certain genetic interference was the problem rather than gluten itself. But anyway, it was just an example of people just feeding into what they THINK they need. Since I believe a LOT of people do self-diagnosis online and don't always check their sources instead of going to a medical professional (or maybe with the "affordable" care act, they simply can't afford to seek medical advice on the subject, that's definitely the case with some people I know, OR the medical professionals they go to can't be bothered to find the root of their problems, as was the case with another friend who found a physician who would REALLY look at her symptoms and what do you know? She's got a thyroid disease after all). So all these conflicting stories and "proofs" are doing no one any good. It's taking credibility away from people with REAL issues on one side and pushing an otherwise corner market into the limelight and straining people's budgets. GF stuff is NOT cheap. One reason why I think a lot of people are self-diagnosed is the evidence of EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN being labeled as GF. Milk-it's GF! Fruit-GF!! Veggies-GF!! Boneless, skinless chicken breast-GF!!! And seriously, companies who slap that label on it feel justified to charge MORE to "prove" to buyers that it's GF. But guess what? Milk, produce and meat never contained gluten-EVER! But how would you know that if you were just kinda doing your own thing? I have friends who have serious gluten issues, including a friend who was diagnosed with Celiac. I've done a TON of research into what does and doesn't contain gluten as well as things that tend to contain trace amounts or items that are frequently processed on the same equipment as items with gluten. People with Celiac are nearly as sensitive to gluten as someone with an allergy to peanuts, so you've got to be really careful about things like that. If someone TRULY had issues, they wouldn't need signs on produce and dairy to know it's safe.

Anyway, I digress. UnSouled takes more real life creepy accounts of things to further push home the point that our society is SO primed for Unwinding it's scary. All we're short of it is the neuro-grafting technology....and I hope we NEVER achieve it. I've often thought in the recent past that if necessity is the mother of all invention, an author's imagination is the father. So many things started as an imaginary idea and then became truth because someone decided to see if they could make that imaginary idea a reality. http://www.tested.com/tech/concepts/460223-futurists-were-right-10-predictions-made-sci-fi-writers-came-true/  http://listverse.com/2014/06/26/10-modern-ideas-predicted-by-science-fiction-a-century-ago/  A few things are duplicated between those two links.

I'm anxiously awaiting reading the last book. I have several others that I need to read first to satifsy my adult summer reading program, so it's on the back burner for a little bit, but I'm SO hoping that Unwinding becomes a thing of the past and that Proactive Citizenry gets what's coming to them!