Posted in Uncategorized

#20BooksOfSummer22 ~ Psychic Blues

cover: Psychic Blues by Mark Edward

Psychic Blues: Confessions of a Conflicted Medium by Mark Edward

I enjoy reading books by authors who obviously love the subject they’re writing about. Their enthusiasm comes through and makes the stories they tell compelling, even if it’s a topic I’m not that interested in.

This is not one of those books.

Mark Edward dislikes magic and magicians, psychics and mentalists, and actually seems to dislike people in general.

I will admit to a couple things at this point. I don’t believe in psychic phenomena and I don’t like psychics and mentalists either. I know it’s all a con. I decided to read Psychic Blues to get the perspective of a psychic who admits as much. I’ve read a number books by magicians about the deception involved in magic, but magicians generally retain a certain amount of respect for their audience.

Edward has no respect for the people he’s conning. Not for the people who called in to the Psychic Friends Network in the 90s or the celebrities he’s given tarot readings to at parties. He doesn’t call his sitters rubes, but he has nothing but disdain for the entire process. I’m not sure why the word “conflicted” is used in the extended title of this book. Edward is never conflicted about taking advantage of people, only about whether it’s actually worth his time and effort. He never worries about whether what he’s doing is harming someone.

He does seem to think fairly well of himself, but he’s not that interesting of a subject.

This is book #3 for 20 Books of Summer.

Posted in Uncategorized

24-Hour Readathon October 2021

Image for Oct 2021 Readathon

. . . Sunday, 02:30

Nope, I didn’t make it any longer than usual! I was toast by 2:30.

Closing Survey

  1. How would you assess your reading overall? It went well! I still haven’t gotten to The Ceremonies, but that was a stretch goal.
  2. Did you have a strategy, and if so, did you stick to it? Stuck to it pretty well. Maybe, I need a new strategy, maybe I’m just fine reading, like, 18 hours.
  3. What was your favorite snack? Totino’s Party Pizza was so good!
  4. Did you add any new books to your TBR/wishlist after seeing what everyone else is reading? I did not. I’m trying to be very good about not adding to my TBR (she says the week before Nonfic November).
  5. What was your favorite book or experience from this readathon? I love Lavie Tidhar’s Judge Dee stories. They’re fun creepy mysteries, perfect for the season!

Saturday, 21:00–Sunday, 01:00

Worked well earlier so I read another Clive Barker story, followed by the 3rd (and sadly last (for now?)) Judge Dee tale. My hands haven’t been super happy with holding books so in a complete change of plan (shocking, I know!) I’m listening to A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher and do some light EQ2 gaming.

Saturday, 17:00–21:00

(I was a little late with the last update and early with this one . . .) Finished “Floating Water,” “The Skins of the Fathers” by Clive Barker (From Books of Blood), and “Judge Dee and the Three Deaths of Count Werdenfels” by Lavie Tidhar. No snacks in this period, but a diet Mountain Dew toward the beginning and a shot of cinnamon whiskey in the recent past. Alcohol is a gambit during Readathon. I hope it will loosen me up, but it could just put me to sleep.

Some Stuff I’ll Probably Read

Saturday, 13:00–17:00

Finished Danse Macabre by Stephen King and then read my Deal Me In story for the week: “Red Sky At Morning” by Alanna Smith. I also ended up watching a game of ultimate frisbee while reading and eating dinner (a Party Pizza, hash-browns, and a Sleepy Dog Brewery peanut-butter stout). Started “Floating Water” by Koji Suzuki before going out and throwing a disc myself with my husband.

Saturday, 09:00–13:00

I got back up at about 9:15. I’ve read 69 pages of Danse Macabre and am pretty close to finishing it. Food & drink: left over piece of pizza, a pear, second cup of coffee, a diet Dr. Pepper Cream Soda, and lots of water. Also took out the recycling.

Saturday, 05:00–09:00

Finished the last three chapters of The Sundial by Shirley Jackson (47 pages). Had donuts and a cup of coffee. And then I went back to bed!

Opening Event Survey

I “slept” terribly, but here I am at 04:54! I foresee a nap in my future.

  1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Tempe, AZ
  2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Probably the Judge Dee stories I’ve bookmarked.
  3. Which snack are you most looking forward to? A Totino’s Party Pizza for “lunch.”
  4. Tell us a little something about yourself! I really enjoy playing ultimate frisbee and right now I’m the oldest woman playing in our local rec league.
  5. If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? Well, I wanted to go to bed early, but I’m a terrible sleeper!

Friday

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon starts at 5am on Saturday for me. Will I be up that early? Probably not. But we’ll see. I have nothing going on this Saturday, not even a football to watch/listen to, so it’s pretty much perfect.

Posted in Uncategorized

Last Word On It

On my birthday last year, 116 people died of COVID-19 in Arizona. Coming about two weeks after Thanksgiving, this was near the beginning of the third wave in AZ. For a while, December 14th was the date with the highest reported number of deaths in AZ, surpassing even the summer peak in July. This was at the beginning of a trend that lasted through Christmas and well into the New Year.

116 people died of COVID-19, in Arizona, on my birthday and that breaks my heart. While I was celebrating making it through another year, so many other people were dealing with fresh grief. I don’t know any of the people who died on my birthday, but I imagine a few of them were like me: a wife, a daughter, a sister, an in-law, a friend.

116 people died of COVID-19, in Arizona, on my birthday and that also makes me very angry. More angry and disappointed than I, a social optimist, have ever been because many of those deaths were preventable.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve wanted only two things. One was to not get sick. The other was to do all I could to not contribute to other people getting sick. To not contribute to other people dying.

The CDC recommendation was to social distance and wear a mask. I stayed home. Not everyone has as lucky circumstances as mine, but I wasn’t needed anywhere. Did I want to go places? Of course. I’m not a social person, but I missed shopping trips, the library, the movies, playing ultimate frisbee. I missed holidays and I missed special events. I wore a mask when I did go out.

And the CDC recommendation worked. As long as people followed the recommendation. But by Thanksgiving, people were tired. Following guidelines had become even more of a political thing. Why should people’s freedoms be curtailed? And on my birthday, 116 people died of COVID-19 in Arizona.

As of my writing this today, an estimated 600,000 people have died in the US of COVID-19. I don’t remotely know how anyone is okay with that when we had recommendations to control the spread.

The CDC recommendation now is to get vaccinated. In the United States, we have three safe, effective vaccine options. Even if you’ve had COVID-19, the recommendation is to get vaccinated. A vaccine trains your immune system better than illness. A vaccinated population stops the spread of the virus; if the spread is stopped, the virus no longer has the opportunity to develop variants. A vaccinated population also protects its vulnerable members, people who have immune deficiency problems due to other illnesses and treatments.

And a vaccinated population can get back to doing all the things maybe you didn’t do in 2020, if you followed the recommendations. One of the things I did in 2020 was realize that 116 people died on my birthday in Arizona of a disease we let run rampant.

We can stop COVID-19 from going further. Get vaccinated.

Posted in History, Uncategorized

Tales of an Unwieldy Library, pt. 3

Getting Distracted Along the Way

Photo by Guilherme Rossi on Pexels.com

Cataloging the books in the backroom/office has been a slower process than dealing with the rest of the apartment and the books I have in “storage” for the following reasons:

  1. Shelves: I don’t have many shelves and the ones I do have are often double stacked. Unshelving and reshelving books is a pain.
  2. Dust: I open the windows often and Arizona is a very dusty place. Books in boxes in the closet were not surprisingly not dusty.
  3. Desk Space: I lugged the closet books to the kitchen, which is right next to my big, beautiful frontroom desk, where I have my laptop set up. In the backroom/office, I have a very nice dual monitor desktop, but very little space for shifting books about. I end up with stacks on the floor, which is less convenient.
  4. Harlan Ellison: I was going along, adding books to Library Thing. I had worked through the paperbacks in the shoe boxes, my collection of Richard Laymon books, my collection of magic history and magic-related fiction. No problems. But then I reached my Harlan Ellison collection. And I realized, I had no idea what of Ellison’s I have and haven’t read. I have collections and anthologies and omnibus editions. I’ve read a few volumes straight through, but which? And are those stories collected elsewhere too? Maybe I should just read all of the books I have. Maybe I should try reading all of Ellison’s works (that I own) in roughly chronological order. Which would be a hassle to determine if I didn’t have the internet. Several spreadsheets later, I still haven’t gotten past my meager stack of Harlan Ellison books, but I have a new reading project.

Fine, it’s not entirely Ellison’s fault. I love my books. I love making lists. I had until now avoided getting too distracted by deciding what I wanted to read next. (Spoiler alert: It’s never the book I’m currently reading.) In this case, I couldn’t resist the detour.

Books cataloged: 632
Books unread, ± Harlan Ellison: 333

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes, Uncategorized

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

#AtoZChallenge 2021 Theme Reveal

Horror Movies A to Z

Ever since last April, I’ve been looking forward to celebrating Halfway to Halloween. I had randomly decided to do an unofficial horror movie A to Z challenge last year and late in the month realized that April is actually halfway to October.

This year, I’m officially joining the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge and will post another horror movie A to Z along with a few other Halfway to Halloween festivities. I plan to stick to movies that are new to me, but I might include an old favorite or two if I’m feeling burnt out.

I have started my list of “maybes” over at Letterboxd. If you have any horror movie recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

Posted in Uncategorized

{Book} Bedbugs

Book cover for Bedbugs

Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters

Long ago, I won the second book in Ben H. Winter’s Last Policeman trilogy. I had not read the first one, don’t usually get involved in series, and don’t have much taste for apocalypse literature. But I’d heard from readers I trust that The Last Policeman was pretty good. And it was! Hank Palace, the titular last policeman, quickly became one of my favorite characters ever. Eventually, I was pretty bummed that there are only three books and no much chance of sequels, because, well, apocalypse. I promised myself that I’d visit more of Winters’ works. Fast forward to 2020 and Cathy @ 746 Books mentioning Bedbugs.

The strength of Winters’ writing is his relatable characters. While I am not a mother or as upwardly mobile as Susan, our protagonist, I could relate to her anxieties. She’s trying to be an artist while her husband works, often feels guilty for getting her way, and is occasionally overwhelmed by the emotional labor of being a wife. Both of Susan and I are more neurotic than we’d like to admit. For me, Susan is a character fairly grounded in reality.

So, when the world around her starts to skew, I was with her, wondering what the heck was going on. Alas, Winters doesn’t quite stick the landing here. Things get weird, and then sort of mundane, but also maybe still weird. Are there bedbugs? Or just badbugs? I have other questions that I will avoid asking for the sake of spoilers. Still, this was a creepy, unsettling tale. I’m glad Phoenix rates as #45 of Orkin’s Top Bedbug Cities.

Posted in Uncategorized

Down the TBR Hole 31

This is a meme started by Lia at Lost in a Story. The “rules” are:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m modifying this a little since my to-read shelf is a mess of books that are mostly in storage. Instead, I’m going to look at my wishlist—all those books I add on a whim during my travels around the book blogging community—and weed out the ones that don’t quite sound as good now. The “keepers” I’m going to look for at online libraries or add to my Amazon wishlist.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

This book is over 20 years-old, but I feel that it’s probably the foundational work of skepticism that should be more widely read. That said, I haven’t read it! KEEP.

HOUDINI UNBOUND: Espionage in Russia

HOUDINI UNBOUND: Espionage in Russia by David Saltman

I really do enjoy books about magic history, but man, am I over Houdini. GO.

You Will Not Have My Hate

You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris

This is very possibly an important book about not letting one tragic event dictate life. But I’m going to be honest: I’m never going to get to it. I’m never going to be in the mood for this book. GO.

Beartown (Beartown, #1)

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

I’m kind of on the fence about this one. For some reason, I thought it was nonfiction. But it’s by the guy who wrote A Man Called Ove, which I haven’t read, but is liked by pretty much everyone I know. I think I’ll KEEP Beartown for now.

Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City

Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City by Kate Winkler Dawson

I will also admit that I’m a sucker for a historical serial killer, especially one that takes advantage of outside circumstances. KEEP.

Anyone have any experience with any of these? Any arguments for KEEP or GO?