Friday, October 16, 2015

SCCCLD October Challenge

In keeping with the season, 
October's Challenge
 is to read a 

Horror Book!

Well, least a scary story.   
We won't judge, if that souffle cookbook really scares you, go for it!

And if you survive the challenge, and post your review, you will be rewarded with a bonus point.

For ideas check out the horror list on Novelist.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rat Queens (Vol. 1) : Sass and Sorcery / Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch / 108 pgs.

Not even sure where to start with this one.  So, "The Rat Queens" is a pack made up of four tough-as-nails, rude, loud-mouthed, booze-guzzling, bar fighting, female warriors; who live on the fringe of society and are paid to help keep even worse elements out of the town.  There is Hannah the Elven Mage and pack leader, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief.  In this introductory story, someone is killing off the gangs that are protecting the town.  Will the Rat Queens discover and stop the assassin in time? and who is really behind this plot to oust the gangs?

What you get with this comic is something sassy, funny, rude, irreverent with strong Female lead characters and a lot of gore and violence.  I really enjoyed this new series and if you don't mind language, violence, drug humor, and adult situations in your graphic novels then this is one to pick up!!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Invasion of the Tearling/Johansen/515

Image result for invasion of tearling
Invasion of the Tearling is 2nd book of Queen of the Tearling trilogy by Erika Johansen. The story is set three centuries after an environmental catastrophe has pretty much destroyed everything. A small group has emerged from the "crossing" and finally the true queen has come of age and is ready to take her throne. Nineteen year old Kelsea Glynn has been hidden away and must reclaim her mother's throne. She is trying to save her kingdom from forces of corruption and  dark magic. We basically get two stories in this second book in the series as Queen Kelsea is drawn into the world of Lily, a young woman fighting for her life before the crossing. Even though the world building is confusing in these books, and at first I did not like the flashbacks to Lily's world, I found myself drawn into that story as well.

Siren's Call/Jayne Castle/323 pgs.

This is another entry in the Rainshadow series. Rainshadow is an island, in the future, that contains a lot of paranormal energy. Rafe Coppersmith has been sent to Rainshadow to clean out the catacombs which contain creatures whose songs lure men to their deaths. He has hired Ella Morgan, a Siren talent, to assist him in this endeavor. Of course, they are immediately attracted to each other, but try to fight it--they have bigger issues and mysteries to solve. It's an entertaining addition to the series, and a fast read.

Crown of Midnight/Sarah J. Maas/490 pgs.

This is the second entry in the Throne of Glass series, and the action picks up from where the first book left off. Assassin Celaena Sardothien is now the King's Champion--she is serving an evil king, but one who holds the key to her freedom. She realizes that the king also has many secrets. In trying to unravel the mysteries behind the king's power, Celaena comes up against the question of who to trust. It's a wonderful series, and I look forward to the next installment!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The 2014 - 2015 Reading Season has Ended!!

Congratulations Team, we have Read a Total Of:

786 Books
263,240 Pages

An Average of 335 pages per Book!!

Okay, so we may not have won 1st (or even 2nd) place in the State Challenge, but a new season brings in Fresh Blood, a re-commitment to the Challenge; and there are more books being published so we have MORE titles to add to our ever growing "TO READ" list!

So let's Officially Declare the 2015-2016 Reading Season to be the 

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Red Collar/Jean-Christophe Rufin (translated by Adriana Hunter)/158 pgs. (August challenge)

The year is 1919, and a young hero is being held prisoner in the small town of Berry, France. A judge is sent to question the prisoner, and ultimately determine his fate. All the while, a mutt dog keeps vigil outside the prison. It's a beautifully written short novel,with suspense, mystery, and one that keeps the reader wondering what the prisoner has done to land in prison. It's an intriguing story, and highly recommended. Just as an aside--the author is one of the founders of Doctors Without Borders.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Night Gardener / Jonathan Auxier / 350 pages / Action Adventure Set in Another Country Sept. Challenge

I could not help feeling that this most awesome, creepy, fairy-tale-feeling story is a reverse of The Giving Tree.  Two Irish orphans - Kip, crippled but with Courage, and Molly, accept a position as servants at Windsor Manor in England. The house is most unusual as it is built around an old gnarled tree.  Likewise the inhabitants and their circumstances are out of the ordinary.  Behind a green door within the house, wishes may be granted through a knot hole of the tree...but at an astonishing cost.  The tree's enigmatic caretaker makes nightly excursions, leaving mud and leaves and an untoward feeling in his wake.  The wisdom and courage of an ancient storyteller, Hester Kettle; Molly's determination; and the bravery of both Kip and Alastair inspire and succeed at the seemingly impossible.  The ending is eminently satisfying.
"The Night Gardener is a spine-chilling fable in the tradition of Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe."  I highly recommend the audio version with it delightful Irish accent read by Beverly A. Crick.

"It's a bad tale that tells all the answers."
"A story helps folks face the world when it frightens them.  A Lie does the opposite. It helps you hide."

Mark Twain Award Preliminary Nominee 2016-17

The Nethergrim / Matthew Jobin / 356 pages / Action Adventure Set in Another Country Sept. Challenge

'The world is not a story, or if it is, the plot is very strange."  Tristan, the fourth son of a lord, could testify to such.  On his sixteenth birthday, he left home with his trusty steed, Juniper, looking for good deeds that needed doing.  The boy and his steed developed a reputation and "rumor of their coming sent awful things scurrying into their holes."  When Tristan became disenchanted with this life, he pledged his oath to a greedy, mighty lord, a man who would not allow Tristan to continue his heroic deeds.  When his master is killed attempting to acquire yet another castle, Tristan is once again on his own.  After wandering he arrives at a doomed village.  The Nethergrim - the Old Man of the Mountains - The Thief at the Cradle - The Mother's Bane, the flesh of children the only thing he truly prizes, has been angered and is coming for them.  Tristan, the knight; Vithric, the Wizard; John Marshall; and sixty men defeated The Nethergrim in an epic battle and only three returned:  Tristan, Vithric, and John Marshall.  The people of Moorvale had believed The Nethergrim to be dead, but now livestock and children are missing and minions of the Nethergrim are prowling the countryside.  Edmund Bales, son of the innkeeper and would be wizard; Katherine, daughter of John Marshall and would be flame of Edmund; and Tom, their friend and a slave, are instrumental in alerting the townsfolk and rescuing some of the children.  This is an excellent, action-packed adventure of epic proportions, reminiscent of Tolkien.  The packaging is arresting, the suspense well-maintained, and characterization superb.  The journey continues in book two.

"Things like love and hope are the substance of life."
"Every great adventure leaves you more than you were and yet less."
"What would be the worth of goodness in a world that always rewarded it."
"Silence turns your thoughts down strange roads."

Zane and the Hurricane / W. R. Philbrick / 181 pages

Zane Dupree never met his father.  His parents met in the Air Force, but his dad was run over by a guy who had a stroke while driving.  He and his mother and Bandit the Wonder Dog live in New Hampshire.  His mother recently located Beatrice, the lady who raised his father, online, and decided that Zane should visit her in New Orleans.  Unfortunately, he arrives just before Hurricane Katrina.  Through his twelve year old eyes we witness the storm's impact, relief efforts, and the startling diversity of human nature's reaction to catastrophe.  Zane learns much about his family and humanity, while the reader experiences the devastation of the storm.  Excellent information about the hurricane and it aftermath are presented in a sensitive, non-judgmental fashion.  The sometimes overwhelming emotional tension finds welcome relief in the upbeat nature and irrepressible jokes of Malvina one of the resident victims of the storm.  Mr. Tru, a true life saver and companion, shows humanity as we should be.

Mark Twain Award Preliminary Nominee 2016-17

Brown Girl Dreaming / Jaqueline Woodson / 336 pages

This is a sensitive, heartfelt account of growing up black in the heart of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's.  This is Ms. Woodson's account of her family as they lived in a rapidly changing society.  We learn that her family became Jehovah's Witnesses after her mother left for work in the North.  Her baby brother had lead poisoning.  According to her grandmother, to break the race barrier, you had to insist gently, but be willing to die.  Commendations on a job artfully done.

Mark Twain Award Preliminary Nominee 2016-17

Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky / Sandra Dallas / 237 pages

This is an excellent account of the atrocious treatment afforded Japanese residents of the US following the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II.  Siting Japanese living near coastal waters as possible threats to national security, the government relocated them to spots further inland.  The Japanese, many of whom were citizens, lost property, possessions, friends, and neighbors, and were forced into internment camps with deplorable conditions.  Twelve year old Tomi Itano's family was forced to move to Tallgrass, Colorado.  Her father had been arrested as a potential spy and had been sent to a prison camp elsewhere.  Camp life wrought changes in the individuals and families.  Despite unjust prejudice and unfair treatment, the Itano family proves that they are indeed Americans.
There is an excellent note from the author and citing of the 442nd - the Japanese-American unit - as the most decorated of any throughout history.

Mark Twain Award Preliminary Award 2016-17

Space Case / Stuart Gibbs / 337 pages / Action Adventure Set in Another Country September Challenge

MBA (Moon Base Alpha) is Dashiell Gibson's new home.  He would much rather be surfing with the guys in his native Hawaii.  Instead, he is enduring the rigors of life on the moon.  Descriptions of living conditions on the moon base are detailed and humorous, imparted through the observations of twelve year old Dash and the official NASA Moon Base Guide.  Dash is convinced that an eminent scientist's death is not suicide as reported, but murder...based on a telephone conversation he overheard in the john.  Was it murder?  Is the base commander the murderer?  Multiple suspects, a smartly-paced, intricate plot, and a surprise ending, coupled with a most unusual setting conspire to capture the attention/interest of even reluctant readers.

Mark Twain Award Preliminary Nominee 2016-17

Since You've Been Gone / Morgan Marson / 449 pages

Emily Stanhope is at loose ends.  Her best friend, Sloan Williams has been missing for two weeks.  She walks by her house often but no one appears to be home and the yard service guys have no clue as to the family's whereabouts.  Emily's home life is a bit unorthodox, as both her parents teach at the university and occasionally write plays together.  When in playwright mode, they are inaccessible for all intents and purposes.  This leaves Emily to keep watch over her seven year younger daredevil brother, Becket.  When she takes Becket to the intense rock-climbing complex, she encounters ultra smart do-gooder Frank Porter and his best friend, Collins.  They become her partners in crime as Emily attempts to complete a list of thirteen challenges she received in the mail from Sloan.  Segueing between the past with Sloan and her present summer To-Do list, Emily demonstrates an astute understanding of friendship.

Gateway Award Preliminary Nominee 2016-17

Belzhar / Meg Wolitzer / 266 pages

Jamaica Gallahue has been sent to The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont.  She has been immobilized with depression since the loss of her British exchange student boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield.  She is enrolled in Special Topics in English and the class of only five students are focusing on the works of Sylvia Plath, author of The Bell Jar.  Antique-looking leather journals are distributed and the students are instructed to write in them regularly and turn them in upon the conclusion of the class.  The journals permit the writer to return to the past, to the sad events that led to each student's breakdown.  The past place is called Belzhar by the students.  All learn that while life is not fair, happiness is possible if you want it badly enough.

"It doesn't just matter what you say, but who's saying it.  Voice matters."
"Words matter."
"Great writing makes a difference."

Gateway Award Preliminary Nominee 2016-17

The Blood Guard / Carter Roy / 279 pages

This book is destined to be a movie.  It is action-packed and filed with awesome special effects and mind-blowing equipment.  It starts with a bang, when thirteen year old Evelyn Ronan Truelove's mom picks him up from school then sets off on a high speed car chase, deflecting bullets with a sword...Where did that come from?  Turns out his mom is secretly a member of The Blood Guard, an ancient order of knights tasked with protecting the Pure - "thirty-six noble souls whose safety is crucial if the world as we know it is to survive."  Ronan's father has been kidnapped (?).  Ronan is on the run from the Bend Sinister, the antithesis of The Guard.  His two traveling companions - "Greta, a scrappy strong-willed girl he's never much liked, who possesses useful skills and cunning which she learned from her FBI father," and Jack Dawson, a two hundred year old devil-may-care teenage pickpocket, add depth and texture to this first book in an awesome new series...with a most compelling surprise ending.

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2016-17

Absolutely Almost / Lisa Graff / 288 pages

Albie is caring, thoughtful and good but he struggles in school.  In fact, he has been asked to leave his expensive prep school because he just couldn't make the grade.  Now in fifth grade, Albie struggles to succeed.  He is a devoted Captain Underpants fan, but when his mother objects to his choice of reading materials and insists he read Johnny Tremain instead, he quits reading altogether.  It is too hard, too boring.  His nanny handles this problem creatively and successfully, fashioning a Johnny Tremain cover for his Captain Underpants books.  Albie's best friend belongs to a family with two sets of triplets and their own TV show.  His other best friend, Becky, stutters and is generous with gummy bears.  In an attempt to be cool, Albie follows bad advice and nearly loses his friends.  This is a heart-warming insider look at learning difficulties and their possible relief strategies, sensitive acceptance of individual strengths and weaknesses, and the joys of Math Club with a plethora of math jokes.

Mark Twain Award Preliminary Nominee 2016-17

Half a Chance / Cynthia Lord / 218 pages

Twelve year old Lucy  has already moved three times.  Her father is a world famous nature photographer and her mother is a programmer who primarily works from home.  This new move has them in a beach cottage in New Hampshire.  Lucy makes friends with Emily and Nate next door who visit their grandmother every summer.  Lucy is not quite able to befriend Meagan, another summer visitor.  Nate and Emily's grandmother is fascinated by the loons and their chicks but is unable to chart their progress/whereabouts as she has done in the past due to her advanced age and failing memory.  Lucy's fifteen pound dog, Ansel, reflects her interest in photography.  With Nate's help, Lucy attempts to observe the loons and snap pictures of them as well as photograph sensitive, powerful, unusual shots for her father's photography contest.  First prize is five hundred dollars which Lucy wants to win so she can purchase a motorized raft so Nate's grandmother can visit her precious loons.  "Even half a chance beats none."

Mark Twain Award Preliminary Nominee 2016-17

Under the Egg / Laura Fitzgerald / 247 pages

Theodora Tenpenny's life changes abruptly with the death of her grandfather.  He had always provided for her and her mother, Angelica, whose fixation on tea and complex math equations left her role as mother/ daughter something to be desired.  As her grandfather lay dying, he told Theo to find the treasure under the egg.  At least that is what she thought he said.  His cryptic last words sent her on an investigation into Nazi art theft during World War II, an American unit responsible for liberation and cataloguing recovered stolen art works, Holocaust survivors, secrets about her artist grandfather, and the painter Raphael.
This is an informative, thought-provoking read masquerading as a mystery.

Mark Twain Award Preliminary Nominee 2016-17

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Just Mercy: a Story of Justice/ Bryan Stevenson/ 336 pages

Just Mercy: a Story of Justice is an account of the work done by Bryan Stevenson to find justice for men, women and children on death row in Alabama.  The book closely follows Mr. Stevenson's work with Walter McMillian, sentenced to death on the word of a criminal who recants his story even before Walter goes to trial.  This book is an eye opener to lax representation and social injustices especially to poor or black members of society.  It's cataloged as a biography of Bryan Stevenson, but is really the story of how he came to found the Equal Justice Initiative.  For more information and books of similar topics visit the SCCCLD website.

Dark Places/ Gillian Flynn/ 349 pages

Dark Places is the second novel written by Gillian Flynn.  It explores the murder of a rural Kansas family, poverty and the hysteria over a possible Satanic Cult.  The book is written in a dual timeline.  The story moves between the current time and the day of the murders 25 years earlier.  Libby Day and her brother Ben are the survivors.  Libby is almost penniless and willing to trade her notoriety for money.  Ben is in prison for the murders of his family.  On the day of the murder the reader follows Ben and his mother Patty to the climax.  This book will appeal to readers who like criminal investigations and mysteries.  For similar read a likes and more information visit the SCCCLD website.

The Paris Architect/ Charles Belfoure/ 371 pages

Lucien Bernard is an architect in Nazi occupied Vichy Francy during WWII.  He would not consider himself a brave man or particularly concerned with the deaths of Jews.  However, he agrees to making a hiding spot for some Jewish people in order to secure the opportunity to design buildings and make a name for himself.  Little does he know, he might be a braver man than he thinks.

Here/ Richard McGuire/ 304 pages

Here is the story of a location.  The story flips back and forth through time.  It goes back as far as prehistoric and as far as the future.  It's not a book with a complex story or characters, but it makes you think... what has happened on the spot where you are today?  What historical figures may have walked where your building now stands?  Just reminds you that we are connected to the past and we will affect the future.  Interesting and fast paced graphic novel.

Fahrenheit 451/ Ray Bradbury/ 199 pages

I had never read this book before, but it's a classic I would recommend.  It's a dystopian novel about a society where books have been banned.  If you are caught with books, your home is burned down and you are taken away.  Montag is a "fireman" he does the burning.  But, a neighbor girl moves in next door and makes him question why?

Mr. Mercedes/ Stephen King/ 437 pages

I could not put this book down!  Loved it--top notch Stephen King.  His characters are so real.  Full of suspense.  Not a horror novel, but some horrific things.  But, also characters that your admire.  Mr. Mercedes is a mass murderer, who thinks he's gotten away with it.  And is getting restless, he'd like to out-do himself, but he also wants to rub it in the face of the cop that didn't catch it the first time.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Third Wife/Lisa Jewell/328 pages

Adrian Wolfe is a man addicted to love. When the love wanes in a marriage, he happily moves on to the next woman leaving behind an ex-wife and kids. Miraculously, the families all get along, even to the extent of vacationing together. When wife number 3, Maya, dies in a tragic accident leaving Adrian by himself for the first time, his grief is all consuming. A year later, a mysterious woman comes into his wife and makes him start questioning Maya death and the true relationship he has with two ex-wives and five children.

An interesting page turner with a slightly disappointing ending. I (as always) was hoping for more of a mystery. Overall, it was a good read. Blogging has been fun, but it's time to pursue other projects. Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pines / Blake Crouch / 307 pages

This is the first of Crouch's Wayward Pines trilogy which inspired the TV series.  While the TV series was mostly faithful to the text, careful readers/watchers will notice some differences.  I watched the series first and had many questions about the timeline and how Dr. Pilcher and his minions were seemingly able to move back and forth in the timeline to get people, put them in cryogenic sleep for 2000 years and then wake them up.  After reading the first book, I still have just as many questions.  If anything, the book is even darker than the TV series, with children as young as 7 years old participating in exterminating anyone who breaks Pilcher's rules about accepting life in Wayward Pines.  Ethan comes to Wayward Pines following a run-in with a Mack truck while investigating the disappearance of two secret service agents.  He can't accept the seemingly idyllic life because the residents of Wayward are just too creepy.  He escapes from the hospital where they are trying to brainwash him and defeats a trio of Abbies as he furthers his escape.  Pilcher finally decides to show him "what's really going on" while demonstrating his need to control everything and everyone in Wayward Pines.  This dystopian vision of our future is sure to keep readers up late pondering the possibilities of life inside a mountain with no way out.

Forever Odd / Dean Koontz / 334 pages

This 2nd novel in the Odd Thomas series pitches Odd against a crazy occultist who has becomes obsessed with seeing the supernatural and becoming invincible by capturing the life-essence of the recently departed.  We see another of Odd's eccentric friends in the form of Danny, a young man the same age as Odd (about 20 years old) who suffers from "glass bone" disease.  Odd once again must rely on his supernatural senses of psychic magnetism and seeing the dead to track the occultist who has kidnapped Danny.  Odd seems more vulnerable in this novel than in the first.  He's still contemplating the death of his beloved Stormy (in Odd Thomas) and the meaning of life.  His friends do their best to convince him that he is an important part of their lives and that they want the best for him.  The events of this novel make Odd long for a more peaceful existence that he hopes to find in the next installment Brother Odd.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Me Before You/Jojo Moyes/369 pgs.

Louisa Clark is living a rather normal existence until she loses her job. She helps support her family, so, in desperation, takes a job for which she has no training: companion to a quadriplegic, Will Traynor. Before his accident, Will, who comes from money, was highly successful in his own right. He worked hard, and played hard. Being confined to a wheelchair, and dependent upon others, was not in Will's plans for his life. So, how do two totally different individuals develop more than a boss/employee relationship? And how can Louisa dissuade Will from his ultimate plan? It's an engrossing story, with well developed characters, and a story line that will stay with the reader for quite awhile. Highly recommended!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Prodigal Son/Danielle Steel/318 pages

Peter McDowell broke away from his parents and his twin Michael after high school. His trips back to see them were limited to seeing his sick parents once before they died and then their funerals. His life in the New York financial world was complete with a luxury apartment and a wife and two boys until the stock market crashes, and he loses everything. With his wife moving back to her father's home in LA with the boys, Peter restarts his life by moving back to the lake house his parents left him. He tries to stay out his brother's way in town, but Michael seeks him out and makes an attempt to bury the past. Peter happily decides to let go of the past until more information about his brother, the beloved town doctor, comes to light.

This is part of my project of reconnecting with authors I used to enjoy decades ago but no longer read. First up was Mary Higgins Clark a couple of months ago. The book I read did not convince me to start reading her books again. I never was a devout Steel fan, but I had read a couple I had enjoyed. This one started out promisingly, but the last third of the book was just too easy. I wanted a twist, a surprise, something other than what I got. I give this one a "pass."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Throne of Glass/Sarah J. Maas/406 pgs.

Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien, Ardalan's assassin, has just served a year in the salt mines of Endovier. She doesn't know who betrayed her in order for her capture, but she is close to death when Crown Prince Dorian makes her an offer she can't refuse--her freedom if she acts as his champion in the competition to find a new royal assassin for his father. If she wins the competition, and is the "royal assassin" for four years, she will be free. However, something is not right at the castle; some of the competitors end up dead: gruesome murders take place. In addition, magic has been outlawed for ages, but has it really? This is the first in a series, and quite an entertaining read. I'm all for strong female characters, and they don't come much stronger than Celaena. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Crown of Midnight.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Whippoorwill/ Joseph Monninger/ 275 pages

Whippoorwill by Joseph Monninger is a Young Adult dog story and more.  Claire lives next door to Danny and his abusive father.  Wally is Danny's dog.  Claire intervenes and helps Danny to train Wally.  Along the way Claire and Danny become friends.  Danny offers to take Claire to find a sculpture created by her now deceased mother.  They find the artwork, but events take a strange turn that tests their friendship and leaves Claire in charge of Wally.  This book looks at families and the problems that can effect them.  For more information and similar reads check out the SCCCLD website.

Parchment Maze/ Ludmila Filipove/ 439 pages

The Parchment Maze written by Bulgarian author Ludmila Filipova is written in the style of Dan Brown, but set in Eastern Europe.  Vera Kandilova is trying to separate herself from her archaeologist father by writing a revolutionary thesis that ties a lost Bulgarian civilization to ancient Egypt and Rome based on the Orpheus Cult.  In her search for material to back up her thesis she is directed to the Parchment Maze.  Much to Vera's surprise, she finds multiple clues that imply her thesis is more real than even she imagined.  Vera's search includes plenty of action and adventure along the way.  If the reader likes Dan Brown and Steve Berry, they will enjoy this novel.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dogs are People too / Dave Coverly / 214 pages

This is a cartoon book of original cartoons.  All are about dogs. It is so funny that if you love dogs, you will love this book.  If you even acknowledge the existence of dogs, you will find this book funny.  So - check out the book and get ready to laugh.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry/Gabrielle Zevin/270 pages

A. J. Fikry is a lonely bookstore owner on Alice Island. His lovely wife died a while ago, and she was the one who kept the business afloat. He's a young man with an old heart. When his prized possession is stolen, he feels there is nothing left for him. Then one day, someone leaves him a surprise, a gift really, in his store. That gift helps him to get out of his head and start living again.

This is our book club selection for the month. It's a sweet, moving story about the choices we make about our life. Each chapter is preceded with a lesson about a specific book or short story from Fikry's point of view. Some were familiar to me; many were not. Funny and entertaining.