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review 2017-10-03 20:53
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing ★★☆☆☆
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (paperback) - Judy Blume

Probably my least favorite of Judy Blume’s children’s books so far. I seem to remember enjoying it as a child, but unlike the Ramona and Beezus and Henry books, it has no charm for me as an adult reader. Peter is cursed with an obnoxious little brother who gets all the attention and ruins everything. Originally written in 1972, the substance of the story doesn’t rise above its dated references and gender stereotypes.


The only other thing I can say is, poor Dribble. He probably wished Peter didn’t have a little brother, either.

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text 2017-10-03 18:58
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing - 28/120pg
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (paperback) - Judy Blume

New York City in 1972? And this kid is 9 years old.    O_o


     We live near Central Park. On nice days I like to play there after school. I'm allowed to walk over by myself as long as I'm going to be with friends. My mother doesn't want me hanging around the park alone.

     For one thing, Jimmy Fargo has been mugged three times - twice for his bicycle and once for his money. Only he didn't have any to give the muggers. 

     I've never been mugged. But sooner or later I probably will be. My father's told me what to do. Give the muggers whatever they want and try not to get hit on the head. 

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review 2017-10-03 13:16
Boy’s Life ★★★★★
Boy's Life - Robert R. McCammon

It would be easy to lose interest in a long, rambly story that doesn’t seem to advance any sort of plot or action for the first half, but Boy’s Life is full of paragraphs and observations that delighted me for the way they evoked a time or place or childhood emotion. Then the plot roared to life and I started turning pages to find out what next, what next, what next, and forgetting to stop and savor the prose.


Maybe a bike, once discarded, pines away year after year for the first hand that steered it, and as it grows old it dreams, in its bike way, of the young roads. It was never really mine, then; it traveled with me, but its pedals and handlebars held the memory of another master. Maybe, on that rainy Wednesday, it killed itself because it knew I yearned for a bike built for me and me alone. Maybe. All I knew for sure at that moment was that I had to walk the rest of the way home, and I couldn’t drag the carcass with me.



They say that somewhere in Africa the elephants have a secret grave where they go to lie down, unburden their wrinkled gray bodies, and soar away, light spirits at the end. I believed at that moment in time that I had found the grave of the bicycles, where the carcasses flake away year after year under rain and baking sun, long after the spirits of their wandering lives have gone. In some places on that huge pile the bicycles had melted away until they resembled nothing more than red and copper leaves waiting to be burned on an autumn afternoon. In some places shattered headlights poked up, sightless but defiant, in a dead way. Warped handlebars still held rubber grips, and from some of the grips dangled strips of colored vinyl like faded flames. I had a vision of all these bikes, vibrant in their new paint, with new tires and new pedals and chains that snuggled up to their sprockets in beds of clean new grease. It made me sad, in a way I couldn’t understand, because I saw how there is an end to all things, no matter how much we want to hold on to them.



My heart was a frog leaping out of murky water in to clear sunlight. I said, “Thanks!” and I ran for the door. Before I got out, though, I looked back at Mrs. Neville. She sat at a desk with no papers on it that needed grading, no books holding lessons that needed to be taught. The only thing on her desk, besides her blotter and her pencil sharpener that would do no more chewing for a while, was a red apple Paula Erskine had brought her. I saw Mrs. Neville, framed in a spill of sunlight, reach for the apple and pick it up as if in slow motion. Then Mrs. Neville stared out at the room of empty desks, carved with the initials of generations who had passed through this place like a tide rolling into the future. Mrs. Neville suddenly looked awfully old.



This is the way the world spins: people want to believe the best, but they’re always ready to fear the worst. I imagine you could take the most innocent song ever written and hear the devil speaking in it, if that’s what your mind told you to listen for. Songs that say something about the world and about the people in it – people who are fraught with sins and complications just like the best of us – can be especially cursed, because to some folks truth is a hurtful thing. I sat in that church and heard the reverend rage and holler. I saw his face redden and his eyes gleam and the spittle spray from his mouth. I saw that he was a terrified man, and he was stoking the hot coals of terror in his congregation. He skipped the needle around, playing more snippets backward that to me sounded like gibberish but to him held satanic messages. It occurred to me that he must’ve spent an awfully long time huddled over that record player, scratching the needle back and forth in search of an evil thought.


And: more. So much more.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-03 08:57
The Best SF Stories by Brian W. Aldiss –An Anthology that will force you to think!




Who Can Replace a Man?

As the human civilization collapses around them, the robots try to race their way to freedom. Read to find out, if they succeed!


Not for an Age

Get a glimpse into the lives of people who lived in the past. Like literally!


A quote that stayed with me



A father reaches across the boundaries of space and time to impart wisdom to his newborn kid.



Four people are trapped in a house. Or are they?


Dumb Show

A sort of apocalypse is caused by the use of sound as a weapon.


The New Father Christmas

You’d better hope the new Father Christmas doesn’t pay you a visit!



The human race is drafted by another superior race to help the Failed Men from becoming extinct. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. At other times, it can turn you into a nervous wreck!

An excerpt that I loved:

Surrey was silent a moment, surprised to hear pride in his own voice. Pride left, after that experience! Yet there was no pride in him; it was just the voice running in an old channel, the naked soul crouching in an ancient husk of character.


A new word learned and savored


Poor Little Warrior!

A hunter may hunt as many animals (dinosaurs in this case) and yet the act won’t give any meaning to their otherwise inane life.

And a quote that I think all hunters should be made to read:

Those century-old lights, dim and sacred, go out with no indecision. These cloisters are closed till Judgment Day. Your reflection is torn and bloodied from them for ever. Over their ravaged panes nictitating membranes slide slowly upwards, like dirty sheets covering a cadaver. The jaw continues to munch slowly, as slowly the head sinks down. Slowly, a squeeze of cold reptile blood toothpastes down the wrinkled flank of one cheek. Everything is slow, a creepy Secondary Era slowness like the drip of water, and you know that if you had been in charge of creation you would have found some medium less heartbreaking than Time to stage it all in.


Another beautiful word


Man on Bridge

Those more suited to cerebral pursuits have formed a separate group called the Cs. But nothing is ever enough for man and this time, he wants to create geniuses without pesky notions, such as fear and morality to stop them.


The Impossible Star

A murder takes place on board a spaceship while it is trying to escape the gravitational pull of the Impossible star.


Basis for Negotiation

Britain declares neutrality in the American-Chinese war, which leads to some of its own citizens rebelling against it. The twist at the end was a lot of fun!



Old Hundredth

Humans have vacated the Earth and sentient animal-like beings populate it now. This is the story about one of them. I loved two things about it:

  1. I started with a presumption that I was reading about a human. I wasn’t! This became clear in a later reveal.
  2. The animals could choose their moment of death as they saw fit. When they did die, they turned into a column –a musicolumn to be exact — that would produce music when a living organism was in the vicinity.


A Kind of Artistry

A new living and sentient entity called the Cliff has been born from a non-living asteroid. The story is about a human’s attempt to contact it and bring back a sample.

What I loved about this story is how it challenged another one of my presumptions. If Man will change the world, shouldn’t the world change him too?




Man in his Time

A man becomes out of sync with time on Earth after spending some time in space. While he treats his life like a science experiment, it is especially hard on his loved ones.

Kind of reminded me of the whole science has consequences mindset that Mary Shelley was in when she wrote Frankenstein.


While I wasn’t blown away by this anthology, it has given me ideas for future stories, things to think about, and challenged some of my previously conceived notions. What else should I expect from a good book?





 Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 3, 2017.

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review 2017-09-12 04:32
Guardians of the Whills
Star Wars Guardians of the Whills (Star ... Star Wars Guardians of the Whills (Star Wars: Rogue One) - Greg Rucka

I was excited to get my hands on this book for two reasons. Firstly, it features my second-favorite Star Wars bromance. Secondly, I was hoping for more info on the Temple of the Whills and its Guardians and more insight into post-Jedi-purge Force beliefs. In retrospect, it was silly of me to hope for that kind of depth in a 234 page Middle Grade novel. The book delivers on the bromance, but not so much on the other stuff. I enjoyed it, but now I need to watch Rogue One again because I can’t remember if Baze or Chirrut ever mention a past association with Saw Gerrera and his extra-rebellious rebels.


Diogo Saito’s illustrations are a nice addition, though I wonder if they were commissioned before or after Rogue One was fully cast. Chirrut looks passably Donnie Yen-like, but Baze looks nothing like Wen Jiang. He looks like some random beardy white dude.

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