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review 2019-09-11 02:50
Hard to Get Further from Walnut Grove, MN
Laser House on the Prairie - David W. Barbee
“I’m not trying to be a hero, man. I’m kinda the opposite, actually. Right now, I just have to do what’s right.”

In a not-so-distant past, Jeph was a solider, then a gunslinger for hire. And then he fell in love, got married and gave it up. Now all he wants is to live a quiet life at home. But, those best-laid plans have met up with an old comrade-in-arms (and crime) who wants to pull off one more heist before he dies of some horrible disease. Jeph's not interested and tells them so definitively. But he's cajoled, badgered and threatened into going along with them. We all know this story, having read/seen it more times than we can count. But you've never seen it told this way.


Their target? A weapon called The Red Orb. Not only is it unbelievably lethal, but its users become addicted to it—the power and the way it ingratiates itself with the user's mind. A devastating weapon and users jonesing to wield it. There's only a billion ways that could go wrong.


A lot of the science/gadgets/weapons in this science-fiction-y novel makes no sense, and that's okay. It's not supposed to, it's just a plot device to get the characters and/or conflict to be where Barbee wants it. I said it before, and I'll say it again, I don't really understand the conventions (or lack thereof) of Bizarro fiction, but it seems to me that it's just whatever strange and odd bit of sciency thing the author comes up with at the moment—the stranger the better—while telling his story. Feel free to correct me in the comments. The important thing is that the SF elements are cuckoo-bananas and the reader should just roll with it.


The Red Orb is in a city not that far away called Obscuria. Which is basically what would happen if you took San Diego Comic Con, transported it into a Ready Player One meets Blade Runner future and then turned it into a city. Jeph and the band have to learn how to play by the rules of Obscuria and hopefully to hijack these rules in order to find and secure the Orb. Making the book a thinly disguised critique of Geek/Internet culture but it's done in such a way that you can tell that Barbee is steeped in the sub-culture he's examining and commenting on. Jeph's account may be scathing, but it's not spiteful. Nor is it dour, and all negative—you typically can't help but grin as you see what Barbee is commenting on (and, honestly, it's hard to disagree with most of his commentary).


When I sat down to write, I had a very clear idea how I was going to express "What this book is about." But the more I think about it, I'm not sure I can unpack it all. There's a lot about self-determination, about choosing to make your present and future different from your past. About how the wounds of the past and our self-deception aren't easily overcome to stop our self-destructive tendencies. About our own tendencies to be trapped by our perceptions. It's about in the Internet/Geek culture how do we determine the worth of someone/an act/a thought? Is it the quality? Is it the rareness? How easily it can be licensed and commodified? Why do anything if it isn't related to clicks, likes, influences? What about those who've rejected and/or not-embraced that kind of life? How can they make their way through a Geek culture? And I think I'm really just scratching the surface.


So, yeah, you've got a tried-and-true setup, morphed into a SF-ish reality as an excuse to talk about what's worth pursuing in our contemporary culture. Told in a strange, generally amusing and sometimes funny way. You won't get through this book easily (it's not a difficult read, but sometimes the imagery takes longer than usual to conjure up), but you may come through it better.


While it shared many sensibilities with last year's Jimbo Yojimbo, it was a bit more restrained and a lot more heartfelt. It's probably a better book overall—I didn't enjoy it as much personally, but it's one of those times I remind myself that ratings are about my overall appreciation, not (necessarily) the merits of the novel. I've liked both works by Barbee that I've tried so far, I need to find more by him.


LetsReadIndie Reading Challenge

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2019/09/10/laser-house-on-the-prairie-by-david-w-barbee-hard-to-get-further-from-walnut-grove-mn
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review 2019-07-31 18:45
LITTLE SLAUGHTERHOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE by Harold Schechter, narrated by Steven Weber
Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie - Harold Schechter,Steven Weber

This is the true story of the murderous Bender family. After listening, I am convinced that Michael McDowell based his story KATIE on this family. How many people can there be out there named Katie who, along with their family, liked to kill people with hammers? 


Katie - Michael McDowell 


Steven Weber does an excellent job of narrating, as always. 


As far as True Crime stories go, this is a fascinating one. The truth is stranger than fiction. 



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text 2019-05-01 08:00
May 2019 Reading TBR
The Making of the President 1972 - Theodore H. White
Are You There Coffee? It's Me, Mom - Kianna Alexander
We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal At a Time - Richard Wolffe,José Andrés
Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine - Damon Tweedy
All I Am (A Farmers' Market Story) - Nicole Helm
A Change of Fortune - Jen Turano
Beguiled - Deeanne Gist,J. Mark Bertrand
Love on the Prairie (McKinnie Mail Order Brides #1) - Ciaria Knight
A Gentleman For All Seasons - Shana Galen,Vanessa Kelly,Kate Noble,Theresa Romain
Better Off Wed (Annabelle Archer Wedding Planner Mystery Book 1) - Laura Durham,Laura Durham


1. The Making of the President 1972 by Theodore White

          Nixon Reading List


2. Are You There Coffee? It Me, Mom by Kianna Alexander

          In honor of Mother's Day; my plans are to attend my daughter's jiu-jitsu championships (her first!)


3. We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time by Jose Andres et al

           Library borrow


4. Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine by Dr. Damon Tweedy

           Library borrow


5. Better Off Wed (Annabelle Archer Mystery #1) by Laura Durham


6. Love on the Prairie (McKinnie Mail Order Brides #1) by Ciara Knight

                Historical romance on my NOOK


7. All I Am by Nicole Helm

          The start of my Summer of Love reading project


8. A Change of Fortune (Ladies of Distinction #1) by Jen Turano

           Summer of Love reading project


9. Beguiled by Deeanne Gist, J. Mark Bertrand

             Summer of Love reading project


10. A Gentleman For All Seasons anthology, "A Madness in Spring" by Kate Noble

               Summer of Love reading project

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review 2019-02-02 00:15
Little House on the Prairie
Little House on the Prairie - Garth Williams,Laura Ingalls Wilder

Reading level and Leveling System:

Guided Reading: Q

Lexile Measure: 760L


This book was my first favorite book during elementary school. Laura Ingalls and her family are heading to Kansas. Leaving behind their home in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, they travel by covered wagon until they find the perfect spot to build a little house on the prairie. The family must soon get to work, farming and hunting and gathering food for themselves and for their livestock. Along with the new adventures in the land it also has it dangers, from wolves to Indians. Will the Ingalls move from this land too? This book could be used while discussing pioneers or about traveling on a wagon train. A great activity for this book would be a Lapbook. A file folder is folded and turned into a book with a cover that can be decorated with a picture that describes the book. On the inside of the file folder, it includes information from the book. Including the characters, conflicts, the climax, how the conflict was resolved, and new unknown vocabulary words. 


 Little House in the Big Woods Lapbook 

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review 2018-11-14 17:37
A Humorous Story of Great Ambitions
To Squeeze a Prairie Dog - Scott Semegran
  1. D. Wiswall is the newest clerk in a pool of state government workers. He learns of competition among peers for a $10,000 prize for developing a cost-saving program to improve the government's budget and their own lives. Their developing team is on track to win, but when J.D.'s bumbling alcoholic supervisor accidentally stumbles on a multimillion-dollar cost-savings suggestion, problems begin.


Governor Bennett is a politician who will stop at nothing to stoke his ego; even if it means throwing the personal lives and quirks of his clerks into the public eye. When a snoopy reporter threatens the clerks' ability to claim a prize that will change their lives, sparks erupt in this quirky, fun spoof about ambition, success, dirty little secrets, and social and political oddballs.


The book's title, To Squeeze a Prairie Dog, already indicates that the tale will be extraordinary, and readers will quickly realize that the multifaceted account isn't just a romp through political ambition and smarmy individuals. It's about a group of oddballs with ambitions to move beyond their set financial, social, and career courses to achieve greater goals, and it pairs a healthy dose of wry humor and insights with a realistic story of interactions between very different colleagues who are thrown together to evolve to something greater than their clerical roles.


Satire and comedic observation are juxtaposed with acts of connection in a story that excels in portraying not just great ambitions, but small acts of kindness: "I wish there was something more I could do to bring joy to all of us besides cookin’,” she said. Seeing smiles on her coworkers’ faces did bring her immense joy."


From creative brainstorming over the grand prize to the things everyone feels compelled to do to get ahead, To Squeeze a Prairie Dog isn't just about sacrifice and ambition, but about the costs of success and the challenges of remaining creatively quirky in a world replete with economic, social and political challenges and goal-seekers.


Fun, ironic acronyms and jokes illustrate real efforts to bond, support one another, and survive against secrets and revelations about how the world really operates. To Squeeze a Prairie Dog paints a rollicking story that careens through the office structure to delve into the motivations, lives, and connections between ordinary individuals.


Readers seeking an uplifting, fun story of fortune, friendship, and fame will find To Squeeze a Prairie Dog juxtaposes a range of viewpoints and ironic situations designed to leave readers both entertained and thoughtful. This tale comes full-circle to provide a satisfying spoof on political ambitions while commenting on personal achievement and ideals of success.

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