Guest Post: The Dorkiness Equation Part 2 by author Graham Parke
Guest Posts / January 30, 2011

The Dorkiness Equation — Part II I understand if at this point you are in awe of me. If you have trouble believing anyone could be this insightful. And that’s fine. That’s natural at such life changing moments. But, really, I cannot take full credit. I happened to witness an event early in my professional career that gave me a vital clue to the puzzle. Without it I would not have figured this out. I had help. In fact, it was more or less spelled out for me. Here’s what happened: I was doing an internship at a large corporation. My first involvement with the corporate world. With the ‘nine-to-five grind’. With the ‘picking each other up for lunch and suffering each other’s company in the cafeteria’ kind of deal. The lunches were mostly boring, because the only thing everyone at the table had in common was their jobs. But one day something strange happened. Something that fascinated me. A scientist-type sitting diagonally across from me decided to fill his glass from a jug of water. He did this by holding his glass over his plate and heaving the jug above it. On that particular day, he managed to spill…

Guest Post: The Dorkiness Equation Part 1 by author Graham Parke
Guest Posts / January 29, 2011

The Dorkiness Equation. I’ve finally figured out why we laugh at someone when they do something dorky. When they almost trip, when they stub their toe, when they stack a number of paper cups, only to find that the bottom cup wasn’t quite empty. For years I assumed it was some kind of mean streak we have tucked away deep inside our subconscious. We might think we’re nice people, ready to lend a helping hand, ready with words of kindness and encouragement, but, as soon as our neighbor puts that hammer down on his thumb, we can’t help but snigger. Obviously there’s a real bastard inside us. What’s the harm, he thinks. There’s no way to help in time, so I might as well enjoy the pain of others. But that would be the easy answer. And it’s one that simply doesn’t feel right. We snigger, yes, but do we actually feel happy? Do we actually think; thank goodness John finally stubbed his toe, that friendly, helpful bastard had it coming! Serves him right for all those times he helped me paint my garage! I don’t think so. Barring a few errant cases where we actually do hate someone, I’d…

Author Q and A with W.K. Berger
Author Q&A / January 28, 2011

Author W.K. Berger (Website | Twitter | Facebook) has published his book “The Purples” (Book Review) independently even though he is an established and published author (non-fiction though).  Mr. Berger’s experience has been very interesting and, what I believe, will be more common in years to come (see my 2011 bookish predictions). Q. As a veteran writer how come you chose to publish your book independently? A. I’ve been publishing nonfiction books for years with top houses including Penguin and Random House. But when I wanted to cross over into fiction with my first novel, I found that all my book experience didn’t carry much weight with publishers — they had me pegged as a “nonfiction guy.” So it was a struggle just to get publishers to read my novel. Then I ran into a second problem that is perhaps symptomatic of publishing today: A couple of top publishing-house editors eventually did read it and really liked the book — but felt it didn’t fall into the kinds of market niches they were looking for. It was frustrating; it felt like they weren’t focusing on what was, to me, the most important thing — the quality of the book. So…

Book Review: The Purples by W.K. Berger
4 Stars , Fiction / January 27, 2011

Afraid of the worker’s unions in 1920’s Detroit Henry Ford’s agents, under the guise of fighting communism, arrest a multitude of people.  Rachel is one of those people only that Rachel’s boyfriend is Jewish mobster Joe Bernstein.

Book Review: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdes
4 Stars , Fiction / January 26, 2011

I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour promotion. The publisher has kindly made available to one (1) copy to be given out – Enter at the end of the post. My rating for Wench – 4 About: “Wench” by Dolen Perkins-Valdes (Website | Twitter) if a fictional story which takes place examines the relationship between white masters and their concubines slaves. The story mostly takes place in the early 1850s at an Ohio vacation resort called Tawawa House (now Old Wilberforce University) . Get a discount on “Wench” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on: Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK Thoughts: “Wench” by Dolen Perkins-Valdes centers around, and told by, a house slave named Lizzie who is the mistress of her owner Nathan Drayle. Nathan is a poor man who married to Francesca who is heiress to a rich Southern family. The book is an easy read but artfully told and well written story. The narrative is clean and sometime even lyrical.  The characters are multi-dimensional, vivid and fully realized; surprisingly many of the minor characters are well developed as well. Perkins-Valdes made a courageous decision; she started out the book with…

Book Review: Little Princes by Conor Grennan
4 Stars , Biographies & Memoirs , Non-Fiction / January 25, 2011

Conor Grennan, fresh from a job at Prague goes on a whirlwind world wide trip in 2006. He starts his adventure volunteering for an orphanage called “Little Princes Children’s Home). Turns out the kids are not orphans but victims of a notorious child trafficker which has promised their parents protection from the Maoist revolutionaries. However, more often than not the children end up as slaves.

Book Review: The Marching Season by Daniel Silva
3 Stars , Fiction / January 23, 2011

I borrowed this book from the local library. My rating for The Marching Season – 3 About: “The Marching Season” by Daniel Silva (Website | Facebook | Twitter) is a fictional sequel to “The Mark of the Assassin (Book Review | Buy)”.  The phrase “Marching Season” comes from the parades held in Northern Ireland every year. | Get a discount on “The Marching Season” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on: Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK | Thoughts: “The Marching Season” by Daniel Silva has most of the same characters as its prequel, but the book is not as enjoyable. The pace is fast but the story is predictable, about half way through (if not sooner) I already figured out the ending which, this time, had no twists. The plot actually has two main parts, the Irish terrorists who call themselves “The Ulster Freedom Brigade”; the second is about Osbourne and the two parts are closely related.  The characters in the book are reasonably well drawn and the plot is well put together. This is an OK thriller, I liked Silva’s other books better.  However, I’m sure that this book read much better when it was written, at…

Book Review: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
4 Stars , Fiction / January 21, 2011

I borrowed this book. My rating for Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter – 4 About: “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” by Tom Franklin is a fictional story set in the late 70’s in rural Mississippi. The title comes from the way children in Mississippi are taught how to spell their state’s name (. M, I, crooked-letter, crooked-letter, I, crooked-letter, crooked-letter, I, humpback, humback, I). The book is atmospheric and deals with the harsh punishment society deals to those they deem guilty (without proof) as well as racial elements. Get a discount on “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on: Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK Thoughts: “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” by Tom Franklin is a sad and poignant story that has many elements and several focuses. The profound themes of friendship, bonding, racism, cruelty and community shunning are at the forefront of this well written novel. The story is evocative but slow and centers on the relationship between two men (on a friendship level). The crime story is simply a background in which the themes of the book can show themselves. Mr. Franklin’s storytelling is wonderful and the novel resonates using believable characters and excellent dialog. I…

Tempering with Twain
Opinion / January 19, 2011

None of us are surprised when common sense loses to political correctness – we encounter that almost on a daily base, after all that is what “procedures” and “policies” are for. It has recently been announced that Alabama-based publisher is planning new versions of “Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer” that will replace the “n” word with “slave” and will remove “Injun” as well – just for good measure. Professor Alan Gribben of Auburn University of Montgomery has came right out and stated that his hope is to make the books more palatable for teachers and as not to offend school children in particular. I understand the Professor’s good intentions, but committing an act which can is the equivalent of literary graffiti in order to impose political correctness upon one of the most politically incorrect authors in American history has already backfired. As far as I know, Huck Finn is read in high-school. Newsflash Professor Gribben – people in high-school are no longer “children”, they are young adults in the US and full fledged adults in most other parts of the world. The last thing these young adults need is a sugar coated past. The past is non-negotiable and Twain’s use…

Book Review: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
5 Stars , Classics , Fiction / January 18, 2011

I bought this eBook. This post was previously posted on Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing. My rating for Treasure Island – 5 About: “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson is an 1883 fictional adventurous and classic pirate story.  The book follows Jim Hawkins,  a young man, who has found a treasure map and with the help of friends hires a crew to find the treasure.  But the crew has their own plans. Get a discount on “Treasure Island” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on: Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK Thoughts: I read “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson as a young boy and always remembered it as one of my favorites. Recently, as part of a classics book club, I read it again. The two main characters of the book, Jim Hawkins and Long John Sliver have certainly cemented themselves as two of the most intriguing and dimensional characters in literature. I was happy to reconnect with them almost as if they were old friends. The first half of the book was a breeze to read, but the second half was a bit more difficult due to the pirate’s slang, cumbersome metaphors and tongue tied conversations. …

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