#868 World of the Innocent by Nadine C. Keels

World of the Innocent by Nadine C. KeelsWorld of the Innocent by Nadine C. Keels

One of Joy’s friends tells her that Marcas wants to get to know her better and Joy has to pause for a bit. What does that even mean? Joy is part of a community where she participates in a program for college students. There are performances and the arts are encouraged. She is friends with an older man, Mr. El, Elmer. They play chess together and Joy gets advice about life during the games. She has a mother and a father, but things haven’t really been the same with them.

Joy does take Marcas up on his offer. She doesn’t really know what to do or how to act around a man. The two enjoy each other’s company. They talk about life and admire each other’s talents and work in the community. There isn’t this burning passion between either of them, but something does grow between the two and Joy feels it’s right.

What I liked

This is a romance story, but it’s not sappy. It’s not obsessed or frantic, like so many so-called “romance” stories. There is a difference in being obsessed with somebody and loving somebody for who they are. When you’re that kind of “love obsessed” with someone, you’re afraid to show them who you really are. You’re afraid they’re going to run away screaming if they find out about some perceived flaw on your part. When you love someone for who they are and they return the favor, you’re not scared to show them who you are and you might find yourself opening up to them about things you never thought you’d open up to anyone about. There’s a difference between these two. I think Nadine gets it and she was able to put it in words with this story.

Joy is a little hesitant, but she knows she doesn’t have to hide her fears or her flaws from Marcas. Neither of them mind the other’s past or family situation. It’s purely because Joy is Joy and Marcas is Marcas, not because Joy is pretending to be who she perceives Marcas wants.

I also like that Joy has some hangups about stuff, but Marcas doesn’t push her into anything. Look, if you date a guy and he’s trying to push you into something you’re not ready for, he’s a jerk. What’s the saying, “Love is patient; love is kind…”

What I didn’t like

I can’t really say there’s anything I didn’t like, although, there’s some sad.

Overall

Find that person who appreciates you for who you are.

Weigh In

Have you experienced both loving someone for who they are and love obsessed kind of loves?

If so, which one turned out better?

#863 The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret AtwoodThe Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Charmaine and Stan live in their car. Stan used to have a job, but he lost it. Charmaine works in a bar. Lots of people don’t have jobs. People live in their cars. Gangs roam the streets rampant and intent on victimizing anybody to make their lives just a little easier.

There’s something going on, an experiment. It’s an experimental community. The community provides jobs and a place to live, the only catch is that every other month you have to go to prison. Husbands and wives are separated. Another couple lives in the house when the first couple is in prison. They’re called alternates.

Life goes ok for a while. Stan works with chickens and Charmaine does something in medication administration. Things start to get a little weird though. A friend had told the couple not to go into the community because it was dangerous. Everything is bugged. People are expected to behave a certain way. Charmaine soon meets the alternate man who lives in her house when she’s not there. The two start an affair, always meeting in abandoned houses, without bugs, or so Charmaine thinks.

This is just the beginning though. It turns out the alternates in Stan and Charmaine’s house are activists and Charmaine and Stan are getting dragged right along with them. Soon the couple is learning about strange sex robots and bran surgery that makes a person imprint on another person. There are sex robots that look like Elvis and they’re a big hit. There’s something even more nefarious going on in the community that involves human beings. Charmaine and Stan are going to play a part in putting a stop to it.

What I liked

I do tend to like most things that Margaret writes and this was no exception, although it’s a little strange. There was definitely humor in this book. Who would think that sex robots that looked like Elvis would be a huge hit? It certainly doesn’t float my boat.

Margaret is looking at a financially depressed society in this book. It’s not now and it may not be ever, but it could be. It’s actually quite plausible. If we had a more significant economic collapse where would people live? It’s very possible that many people would end up out in their cars and on the streets. Is there the potential for humanity to be taken advantage of during this time period? Could humans be placed in facilities to live and work? Yes and yes. If you listen to conspiracy theorists out there, the government has something called FEMA camps, which is where we’re supposedly going to go after we’re rounded up by the government for whatever reason. Is it true? I have no clue.

In this book’s case, the community is run by a private organization, no doubt with backing from various politicians. It’s for profit. There’s nothing magnanimous about this. It’s too good to be true and everyone there should be worried about it.

What I didn’t like

It’s a bit of an awful thing when one part of humanity thinks it can take advantage of another part of humanity for whatever flimsy reasons it gives. In this case, some people were so poor they couldn’t make it on their own, so it’s ok to prey upon them and essentially herd them up like cattle. Not cool.

The thing is, I think there would be some people who would take advantage of others in these situations. Would it be on the nightly news? Maybe not, but I think it would happen.

Overall

If they say they’re going to give you a job and pay your rent, there’s probably a catch so big it could fill Rhode Island.

Weigh In

If you were broke, would you take your chances in a community like the one in this book?

Do you think some people just wait for unfortunate societal circumstances to take advantage of others?

#852 Unlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Unlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine PaetroUnlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Lindsay is enjoying her life. Her friend Yuki is getting married, rather suddenly actually, but a friend should be happy for a friend. Lindsay has a great husband and a great daughter. She enjoys her job. One day she sees something she didn’t expect to see. It’s a picture of Mackie Morales, a murderer. Lindsay knows that the chances of Mackie trying to do something to her are fairly high. She has to be on her guard.

Yuki goes on a cruise with her new husband, an officer as well, and things turn bad. It turns out some terrorists want ransom money and take over the entire ship to get it. It also turns out that the cruise line didn’t really have enough piracy insurance, which is a thing apparently.

Ultimately, there is a showdown in both places.

What I liked

I know this is part of a series and for being part of a series, I wasn’t entirely lost on this book, which is a good thing. There was still a mystery and there was still drama and conflict. This book had all of those things that a book should have without the reader having to refer back to the previous books to get what was going on. With that said, it definitely would have helped.

What I didn’t like

Although this book can stand on its own, I feel like there is some stuff missing. I would have liked to have known more about what Mackie did that was so bad.

Overall

I guess 13 is an unlucky number in this case.

Weigh In

If you went on a cruise and it was hijacked, would you ever go on a cruise again?

What do you think about books in a series that stand on their own, but not entirely?

#849 The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly

The Scarecrow by Michael ConnellyThe Scarecrow by Michael Connelly

James has been fired from the newspaper, but he has enough time to train his replacement. He’s got one last chance to get a good story out before he goes. It involves a young man accused of murder. What James finds is not an admission of murder, but a rather long transcript of the interrogation. The teenager never actually confessed to the murder. He’s not a nice kid, but according to him, when he stole the car, the body was already inside the trunk.

Additional murders, of a similar nature happen. It has something to do with a strange website about trunk murders. The thing James doesn’t know is that the domain name is being watched. The person watching has the power to do all sorts of awful things to James, which he finds out when he gets to Las Vegas to chase down a lead.

With the help of a federal agent, James starts to unravel things. It has something to do with an IT company, but what?

What I liked

This novel has a heavy basis in the computer world, which is nice, since I am a computer professional. You just wouldn’t believe the things you can do with computers. It’s nice to add a little mystery and a little crime to computers, because it certainly exists, but people don’t think about it often enough.

What I didn’t like

I’m not overly fond of the main characters. They didn’t grab me, really.

Is it possible to hack into a credit card company and cancel someone’s account? Sure, technically. How about shutting down their bank account and transferring all their funds? Sure, technically. I say technically because it is possible, but it takes a whole lot of know-how, a whole lot of guts, and a whole lot of knowing how to not get caught. Where money is concerned, you better bet your butt that it’s going to be well protected. Banks don’t just make their passwords “password” or “1234.” Money is protected by lots of safety measures, both physical and technological. The skill necessary to hack into a financial institution is very high. Moreover, how do you hack into that system without being noticed? If you’re going to screw with one person, you don’t want to get caught just for that, so you better know how to hide your tracks. You would have to be smart enough to hide all traces, or at least the most obvious ones, computer wise.

While this may sound exciting, it’s not feasible. Usually when financial institutions get hacked, the people doing it are going for big money. They don’t want to screw with one person; they want to screw with everyone. They’re going to make sure their tracks are covered, as much as possible, but someone is going to notice. It’s not realistic that one guy is going to have enough knowledge to hack multiple big institutions by himself and then hide the fact that he did.

Overall

Scarecrows are for corn.

Weigh In

Could you hack into a bank?

Do you think hacking is portrayed as glamorous?

#843 When the Wind Blows by James Patterson

When the Wind Blows by James PattersonWhen the Wind Blows by James Patterson

Frannie is a vet and she lives out in the woods. One day she’s treating a deer and her fawn, the next day, or the same day, she sees something she never thought she would see. She can’t really believe it. She also has a new tenant. He calls himself Kit. She tells him what she thought she saw and he takes her seriously, but he has his reasons.

What Frannie thought she saw was a winged girl, a real, live girl with wings. The two are able to coax the girl to them. She says her name is Max and soon there is a whole story about where she comes from, but she’s reluctant to tell it. She isn’t the only one. She came from a school. She left. There are other winged children and some of them are put to sleep. The two want to protect Max, but soon people start coming after them. There are guns and fires. Can Kit and Frannie save the other children? Can Max help save the other children? Who is doing this and why?

What I liked

I actually found this book quite intriguing. It’s woo, but woo explained by science, or theoretically explained by science. People cannot have wings, nor can they lay eggs. This book was scandal nested in scandal. Frannie and Kit are both likable enough. The winged children are likable. I’m actually impressed with how this book turned out.

Who knows what secret labs do to humans behind closed doors, in secret labs, in the woods, down dark and long roads? There is absolutely no telling. We have no idea the potential human atrocities that occur in the name of science, or greed, or simply hate.

What I didn’t like

Like I said, people can’t have wings. It’s just incredibly far-fetched. Ok, I can see humans possibly having some sort of grafted wings. Possibly a like a very high-end prosthetic, attached to shoulder blades and upper arm nerves. What I cannot see is people having so much bird DNA that wings are inherent and they lay eggs. I don’t think there’s a point when humans will stop being mammals. I kind of think once you’re a mammal, you’re always a mammal. I mean, there are platypuses and they’re kind of weird. Unless you’re a lizard person, you’re a mammal. For me, there is this tinge of “this is too far out there to ever conceivably happen” and that kind of gives me some pause as far as this book is concerned.

Overall

You never know what you’re going to find in the woods.

Weigh In

If you had wings, where would you fly?

Do you believe people will have wings if they become angels?