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Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin.

I almost stopped reading this book in the middle. I have better things to do with my time. Seriously, unless you are a huge Kathy Griffin fan, or are trying to catch up on your celebrity gossip, just skip it.

Love Comes Softly, by Janet Oke.

I read this book years ago and decided to give it a re-read. I think I'll work through the whole series.

Twilight and Philosophy: Vampires, Vegetarians, and the Pursuit of Immortality (The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series) , Rebecca Housel (Editor), J. Jeremy Wisnewski (Editor), William Irwin (Series Editor).

This book is a collection of essays by different authors connecting the insanely popular Stephenie Meyer series with various schools of philosophical thought. It is part of the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, which includes titles such as Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy, 24 and Philosophy, and, naturally, Lost and Philosophy.

Frankly, I was a bit disappointed. Although there are a few sparkly gems among the essays, most either pose questions that are obvious and trite (i.e. "Do vampires have souls?" "Is Bella a feminist, or an antifeminist, heroine?") or try, like an undergraduate college paper, to apply deeper meaning where the author intended none. Students of philosophy will be bored by the lack of substance, while Twilight fans will be annoyed by writers who are less familiar with the books than they.

The Mommy Club, by Sarah Bird. Although I liked the author's earlier books, Alamo House and The Boyfriend School when I read them many years ago, The Mommy Club just didn't click with me.

Mommywood, by Tori Spelling. Though I found her first book, sTORI Telling, rather interesting, she just lost me with this one. I got tired of hearing her complain about how she had to work to support her family; then, for example, throwing a memorial service for her dog, or and over-the-top first birthday party for her son. Her observations about "Mommywood" would be fascinating on their own; but as a story teller, she can't quite decide whether she wants to be a part of it or not.

Finished this week:

The Associate, by John Grisham.

Without Remorse, by Tom Clancy.

Debt of Honor, by Tom Clancy

Executive Orders, by Tom Clancy

On September 11, 2001, after the initial shock had worn off, a few people (myself included) who were familiar with Clancy's Debt of Honor recalled the incident which occurs at the end of the book: A Japanese airline pilot, distraught and angry over relatives killed in a short-lived conflict between his country and the United States, crashes an empty Boeing 747 into the Capitol building during a Presidential address, killing the President and virtually all of the members of Congress, the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Clancy's hero, Jack Ryan, who had just been confirmed as Vice President, narrowly escapes death and is immediately sworn in as President. Executive Orders picks up right where Debt of Honor leaves off, as a reluctant President Ryan handles both domestic and international crises while rebuilding the government as he and his family adjust to their new roles.

Prior to September 11, it had not occurred to most people that a passenger jet could be used as a weapon of mass murder. But to Tom Clancy it had.

While not exactly prophetic, many of the themes and plotlines of Debt of Honor (1994) and Executive Orders (1996) seem familiar to us. In Debt of Honor, we see in detail the unraveling of the U.S. economy (through an engineered attack on the markets, rather than as a result of sub-prime mortgages and toxic assets). Executive Orders contains a bioterrorism attack on the US, the assassination of the Iraqi dictator, the merger of Iraq and Iran into the United Islamic Republic, and a second Persian Gulf war - complete with embedded journalists. Although some of Clancy's cold war novels now seem a bit stale, these two still seem fresh, even nearly ten years after publication.

I've been reading through all the Jack Ryan novels, in plotline order, but at this point I plan to take a break and read Without Remorse and Rainbow Six, set in the same universe but staring John Clark as the main character. And get some non-fiction reading done.

Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned the Political Establishment Upside Down, by Kaylene Johnson

As a biography, it's not great. It's a history of Sarah Palin's life, without the critical analysis that one would expect from a professional biographer. But I notice that the book is penned by a magazine writer and two-time book author, a resident of Wasilla, Alaska; and as such, it is an adequate biography. It only covers Sarah's life up to her swearing-in as Alaska governor.

Paul of Dune, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

If you remember, I read through all fourteen then-existing Dune novels last year, plus Dreamer of Dune and The Road to Dune. Let me just say, Herbert & Anderson have come a long way since writing the mind-numbingly boring Legends of Dune trilogy. Paul of Dune is shorter, more concise, with a plot that moves along as it should. There also seemed to be some effort to address the factual inconsistencies (too numerous to mention) between the Frank Herbert Dune novels and the Herbert/Anderson Dune novels. (Basically, it's all Irulan's fault.) Looking forward to the rest of the Heroes of Dune novels.

The Longing, by Beverly Lewis.

This is the third of three books in the "Courtship of Nellie Fisher" series, one of my favorite Beverly Lewis series. It did not have the element of mystery that was present in some of her previous novels, and I thought the ending was a bit abrupt. But it had a clear spiritual message and compelling characters.

Molly Remer of Citizens for Midwifery reviews Fathers at Birth by Rose St. John in: Fathers at Birth and More About Fathers at Birth. Some good links in those posts, too.

The Sum of All Fears, by Tom Clancy.

I'm going to take a break in my quest to read through all the Jack Ryan novels. It's becoming tedious; I need some variety. Plus, I want to go back and read the John Clark novels, which often feature Jack Ryan in a cameo roll, and are set in the same "universe".

The Host, by Stephenie Meyer.

I took a break in the middle of re-reading Meyer's Twilight saga to read her "other" novel, The Host. I liked it a lot better than I though I would. If you just really love teenage vampires, you might not enjoy this one so much. Likewise, if you are a hard-core sci-fi buff, it might just not be science fiction-y enough for you. But if you like Meyer's writing, there are plenty of similarities between The Host and Twilight; a young, vulnerable heroine with an old soul who is selfless to the point of self-sacrifice; a bizarre love triangle; and two groups of people - humans and aliens - who, though natural enemies, find a way to get past their prejudices, understand each other, and work together.

The May, 2008 edition of Veritas Press' Epistula contained a fascinating article, "A Brief History of Children’s Literature".

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