A Reader Opines: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Publication: 1979 by Harmony
Genre: Science Fiction | Humor
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

This is another book that has been on my mental list of those I want to read. Elements of this series are embedded in popular culture so I had some expectations that I feared wouldn’t be met. Needless worry on my part.

Summary taken from Goodreads:
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

Arthur Dent’s journey with Ford Prefect is just plain fun. It takes science fiction into the world of humor and does so with skill and heart. The story unfolds organically and the plot points are subtle but effective. I sense undercurrents that will rush to the surface of the sequels and I’m anxious to discover them.

The characters are diverse, each interesting for different reasons. The reader feels for Arthur because his planet is destroyed and he’s thrust into the universe in which he is very much out of his element. Ford Prefect is a perfect bridge between Arthur and the reality of his new life.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a quick read with laugh out loud moments and I wish I had gotten to it sooner. In my defense, took a while for it to become available at the local library, I just hope the next book isn’t so hard to get a hold of.

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Warrior Wednesday: PFC Nathaniel G. Dorsey #NeverForgotten

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PFC Nathanial G. “Nate” Dorsey

May 24, 1963 to Oct. 23, 1983

Photo provided by family and posted on Find A Grave by Karl and Lisa Wittstruck.

Photo provided by family and posted on Find A Grave by Karl and Lisa Wittstruck.

PFC Dorsey was part of the multi-national peace keeping force stationed in Beirut, Lebanon from 1982-1984.

On Oct. 23, 1983, a dump truck packed with an estimated 12,000 pounds (5,400 kg) of explosives crashed through the front gates of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. The detonation ripped the four-story building from its foundation, and the barracks imploded in a matter of seconds. The 241 Marines and sailors killed in the explosion represented the largest loss of life in a single day for the Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. Within moments of the attack, a second suicide bomber drove into the barracks of a French paratrooper detachment in West Beirut. The explosion toppled the building, and 58 soldiers inside were killed.

For more information about the barracks attack visit britannica.com.

Some say this was the beginning of the War on Terror.

If any of the information I’ve shared is incorrect or you have something to add, please comment or contact me through the link in the top menu or button on the bottom right of your screen. Verification of facts are always welcome.

The protagonist of my WIP is a physical therapist who works with wounded vets. Through my research I’ve discovered patriots that leave me awe-filled, many of whom gave their life for their country. If I’ve learned only one thing, it is that these soldiers don’t do what they do for notoriety, they love their job, their country and their brothers (and sisters) in arms. I encourage you to do a bit of research on these warriors, but keep in mind that initial media reports often contain unverified information and for security reasons many details of operations are never revealed.

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A Reader Opines: The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf

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The Symptoms of My Insanity
Publication: April 18th 2013 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult | Realistic Fiction | Contemporary
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

I like book covers, but don’t usually choose to read a book just because the cover looks cool. I’m a title person. A book’s title is the first thing I notice when looking for my next read. You gotta admit The Symptoms of My Insanity is a very intriguing title.

Summary taken from Goodreads:
A laugh-out-loud, bittersweet debut full of wit, wisdom, heart, and a hilarious, unforgettable heroine.

When you’re a hypochondriac, there are a million different things that could be wrong with you, but for Izzy, focusing on what could be wrong might be keeping her from dealing with what’s really wrong.

I almost raised my hand, but what would I say? “Mr. Bayer, may I please be excused? I’m not totally positive, but I think I might have cancer.” No way. Then everyone at school would know, and they would treat me differently, and I would be known as “Izzy, that poor girl who diagnosed herself with breast cancer during biology.”

But Izzy’s sense of humor can only get her so far when suddenly her best friend appears to have undergone a personality transplant, her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, and her beautiful maybe-boyfriend is going all hot and cold. Izzy thinks she’s preparing for the worst-case scenario, but when the worst-case scenario actually hits, it’s a different story altogether—and there’s no tidy list of symptoms to help her through the insanity.

Author Mindy Raf tackles multiple issues with finesse: negative self-image, the illness of a parent, art as therapy and peer to peer problems. She shuttles the subplots of conflict and crisis throughout the story like a weaver wefts threads through the warp ends. The result is a beautifully woven tapestry of the symptoms of living.

Izzy is a fantastic character and it was a pleasure to get to know her. Although first person point of view isn’t my favorite, I admit this story couldn’t have been told any other way. The supporting characters are multi-dimensional, lending authenticity to Izzy’s plight. At the heart of the story is Izzy’s own coping skills and how they affect everyone around her, both negatively and positively.

This book will make you laugh out loud and cry. It will anger and exasperate you. Prepare to ride an emotional roller coaster, but know when the ride is over you’ll realize it was worth your time.

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Warrior Wednesday: Capt Thomas W “Pete” Ray #NeverForgotten

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Capt Thomas W “Pete” Ray

Mar 14, 1931 to Apr. 19, 1961

Photo provided by Find A Grave and Aircrew

Photo provided by Find A Grave and Aircrew

Participant in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Pilot. Alabama Air National Guardsmen. Recipient of Distinguished Intelligence Cross (The Central Intelligence Agency’s highest award for Heroism.)

On April 19, 1961, Pilot, Capt “Pete” Ray and Flight Engineer, Leo Baker were shot down in their B-26 Bomber near Playa Giron, Cuba. The two men survived the crash but were killed in a shootout with Cuban Soldiers. (According to therealcuba.com he received a shot at close range to the right temple and is considered to have been assassinated.)

Fidel Castro ordered Ray’s body preserved as evidence in Cuba for more than 17 years. Finally in December 1979, after the Cubans learned of a personal mission by Ray’s daughter, Janet Ray Weininger, to find his body, the Cuban government returned the pilot’s body to Alabama.

Ray served as a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army.

Shield of the Alabama Air National Guard

Shield of the Alabama Air National Guard

Emblem of the United States Air National Guard

Emblem of the United States Air National Guard

If any of the information I’ve shared is incorrect or you have something to add, please comment or contact me through the link in the top menu or button on the bottom right of your screen. Verification of facts are always welcome.

The protagonist of my WIP is a physical therapist who works with wounded vets. Through my research I’ve discovered patriots that leave me awe-filled, many of whom gave their life for their country. If I’ve learned only one thing, it is that these soldiers don’t do what they do for notoriety, they love their job, their country and their brothers (and sisters) in arms. I encourage you to do a bit of research on these warriors, but keep in mind that initial media reports often contain unverified information and for security reasons many details of operations are never revealed.

Have you joined the mailing list for my monthly newsletter? You can opt in here.
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A Christmas Movie Favorite

When I began brainstorming ideas for December blog posts a list of favorite Christmas movies popped into my mind. On my list of ideas it says, “Five of My Favorite Christmas Movies”. Now, I have more than five Christmas themed movies that I love, but how do I adequately explain why I consider them favorites?

I’m lazy and expending that much energy didn’t sound appealing, so I decided to choose just one and see if I can make you understand my fondness.

Love ActuallyLove Actually

Director: Richard Curtis
Writer: Richard Curtis
Stars: Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Colin Firth, Martin Freeman, Hugh Grant, Keira Knightly, Laura Linney, Kris Marshall, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson

Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.

  • The first thing I love about this movie is the cast. I’ve listed several actors from the film but there are many, many more that gave exemplary performances. There was a chemistry between the characters that jumped off the screen.
  • This exchange between Daniel (Liam Neeson) and Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster):

    Daniel: So what’s the problem, Sammy-o? Is it just Mum, or is it something else? Maybe… school – are you being bullied? Or is it something worse? Can you give me any clues at all?
    Sam: You really want to know?
    Daniel: I really want to know.
    Sam: Even though you won’t be able to do anything to help?
    Daniel: Even if that’s the case, yeah.
    Sam: Okay. Well, the truth is… actually… I’m in love.
    Daniel: Sorry?
    Sam: I know I should be thinking about Mum all the time, and I am. But the truth is, I’m in love and I was before she died, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
    Daniel: [laughs] Aren’t you a bit young to be in love?
    Sam: No.
    Daniel: Oh, well, okay… right. Well, I mean, I’m a little relieved.
    Sam: Why?
    Daniel: Well, because I thought it would be something worse.
    Sam: [incredulous] Worse than the total agony of being in love?
    Daniel: Oh. No, you’re right. Yeah, total agony.
  • It explores the many facets and stages of love. New love, old love, tired love, unrequited love, impossible love, forbidden love/lust, family love, and love between friends.
  • Bye Bye Baby by the Bay City Rollers (watch the movie)
  • The Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) searching for Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) on the dodgy end of Wandsworth.
  • Bill Nighy hitting it out of the park as aging rock and roll star Billy Mack.
  • Karen’s (Emma Thompson) tears (again, watch the movie)
  • The monologue of the Prime Minister dubbed over images of people in airports…
    Prime Minister: Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.

These are just some of the aspects of the film that I loved without getting technical. Love Actually has elicited a plethora of opinions: Greg Gutfeld thinks it’s the worst Christmas movie ever. Dana Perino loves it. A few members of my family think it’s just okay. One viewer’s review on Time Out London said, “This is an embarrassment, an overdrawn rom-com gone very wrong.” If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to watch it and let me know what you think. If you’ve already formed an opinion share it in the comments.

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A Reader Opines: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

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Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Publication: April 1st 2000 by Roc
Series: The Dresden Files #1
Genre: Fantasy | Crime | Supernatural
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

The Dresden Files series is one I’ve been wanting to read for several years (after watching the short-lived television series) and I finally picked up book one from the library. While murder mysteries aren’t my usual literary fare, the fantasy element of this series was irresistible.

Summary taken from Goodreads:
Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

I really liked this book. It didn’t wow me, but it was enjoyable.

The story and plot were a bit predictable at times, but the character Harry Dresden keeps it fresh. Living inside his head is entertaining, to say the least. The writing is good and I got a sense of setting and time without being bonked on the head with superfluous descriptions. The fantasy elements were a blend of new and old which kept boredom at bay.

While I did like Storm Front and adored Harry Dresden, I’m not sure I’ll move on to the next book in the series. That decision will come after I reflect on this one a bit more.

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Warrior Wednesday: LCpl James C. McHenry #NeverForgotten

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LCpl James Carthell McHenry

Dec 30 1946 – Jan 24, 1968

Photo provided by Find A Grave and Billy M. Brown

Photo provided by Find A Grave and Billy M. Brown

James McHenry enlisted in the US Marine Corps on September 22, 1966 in Little Rock AR. He arrived in Vietnam on July 26, 1967 and was assigned to Company H, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st MARDIV (Rein) FMF.

A patrol under OPCON (Operational Control) of the 3d Battalion, were fired on by automatic weapons from a tree line near the hamlet of La Thap in Dai Loc District. The men assaulted through the enemy position and continued on their planned patrol route, when once again they were hit by enemy automatic weapons fire. LCpl McHenry was hit and killed as a result of the hostile fire.

JAMES CARTHELL MCHENRY is honored on Panel 35E, Row 25 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

– See more at: http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/36811/JAMES-C-MCHENRY#sthash.yrzj7MlT.dpuf

2nd Battalion, 7th Marines
2nd Battalion, 7th Marines insignia

2/7’s insignia

2/7's Vietnam Era battalion logo

2/7’s Vietnam Era battalion logo

If any of the information I’ve shared is incorrect or you have something to add, please comment or contact me through the link in the top menu or button on the bottom right of your screen. Verification of facts are always welcome.

The protagonist of my WIP is a physical therapist who works with wounded vets. Through my research I’ve discovered patriots that leave me awe-filled, many of whom gave their life for their country. If I’ve learned only one thing, it is that these soldiers don’t do what they do for notoriety, they love their job, their country and their brothers (and sisters) in arms. I encourage you to do a bit of research on these warriors, but keep in mind that initial media reports often contain unverified information and for security reasons many details of operations are never revealed.

Have you joined the mailing list for my monthly newsletter? You can opt in here.
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