Anxiety (A Very Short Introduction) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Anxiety
Series: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Daniel & Jason Freeman
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 142
Words: 44K



Synopsis:

From Kobo.com

Are we born with our fears or do we learn them? Why do our fears persist? What purpose does anxiety serve? How common are anxiety disorders, and which treatments are most effective? What’s happening in our brain when we feel fear? And what are Colombian worry dolls? This Very Short Introduction draws on the best scientific research to offer a highly accessible explanation of what anxiety is, why it is such a normal and vital part of our emotional life, and the key factors that cause it. Insights are drawn from psychology, neuroscience, genetics, epidemiology, and clinical trials. Providing a fascinating illustration of the discussion are two interviews conducted specifically for the book, with the actor, writer, director, and television presenter Michael Palin and former England football manager Graham Taylor. The book covers in detail the six major anxiety disorders: phobias; panic disorder and agoraphobia; social anxiety; generalised anxiety disorder; obsessive compulsive disorder; and post-traumatic stress disorder. With a chapter devoted to each disorder, Daniel and Jason Freeman take you through the symptoms, prevalence, and causes of each one. A final chapter describes the treatments available for dealing with anxiety problems.

My Thoughts:

THIS was how this series should have been. THIS was everything that I could have asked for in a series entitled A Very Short Introduction. Oh, it is almost worse that this was this good because now all the sucky ones are going to suck even worse in comparison.

Daniel and Jason Freeman write to lay people. They explain technical terms and try not to use them. For example, one of the definitions for a medical term is a word that nobody but crazy doctors would use and these guys write “and that means ‘clinically insane’”. How hard is it to do that? Not very.

I was also impressed with how on target they stayed in regards to looking at the big picture of Anxiety. While they wrote about various forms of Anxiety and everything, they never lost sight of the fact they WERE writing about anxiety and they always tied the subject firmly back.

Basically, they did a fantastic job of giving an overview with just enough specifics to satisfy me. I don’t know if these 2 are medical doctors, but they definitely know how to talk to people who are not at their level, like me (unlike some of the other scumbag authors in this series). This was a weird read because I loved so much how the authors did things and it was totally mixed with hatred for all the other writers who were abject, abysmal and complete failures at their attempts to communicate their subjects.

Now I’m going to go have a good cry and feel anxious about the other books in the series 😉

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Muppet Movie (1979)

Ahhhhh yeah! When I blogged about The Muppet Christmas Carol and posted a link over at Librarything, one of the people over there suggested I make 2021 The Year of the Muppets for the movies I watch. I liked that idea so much that I decided to act on it. This is the first installment of that plan.

A bit of background.

The Muppets tv show had been going strong for a couple of years and it was decided to leverage that into a big Hollywood movie. About Kermit going to Hollywood to make a movie and become famous. That sort of self-referential gag runs through this movie the entire time. It’s great. No knowledge of the tv show or the Muppets in general are needed to understand anything in this movie. While I am sure that having knowledge of the tv show would make this a stronger movie, a lack of knowledge doesn’t make it weaker (if you can follow that). This is an Origins story and as such each main Muppet character is introduced with their various quirks and personality traits on full display.

The gist of the movie is that Kermit is going to Hollywood to audition for a movie and along the way picks up a disparate crew of other Muppets and they all believe in themselves and sing and dance their way across the country. At the same time Doc Hopper, a fast food franchise owner, wants Kermit to do the commercials for his Frog Legs chain of restaurants. He’s chasing down Kermit and that ends with in a western style showdown in a deserted ghost town. Then the Muppets make it to Hollywood and get Orson Welles to give them “the standard Rich and Famous” contract. All this takes place AS a movie within the movie, with the muppets watching its debut in a private theatre. It is just genius. There is singing, there is muppet dancing, there are cameos from a lot of A-List actors, many of whom I have no idea who they are now, and there is a lot of feel good fun the entire time.

The movie opens with the 2 Grumpy Old Men (Statler and Waldorf) driving into the debut and making wisecracks about how bad it is going to be. It perfectly set the humorous tone for the movie. The movie ends with all the muppets hanging around the theatre and talking while the credits roll. It was like watching an after movie party of stars. From beginning to end, this felt consistent.

I found myself bobbing my head and singing along to the various songs. I was laughing and grinning the entire time as well. This was just a Good Time Movie that kids, adults and even fractious grumps could enjoy. I am quite happy that I bought this and plan on watching it again (although not writing about it). I can see this becoming a Happy Background Movie for me.

I would call this a complete success!

2006 Is DONE!

I know, you probably think I’m a little late to the party. Admit it. In my defense, it’s only been 15 years. And besides, 2006 was a good year. Tennant was the Dr and Billy Piper was his lovely companion. Good memories!

Anyway, this is just a little note to myself that I’ve finished down to 2006 in my Blog Construction Project. Every time I get to knock another year off the To-Do list is a good moment for me. 2005-2000 is looking more and more doable. So be happy and rejoice with me!

Transfer of Power (Mitch Rapp #1) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Transfer of Power
Series: Mitch Rapp #1
Author: Vince Flynn
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 458
Words: 168K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com

Rapp is introduced while he is performing a covert operation in Iran and he discovers a possible terrorist attack planned for the nation’s capital to happen in the near future. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Anna Reilly is starting her first day as a White House correspondent for NBC. It also happens to be the day where the terrorist, using a secret entrance, takes over the White House and holds it hostage. The president, who barely escaped the hostage situation, remains trapped in the unfinished bomb shelter. With the vice president using this opportunity as commander in chief to glorify his political career by being lenient towards the terrorist demands, Rapp must find a way to fight the terrorists from the inside of the White House. It is here where he saves Anna Reilly from being raped by one of the terrorists and their relationship, which will be seen throughout the later books, begins.

Several Navy SEALs sneak into the White House while Rapp eliminates the terrorists, and saves the hostages and the president. The leader of the terrorist group manages to escape the White House while detonating his strategically placed explosives. He is later found in South America only to be killed by Rapp

My Thoughts:

This was a thoroughly enjoyable macho man book without the macho-ness dragging along a boatload of jerkitis. I hate when testosterone turns to stupidity. That was my main issue with the Scott Harvath series (which I touched on in the Currently Reading & Quote post last week). I did go into this a bit gingerly because of that. Even 4 years later Harvath sticks in my mind as an icon of douchebaggery. Thankfully, Mitch Rapp doesn’t seem to be that way. While he’s not a smooth tongued political serpent, he doesn’t go out of his way to be a jerk either.

I am a little concerned with the romance angle. Most Operators aren’t the kind of people who can focus and do what needs to be done AND have a perfectly balanced family life. While I’m rooting for Rapp and Reilly to work out I’m not letting it become a big thing in my mind. That way if it doesn’t work out or she dies or becomes a terrorist or WAS a terrorist the entire time, I won’t be torn up about it.

I’m also currently reading the Delta Force novels by Dalton Fury and that has given me a lot of background into certain terms and processes used by teams like Delta, that while not necessary to completely understand here, certainly make for a fuller reading. In the final assault on the White House Flynn talks about small helicopters loaded up with 4 Delta members on the skids. It’s a 2 sentence description that by itself you just kind of read over. But Dalton references the practice in much fuller detail in his books and so I was able to transpose the knowledge from that to this. Not a big thing but reading books like these are all about the experience and that made for a fuller experience. I’m happy about that.

One word of warning. There is a scene where Anna is going to be raped by one of the terrorists. She isn’t because Rapp steps in. However, if reading about attempted rape is something that bothers you, you should be aware of that. I’m not a fan of reading about that situation and should it be used again I’ll have to think hard about the series. But it made sense for the situation (ie, it wasn’t thrown in as titillation), wasn’t graphic and in the end, doesn’t happen because a good man puts a stop to it.

The title refers to the Transfer of Power from an incapacitated President to the Vice President. Said VP is a real scumsucking politician being advised by an even worse scumsucking politician and they both get their just desserts by the end of the book. Too bad real life can’t follow certain parts of this book.

I’ve got 17 more Mitch Rapp books to read by Flynn. Flynn died and another author stepped in at book 13 or so, so we’ll see how the series goes. Sometimes a series is long because it is good and sometimes it is long because it is pablum for an undiscerning audience. I am pulling for the Good option here!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Currently Reading: Gulag Archipelago Vol. II

I have been reading this for the past 2 weeks. Yes, you heard me right, 2 weeks. I’ve cheated a little and started a couple of other books (hence the other Currently Reading Posts) but I really want this done.

I’ve been able to judge what is coming up for February a little better and things are looking slightly brighter than I originally thought. Which makes reading this just a tiny bit easier. Not much, mind you. but every tiny bit helps! So while February is going to be slightly lighter in terms of books read, I don’t think it will be in the single digits like I was fearing.

Onward, Comrades, for the Bookerland!

PSA: #WordPress – Whoring Out the Free Blogs

Yep, it’s official. Time to bend over Free WordPress Users, Big Daddy Pimp has shown up. We all know that the free blogs have ads on them but if you have an ad blocker you don’t notice. Big Daddy has decided that it’s time to take things up another notch however. Introducing, Native Sponsored Posts!

Yep, ADS are now going to full on posts inserted into our free blogs. If you read the above article closely, you see that right now it is just for WP’s use but they promise that eventually these sponsored posts will be available for use to others. So get ready to be gang raped by proxy.

And they lie their asses off about it on the official forums: My Website has been taken over/hacked by an ad. In particular, please note Quote ##3610590 by JerrySarcastic. He states that “As long as one post is published on the site, this sponsored post is not shown.” That is a complete lie and Jerry is an official staff member on the official WordPress.com forums.

I can testify that I have seen these native sponsored posts on extremely active, but free, sites. I’ve seen them at BookWyrmReads and EarnestlyEccentric. Unfortunately, I did NOT take a screen shot. Thankfully, and I have permission from Alex to use his address, I did catch a screen shot of what they look like at AlexonFilm.com. Alex, while using a dotcom address, is using a free wordpress.com plan.

The reason I’ve included this screenshot is because these “posts” are a moving target. They don’t stay there. They’re inserted and then randomly disappear. So you can go visit Alex’s site and chances are you’ll never see that post at all. I want a record because if anyone brings up the issue on the forums I fully expect Jerry and his ilk to backpedal and lie again.

I’ve deliberately used inflammatory language throughout this post. That is because I’ve only got words to use. Make no mistake, this isn’t some Call to Action, or to Boycott WordPress.com or to leave or to take ANY action at all. The truth of the matter is, there isn’t anywhere else you can go for free (and remember, if you’re not paying for it, you are the product). Over the last year WP.com has been actively and I might say, hostilely, doing everything they can to monetize their services and make using the free option as painful as possible. What this post is is a call to awareness. You need to know what is going on on your own blog and then make the choice what you’re going to do about it, even if that choice is to do nothing, like me.

I have decided to do nothing for now. But being aware of this, I’ve decided where my Rubicon is. If WordPress starts inserting posts sponsored anyone other than WP.com then I’ll have to leave the free plan. Whether I leave WP or just upgrade to the personal plan (ie, dotcom) I have not decided yet.

In closing, please give this a minutes thought and at least decide if this is an issue or not for you.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 8 ★★★★★


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 8
Series: Yotsuba&! #8
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Opposites

Yotsuba & the Restaurant

Yotsuba & the Cultural Festival

Yotsuba & the Typhoon

Yotsuba & Watching the House

Yotsuba & the Festival

Yotsuba & Acorns

My Thoughts:

I read this sunday. I was feeling tired, stressed out and sick (probably from stressing out) and reading this was like taking a huge horse tranquilizer. By the end of the volume I was totally chill. I had been debating about whether I wanted to read this feeling the way I was but am I glad I did.

The picture I included this time was from the Festival Chapter. Yotsuba is helping pull a shrine and they take a break so she and her dad and some others are looking at the other portable shrines when Yotsuba sees the sumo wrestler. I remember laughing my head off the first time I saw this page and man, it hasn’t stopped being funny to me. The manga-ka has totally caught that innocent yet bold spirit of being a 5 year old.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

#6Degrees – Hamnet to …..

This month we are starting with Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. Apparently, it was the winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction. Good for it :-/


I am getting fething sick of these starting books. The creators seem to be under the impression that everyone who does this is a woman. Hey Jackasses, men blog too! So feth this book and feth this author.



This book, the Younger Gods, pretty much got the same reaction from me. It was the last book, that I’m aware of, that Eddings wrote and it was complete trash. Just UGH. I’d give it an old “frak” though instead of a “feth”.


Not everything by Eddings was trash. The Diamond Throne, book one of the Elenium, was a favorite of mine in my teens and 20’s. I’m actually planning on re-reading it this year to see how it has held up. The main character Sparhawk, is a middle aged, tired and worn out knight. But he does his duty.


Another man who is also a tired knight is (Ben) Kenobi. He’s gone through too much to stay General Kenobi and becomes crazy Old Ben. He has to have faith that the next Generation will be able to save them all and simply wait. Brutal.


Sometimes the next generation is even worse. In The Dark Glory War, the book ends with everyone realizing that the current crop of heroes are going to be the next generation of villains. How’s THAT for a kick in the pants?


For me, as an American citizen, the ultimate kick in the pants would be if we were ever to be nuked. This happens in Dale Brown’s Act of War. Thankfully, the rest of the book was “flufferific”. Men of firm resolve and action springing forward to defend their country. And Death to the Commie’s and Commie Pinko’s!


Despite his name, Daniel Pinkwater is no Commie Pinko! In fact, Pinkwater seems the kind of author who would be banned, hounded and generally censored by our new lizard overlords. Thankfully, with his 5 Novels already published, he’s pretty safe.

And that is how you go from Hamnet to 5 Novels.

If you’d like to participate in the #6degrees series of posts, head over to #6Degrees Meme to find out the starting point for each month. They’re not always punctual, so sometimes you have to wait until a week into the month. Personally, I’m going to do one more and if it’s another “chick” book, I’ll be done with this meme. This used to be fun but now I’m just annoyed and this blogging gig isn’t paying me nearly enough to put up with being annoyed.

Wicked Bronze Ambition (Garrett, PI #14) ★★☆☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Wicked Bronze Ambition
Series: Garrett, PI #14
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 438
Words: 127K



Synopsis:

From Kobo.com

Garrett is a human detective in the fantastical city of TunFaire. And now he’s getting tangled up in the worst sort of laws…

In-laws.

Garrett is set to stow his wandering heart with his fiancée, Strafa Algarda. But for Garrett, even true love comes with its share of headaches—namely, the Algarda family.

Strafa’s family needs Garrett’s unique skills in the worst way. Rumors are spreading that someone is organizing a Tournament of Swords—a brutal contest that magically compels the children of sorcerers to battle until only one is left alive. The winner will absorb the power from those he has killed and thus become a demigod.

Strafa and her family want to protect her daughter, Kevans, from being forced to take part in the lethal contest…and they’ve asked Garrett to find out who is organizing the tournament and nip it in the bud. The only problem is that finding the culprit is most likely impossible. But the Algardas are used to getting what they want….

My Thoughts:

This is the final Garrett PI book and I have to admit, it wasn’t good. Garrett’s new almost-wife (they’re going to be married in a week or so) is killed right from the get-go and then is returned/resurrected/whatevered right at the end. I really disliked her being killed, but to have her return was even worse.

Then Garrett is about the stupidest I’ve ever seen him in the series. Cook uses the old “I’m in shock, I’m stressed, I’m excuse, excuse, excuse” but it was total caca. He wrote Garrett dumb and then shut the Deadman out of the picture to make this last longer. Pile on that many other characters DO seem to know what is going on but are not telling Garrett because of “you have to figure it out on your own” caca and you had a LOT of caca in this book.

Everything in this book felt like a whimper instead of bang. A series shouldn’t end like that. Bleh.

Rating: 2 out of 5.