We Need Diverse Books

An added bonus today. My latest and likely last post for the work blog. Long time readers might recognize this as I posted a version of it here a while back.

CHAPTER CHATS

The book cover depicts three people in silhouette seated on a bridge, overlooking the water, with bright sunshine in the center behind a partially cloudy sky.

By Alan S.

I know that is a groundbreaking title there. Anyway, this post is a personal illustration of connecting with book characters because they are like me. Before anyone else can point it out – yes, I am a white guy. Yes, I am a white, heterosexual male. Yes, there are many books about people like me. This post is not about me wanting more books about me. I’ve always agreed that we need more diverse books. I can’t imagine why anyone would disagree with this. Kids need to be able to read a book about a person who reflects their personal experience. Intellectually, I always knew this. My last two books have been a good illustration of how a connection to the characters improves the reader’s experience.

I read The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (also available in ebook and eaudiobook from OverDrive/Libby). It takes place in rural…

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My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 11/20/20

While I till haven’t quite hit the point where I feel the relief of the upcoming change, I do feel like I’m able to focus more on my reading. Even so, it took a while to read an 830 page book on my iPad. Here’s my week:

Movies – I don’t remember watching a movie this week. I feel like I possibly watched some movie I’ve seen before at some point, but if I did I don’t remember what it was. My wife did watch Godzilla: King of Monsters while I was in the room, but I watched TV shows on my iPad while that was going on.

TV – The reason we didn’t watch movies was because we watched a lot more TV shows this week. We finished Cobra Kai. I really enjoyed the show and am glad the new season starts soon. We watched all of our regular shows. I started watching Ted Lasso on Apple TV. I didn’t really know much abut the show when I decided to start watching it. I expected funny and it is funny. What I didn’t expect was for it to be just the comfort TV I needed at a stressful time. If you have access to Apple TV you should watch it.

Books – I finished two books this week.

Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith – This is the new Cormoran Strike book from JK Rowling. Going in I knew that Rowling had been very publicly transphobic and I had heard that the book had a killer that dressed as a woman. Rowling is still a very good writer. I love the Strike books and this one is as good as the rest. I didn’t feel like the killer storyline was part of her views on the trans community. It was a very small part of the book and was not written in a way(in my view) was transphobic. But, I would love to hear thoughts from someone from that community.

Sanctuary by Paolo Mendoza and Abby Sher – This is a YA book set in a near future where the US is run by a xenophobic president who has been elected past the usual two term limit. All citizens are chipped and everyone is tracked. A deportation force is formed and undocumented citizens are being rounded up and forced into labor camps. Vali and her family are on their way to New York to get help getting to California where they ill be safe when her mom’s counterfeit chip malfunctions. Vali and her younger brother then have to try to make their way across the country alone. It is very good, but very dark and stressful.

On Deck – I have The Hunt on DVD. We have plenty of new episodes of TV shows on the DVR. Big Blue Madness(Kentucky basketball stuff) is on tonight. Kentucky football tomorrow. Ravens football Sunday. Actual UK basketball games Wednesday and Friday. I am reading The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly.

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My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 11/13/20

It’s been an interesting week. I did find the time to read and watch TV. Here’s my weekly recap.

Movies – My movie viewing is still stuck in a mediocre limbo of finding random movies on streaming. I’m sure there are plenty of good movies out there I haven’t watched. I’m also sure, given my wife’s love of action movies, I will never find them. This week we chose another Mark Wahlberg movie we had never seen: Mile 22. Wahlberg lead a team that was tasked with getting a mysterious police officer with sensitive information out f Indonesia. It was your standard action movie. The only interesting part was that Wahlberg played a not so nice guy this time and it did not have a nice, everything is fine, ending.

TV – We started watching Cobra Kai this weekend. We watched the entire first season in one day. We are now almost done with season two. It is the sequel show of Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio reprising his role of Daniel Larusso and William Zabka back as Johnny Lawrence. Johnny brings back Cobra Kai and they find themselves as rivals again. It is is really good show. I love that they make Cobra Kai more nuanced this time instead of them being complete villains. We watched the new episodes of Chicago Fire, Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy. They all have the pandemic as part of the story. I like how Fire acknowledged it, but didn’t make it the driving storyline. Station 19 was pretty god at that as well. Grey’s was very much a pandemic show. I’m not sure i will enjoy shows that are too much like real life right now.

Books – I’m still reading Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith. It is 830 pages and I’m reading on my Ipad. I’m finding that combination daunting. I might need to take a break from it until I get the physcial book.

On Deck – Movies will still be luck of the draw. We will finish Cobra Kai and watch our normal shows. A Million Little Things and FBI come back next week. We still have the new episodes of SWAT to watch.

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My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 11/6/20

It was a slow week in both viewing and reading. Too much election coverage and too much falling asleep on the couch when trying to watch something.

Movies – We watched one movie. Well, my wife watched it while I dozed off and on on the the couch. It was Just Getting Started. Morgan Freeman plays an ex-mob lawyer in witness protection. Tommy Lee Jones is an ex-FBI gent staying at the resort Freeman’s where Freeman’s character works. Rene Russo is the love interest. The mob finds Freeman and sends people to kill him. It sounds promising, but it was not really that good. I was not sad to fall asleep for most of it.

TV – We did watch two new shows this week. First was The Undoing with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. They are a wealthy couple n New York. A mom at the private school their son attends is murdered. Grant’s character disappears at the same time. The police start questioning Kidman a lot about the situation. So far, so good. We also watched B Positive. It is a sitcom starring Thomas Middleditch and Annaleigh Ashford. He finds out he needs a kidney and at the same time runs into an Ashford who he knows from high school. She agrees to donate a kidney but she has to stay clean and sober for three months first. I’m not sure if I will stick with it, but I liked it enough to give it a few more episodes.

Books – I read Providence by Max Barry. It is a sci-fi about a crew of four on a ship mainly run by AI in a war against an alien race. It seemed like it took me forever to read it. It wasn’t bad, but I had trouble caring about the story. I’m not sure if it was the bhttps://ko-fi.com/taterook or my mental state.

On Deck – Movies will be again luck of the draw. Some TV shows start a new season next week. I will have a new Chicago Fire, Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy to watch. I am reading Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith. Galbraith is JK Rowling and there is controversy around her and a plot point in the book. It makes me sad because I love the Strike books.

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My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 10/30/20

I haven’t been in a writing mood this week. At least these weekly posts give me something to write even if no one reads them. Here is my week in reading and viewing.

Movies – We watched two movies this week. The first was M Night Shyamalan’s The Happening with Mark Wahlberg. This is an older movie we had missed when it was released. The general plot – something is making people suddenly freeze, talk nonsense and then kill themselves. Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel are a young couple in Philadelphia who flee the city to try to find safety. We both enjoyed it. We like Wahlberg and the story was interesting. The second movie was Playing With Fire. The plot – John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, and John Leguizamo play smokejumpers who rescue three kids from a cabin fire and then have to take care of them until their parent arrive. It was a cute family comedy and a good break from action and drama. I’m a fan of all three actors. The kids were good in their roles and Judy Greer was good as a scientist and love interest for Cena.

TV – Nothing groundbreaking here. We watched all of our normal shows. I watched Kentucky lose their football game and look bad doing it. We watched the season premiere of American Housewife. It was weird to have a new kid playing the youngest daughter, especially since the former actor was one of the best parts of the show. It will take a while to get used to it, if we ever do. I still enjoy the show, though. It has a very good cast and is consistently funny. We got back to the Canadian dance show, The Next Step, for the first time in a while.

Books – I finished two books this week

First, Kill the Lawyers by David Housewright – This is the latest in his Holland Taylor series. I had forgotten that he had this series in addition to the McKenzie books. I like McKenzie more, but Housewright is one of my favorite authors and I like all of his stuff. In this one, they investigate who has hacked multiple law firms, stealing notes and files that will be bad for all parties if revealed. It was a decent mystery with a good cast of secondary characters. I probably would have liked it more if I had not just read one of the McKenzie books.

Bye Bye Blue Creek by Andrew Smith – This is a middle grade book. Not my typical thing to read, but I am a big fan of Smith and Sam Abernathy, the main character, was in one of my favorite YA books, so I made and exception. This was the second middle grade book featuring Sam. This one leads up to his departure for the private boarding school from the YA book where he was introduced. It was a quick read, but I am ready for Smith to move on to new characters and back to the older YA material.

On Deck – I have the new episode of Superstore to watch. I want to try the new HBO show with Nicole Kidman, The Undoing. I will watch more of You when I’m alone. There will be a Kentucky and Baltimore football game to watch. We will have new episodes of our regular shows. Any movies will be whatever random one we find if we decide to watch one. I’m currently reading Providence by Max Barry.

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For Halloween Let These Zombie Books Eat Your Brains

Just in time for Halloween – my post for work on my favorite zombie books. Feel free to add yours in the comments. I’m always looking for good xombie books to read.

CHAPTER CHATS

Black and white photo of an overpass with the Empire State Building int the background and dark clouds overhead.

by Alan S.

The haunting times are almost here – get in a spooky mood with some of my favorite zombie books.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead (also available in ebook) – If you like your monsters a little more literary, you should start here. Mark Spitz is an uninfected worker assigned to clear Zone One (in Manhattan) of the infected. The book spans three days of work and includes flashbacks of how Mark survived the zombie apocalypse and the reason for his nickname.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion – I have always said that zombies were my favorite monster because you could in no way make them romantic. Marion proves me wrong with Warm Bodies. He tells the story of R, a zombie living in an abandoned airport who falls in love with a human girl name Julie after eating the brain of her boyfriend. I thought…

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My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 10/23/20

Another one of those weeks where everything runs together and I have to re-read last week’s post to determine what I did since then. Maybe some day time will seem normal again.

Movies – I can recall one movie I watched this week: Vampires vs The Bronx on Netflix. The basic plot – a group of young friends from the Bronx start the movie trying to save their local bodega from closure due to gentrification and end up fighting to save their neighborhood from vampires. It was a little like a kid-friendly horror version of Attack the Block. It was an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes or so. It was a good cast and a fun movie. Nothing groundbreaking, but we really don’t need groundbreaking for a Friday afternoon movie on Netflix.

TV – Not really a lot to report on the TV front. We watched all of our regular shows: Transplant, Coroner, LA’s Finest, Swamp Thing and my Walking Dead shows. I finally started watching the second season of You. We are back to watching Jeopardy regularly. I’m happy to have it back, but it seems like the quality of contestant was diminished now that they are only using California residents since travel is hard now. We have also started watching Family Feud a lot because it is on around Jeopardy. I enjoy it a lot more than I remember.

Books – I finished two books this week.

Half Moon Bay by Jonathon and Jesse Kellerman – This is the third book in the Clay Edison series. Clay is a coroner. In this book he is called to a construction site at Berkeley when bones are found. The bones are those of a child. Based on the placement and construction history they are from the early 70’s. Clay then received a phone call from a man saying it might be his sister. It’s obvious they aren’t as the bones are from a male. This sets off two mysteries Clay investigates – who is the child in the construction site and the private case he takes on to find the man’s missing sister. It’s an interesting mystery as there is a chance no real crime was committed, I like Clay as a character. I would recommend for mystery fans.

Charming as a Verb by Ben Phillipe – A YA book I stumbled upon at work. Henri is a senior at the prestigious FATE Academy in NYC with dreams of going to Columba. Corinne Troy is an “intense” classmate who seems immune to his charms. When she blackmails him to help her change her image after discovering his dog walking scam they discover that they really like each other. It is just a nice teen romance that I need on occasion in between my death and disaster books. Well written, well developed characters. I recommend to those who like a good teen romance.

On Deck – Movies will again be a luck of the draw thing. If we decide to watch a movie, we will scan various streaming services until we find something we can both live with. TV will still be just watching the latest episode of the shows we like. I will watch You when i have TV time alone. Baseball is over and the Ravens are on a bye, but I still have Kentucky football tomorrow and random NFL games to watch Sunday. American Housewife and Superstore come back this week, but I will have to wait to watch them when my daughter is back at home. I am reading First Kill the Lawyers by David Housewright.

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My Week in Book, Movies, and TV 10/16/20

I went back to verify what I wrote about last week because I was sure I talked about the movie we watched this week. I was wrong. I’ve lost all track of time. Here’s my week:

Movies – I can remember one movie we apparently watched this week even though I was sure I wrote about it last week. It was Hubie Halloween with Adam Sandler on Netflix. I was surprised when my wife said she was OK with watching it. She’s not really a Sandler fan. Sandler’s character in this one is a lot like The Waterboy. There are a lot of connections to old Sandler movies. Julie Bowen is back and her character’s name has the same initials has the same initials as her character in Happy Gilmore. There is an O’Doyle kid who is a bully and yells O’Doyles rule. Kevin James, Colin Quinn, Steve Buscemi, and Rob Schneider are all back. Ben Stiller cameos as his Happy Gilmore character. The movie itself was dumb, but fun. If you like Sandler and his friends you will enjoy it.

TV – The NLCS started this week, so most night we have been watching the Braves beat the dodgers. Wednesday night when the Braves were already down 13-0 by the time I had the time to watch I watched TV shows instead. Since my wife was working late, I watched The Masked Singer and The Weakest Link. Some days it’s nice to have shows like this to watch. Entertaining, but not anything you need to really focus on too hard. I’m trying to find another show to watch alone that will hold my interest. I watched the first episode of Veronica Mars yesterday, but my enjoyment of it was marred by constant texts about work when I was supposed to be off work. Have I mentioned how much I hate my job?

Books – I read two books this week.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell – I read this one for my mystery book club at work. It tells the story of an undisclosed murder, alternating between characters advancing the story to the crime interspersed with interviews with suspects and witnesses about the crime. I was wrong in my assumption about who was murdered and why. It’s always nice when a mystery fools me. It was well written and I enjoyed the characters and the story.

From the Grave by David Housewright – The Rushmore McKenzie series is another of my favorites. McKenzie is a former cop who quit so he could collect a large reward for finding stolen money. Now wealthy, he works as an unofficial detective when friends need help. In this one, his friend Shelby is at a psychic medium’s show when she says the dead man she speaks to keeps saying McKenzie’s name. The man is someone McKenzie shot and killed when he was a cop. He had stolen over half a million dollars and was on the run, when it happened. His son was arrested and sent to prison. The money was never found. McKenzie begins the hunt for the money. I enjoyed it. I love all of the characters in the series. They are fun and light. This one had the possibility of ghosts and such. That was new. I recommend the entire series.

On Deck – Any movie will again be a luck of the draw type thing. We will have Braves baseball, Kentucky football and Ravens football to watch. We still have some Fargo episodes, Swamo Thing, Next, Transplant and Coroner recorded. There will be a new SNL, Fear the Walking Dead and Walking Dead: World Beyond. The Conners returns this week. It’s nice to have some real TV again. I am about to start reading Half Moon Bay by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman.

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Some of My Favorite Authors

I recently tried the “ask me anything” thing again here and once again got only one question. It was about my favorite authors. So, here is a small list of some of my favorite authors. And yes, I realize they are mostly white men. I have diversified my reading, but the ones below remain my favorites.

Stephen King – I’ve been reading King since I was a kid. The librarians at the small library at home were disturbed by my reading choices and tried to get me to go back to the childrens section. King is one of two authors who’s books I still buy. To make Christmas easier for my family, I get any new Stephen King book as a gift. It means I have to wait to read them. but it is worth it.

Christopher Moore – A long time ago I read Practical Demonkeeping and then forgot it. I saw it while shelving at the library and started reading it again. I realized it sounded familiar and then figured out I had already read it. I then read Bloodsucking Fiends and was hooked. His books are funny and he does a ton of research to get things right. He’s also a very nice guy. You can read more about my stalking of Chris here.

Robert McCammon- My favorite book ever is Swan Song. It is very similar to King’s The Stand, but I think a lot better. I was very happy when it made it to the list of top 100 books recently. I also loved Gone South, Mine, Boy’s Life and The Border.

Lisa Scottoline – I like her books, but I think she makes the list more for being such a nice person. Her books are generally about an all-woman law firm in Philadelphia with some stand alones as well. I love all of the main characters from the firm and am happy when another adventure arrives. Here is my story of meeting her.

Andrew Smith – My favorite YA author. He writes a mix of realistic fiction like Winger and books about giant praying mantises like Grasshopper Jungle with a mix of humor and humanity.

John Sanford – He writes two of my favorite characters: Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers. Even when the story is not as good as I hope, I love the characters enough to speed through them.

Michael Connelly – Another of my favorite characters: Harry Bosch. I love that Connelly let Harry age to the point that he is now retired and works cold cases with a younger detective. The series has not lost any quality as he ages and new people are added.

I’m sure I could add more, but how many favorites can I realistically claim?

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My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 10/9/20

It was a nice full week on TV. Movies are still suffering from the lack of new DVDs from the library. Reading has slowed a bit. Details below.

Movies – We watched two movies this week. The first we found while browsing various streaming services. It was Precious Cargo starring Mark Paul Gosselaar and Bruce Willis. I like the two actors, so I was willing to watch a brainless action movie. And it was brainless. he best thing I can say about it is that it was short and it was free. That’s it. We also watched Summer School the old Mark Harmon movie. My wife is a big NCIS fan and loves Mark Harmon. She didn’t remember this movie so I got it from the library. Basic plot – Mark Harmon is the PE teacher who gets roped into teaching remedial English summer school. He connects with the kids and gets the attractive new teacher to help him learn to teach them. I still enjoyed it. Nothing groundbreaking, but a pleasant way to spend an evening.

TV – We watched the new episodes of LA’s Finest, Filthy Rich, Transplant and Coroner. We finally watched the first episode of the new season of Fargo. I liked it. I had trouble keeping track of who was who sometimes, but I’m sure that will get easier as we move along. We watched the first episode of Swamp Thing. I dozed a lot during it. Not because it was boring, but because I was very tired that night. I did like what I saw and will watch more. I’ve watched several episodes of The Weakest Link. I still like the premise of the show and Jane Lynch is good as the host. It’s good to have another quiz show on TV. I also watched the new SNL. All of the hype was about Alec Baldwin, Jim Carrey and Maya Rudolph as Trump, Biden and Harris, but I thought the cold open with them was mediocre. The skit that made me laugh the most was the one below about a Covid outbreak at the building where people go for name changes.

Books – I finished one book this week. It was The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed. It is a teen book set in LA after the police officers are acquitted in the Rodney King case. Ashley is a black teen living in a wealthy area of LA and attending a private school. Her sister has moved out and is living close to the riots. There is some normal teen romance stuff, but the book mainly deals with Ashley’s feelings about the situation in the city and her relationship with hew lifelong white friends and the other black kids at the school. It took me a bit to get into it, but I did enjoy it.

On Deck – Movie tonight will once again be something random we find on streaming. Or we will skip a movie and watch more Fargo. Football and baseball will take up a good portion of my week. I’m sure we will watch more of the shows mentioned above. Amazing Race comes back next week. Even though I typically watch with my daughter, I have told her I will watch without her and then save it to watch with her later like I do Survivor. Otherwise, I will find out who was eliminated before I watch. I’m reading two books right now. Watching You by Lisa Jewell for work and From the Grave by David Housewright for me.

And now the “begging for donations” portion of the program. Will blog for coffee.