Try Your Hand: Book Review Roulette

Spin the big Kindle library wheel for a bargain book review and see if you’ve landed a nod, a dud, or a blank. This is a low-stakes game that might yield some good leads or fun screeds. It won’t hurt your wallet or leave you with life regrets. Here is how to play:

1.) LOOK: Examine the two grids of Kindle books below. These twenty-four books have been randomly assigned a number.... [Read More]


A Virtual World of Possibilities

My husband and daughter have been playing the video game “Elder Scrolls” for a few years now (yes, they take breaks to eat, go to school, go to work, etc.) This virtual world is stunning in its detail and sprawl. When the weather is bleak outdoors, the digital forests with sun filtering through trees, birds singing, and wildflowers blooming give me a lift. Sometimes–although I would never publicize this on an online forum–when weather doesn’t permit walking, I jog in place in front of the screen, pretending to “run with” my daughter’s screen character. It is cheering, if there are no nightmarish beings attacking, to imagine I’m taking some air on cobbled paths winding through woods, or on a beach, or over a boardwalk. As my daughter works her way through the game, with its stiff storylines and stilted dialogue, we are building our own family lore around it, which to me is more amusing than what the Tolkien wannabe script writers offer. Here are some absurdities you can only get from the blending of real and programmed worlds:

Virtual Clutter: In Elder Scrolls, players constantly acquire objects and carry them around in their packs or whatever their digital conveyance is. If I understand it right, these items come in handy later, or give the player an edge in fighting, or extra food for recipes, or clothes. At times, it gets to be too much, so you can sell off items to people in the game, or you can dump them somewhere. Apparently, my husband has taken to dumping. My daughter discovered this after she spent some time buying herself a house and furnishing it how she liked. It was tidy and cozy, a calm retreat from battling mutants. One day, unsuspecting, she selected that area on the map to visit her home. My husband had been there before her. He had been busy cleaning out his gear, leaving items strewn around the medieval dwelling. And in the middle of the floor was a sacrificial heart.... [Read More]


This Week’s Book Review – Houdini: The Elusive American

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.... [Read More]


The Bored Board Bored Me

I’m not exactly suffering from lack of entertainment–diversions are everywhere. Is it time for the treadmill? Then a glorious period film keeps me company as I take my brisk uphill walk on this technology that exists because I don’t do hard work otherwise. Do I have a Saturday evening free? Then I can browse and “like” to my heart’s content on Ricochet. Am I simply tired and don’t want to think? Then I pop open my iPad cover and idly scroll Facebook. Even while doing daily chores, I’m listening to something: Bible teaching in the morning while my mind is fresh, and a light story narrated by a professional reader in the evenings when merely brushing my teeth can feel burdensome.

I admit, though, that even surrounded by these riches, I am still capable of boredom. Here’s my list of ennui-evoking circumstances–what’s on yours? (And you can’t say “lengthy meditations on what makes the writer yawn.”)... [Read More]