Lisa Reads: The Gift and the Defender

The Gift and the Defender (Lumen Legends Book 1) by Tyrel Bramwell
Book cover for The Gift and the Defender (Lumen Legends Book 1) by Tyrel Bramwell

It has been a while since I have done this. I’ve been reading. This is the year of the coronavirus, many people made dents in their “to-read” pile. Granted, sometimes it was for work or school, but not in my case.

This is plain old JUST FOR FUN reading. I have finally gotten to one of the books that was toward the bottom of the pile. I have been intending to read it for quite a while, I just hadn’t.

This book, The Gift and the Defender is by Pastor Tyrell Bramwell. Some of the other reviewers have commented on the deep allegory hidden within the parallel stories. Maybe I need to reread it, but I didn’t see that. I saw 1 story taking place in roughly modern-times New York City. There is also a story set in a fantasy kingdom, with an obvious battle between good and evil.

I thought I was reading a novel that is sort of a bidirectional novel like Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates. I was wrong. The stories do eventually link together, and the tie between them surprised me. It was well done, in spite of my original impression that this was “too simplistic” to be any good. I should’ve noticed some of the links to Latin and other elements.

 

Lisa Reads: The Islam Quintet

Lisa Reads: The Islam Quintet: Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, The Book of Saladin, The Stone Woman, A Sultan in Palermo, and Night of the Golden Butterfly by Tariq Ali

I have to admit it: I know virtually nothing about Islam and its history. When Amazon Kindle had a special on Tariq Ali’s The Islam Quintet, I thought that it might be a good way to get a feel for the story of many people on the planet. Sometimes fiction is a good way to learn.

The author, Tariq Ali, is an interesting character on his own. I guess he was born in 1943. He seems to be much more liberal than me or anyone I know well. I think he is an agnostic, growing up in a family that was culturally Muslim.

It seems that, during a conversation 20-ish years ago, he overheard someone say, “Muslims HAVE no culture.” This cluster of 5 books is a response to that little bit of nonsense.

 

Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree

Islamic Tile
Islamic Tile of Islamic Tiles Photo Credit: vitroid on VISUAL HUNT/CC BY

First in the series, Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree is my favorite, so far. It is desperately sad, but I can’t explain much without giving the plot away. It is also… Lyrical, somehow. I don’t know how to explain it, but it feels like some of those Islamic tiles.

Set in Spain during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, it tells the story of a family facing massive change. They had conquered Spain several hundred years ago and were now facing the Spanish Inquisition style of Christianity. Will they stay in what they consider their ancestral home? Will they leave?

The saddest bit to me was the fact that well-intentioned or not, leaders of the Christians and the Muslims almost deliberately misunderstood each other.

It was very disorienting in some ways. I expected it to feel strange to see history reviewed from another perspective. I didn’t expect my emotional reaction.

 

The Book of Saladin

This review is going to be much shorter. I enjoyed the book, but I don’t know what to make it.

 

The Stone Woman

I got bored. I didn’t care about the characters. I stopped about 1/3 of the way through.

 

I haven’t read the rest. Maybe next year.

 


Rise Above: How One Man’s Search for Mobility Help the World Get Moving

I Will Find You (Homicide Hunter)

The Dispatcher

Lisa Reads: The Dispatcher

This was a short offering from audible.com, written by John Scalzi and narrated by Zachary Quinto.

I didn’t expect to like it. Some of the recent stories that were “Only from Audible” Specials have been quite lame. I mean REALLY lame. (So much so that I have promised myself not to read anything by one of the authors. I’m also putting audible originals on trial. More like this one, I will keep picking occasional offerings. More like some of the losers and they have lost me permanently.)

I’m having trouble reviewing this one without spoiling the fun of discovery. The book turns on the alternate meaning of the verb, “to dispatch.” This really kept my attention, and I enjoyed listening to it. while the settings and characters are definitely contemporary science fiction, this is primarily a mystery.

Lisa Reads: I Will Find You (Homicide Hunter)

 

I admit it, I am addicted to true crime TV shows and books. I think I like the fact that (on TV, anyhow) the slow accumulation of details leads to the truth of the matter. The police involved are usually portrayed as honorable characters with occasional flaws, who try to do their jobs well and serve justice.

Yes, it is kind of the opposite of another addiction, FILM NOIR, but I am a contradictory person.

One of my favorite real life characters is a retired detective from Colorado Springs. Joe Kenda has a quirky way of telling his stories, drawn from over 300 solved murders. He paints the victims and the perpetrators as three-dimensional human beings, but his sympathy lies with the victims and their families.

One of the things that I most admired in his mannerisms is the way he “gave notification” of death to the families. He didn’t try to “make it easy,” because there is no way to say that someone you loved is never coming back. He never said that it would be okay. He never said, “Don’t cry.”

Sometimes you just have to let people grieve and be angry!

book cover: Joe Kenda: I Will Find You: Solving Killer Cases from My Life Fighting Crime
Joe Kenda: I Will Find You: Solving Killer Cases from My Life Fighting Crime

Anyhow, about a year ago… Joe Kenda wrote a book. I knew that I would want to read it, and I finally got around to doing just that.

it is a real kick, his ghostwriter makes him sound EXACTLY like he comes across in the TV show. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about his wife and kids. Kathy is probably the biggest hero in this book, but wives are kind of like that.

I’m guessing that a new season will be coming up in the fall. I will be watching and HE WILL FIND YOU!

Lisa Reads: Rise Above: How One Man’s Search for Mobility Helped the World Get Moving

Rise Above: How One Man’s Search for Mobility Helped the World Get Moving 

Ralph W. Braun. Rise Above: How One Man’s Search for Mobility Helped the World Get Moving . The Braun Corporation. Kindle Edition. 2016.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20830191-rise-above

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I’m a sucker for biographies about people who DO stuff. Two of my favorites, immediately to mind. The first is a two-volume tome about Winston Churchill’s mama, Jennie: The Life of Lady Randolph Churchill.

The second is MAVERICK: The Story of Robert Six and Continental Airlines. (I certainly miss the days when flying in an airplane was a TREAT!)

RISE ABOVE is a lot like MAVERICK. It chronicles the life of a dreamer who was in on the ground floor of a new kind of business. Ralph Braun was in the forefront of accessible vans, and I think him for that! He is also a businessman who learned from his mistakes.

I learned a lot from all three of these biographies. I highly recommend them.


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Lisa Reads: The Complete Sherlock Holmes – The Heirloom Collection

 

 

Lisa Reads: The Complete Sherlock Holmes – The Heirloom Collection

Lisa Reads: The Complete Sherlock Holmes – The Heirloom Collection

By: Arthur Conan Doyle

This was another L-O-N-G audiobook, 58 hours to be specific. It didn’t feel that long, though. It is a collection of short stories and novellas about the great detective. It looks like it contains most, if not all of of Sherlock Holmes works from the Victorian age into the 1920s. Most of them were like familiar old friends that I haven’t spent time with in a while. A few were more like new acquaintances, a couple of these felt kind of awkward.

There were several stories where Sherlock Holmes himself was the narrator. Nary a Dr. Watson in sight!

By the time I had finished the entire 58 hours, I was kind of tired of living in the Victorian/Edwardian mindset. Well I read it again? ABSOLUTELY yes. I put it on my cell phone for a while I am waiting in doctors’ offices…

Lisa Reads: Employment Options: The Ultimate Resource for Jobseekers with Disabilities

Lisa Reads: Employment Options: The Ultimate Resource for Jobseekers with Disabilities and Other ChallengesBook cover for EMPLOYMENT OPTIONS
by Paula Ruben Viellet

(My Employment Options) 

I am distinctly ambivalent about this book, but I will give it tentative positive review. After all, it is full of useful information. It is not just designed for people with disabilities, it is for ANYONE with issues in moving forward with for new employment.

You don’t have to read this book “cover to cover.” It is designed for you to choose that areas that you need the most help in. “Employment Options” is particularly good and detailed in the self-assessment areas.

Another bonus is that this book is written by one of the experts who runs the website MY EMPLOYMENT OPTIONS, which is a national Social Security Administration (SSA) Employment Network in the Ticket To Work program. Not getting crossways with the federal government is important, these folks can help you avoid that cluster of issues.

I have two problems with the book.

1. It doesn’t particularly help with avoiding problems with state and local intricacies. Attendant Care, and the payment thereof, is a state issue. Figuring a way to keep your PCAs paid for until you can afford to dump all state funding is a daunting task. Even if some states are better than Texas when it comes to this issue, EVERY state has problems.

A number of people simply give up and decide to live in social media and watching TV.

2. I am already fairly confident in my job hunting skills. Yes, I will continue learning, but I don’t need someone holding my hand and pretending I need them to be my cheerleader. JUST GIVE ME THE FACTS AND THE STEPS and let me do what I need to do!

When it comes to my first problem, I found NMD United to be a much better resource for me. It is for people with neuromuscular disorders, and covers circumstances like my own. So far, the people I met there are interesting, active, and proactive. If you are in Texas, there is also a Facebook group dedicated to our Texas members. If you want more information, contact me and I will tell you about them.

When it comes to actual jobhunting skills, I think that an online course I’m taking is a MUCH better source of information. HOW TO FIND A WORK FROM HOME JOB OR SIDE GIG IN 30 DAYS OR LESS is interesting and fun. After a brief introduction and “setting the ground rules,” it BEGINS by talking about scams, and how to avoid them. I thought that the chapters on effective search strategies were particularly useful.

I’m almost 1/2 of the way through. Next comes the resume and interview practice, then the cover letter. At the very end, there’s even a chapter about convincing the current boss to let you work from home.

If you are interested in that class, here is the info. I found the video toward the top of the page to represent the style of the class very well.

Lisa Reads: A Dance with Dragons

Lisa Reads: A Dance with Dragons
(A Song of Ice and Fire #5)
by George R.R. Martin

Oh my goodness! My head hurts! I didn’t see that coming!

Okay, that is pretty much what I’ve been saying for this entire series. Planning and writing ASoIaF has GOT to be a challenge. I honor anyone who can do so much with so many for so long… And still make it worth reading.

When I grow up, I want to be GRRM. Luckily for him, there is very little danger of me growing up.

Some of the people in previous books that I thought were dead, aren’t. Sometimes I’m glad, sometimes I wish I could place the “kill shot” myself. In one case, I was sorry that he was still alive until he did something semi-decent.

It looks like some of my favorites got killed in this book, but if the series on HBO is anything related to the books… I’m going to get fooled again.

I will read this series numerous times. I still prefer J.R.R. Tolkien and CS Lewis. Yes, I am a fuddy-duddy. I can live with that!

OH! No, I’m not watching the series. I don’t do HBO or Netflix. I probably will watch it eventually, but I’m not in a rush. Until then, I joined the ranks of people waiting for George RR Martin to finish the series. There are many other books on my list that I’m going to read.


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Lisa Reads: The Count of Montecristo

Lisa Reads: Storm of Swords

Lisa Reads: A Clash of Kings

Lisa Reads: a couple of books on writing

Lisa Reads: Camino Island

Lisa Reads: A Game of Thrones

Lisa Reads: A Feast for Crows

Lisa Reads: A Feast for Crows
(A Song of Ice and Fire #4)
by George R.R. Martin
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13497.A_Feast_for_Crows

I have to admit it: of the books in this series, this one is my least favorite. I don’t know why, though.

The plotting is still intricate and interesting. The cast of characters is still downright intimidating, and sometimes I need to use the wiki to remember who somebody is. Granted, some of my favorite POV characters weren’t in this book much… It’s hard for the dead to have much of a point of view. Some of the others are showing up in Book 5, which runs concurrently with Book 4, so I’m not cheated.

This is a beautifully written series. I just didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as the others. I suspect it is quite necessary for the rest of the series…


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Lisa Reads: The Count of Monte Christo

The Count of Monte Cristo
By: Alexandre Dumas
Narrated by: Bill Homewood
Length: 52 hrs and 41 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 08-04-11
Language: English
Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks
https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Count-of-Monte-Cristo-Audiobook/B005GFQ5WQ

I have seen several movie versions of “The Count of Montecristo,” and enjoyed most of them. I seem to remember having read it (probably an abridged version) when I was about 12. The sense of adventure and the satisfaction of seeing the “bad guys get their just desserts” was just plain FUN. I will always enjoy these simplistic versions of Alexander Dumas’ book, but they don’t begin to hold a candle to the unabridged version!

Granted, there are some downsides. This book is REALLY *L*O*N*G*, 117 chapters… But who is counting? Some of the science and medical techniques are, well… 19th century. I had to work hard to set aside the knowledge I have as a 21st-century woman.

Speaking of which… I’m not entirely comfortable with Alexander Dumas’ portrayals of women. Again, they are SO 19th century!

And yet, this story just WORKS!

It sort of feels like a Gothic novel at times, but there is no supernatural activity. It also feels a bit like a travel journal at times, details of streets and actual buildings abound.

The menagerie of characters is quite impressive. Alexander Dumas keeps his people straight as well as George RR Martin does, but he isn’t QUITE as bloody. Most of his cast survives…

Alexander Dumas was writing at a time when people thoroughly enjoyed words. Sometimes, the writing is a bit tedious for our ears, but it really is a treat to savor. It just takes a while to develop a more sophisticated “palate.” Listening to this audiobook version may have helped. You can just feel the 19th century dripping through your fingers as you listen to the tale.

I was most astonished when I saw the rich themes of “repentance” and “forgiveness” running through this novel of REVENGE! I definitely will have to think about this more in the context of this book. It is a wonder!


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