I try to read outside my normal go-to genre fiction categories several times a year just to feel the pulse of what else is out there, including what’sI try to read outside my normal go-to genre fiction categories several times a year just to feel the pulse of what else is out there, including what’s new in nonfiction. Lloyd M. Lewis’s book is definitely nonfiction and definitely outside my comfort zone, but once I started it, it was hard to put down.
It didn’t hurt that one of my favorite authors Corinne Joy Brown, “ghost wrote” the story. (Check out her own Hidden Star, an historically-based fiction about the camouflaged identities of refugee Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the colonial American Southwest.)
The focus of this book is the world of Down syndrome (DS) families and the trend to integrate DS individuals into the mainstream. Author Lewis tells a very personal story, starting with the birth of his own son with DS, also known as Trisomy 21 (so called because the condition is the result of an extra or sometimes partial third copy of chromosome 21), and the transformative journey he takes alongside his son.
It’s not always an easy read, but it’s never maudlin, and the journey reaches an (ongoing) triumph that’s satisfying. It’s also educational for an era when inclusivity is a growing part of our cultural awareness. For example, I didn’t realize that one in 800 persons are born with the condition. At least passingly, chances are we all know someone from a family with a DS relative. But Lewis is not your average family member.
With a longtime professional background as a corporate financial analyst, Lewis put his skills to work by rising from consultant to CEO of a Colorado-based chain of thrift stores with the mission of providing employment to a high percentage of physically and mentally challenged individuals.
This book follows Lewis’s own journey alongside his son’s, and the father’s growing commitment to mainstream others besides his son into work environments that are holistic.
As a result, the book includes many vignettes on others in the thrift chain – both employees and dedicated managers – and along the way does an impressive job of personalizing this so-often overlooked segment of the population and their struggle to find meaning and purpose in their lives.
I recommend the book. It’s an uplifting read even as it challenges readers to reassess what they thought they knew about those born with DS. Their spirit and their personalities may just surprise you. ...more
Okay, I'm a gourmand rather than a gourmet when it comes to all things zombie. I've read, seen, role-played the gambit (Walking Dead meets Beetlejuice
Okay, I'm a gourmand rather than a gourmet when it comes to all things zombie. I've read, seen, role-played the gambit (and my fantasy is to have a bit part shambling across some campy scene). But Kevin Anderson really ups the ante with this cross-genre series featuring a PI (that means private rather than paranormal investigator) who awakens after being murdered to resume his day-- and night -- job.
It's a fully fleshed-out world, and our protagonist merges real-time and other-worldly scenes and scenarios seamlessly.
But the real charm of this "Zomnibus" is the relentless run of puns and wordplay that pepper and enliven (pun intended) the story.
This collection includes the first novel in the series as well as a collection of short stories and vignettes that round out the series' very imaginative world. ...more
This quartet of short stories by German bestselling author Falko Rademacher stars Mischa the cat, sometimes housepet of Lisa Becker, theQuirky and fun
This quartet of short stories by German bestselling author Falko Rademacher stars Mischa the cat, sometimes housepet of Lisa Becker, the homicide detective of Rademacher's successful "Berlin Noir" series. Recommended....more
I have a soft spot in my head for Noir, and I read a lot of classic as well neo. But it's hard to find something fresh and innovative. That's what madI have a soft spot in my head for Noir, and I read a lot of classic as well neo. But it's hard to find something fresh and innovative. That's what made Taylor's book such a pleasant surprise.
First of all, it's a spinoff sub-genre, more along the lines of retro-noir (is that even a category?) Set in 1950s New York during the heyday of the McCarthy Red Scare, the characters are unusually well developed and the plotting a combination of flashback and present narrative time.
In the beginning, the story establishes what initially seems to be stereotypical characters, including the hard-boiled police detective who's the silent type and subject to the requisite number of poundings, the femme fatale, and a number of standard henchmen and villain types. It's also replete with the jargon of tough talk so typical of noir.
But what makes this novel stand out is the way Taylor weaves story with character along with subtle commentary on the politics of the Cold War. However, what really surprised me is the way the novel doesn't neatly tie up at the end, suggesting rather than insisting on a possible satisfying conclusion that invites the reader to finish what may happen.
This one is a real cut above standard Noir tales, and highly recommended for those who love genre but demand the extra effort by an author to twist the tropes into something fresher than the standard fare....more
I love John Scalzi -- well, mostly. What makes his work so appealing is the way he often mixes genres. Not being a purist for genre form puts off a loI love John Scalzi -- well, mostly. What makes his work so appealing is the way he often mixes genres. Not being a purist for genre form puts off a lot of readers, but if you happen to already love the genres he mixes, his work is a delight.
That's the case -- in my case, at least -- with Lock in, which mixes near-future SF with police procedural.
This murder mystery revolves around a large segment of the population afflicted with a virus that places them in a comatose state, but reachable through implants and surrogate bodies a la Avatar. The viral victims also have their own social network and an emerging separate class identity.
The remarkable thing about this book is the way Scalzi uses the scenario to explore society's response to fringe populations in general and disabilities in particular, as well as the role of social media as a way to invigorate and solidify subcultures -- a dynamic that can result in prejudice, paranoia, and xenophobia from the mainstream. This sort of exploration is a hallmark of good SF, using alternate or future worlds to scrutinize our own society.
At the same time, this novel is really a fine police procedural in its own right, providing a clever variation on the "locked door" crime and using a lot of dark humor along the way.
I listened to the novel as an audiobook, which included a bonus novella that uses multiple POV shifts to narrate the genesis and progression of the viral pandemic and how it affected the cultures of the world. I suspect it's really Scalzi's reveal of how well he thought out his world-building, but he didn't want to bog down the crime story with this much detail. Nonetheless, the novella has its own arc and different players over the decades that preceded the crime novel.
Highly recommended for readers who are willing to stretch enough to allow the intermingling of tropes from the normally distinct genres of SF and crime....more