Friday, May 27, 2011

Beyond the Grave: Michael Crichton

I thought Michael Crichton's Pirate Latitudes (2009) would be the last book we had from him, since he died in 2008. But EarlyWord is reporting that another Crichton book will be released on November 22nd. Crichton had finished one third of the novel at the time of his death. Richard Preston (the author of The Hot Zone) finished the novel. Preston seems to be the perfect choice for the job. Most of his books, although fiction, read just like a Crichton novel.

In Micro a group of graduate students are lured to Hawaii to work for a mysterious biotech company specializing in micro-robotics. Conflict with the head of the company leaves the group fighting for their lives when they find themselves physically transformed and cast out into the rain forest, with only their scientific expertise and wits to protect them. Should be another great edge-of-your-seat thriller!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Maybe It's My Psychology Degree...

I recently read a review of Henry's Demons by Patrick Cockburn and Henry Cockburn that inspired me to go pull the book off our shelves.  To be honest, it only got a semi-decent review but it sounded so interesting I had to check it out.  Henry's Demons is written mainly by Patrick Cockburn with a couple chapters by his son Henry interspersed.  The book details Henry's decent into schizophrenia shortly after his 20th birthday.  Patrick and his wife, Jan, had noticed slight changes in Henry's behavior but when Henry suffered a breakdown that nearly killed him, they realized it was more than they could handle.  Patrick describes the cycles of Henry's hospitalizations, his escapes, subsequent panic stricken searches, and the painful realization that Henry's mental illness was taking over their lives.  Patrick also spends a substantial amount of time discussing the difficulties in diagnosing and treating schizophrenic patients as well as the lack of knowledge as to what causes the illness.  Henry's chapters allow him to describe the mental breakdowns and actions from his point of view.  The point of view of the mentally ill is both heartbreaking and fascinating at the same time.

I don't know if it's the fact that I have a degree in Psychology or what but I LOVED this book!  I was really interested in their family dynamics as well as the symptoms of schizophrenia.  In addition, I felt like Patrick Cockburn brought up some very interesting points without explaining them completely.  Instead of being aggravated by feeling like I didn't have enough information, I found myself arguing possible causes for the points he was making.  I also felt the desire to do research into schizophrenia and its treatment history.

I've found myself recommending it to everyone partly because I found it interesting and partly because I want someone else to talk to about it! Someone! Pick up this book and then talk to me about it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Puppy Madness

I picked up the book Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin last week because the silly puppy face on the cover was begging me to read it.  I've always been a fan of the sentimental pet books and thought this would be right up my alley.  I expected an heart wrenching story of how Oogy was disfigured as a bait dog, the background on what generally happens to rescued dog fighting dogs, and the wonderfully sappy story of how Oogy has puppy kissed his way into the Levin family's heart.  I was kind of right.  The Levin family absolutely adores Oogy and he seems to be an incredibly resilient dog.  Unfortunately, there wasn't much else to the story.  I actually just kept thinking "They let this dog get away with anything!".  Oogy behaves like every other dog out there, which is great considering he could easily be a bomb waiting to explode after the treatment he's endured.  So, there's something to be said for his sweet personality.  After all, it also got him some air time on Oprah.  But, it just isn't enough to keep a book entertaining.  I mean, I didn't even cry at the end! Not a single tear!  If that doesn't tell you something about the lack of emotional interest in this story, I don't know what will.