Kiss of the Bees (Walker Family, #2)

Kiss of the Bees (Walker Family, #2)
author: J.A. Jance
name: Matthew
average rating: 3.72
book published: 2000
rating: 0
read at: 2018/06/03
date added: 2018/06/03
I picked this volume up as an advanced reader copy over a decade ago as the title seemed interesting. I’d never heard of Jance or the Walker Family series. I’m not even a particular fan of the genre, preferring the science fiction, fantasy, and adventure genres to the sprawling murder mystery. After finally reading the book, I was pleasantly surprised. The characters are well-developed and the action is tense–especially toward the climax of the story. Unfortunately, this volume in particular suffers through “extended universe syndrome” wherein every character has a complex back-story that could stand alone as its own novel and these back stories are often dropped into the middle of a scene, breaking up the action and making the casual reading wonder where the hell he was when the scene picks back up. I understand the need for believable characters with plausible motivations, but Jance takes it all a bridge too far. If you’re patient and have the time, go for it, but if you’re not emotionally involved with a well-to-do and politically-connected family in Tucson, AZ, you might ought to skip it.

Pick up a copy at Amazon (affiliate link)

Think Like a Freak

Think Like a Freak
author: Steven D. Levitt
name: Matthew
average rating: 3.81
book published: 2014
rating: 5
read at: 2018/05/29
date added: 2018/05/29

The gentlemen behind the bestseller Freakonomics series are at it again–this time with a collection of stories and studies to subvert “conventional wisdom” and encourage the reader to think “like a freak”. The titular freak, in this case, is one who looks at the world from the lens of an outsider. The freak is a data-driven student of human weakness that can understand that our most common sense understandings are inherently flawed and the best course might actually be the obvious one! The freak isn’t necessarily successful (in a monetary sense), but the freak is usually happier and more satisfied with life–unencumbered by the stigma of social pressures.

The freak doesn’t necessarily lead a better life, but certainly a more interesting one!

Pick up a copy at Amazon (affiliate link)

Somebody’s Gotta Say It

Somebody's Gotta Say It
author: Neal Boortz
name: Matthew
average rating: 3.92
book published: 2007
rating: 4
read at: 2018/05/24
date added: 2018/05/24

Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Neal Boortz is here to stir up one last batch of puddin’ before retiring. Boortz’s conversational style and descents into political incorrectness entertain as well as infuriate within the span of a few sentences and is reminiscent of that one uncle that we all have–the one that so often gets mocked or mentioned with derision when having to confront at holiday gatherings. Personally, I enjoy the challenges that Boortz brings in his characteristic tone–there is a reason he is hated by conservative and liberal alike–and he ends his illustrious career on a high note. In this tome–equal parts political punditry and memoir–Boortz pulls no punches, explains the subtleties of his often complex political positions, and explains how he managed to get away with throwing cats out of airplanes.

No matter which side of the political spectrum you sit on, Boortz is always a fun listen or read. There’s always a surprise waiting somewhere in the middle of a Boortz rant, and you’re guaranteed to be insulted!

Somebody’s Gotta Say It is available on Amazon (affiliate link)

Star Trek: Best Destiny

Best Destiny (Star Trek)
author: Diane Carey
name: Matthew
average rating: 3.86
book published: 1992
rating: 2
read at: 2018/05/21
date added: 2018/05/21
As a coming-of-age tale of a legendary starship captain, Carey’s Best Destiny is as much a product of its era as it is a generic sci-fi romp through an established universe. The novel itself is full of tired Gen-X tropes such as the rebellious teen, the lingering absent father issues, and the “this could be you” antagonist, but despite this, Best Destiny still a fun adventure tale worthy of an episode of Star Trek (if Wesley Crusher were written as a maladjusted adolescent rather than a spit-and-polish nerd in TNG, he could have easily stood in the Jimmy Kirk role on a Very Special Episode).

The action is tight and the “Treknobabble” is everything the early 90s would have you expect it to be, so pick it up if you want to kill a rainy afternoon.

Star Trek: Best Destiny is available at Amazon (affiliate link)

Mr. Rogers on silence

I don’t think we give that gift anymore (the gift of silence). I’m very concerned that our society is much more interested in information than wonder. In noise, rather than silence…how do we encourage reflection? Oh my, this is a noisy world.

Fred Rogers

The Origins of Totalitarianism

The Origins of Totalitarianism
author: Hannah Arendt
name: Matthew
average rating: 4.26
book published: 1951
rating: 0
read at: 2018/05/16
date added: 2018/05/16

Though it reads like the driest of textbooks, Hannah Arendt’s exploration of the philosophy, the psychology, and the rise of totalitarianism in the early 20th century is a fascinating tome. Arendt weaves an exhaustive history of antisemitism dating back to the Middle Ages with the evolution of European nation states through the renaissance and modern eras to paint a complete picture of the worldview and political environments that allowed Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin to not only rise to power, but seize complete control over the hearts and minds of their respective populations. Arendt ends her book with cautionary words that ring ever more prescient in the 21st century “post-fact” era.

The Origins of Totalitarianism is available on (affiliate link)


300 channels and nothing on.

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 30: A song that reminds you of yourself

Living the dream, indeed!

Since I was a kid–whether it was the influence of TV shows like “CHiP’s” and Saved By The Bell, Silicon Valley’s tech scene, or bands like The Beach Boys and nearly every 3rd-wave ska group from Orange County–I’ve had a romantic infatuation with the Golden State. Apparently, I’m not alone. In fact, since the 1850s, Americans (and foreigners, alike) have looked at the West Coast with a pioneer spirit. After visiting Los Angeles for the first time in 2008, I made it my mission to eventually move here. For me, “Go west, young man, and seek your fortune” was more than a historical metaphor, it was an imperative–a directive. This classic by The Mamas and The Papas (and covered innumerable times since its original recording) serves as a metaphor for my own young adult life: The literal grey skies and the brown leaves of a Georgia winter or the more metaphorical condition of my life in my mid-20s.

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 29: A song you remember from your childhood

The de facto theme song of one of the most influential films of my childhood.

I think every member of the VHS generation has that one video that they watched over and over. For my sister, it was Forrest Gump (yes, I could probably recite the entire film from memory, thanks, Sis!). For me, though, it was Zemeckis’s 1985 masterpiece, Back To The Future with Huey Lewis’s synthesizer-charged soundtrack that defined my idea of what rock and roll should be!

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 28: A song by an artist whose voice you love

I don’t care what you say about them being a relic from the late 90s/early 2000s, Amy Lee has got some pipes!

All this track really needs is a full orchestra backing.

Adventitious Geekery and other distractions created or curated by Matthew "Atari" Eargle