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Thanks for being my friend, and thanks for putting up with me.

The Nothings

The Nothings - Ron B. DeBoer What? No reviews? I loved this book! First of all the entire concept was so unique and I just had to see how the author would execute the whole idea. I loved the characters - and how each character was so different from the other. The dialogue between them is so fun and believable, I kind of felt like a voyeur with how personal he made them. This is definitely worth reading if you can find it. It was even a little suspenseful as I kept reading wondering how these four people were going to make it through their year. And I love how the author really did put some thought in how to make the year complete with lessons learned and a weird/happy ending.

Still Life With Brass Pole

Still Life With Brass Pole - Craig Machen A fun yet heartbreaking memoir written by my friend Craig! No review - as it would be biased. :)
Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World - Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Sebastian Robertson, Jared Levine I'm not gonna lie. I'm already disappointed in this book.

A couple of years ago, I was watching an interview with Robbie where he mentioned that one of his projects was to write a book. I thought, "Awesome! I can't wait! An autobiography!" I wanted to hear all about The Band, his wild young life, his famous friendships with the likes of Martin Scorsese and Gary Busey. I wanted to know about his marriage to Dominique, what happened when it was over. I wanted to know about his First Nations family, and how and why it was virtually non-existent during his Band years, but became completely public after the Band broke apart. I wanted to know about his transition from the stage in arenas with live music to the studios creating film scores. I wanted allllll of Robbie. No stone left unturned.

But I was reading the description of the book and find it's co written by other "veterans" Jim Guerinot and Jared Levine (umm, who are they?) and his son Sebastian Robertson, who may be involved in music, sure, but by no means is a 'veteran'! None of these guys, as writers even have credit anywhere else for any other book they've written or co-written. Google them. Go ahead. I did. Not much on Jim and Jared, and Sebastian's claim to fame is that he's simply Robbie's son. What's more, the book is about other musicians and Robertson's relationship with them, perhaps describing influences if nothing less? Not to knock Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, and whoever else. Sure, they're legends. But dammit, there are well enough books solely dedicated as biographies in their own right about these famous people. Why would I read a book by Robbie about someone else? I want Robbie to tell me about Robbie.

I'm pissed off.

128 pages?

This is obviously not an autobiography. It's as if Robbie needed to put out something, maybe under pressure, and when it came right down to it, it's a project only he would allow to go public, which includes more about other people in his story-telling fashion (which, of course, he excels at, and why I love him so much). But honestly, I wanted Robbie. I wanted his story and to read it from the beginning during his (as Ronnie Hawkins put it once) "hubcap stealing days" to now, as a man who has been through it all -- music, fame, marriage, divorce, films, acting, fatherhood, loss, friendship, and everything in between.

I will likely be seen at my local bookstore on October 8th standing at the shelf thumbing through the pages hoping to enjoy some sexy Robbie pictures playing guitar because I really am not convinced that this is anything like the book I had envisioned him getting published.

At 70 years old, I only hope that Robbie outlive Garth to give himself more time to properly write an autobiography.

I don't mean for this to sound so harsh. But I have waited decades for Robbie to tell his story, only because I love and respect his music so much and find him personally so interesting. To get a short book like this about other people, with three virtually unknown co-writers to me, is a disappointment already.
The Scholomance - R. Lee Smith I enjoyed this book throughout but had a bit of Scholomance knowledge that it interfered a bit with completely giving this book five stars. I kept thinking, "I like this book.. when I'm done, on Goodreads I'll be giving it four stars." Why? Because of some geographical inconsistency with the fables of Scholomance and of the writer's choice to start the journey in Romania.

First, the myth of Scholomance is set in the town of Hermannstadt (misspelled by the author as Hermanstadt--no biggie, but anyway...) which is now renamed Sibiu in Romania. The school/castle is said to have been built in the middle of a lake south of Hermannstadt in the Carpathians. That's fine, but where the geography doesn't add up is when Mara goes to Europe.

Mara first goes to Bucharest. That's fine, I suppose--for the sake of just getting to Romania. But her friend Connie sends a letter explaining that she's near Altenmunster, west of Lake Tuefelsee. I'm not sure if it's intentional, but Altenmünster is in Germany (note the umlauts missing from Smith's spelling), and is no where near a lake-town called Tuefelsee. Yes, there is a lake, but no town with the lake's namesake as Lake Teufelsee. Just a town called Teufelsee itself. Is it to be assumed the lake surrounding Teufelsee in Germany is where the author wanted to take us? This is just simple atlas-snooping to find this information. I shook this off, assuming that maybe the author wanted to just add more fiction to an already fabled-castle. But still, a cab ride from anywhere in Romania to either Altenmünster or Tuefelsee, or anywhere in Germany for that matter would have been a painstakingly long and expensive trip, yet the book hints that it seemed like a bit of a long car ride from a Romanian cab driver. Also there are a couple of scenes in the book that remind us that Mara is in Romania, so this really didn't add up for me. Again, maybe the choice of towns and the slight spelling differences was just the author's deliberate choice to make it more mysterious, but to me, it was noticeable and unexplained.

So unfortunately, this stuck in my brain throughout the story.

But then the book, despite the geographical changes from the fable, became incredibly entertaining and very enjoyable to read. I still kept thinking, "Four stars, four stars..." but then BAM!--the ending happened and in a creative, dramatic twist I decided the story was too good in the end despite my pickiness with where Scholomance was, and why the perceived German locations were selected, never mind why it was a mountain and not a castle.

I enjoyed this book very much and already recommended it to a friend. It has just enough sex, violence, and drama to make it a perfectly balanced read.

Five stars it is.
The Scholomance - R. Lee Smith I enjoyed this book throughout but had a bit of Scholomance knowledge that it interfered a bit with completely giving this book five stars. I kept thinking, "I like this book.. when I'm done, on Goodreads I'll be giving it four stars." Why? Because of some geographical inconsistency with the fables of Scholomance and of the writer's choice to start the journey in Romania.

First, the myth of Scholomance is set in the town of Hermannstadt (misspelled by the author as Hermanstadt--no biggie, but anyway...) which is now renamed Sibiu in Romania. The school/castle is said to have been built in the middle of a lake south of Hermannstadt in the Carpathians. That's fine, but where the geography doesn't add up is when Mara goes to Europe.

Mara first goes to Bucharest. That's fine, I suppose--for the sake of just getting to Romania. But her friend Connie sends a letter explaining that she's near Altenmunster, west of Lake Tuefelsee. I'm not sure if it's intentional, but Altenmünster is in Germany (note the umlauts missing from Smith's spelling), and is no where near a lake-town called Tuefelsee. Yes, there is a lake, but no town with the lake's namesake as Lake Teufelsee. Just a town called Teufelsee itself. Is it to be assumed the lake surrounding Teufelsee in Germany is where the author wanted to take us? This is just simple atlas-snooping to find this information. I shook this off, assuming that maybe the author wanted to just add more fiction to an already fabled-castle. But still, a cab ride from anywhere in Romania to either Altenmünster or Tuefelsee, or anywhere in Germany for that matter would have been a painstakingly long and expensive trip, yet the book hints that it seemed like a bit of a long car ride from a Romanian cab driver. Also there are a couple of scenes in the book that remind us that Mara is in Romania, so this really didn't add up for me. Again, maybe the choice of towns and the slight spelling differences was just the author's deliberate choice to make it more mysterious, but to me, it was noticeable and unexplained.

So unfortunately, this stuck in my brain throughout the story.

But then the book, despite the geographical changes from the fable, became incredibly entertaining and very enjoyable to read. I still kept thinking, "Four stars, four stars..." but then BAM!--the ending happened and in a creative, dramatic twist I decided the story was too good in the end despite my pickiness with where Scholomance was, and why the perceived German locations were selected, never mind why it was a mountain and not a castle.

I enjoyed this book very much and already recommended it to a friend. It has just enough sex, violence, and drama to make it a perfectly balanced read.

Five stars it is.
Out Where The Buses Don't Run - Gus Sanchez Wow. I'm impressed, and I'm not just saying that. I have read some of Gus Sanchez' blogs while they were freshly uploaded to Out Where the Buses Don't Run, and I knew Gus could write and entertain, but I missed out on the early years and I could almost see a coming-of-age through these seven years of blogging.

First, every blog is hilarious. Whether he means to be or not, the sarcastic wit is hand-over-fist way better than any Chuck Klosterman book. But then I got to the letter to Gus' unborn daughter and dare I say, actually teared up a bit.

Just when you don't think he has a point, or you disagree (like in my case, the horrible mix tapes were enough to make me embarrassed for Gus), in the end there is some sense and closure to his musings.

I can't be the only one who wishes that Gus's wife Jaime write her own book in answer to some of his aloofness about past girlfriends and her own take on being married to a guy who snubs Christy Turlington like no one I've ever seen before.

To Mr. Sanchez: You had fucking Holly Cole on a mix tape and said NOTHING about it. I even tolerated the rest of your shitty music and though you had me at Eric Clapton, your choice of "I'm Tore Down" was weak. I only hope that with the dawn of digital technology your selection of mix CDs had improved.

Otherwise, Hey Ho Let's Go.
Out Where the Buses Don't Run - Gus Sanchez This better be good, Sanchez.
The Ninja Librarian - Rebecca M Douglass I'm a Stuart McLean fan, and found this book to be very similar in style. I loved the collection of unique characters and oddball situations they go through. In short, I enjoyed this book very much, does that answer your question?
Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks Despite Geraldine Brooks' pitiful narration with this audiobook, I enjoyed the writing very much and the story. I'm not going to dock stars on this book because of it, so I'll just say this: Geraldine Brooks should not read her own books and if you ever come across an audiobook read by Ms Brooks, avoid it.

Sure, the cute Australian accent would have been nice to listen to throughout this book, but the weak, lispy voice grated on me for ten hours while on a road trip. "Quietneth and trutht," and "lowered hith gazthe" were a few of my favourites. There were a few moments in her read where it was amusing to hear her try and sound sexy (track 23) but for the most part, I read/listened to a great story, but sounded like a grown up, Australian Cindy Brady.

Sorry if that's mean, but I really think the author should just stick to writing and not reading.
Lucretia - David Krae Don't let the title fool you. There is plenty of Borgia drama to read besides Lucretia herself in this novel. Written in third person with the intent to admonish the negative reputation Lucretia may have attained throughout the years, her character is offset by her power-hungry, puppeteering father, Pope Alexander VI and her jealous, murderous brother Cesare. Peppered in, are characters who are key pieces on a chessboard set. After being knee-deep in this read, you'll find Lucretia is treated as a pawn, but after heartbreaking events, finds her own strength to stand up for herself. (The author's own metaphors, not mine.)

It's obvious that this book was written with great research, and the author took pride in decorating the language with poetic narrative. When I got to the Afterword, I learned that the book's original intent was to be created as a Shakespearean-esque play which accounts for the sometimes-cinematic scenes that are easily imagined.

This is an indie-ebook available on Amazon and Smashwords, that should have its place in print and available to a broad market. I wish the author much success, and will be interested in reading his next project.
Tentação - Adolfo Caminha I admit it: this was read to me by Ricky Gervais on YouTube, and because of his fifteen-minute stand up analyzing every page, I couldn't help but find this book interesting! Naturally it's a childrens' book about Noah's Ark, and all that happened when God became furious with men and all living things and asked Noah to create an ark so life on earth could be recreated.

By the looks of things, it was printed in the mid-60s and doesn't appear to be a widely distributed book, and could be very hard to find. If you have no issue with Ricky Gervais scoffing at religion, you can have a very entertaining read of this book on YouTube: Ricky Gervais on Noah's Ark
The Ladies of Missalonghi - Colleen McCullough I've read many reviews here about the possibility of... um.. "plot borrowing" from The Blue Castle, but honestly, this isn't why I'm rating this book low and really couldn't care less since so many books are written based on ideas from something else. This low rating is for the simple fact that I didn't like what I was reading most of the time. I'm sorry for this since Colleen McCullough is one of my favourite authors and I just expected better.

The premise that happiness for a woman is marriage and maybe having some children doesn't appeal to me, and though this book was a sign of the times (turn of the 20th century Australia), it still didn't wow me with anything that might have been different to the times. Writing fiction should have given the author the freedom to do that, but she didn't.

Also, the ending was very flat with no real sense of closure. No uplifting words to encourage me to think the characters lived happily ever after, and no indication that there was doom ahead. Just... nothing. Again, I expected more from Ms McCullough, and I guess this is why I am reviewing as much as I am when if written by someone else, I might only give my low rating and be done with it.

The upside is it's a quick read and though not a great book, it still shows signs of Colleen McCullough's descriptive writing style.
Slumach's Gold: In Search of a Legend - Rick Antonson, Brian Antonson, Mary Trainer Take a trip back to the 1890s in New Westminster BC and learn about a native Canadian named John Slumach who has taunted thousands of gold seekers with the legend and curse of Slumach's hidden gold mine before being succumbed to his hanging in 1891. From there, the authors piece together information based on fabulous research of the whos, whats, wheres, and whys that keep people interested in Slumach and his so-called curse, and the quest for his hidden treasure.

Local greater Vancouverites will identify all of the nooks and crannies of the Lower Mainland that are described in this book, and together all three authors used their resources to interview and research many of the who's whos in the area to get closer to the answer of not only is there in fact gold, but where is the gold.

A great, quick read and very interesting to learn a little history about the Lower Mainland that many might not have heard about!
Gold Diggers: Striking it Rich in the Klondike - Charlotte Gray Wow! What a wonderful book. This is the best non-fiction book I've read in a long time. It reads a little bit like a novel, but it's fascinating to know it was based on true events with actual individuals who lived in Dawson.
Rebel Women of the Gold Rush: Extraordinary Achievements and Daring Adventures - Rich Mole Loved the story of the woman who nearly drowned in the Yukon River and instead of her husband jumping in to save her, he called for help instead, then later after she is rescued by a strange man, she basically announces her divorce and takes up with the man who saved her. Love it!
Microsoft Excel 2010 Level 2 - Kenny Lee, Lynne Melcombe, Wes Bergen See Microsoft Excel Level 1
My experience with this level two book was exactly the same when I continued my training.

This is the training material used in a 12-hour entry level MS Excel course, and is full of easy exercises that is interactive with web-based spreadsheets meant to be saved independently to the user's computer to practice different lessons. There are five lessons in total, and each one is user-friendly and very easily explained.

I trained on MS Excel 2010 in the span of four classes and this book was incredibly helpful, and will be an excellent go-to book later on when needing a refresher.