Blog Posts by bweiner

Posted by bweiner on 10/29/15
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There is a good chance that we may all know someone with obsessive compulsive disorder, commonly known as OCD. A new book, The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought peels back the layers of this often baffling disorder with honesty, careful research and abundant humor.

Author David Adam is intimately knowledgeable about OCD as he has experienced it for twenty years.  He weaves many narratives into this story about his personal obsessions and compulsions, and will win over readers with the candid retrospect of his experiences.

But it is more than just a journey into the complicated tangle of ideas in his head. Adam also details the psychological, social and scientific aspects and reveals the research and treatments that have been used and are currently used for sufferers of this condition. He also speaks to the historical struggle to classify OCD; there was often conflict over its origin as a behavioral or mental disorder.

Insightful and absorbing, this book will enlighten with its fresh perspective.
Posted by bweiner on 09/30/15
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The Water Knife, a thriller detailing a severe drought in the American Southwest, tersely cautions us of a possible bleak future without adequate hydration. Hugo and Nebula award winner Paolo Bacigalupi creates an authentic picture of the consequences to the people and the land, while painting an ugly portrait of the greed and corruption that develop in the wake of this drought.

This world is a brilliantly imagined, violent place, and we follow the lives of three people caught in the crossfire this drought produces. Angel Velasquez is a “water knife”, a sort of enforcer for the rich and powerful who define ownership of this precious commodity. Lucy is a cynical journalist and Maria is a dreamer who believes in better things, and together they become entangled in this drama. The people who have water have the power, and therefore the control, which they often use with reckless abandon.
The novel progresses like a well-paced action movie.The plot twists are unsettling and the characters are hovering on the cusp of good and evil. Science fiction writers have written about environmental concerns for many years, but as our world moves through time, we actually see the effects, and severe drought is a well-timed topic. Check out this thoughtful, engaging and meaningful read.
Posted by bweiner on 08/19/15
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Finish off your summer with the novel, Act of God by Jill Ciment. This unique story is an unconventional combination of horror and humor, and it also serves as a narrative about how predictable our lives are until one unforeseen event changes everything.

The story begins in New York City where identical twins, Edith, the retired librarian and Kat, the free spirit, find peculiar phosphorescent mushrooms growing in their closet. Their landlady Vida is a Shakespearian actress, although she is mostly recognizable for a female sexual enhancement pill commercial she recently did. Vida lives upstairs, as does Ashley, the runaway Russian au pair who is hiding in her closet. When Vida also discovers the funky fungi sprouting in her apartment, the health department condemns the building, sends in the Hazmat team, and life instantly changes for this unusual group of nomads.

To say more would be to give away parts of the story that you should discover on your own. There is a message here about the transitory nature of our existence and the ability we possess to transgress our difficulties. Quirky characters, clever plotting, bizarre humor, and some seriously solid writing make this a very worthwhile read.
dark humor
Posted by bweiner on 07/29/15
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In 2014, science fiction fans were delighted to experience the debut of a new film, Interstellar, helmed by Christopher Nolan. This brilliant and inventive film dared to challenge our astronomical awareness and broaden our scientific knowledge to include the known and the predicted.
The story of Interstellar is familiar to fans of space movies. The Earth is no longer able to sustain human life, so scientists are constructing a plan to use a wormhole that will transport them to a planet habitable by humans. What makes this story different is the remarkable scientific integrity of the information presented.
This is where The Science of Interstellar comes in. This extraordinary book, written with flair and determination by theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, attempts to elucidate the complexities of the universe and make the science of this movie accessible to all.
Kip Thorne was the scientific collaborator who Christopher Nolan relied on to take the story to the brink of what we know and then move one step beyond. Thorne introduces us to the foundations of physics while guiding us through a universe of black holes and gravitational anomalies. There is also a section devoted to extreme physics; the conjecture of what may be yet to come.
In addition to all this, we are privy to some humorous anecdotes about Thorne’s brush with the rich and famous of Hollywood. Take a voyage into The Science of Interstellar, it will be a journey you will not regret.
Posted by bweiner on 06/14/15
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Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is the appealing story of two Nigerians immigrants who try to survive the bumpy road to success in America.
However, there is one small problem. Job Ogbonnaya has lied to everyone, including his wife Ifi, who has come from Nigeria as part of an arranged marriage to live with her doctor husband. The money his father has sent from home to finance medical school sits in a savings account, while Job works at a nursing home as a nurse’s aide.
The difficulties of surviving in America are great enough without the added burden of the massive lie Job has told. His life is complicated further by the reappearance of his first wife Cheryl, the woman he married to obtain citizenship. Then there are Emeka and Gladys, also Nigerian, who seem to navigate their new country with apparent grace and ease.
Julie Iromuanya has created a frustrating, funny, sensitive story about race, relationships and survival and how our past shapes and follows us into our future. Check out this captivating story by Iromuanya, a first time author.
Posted by bweiner on 05/17/15
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Transgender identity is currently a conspicuous subject in the media. There is a wave of individuals, famous or not, who are choosing to reveal their struggles and live their lives free from the veil of deception.
Laurence Anyways, the 2012 Canadian film directed by Xavier Dolan, tackles this complex subject with grace, dignity and humor. The story is set in Montreal in the late 1990’s.We observe Laurence as he discloses his lifelong desire to be a woman to his girlfriend, family, friends and colleagues, and the ensuing chaos this creates.  As if that was not enough, he endures the bigotry and ignorance of the community as he navigates his path to femininity in a very public way.
The misunderstandings he bears are tempered by the wonderful moments of compassion and enlightenment that sometimes come from the most unlikely sources in this film. Humankind’s adaptability to change is impressive.
Remarkable performances by the two lead actors, Melvil Poupaud as Laurence Alia and Suzanne Clement as Frédérique "Fred" Belair bring these characters into focus as people we know or want to know. Check out this superb film about a very timely subject. (In French with English subtitles)
Posted by bweiner on 04/15/15
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With reality shows dominating the television landscape, Arts & Entertainments by Christopher Beha is a well-timed novel that examines our obsession with fame and our desire to find the extraordinary in ordinary circumstances.
We first meet Eddie Hartley, the drama teacher at a boy’s prep school in New York City. Eddie once dreamed of making it big as an actor, but his minimal success determined his fate as an educator. He and his wife Susan are in need of money to support their attempt at in vitro fertilization after having no success with pregnancy, so Eddie resorts to selling a sex tape of him and his ex-girlfriend Martha, who is now a successful television star.  The tape goes viral, the wife and ex-girlfriend bond as exploited women, and a new reality show is born.
Eddie finally gets the fame he has been chasing, but at what cost?  Are reality shows responsible for creating frenzy, or do we generate their success with our overwhelming passion and response to them? Christopher Beha has written a spectacular novel that will thrill us with its hilarity while challenging our conceptions concerning the genesis of reality television. If you watch these shows or not, this is not one to miss!
Posted by bweiner on 03/22/15
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Travel to the distant future in Time To Expire, a world where technology and scientific discovery have eliminated disease and lengthened the duration of human life. The decrease in mortality has also minimized other damaging aspects of society, weakening their destructive effects in this new world.
Who becomes the savior of civilization?  The answer is LifeSpan, a technology company responsible for the dramatic turn of events. In addition to the eradication of disease, the company is able to pinpoint the exact time of death for all people and facilitate their exit from the world. Families are able to anticipate the death of their loved ones and be present as they spend their last moments on Earth.
We follow Cole, who has taken a job with a bright future at LifeSpan. His security is threatened by an underground movement that challenges the ethics of  LifeSpan’s authority.  Should they exercise such power over human existence? Does knowing make it easier to let someone go?
In his debut novel, Chris Ramos treats these questions with the respect and attentiveness they deserve. His characters are authentic; his action is crisp and complete. I am eager to see where this outstanding new author will take us next.
Posted by bweiner on 02/12/15
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There are support groups for almost everything these days. Join Dr. Jan Sayer as she facilitates therapy for people who have survived unspeakable trauma and continued psychologically painful experiences in Daryl Gregory’s new thriller, We Are All Completely Fine.
This is quite a cast of memorable characters: from Stan, who survived captivity with cannibals, although he sports a few less appendages, to Barbara, who carries secret messages etched on her bones courtesy of a scrimshander. Dr. Sayer is aware of their continued anxiety, and encourages the group to bond and work through their problems. Unfortunately, something dark and malicious is released through their sessions, and the danger escalates for the entire group…
Part horror, part psychological thriller, Daryl Gregory keeps us in uncomfortable suspense while managing to wrest a few chuckles along the way. If you like your horror fun, fast and frenzied, this is the book for you!
Posted by bweiner on 01/07/15
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People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished From the Streets of Tokyo--And the Evil That Swallowed Her Up is the vivid, detailed, affecting story of Lucie Blackman's disappearance from the streets of Tokyo, and the subsequent discovery of her dismembered body in a seaside cave in Japan. This sensational, true story of a young English girl and her gruesome murder by a man described as "unprecedented and extremely evil" will captivate you so completely that you will not want to put it down.

Yet, it is not only the tragic loss of a young life that makes this a compelling read. Award-winning, foreign correspondant Richard Lloyd Parry navigates us through Japanese society with an adroit hand, and we examine the culture through the eyes of the Eastern and the Western world.

Even more fascinating is the picture Parry paints of every person involved in Lucie's life and death. Lucie's family: her mother, father, sister and brother are all present and plugged into this story. Lucie's friends and acquaintances provide insight into her character and actions. Parry contributes painstaking detail about Japan's legal system and the people who represent it. Probably the most unsettling element of this tale is the intimate portrait of Joji Obara, the accused killer of Lucie Blackman. Parry guides us from his birth in Japan to his lengthy trial for the rape and murder of multiple young women. The key to this riveting book is the incredible detail Parry provides, and the depth of emotional intensity he packs into this sad story. Spellbinding indeed.

Want recommendations on what to read next? Email and we will be happy to assist you in finding a great book to read.
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