Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Celebrity Sudoku

I picked up a couple of books for light reading on the plane.  Even though these two books traveled to Italy with me, I wound up not reading very much, and finished another book instead.  I did manage to read them since then.  They were a lot of fun to read.  Liza Kelly creates sudoku puzzles and writes a newspaper column.  She somehow winds up being around murders, which are somehow related to the puzzles, and of course investigates the murders. The books include sudoku puzzles (with answers in the back), and tips on how to solve them.  There are a series of books written by Kaye Morgan which include:
Sinister Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery)
Murder By Numbers (A Sudoku Mystery)
Death by Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery)
Ghost Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery)

In Celebrity Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery), Liza is hired to create puzzles for celebrity week on the hit show D-Kodas.  An earthquake and a missing celeb, who turns out to have been murdered sets off the mystery.

In Killer Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery), Liza is one of the competitors in the West Coat Sudoku Summit. One of the contestants drops dead in the middle of the competition and soon other competitors are also falling dead. Liza has to solve the mystery, before she becomes a victim.

These books are part of a series of books from Berkley Prime Crime which includes Earlene Fowler with quilting mysteries featuring Benni Harper, Needlecraft mysteries, scrapbooking mysteries, knitting mysteries, decoupage mysteries and sewing circle mysteries.

I found the sudoku books entertaining and fun. The mysteries are interesting, with lots of characters, some humor, and the story of Liza's life is moving ahead in the story. The puzzles are placed in the book to fit at the top or bottom of a page, so they don't fit in exactly in place with the story, but once you know that, it isn't a big deal.

The tips are also educational, but I think reading the series in order might help with some of the explanations. Some of these explanations are cumbersome to read through - which is understandable when you have to explain where the number is and how it is related to other numbers in the set, but they do make sense if you pay attention and think it through one step at a time.

One problem with borrowing these books from the library is that another patron already filled out the solutions in one of the books. I did get some satisfaction when I noticed that a puzzle had been solved incorrectly. It is a rather difficult one, and I am still working on finding a way to solve it. In the book, someone gives a lecture on how to solve the difficult one, but the explanation is not given in the book, probably to keep the focus on the crime.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Escaping the Endless Adolescence

We have all known that teenagers are now treated as big children instead of small adults for a while now. They continue to live with their parents much longer than in the past, and even when they move out, they continue to receive assistance from us. Instead of striving to push themselves, they feel entitled to the luxuries they have become accustomed to at home. And I've gotten a nagging feeling that we should be doing something about that, but it just seems so hard - that we need to change the entire culture.

Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old by Joseph and Claudia Worrell Allen, PhDs helps put a magnifying glass on the problem and provides possible solutions. Their findings are based on research. It explains how this phenomenon is hurting the teenager as much as it is annoying the parents and society. It helped change my thinking about many situations.

Escaping the Endless Adolescence

Here are just a few of the topics covered in the book:
  • They discuss the history of teenagers. In the past, teenagers were treated as budding adults, and became apprentices to learn the skills to go forth on their own. We now send them to school, where they are surrounded by their peers and very few adults to serve as role models. Juvenile delinquency was not common in the past and in other societies. The authors postulate the reasons for this.
  • Teen brains are more capable than adult brains in important ways than we give them credit. We need to take advantage of these differences and capacities instead of wasting them. We tend to underestimate our teenager's abilities, even though they routinely handled the same tasks in the past.
  • We stifle our teens by worrying about rare dangers, such as abduction by strangers, and completely ignore the common risks. The book lists the common risks and tells us what we can do to avoid them.
  • The authors have found that we can reduce teen pregnancy rates by 50%, without ever having any discussions about sex.
  • They have found that the popular kids tend to have higher rates of drug use and delinquency than less popular kids. The authors explains why this is the case.
  • Simply getting a job for teens may not be the right answer. There are other methods that are more effective.
  • Even when parents are struggling financially, we tend to give kids everything they want. This leaves them with a feeling of entitlement, and other effects of "precocious affluence".
  • By sending them to school, and stifling them from the real world, we have given over the process of socializing teens to the peer group. The book shows how we can take it back.

Escaping the Endless Adolescence Book Review

I have read several books lately that talk about people of this generation, with their sense of entitlement, and their unwillingness to grow up to become dependable and responsible adults. These kids are not willing to struggle and start from the bottom to work their way up. They expect things to be handed to them on a silver platter, and continue to get assistance from their helicopter parents.
Their parents have given them a sense of fear about the bad world outside, and make them feel that they aren't capable of doing things on their own. The world is much more complicated today than in the past, but our kids are fully capable, if only we would give them our confidence that they can do it.
I know lots of people who are getting support from their parents - these people are underemployed and could very well do better. But I'm not sure how much of it is also due to the economy. It is harder to get a job, especially starting out without a lot of experience. In a poor economy, it is tough to take that much rejection, and since there is such an easy fallback of continuing to rely on the parents, I can completely understand why they would continue to do so.

My daughter is willing to work hard and do what it takes to get a job and become a responsible adult. She wants that, and I am sure that most people of her generation do too. By trusting in their abilities, and providing them with solid adult role models and mentors, they can succeed and lead happy, adult lives.

This book shows ways that we can help our children and other adolescence in our lives to become productive adults.

I got this book from the library and I highly recommend reading it. It is useful not only for parents of teenagers and would-be teenagers, but also people who are around teenagers in their lives, so pretty much society at large.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


When my family cleaned my house while I was on vacation, I was a little worried. I had just finished reading a book Boomer Burden about planning to or having to handle your parent's stuff after they are deceased. What if my family got a glimpse of what it would be like after I was gone? My sister did say that I didn't have as many things as she thought I would.  But that's not all, I was also reading this book about compulsive hoarding.

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost and Professor Gail Steketee, PhD is a very insightful book about the accumulation of things and the thinking processes of the people who collect things. It helped to see what the people were thinking, what their reasons for collecting and keeping things are, etc.  The authors really seem like they want to help people, not make fun of them or sensationalize their condition for profit.

I have often thought that having a quilting stash is hoarding in a way.  If I buy fabric for a quilt I am going to be making soon, then it is fine. But buying just for the purpose of adding it to the stash seems like hoarding to me.  By the time I go looking for fabric in the stash, it might be too out of date and ugly for me to use. It is unlikely that a good fabric will not be available at the store when I am ready for it. I have to keep telling myself that, since I also have a counter-argument: I know I like scrap quilts, and having a collection does help when I make them.

I am not a hoarder. You can see my floors and my walls, except the part that is covered by furniture and decorations. But a lot of the excuses do make sense to me, and I think all of us have a little bit of hoarder in ourselves. And to that extent I am a hoarder.  Even before these books, I have been trying to reduce the amount of stuff I have. I think that besides the fact that it will help my family when I am gone, I think having less stuff makes it easier to clean the house, and have fewer places dust can hide, and I will have less to worry about moving if and when I move.  But in the meantime, the stuff is taking a great deal of my time, as I sort through it to decide what to give away and throw away and what to keep.  And to find better places in my home for the things I am keeping.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Alarmists

Alarmists, The is the third novel written by Don Hoesel, but it is the first one I've read. There is action, suspense, a love story, exotic locales, and religious debate.

Sociologist Brent Michaels is a sociologist who has been asked to join a special Pentagon unit to uncover why there seems to be an upsurge of activity - both man-made and natural disasters. He and the unit find activities from all around the world in December 2012, and as we all know, the Mayan calendar says the world will end on 12/21/12. They have to try to make sense of data from all around the world and try to determine the connections. They decide that these are not caused by normal causes - that someone is manipulating events.

The book alternates telling the story of several characters, especially Brent Michaels and Mr. Canfield, who uses the alias Miles Standish. Canfield is hired by a wealthy businessman, Jeremy Maxwell, whose aim is to become the richest man in the world, like King Solomon.

I really enjoyed reading this book.

I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for this review.

Monday, August 8, 2011

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