Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama


With a very important U.S. Presidential election on the horizon, I decided to read this book to give me some insight on a man of which I really had no opinion four years ago when he was elected to the Office of The President of the United States of America. Shame on me for not taking the time to learn as much as I could about him then. I will not make that mistake twice! It is a privilege to vote for the leader of the most powerful country in the world and those who have earned that right (either through reaching the legal age or through acquiring legal U.S. Citizenship) should never make excuses to not spend some time learning as much as possible about both candidates, not just blindly following the one they “think” feels the same way they do about issues. I personally know many voters of all ages who derive their entire political belief system based on bumper stickers, slogans and by surrounding themselves with people who believe the same as they do, which is at the very least, irresponsible.

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is fairly well-written (though a sometimes the author would seem to drift off in to explaining in minute detail of something fairly insignificant or replaying a long conversation word-for-word which became a bit tedious for me). The story he is telling is an interesting story and it is easy to feel the emotions he is trying to convey.

I do need to point out that this book was originally published in 1995 and that was the version I read. It has been noted that the updated 2004 version has some key differences and I will point those differences out in this review. They are important because they are very telling when trying to understand why the author does what he does when dealing with conflict. A note to those planning on reading this book: the 1995 version is the original version with the bio stating that the author, Barack H. Obama, being born in Kenya and has some shocking observations by the author. The 2004 version has removed those statements and parts of the book and made the story more “politically correct”. So take care in choosing the edition, there is a difference.

The story is an autobiography about an (at the time) unknown man who was born to an interracial couple in 1960. His father was an African national, from a village in Kenya, his mother a career college student from the midwestern U.S. Autobiographies are very useful means to learn from the author’s experiences. Autobiographies by authors that were highly successful in their lives, or had a major impact on history, can provide information revealing as many of the valuable lessons the author has learned and recorded for the benefit of the reader. Autobiographies also reveal how authors think and this was the part of the book that took it from a story about a boy growing up in the 60’s who is struggling with himself on how to “fit in” as a biracial person to a fervent advocate for the real and perceived injustices suffered by blacks in that era.

The author interprets every experience and thing he knows of in terms of liberal sociological and psychological teachings. It comes through, often seemingly illogically, in his interpretation of every experience and thing he acquires knowledge of on almost every page of the book.

At the end of his Columbia University days, he decided to become a community organizer (or social activist). The author had previously transferred from Occidental College (Oxy) to Columbia University in New York city since most blacks at Oxy wanted to get along with and be successful in the mainstream and were not interested in social activism. He viewed Columbia as being “in heart of a true city, with black neighborhoods in close proximity.” Oxy is located near Pasadena, a highly enviable and pristine town near Los Angeles, noted for its prosperity and resistance to crack-pot ideas and politics (from what this reviewer knows of that town). The author describes the Oxy environment as being similar to Hawaii, “The students were friendly, the teachers encouraging,” and the author labels any such behaving blacks as “compromise.”

While at Oxy, he preferred to associate with: “The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets. We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night, in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy. When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society’s stifling constraints. We weren’t indifferent or careless or insecure. We were alienated.” And the author appeared to be diligent about being as alien and uncivil in society as he could be with this group of clones of his maternal grandfather.

The harsh and bleak realities of portions of New York City that he stayed in and visited while at Columbia compel the author to cease using drugs and practicing other related dissipations that he indulged in while at Oxy. In other words, he fits very comfortably into the harsh and bleak areas of the NYC environment, but could not tolerate the relatively plush, prosperous, and pristine Pasadena environment. This attitude appears to this reviewer as being a very familiar symptom of firm blessed-be-the-poor type beliefs, whose roots comes from the Roman Catholic Church, which is the mother of socialism (minus the church’s assorted deities).

The author has little else to say about his Junior and Senior years at Columbia. The highlight of his stay at Columbia is a visit from his mother and his sister, to check up on him and to show her daughter all the sights to see in the city as well as other locations in the continental US.

After college, he became a research assistant in a consulting house to multinational corporations — with the intent of staying only long enough to pay off his college expenses. He described himself as “spy behind enemy lines,” still in the mind-set of an hostile alien. He was the envy of the other black employees at that firm and they were proud of him but disparaged of his plans to become a community organizer. After he was promoted to financial writer, he left the company (and it leaves him in excellent financial condition) to pursue his community organizer interests. His initial community organizer work proves to be unprofitable (and leaves him in poor financial condition).

Then he interviewed with a Chicago based community organizer (highlighting that he looked very out-of-shape and unkempt, and was Jewish). The community organizer asked him, “Hmmph.”…”You must be angry about something.” The author replied: “What do you mean by that?” The community organizer answered: “I don’t know what exactly. But something. Don’t get me wrong — anger’s a requirement for the job. The only reason anybody decides to become an organizer. Well adjusted people find more relaxing work.” So this preferred career choice showed that the author had developed a large measure of anger about race.

(For those who might not know, a community organizer is a person who basically goes into a community of lower income people and points out problems that they should be angry about and incites them to do something about it. At the same time, he lamented that Africans didn’t know they were poor until “whites” arrived and showed them all of the things they were missing out on.)

His dad (Barack Obama, Sr.) was from Kenya. His dad was resourceful and intelligent enough to get a scholarship to attend college in Hawaii. That is where he met Obama Jr.’s white mother (Ann Dunham). He digressed to describe her parents (Stanley (family familiar: “Gramps”) and Madelyn (family familiar: “Toot”) Dunham) and their backgrounds. It is his white grandparents who perform a major portion of the author’s upbringing (the cover photographs show that author bears a striking resemblance to his white maternal grandfather – the text makes no mention of this). His white grandfather always preferred the company of blacks as he was something of a wild rebel and simply did not fit into main (white) society. This likely influenced his daughter’s decision to marry Barack Obama Sr.. His daughter’s marriage only lasted a short while. Barack Obama Sr. Received a scholarship to do graduate work at Harvard, so he left the his son at about age two and his mother in Hawaii with the grandparents and went to Harvard. He turned downed a more generous financial offer from another university in New York city that would have allowed the entire family to go there but he preferred the prestige of Harvard – despite its less generous financial offer. So he went to Harvard by himself.

Meanwhile, Stanley Dunham received a long and harsh letter from Obama Sr.’s severe father (Hussein Onyango) denouncing the marriage and it became apparent to her from the other contents of the letter that Barack Obama Sr. was still legally (or by local tradition) married to his first Kenyan wife and so she divorced him since she did not approve of polygamy. Before the marriage, Barack Obama Sr. had told Ann Dunham that he had separated from his first Kenyan wife that he had been married in a traditional village marriage. The narrative later explains that polygamy is a Kenyan tradition (ditto the rest of sub Saharan Africa) and when a Kenyan marriage ends, the children go to the father, if he wants them. African traditions are like laws and are treated as having more authority than civil laws (the book does not discuss this matter but you cannot miss it if you know any Africans or have visited the continent). Hussein Onyango was vehemently opposed to that marriage since he had become very familiar with western culture (he had immersed himself in it when the British showed up in order to learn their ways and to learn how to defeat them) and knew that no white woman would put up with a polygamous African husband. His long and harsh letter to Stanley Dunham effectively torpedoed his daughter’s marriage to Barack Obama Sr. once she had read it.

After Harvard, Barack Obama Sr. went back to Kenya with his next American white wife (Ruth, 2 children) while still married to the first Kenyan wife (2 children). He worked for the local Shell oil division and then used his connections to get a government job in the Ministry of Tourism. It lasted until his well known imperious manner got him into trouble with Jomo Kenyatta himself. He had to scrape by on handouts until Kenyatta died and then he got another government job in the Ministry of Finance. Meanwhile, he routinely became drunk so that his third wife Ruth left him after his first DUI car accident that killed the other driver (a white farmer). The author only saw him for a few days while he was living in Hawaii (when his dad came to stay to recover from his first major auto wreck). He then had a young fourth wife (1 child). Later his dad got killed in his final auto wreck.

This missing dad later motivates the author to search out information about him since he was never really raised by him at all and only sent him a number of short general type letters. His dad was spread too thin from one continent to another, one wife and the children by her (not “her children” according to Kenyan tradition), and with other wives and the children by them. Therefore, he ended up not being an effective real-time dad to any of the children he fathered. Only one of the author’s male Kenyan relatives realizes that polygamy simply does not work. The author was somewhat shattered by what he found out from his relatives in Kenya about his father.

The author’s mother married an Indonesian student (Lolo) after divorcing Barack Obama, Sr. and moved to Indonesia with the author. His step-father fathered his half-sister Maya. The author’s step-father took a genuine interest in his development and upbringing, teaching him how to survive and cope in a hazardous, corrupt, and wretched society. This training appears to be the basis of the author’s unrivalled political skills. This marriage lasts until the author’s mother decided that this husband was too cooperative with that country’s corrupting practices to get by (her impractical idealism clashed badly with his practical reality methods) and did not like how the author was being treated in the local schools (since Asians are intolerant of racial differences). The author’s step-father tried hard to provide for and shelter his family — at a level far above the norm for Indonesian society, but the author’s mother resented it all since none of this conformed to her ideals of absolute ideological perfection. One can afford to have these ideas, courtesy of a rule-of-law society, such as in the US, whether these impractical ideas work or not, anywhere at all — but not in a social Darwinist type society, such as Indonesia, where no one can survive on the ideals of absolute ideological perfection. So in the end, ideological incorrectness ended the marriage. The author labels his step father as a compromiser, despite all the survival skills he taught him that he very effectively uses for politics.

On the other hand, the author’s mother was, to some degree, justified to object to the corrupt practices present in Indonesian society since that is what make a third world country a third world country. This reviewer has encountered a number of people from the third world who were raised on social Darwinist principles. They always look only after themselves, they will take advantage of you every time you have to work with them, they take credit for your work, they hide information you need – even if you have requested it, they walk all over you, they make you appear to be useless, and in the end – they cause you to be booted out.

Obama’s mother then took her children back to Hawaii (when he was about 10 years old) to have their grandparents raise them while she was working on yet another degree and then divorced Lolo. That’s right, her work as a perpetual student was more important than than raising her children. Sound familiar? The Dunhams seem to have been already immersed in the lower end of the self-serving, self-righteous, and all about-me social behavior.

Back in Hawaii, his maternal grandfather’s boss used his alumni connections to get the author admitted to Punahou, an expensive private secondary school in Hawaii. Obama completed grades 5 to 12 at Punahou. A notable incident there was a white high-school friend’s discomfort at an all-black party that made the author feel as if he was regarded as societal alien by all whites and this angered him very intensely. This incident appears to stir up his festering anger about race.

Later, his grandmother insists on being driven to work on a day following an incident where a black man had harassed her at the bus stop. This incident cements his anger about race.

The book even explains how he developed his renown smooth-saying abilities (from pages 94-95 of the 1995 Three Rivers Press and Crown Publishers paperback versions):

“…and one day she” (referring to his mother) “had marched into my room, wanting to know the details of Pablo’s arrest. I had given her a reassuring smile and patted her hand and told her not to worry, I wouldn’t do anything stupid. It was usually an effective tactic, another one of those tricks I had learned: People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves. They were more than satisfied, they were relieved — such a pleasant surprise to find a well-mannered young black man who didn’t seem angry all the time.”

So there lies the explanation for Obama’s smooth-saying: an effective tactic, that uses a courteous demeanor and reassuring smile to beguile people into being satisfied with whatever he was saying (while hiding his anger). Moreover, he explains that is also an effective means to deceive (trick) people. This also explains why he manages the amazing feat of continuing to maintain his associations with radicals of all types while maintaining his popular appeal to the mainstream (it looks like the step-father Lolo taught survival skills very well).

Those two pages of the 1995 autobiography grabbed this reviewer’s attention more than any other portion of the book since they explain so very much about this author.

As for rating the book, it is fairly well written and detailed, and provides excellent insights into the author’s thinking and experiences (a 5 rating). However, what it reveals is very negative and the book drones on and on throughout with the author preaching his dogmas and all of this makes the book a very unpleasant read, but it was a valuable experience (a 1 to 2 rating). So I gave it an average 3 rating overall. The narrative does not flow chronologically and the account needs to be pieced together as in the manner of solving a puzzle. That is a common literary style and I did not use that for the rating. Anyone that carried out their “civic duty to vote” in November 2008 ar any other time in the future should read or have read this book beforehand no matter how pleasant or unpleasant they may find it to read. It will be a basis for a much more informed experience than all of the useless noise emanating from all of the political campaigns.




The Amateur by Edward Klein


Think you know the real Barack Obama? You don’t—not until you’ve read The Amateur

In this stunning exposé, bestselling author Edward Klein—a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, former foreign editor of Newsweek, and former editor-in-chief of the New York Times Magazine—pulls back the curtain on one of the most secretive White Houses in history. He reveals a callow, thin-skinned, arrogant president with messianic dreams of grandeur supported by a cast of true-believers, all of them united by leftist politics and an amateurish understanding of executive leadership.

In The Amateur you’ll discover:

  • Why the so-called “centrist” Obama is actually in revolt against the values of the society he was elected to lead
  • Why Bill Clinton loathes Barack Obama and tried to get Hillary to run against him in 2012
  • The spiteful rivalry between Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey
  • How Obama split the Kennedy family
  • How Obama has taken more of a personal role in making foreign policy than any president since Richard Nixon—with disastrous results
  • How Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett are the real powers behind the White House throne

The Amateur is a reporter’s book, buttressed by nearly 200 interviews, many of them with the insiders who know Obama best. The result is the most important political book of the year. You will never look at Barack Obama the same way again.

From a booklover, those who think Obama walks on water and have their minds made up will not like this book. Those who think Obama is the devil will love it, but have probably heard all the stories already anyway. For those who fall in between, I think the book is worth reading. Yes, it’s slanted, but if you read beyond that you’ll come away with some insights into this president and his administration. The first chapters are the most incendiary and the least informative since they rehash old stuff. But the second half gets into some behind the scenes stuff that’s worth knowing. What disturbs me most is how far in over his head Obama is and how he surrounds himself with people who feed his ego and/or protect him rather than providing him with a broad understanding of the issues. He is a politician not a leader and I find that both sad and frightening.

Scandinavian Authors List








I’ve been enthralled with Scandinavian literature since long before most Americans even knew where Sweden was.  Well, at least since my first of many visits to my second adopted country, Sweden.  I’ve read just about everything I’ve been able to find written by any Scandinavian author that has been translated to English as my Swedish is not good enough to read more than a preschool book.

I’ve noticed that it can be difficult to find new authors to read once you’re hooked.  Partly because of the unfamiliar spellings and characters of ö Ö, ä Ä and å Å that are found in some Swedish names, not to mention the Danish and Norwegian letters of Æ æ and Ø ø.  I’ll spare you trying to pronounce them, other than to say if you get hooked on the amazing Norwegian author, Jo Nesbø‘s books and his main character, Harry Hole, know that Harry’s name is not pronounced like we would say it in English.  His name pronounce phonetically is:  Hahree Whoule or Who-leh as my Norwegian friend explained to me.

So, now that you’ve had a bit of a spelling & grammar lesson, I’ll get to the list of the Scandinavian (which includes Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland) authors that I have really enjoyed over the past several years.  Some you may have heard of already, like Stieg Larsson, but others may be new to you.  In no particular order:

This is just a small list of some of the outstanding Scandinavian authors (and I’ve not even started on Finland yet!) that you might like to check out.  The Icelandic books by Arnaldur Indridason have led me to put the unlikely spot of Iceland at the top of my “Places to Go” list and I can’t wait to visit beautiful Iceland.  But all of these authors have their own unique talents, some of a series working around a single character (which are my favorite types) while others keep the landscape the same throughout the books.

Regardless of how you decide to approach it, remember most of these books were written in their native language and translated into English.  This just means that sometimes, the sentences might be a little awkward or the dialogue might sound odd.  But that doesn’t take anything away from the brutal crimes in what the rest of the world thinks is the socialist paradise where everything is clean and the people are blonde and tall 🙂

Enjoy!  And please let me know if you have any suggestions to add to this list, I’d be happy to add on because I’m always looking for the newest books that have been translated so I can get my Scandinavian fix.

The Abigail Affair by Timothy Frost


I wasn’t sure if I’d like this book at first.  The beginning hit the ground running with a murder of a model in the mansion of an extremely wealthy foreigner.   Then we met Toby, the main character. I thought I’d quit the book after reading a few pages, but I’m glad I didn’t.  The Abigail Affair by Timothy Frost is a fun spy – thriller – suspense – amateur sleuth kind of story.

Toby is kind of a goofball, but he is very likable and has a lot of humorous lines.  The writing style reminds me of something similar to the “young adult” genre in some parts, but this is not a book that is appropriate for children (some swearing, sexual innuendo, violence). The plot became more and more exciting as the book went on, there were actually some places were I honestly couldn’t put it down. The trouble with reading e-books is that if you don’t pay close attention to the counter along the bottom, you don’t realize that the book is ending. So, I was constantly aware of how much “time” I had left because I was really enjoying the action filled and fast paced story.

There were some parts that were unbelievable (like a CIA agent ever admitting they work for the CIA), but all in all, it was a fun, exciting book to read with a lot of humor mixed in thanks to Toby, the poor little rich boy who needed to grow up fast and thanks to a crazy Russian multi-billionaire, the Royal Navy, the FBI, CIA, MI6, a the prince of England and an assortment of other colorful characters, he did in the most delightful way.

How to Become an Intellectual by Nick Kolakowski


First of all: If you saw the title of this book and saw the word “Maxim” and immediately thought “oooh, a book about hot chicks”, this book probably isn’t for you. But you might be well advised to read it anyway. Girls dig guys who know stuff.

I’ve been enjoying Nick Kolakowski‘s cleverly written tongue-in-cheek articles on The Huffington Post and when I learned that he had written a book in a similar style, I was interested. I mean, a “how-to” book on how to be smart (or, to at least SOUND like you are)? I’m in! Who needs to get a PhD in classical literature or travel the world when you can just APPEAR to have done so?

Honestly, this book was/is a lot of fun to read and it’s one that everyone who has visited lately and seen it lying around has picked up and gotten a huge chuckle out of it. BUT….it has also ignited some interesting and real conversations about all sorts of topics. I have to say, it’s been a true pleasure to talk about something other than Big Brother XIIIVIX or The Real Housewives of Calcutta for a change. Not that I have dumb friends, oh heavens no! I’m only suggesting that sometimes, there are certain people who take themselves WAY too seriously while there are others who it certainly wouldn’t hurt them a bit to pick up a book instead of the remote.

While How to Become an Intellectual: 100 Mandatory Maxims to Metamorphose into the Most Learned of Thinkers was written as smart humor (Mental Floss magazine anyone?), the truth is, there is a lot of valuable information to be found, some good advice and you might really learn something (I did!)

Personally, I found it to be similar to the “for Dummies” line of books, except for smart people. Because in the end, some people will “get” this book and others will not. How to tell the difference? Protip! – A good sense of humor is a pretty accurate indicator of IQ. 😉


77 Days in September by Ray Gorham

I rarely buy ebooks, especially those that are self-published. The reason being, the editing is usually poor, if done at all. But, I took a chance with 77 Days in September and not only purchased it, but paid $3.99! So I was really hoping it would be worth it.

I was pleasantly surprised. The plot was what I was looking for (end of the world/apocalyptic type), the characters were mostly likable and the story-line, though predictable, was interesting. It’s one of those books that makes you take a moment to think about how prepared you would be if there was some sort of disaster.

The book takes off quickly and moves along at a good clip. There was only one type/grammatical error that I could find and that was the use of “your” instead of the correct “you’re” when Hector was taunting Kyle about Kyle’s wife thinking Kyle was dead. The sentence was Your wife’s probably busy sleeping with the neighbors for food, and I bet she’s got the pantry stocked. Probably thinks your dead or something.” I noticed it mostly because it’s one of my pet peeves 🙂

I appreciated Kyle’s loyalty to his wife in the story between he and Rose. It’s something that I’ve found is very rare in most books and I really developed a higher opinion of the author because of it. I also appreciated the lack of foul language in the book. I don’t know why authors feel the need to cheapen their works by having most, if not all of the characters swearing in every other sentence. It’s distracting and frankly, sounds stupid. There are instances in certain books where it just fits with the character and the story, but for the most part it just muddies up good dialogue and cheapens the entire book. So thank you Mr. Gorham, for rising above and relying on your writing abilities to tell the story.

The only part of the book I didn’t like was the weird conversation that Jennifer had with Carol about Doug’s behavior towards her (Jennifer). It just seemed way out of left field and didn’t really make any sense considering the type of person Jennifer was and the type relationship she had with her husband. It might have worked better if the author had built up to it a bit with Jennifer “loosing it” in other parts of her life. The scenes with Doug were just weird and unlikely – she needed to either be submissive or beat the crap out of him.

Am I glad I read this book? Absolutely. Do I think it was worth the $4? Sure, why not? I read a lot of books of a huge assortment of genres. Books by established authors, new authors, self-published and I’d rate this closer to the top of the self-published group. I’d read more books by this author and think he is pretty solid, well on his way to a successful career, if that’s what he wants.

And for my favorite lines in the book:

“We’ve been so conditioned to think that the government is always going to be there to fix things that we just expect everything to work out. But now that the government can’t take care of us, we’re almost too helpless to do anything for ourselves.”

Amen, brother. I don’t think people understand how important it is to be able to take care of yourselves and your family/friends/loved ones in an emergency. This country was built by strong, self-reliant people and we should honor those people as well as those who have fought to maintain our great land by helping prepare ourselves and do our part in being responsible, self-reliant citizens. 77 Days in September is one of many stories of what could really happen if a major disaster struck. And the people who will survive, like those in the book who survived, will be the people who realize that.





 This is the first book I’ve read by this author, I almost didn’t choose it but I am so glad I did. While I read all sorts of genres, I always come back to thrillers. This is one of those stories that is personal feeling, it’s very easy to put yourself in the mind of the main character Catherine/Cathy.

Catherine is a young woman living in northern England. She has a group of friends to whom she is close and they spend a lot of time going out to pubs and partying. She lives a carefree, single lifestyle, drinking a little too much and often times waking up finding herself next to a man she doesn’t know.

Until she meets Lee. Suddenly, she is swept off of her feet by his startling good looks, take charge personality. Her friends are smitten and a bit jealous. But then, things begin to change and that’s where it starts getting scary.

This book is told in first person and goes back and forth to the current life of Cathy and the former life of Catherine. Cathy is Catherine 3 years later. Cathy is nearly paralyzed by severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, spending hours every day checking her windows, doors and apartment for signs of tampering, wandering in long, circuitous routes home each day so she can’t be followed, suffering from long bouts of insomnia. She is no longer the Catherine of the past because something horrible happened to her….and to Lee, who is never far from her mind, to change her life forever.

This book was so scary, it reminded me of an old Alfred Hitchcock movie or something where the terror isn’t blatant and spelled out, it sort of just creeps up on you as you begin to realize what’s going on, why “Catherine” is now “Cathy”. You can feel the loneliness, despair and mounting terror as the story goes on. Cathy is a likable character, someone who at first appears weak but quickly begins to show her strength. The story is set in a town called Lancaster, in the northern part of England and in London. The author is obviously British, but she doesn’t use a strong British English writing style that make the book seem foreign. I loved her writing style, the way she was able to build suspense and keep me interested and kept me guessing until the last sentence of the book.

If you’re looking for a dark thriller, you’ll love this. I can absolutely see this book made into a movie that would have me watching with one hand over my eyes.




The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis by Elle Thorton


 The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis

This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. The author writes with such a tranquil voice, even when discussing the difficult subject of racism and civil rights in the south in 1957.

Gabriella Winter, the daughter of a U.S. Marine general and a mentally ill and absent mother, is 12 years old in the summer of 1957. One day, she spies a young black man behind the river of her house. When he appears later in her house, she is shocked to learn that her father has hired him to be the steward of their household. Hawkins is his name and they become fast friends. Hawkins, in his gentle and respectful way, teaches Gabriella how to swim, how to be brave and eventually, how to love.

Written in the voice of a 12 year old southern girl, the words flow beautifully across the pages, painting a picture that feels hazy and soft and a bit sad. Thought Gabriella is a strong, sweet girl, it is easy to feel her confusion over racial tensions and her mother’s absence while she is trying to grow from a girl into a young woman.

This is a wonderful book for ages 9 and up and I would highly recommend it as a gentle way of teaching civil rights history from the viewpoint of a young girl.




Wool by Hugh Howey


I stumbled across this strange tale on Amazon a few months ago.  Though I’ve never considered myself a “sci-fi” fan, I’ve always enjoyed well-told tales.  So, I thought I’d give this short story with the strange name “Wool” a shot.  What did I have to lose?

Apparently a lot!  That is, if I hadn’t decided to read it.  I honestly think that Wool will undoubtably be one of those books that become a science fiction classic.  Not only is the story excellent, it’s one of those rare self-published books that aren’t full of spelling and grammatical errors, which I find hugely distracting.

“Wool is an ongoing series of science fiction novels by novelist Hugh Howey. Howey began the series in 2011, initially as a stand-alone short story. Released through his own self-publishing efforts, Wool rapidly began to develop a passionate following of fans eager for the next chapter in the saga and as of April 8th, 2012 rates #1 in Amazon.com‘s Kindle Science Fiction & Fantasy Anthologies and High Tech[1]. The series now consists of six novellas:

  • Wool (Jul 30, 2011)
  • Wool 2 – Proper Gauge (Nov 30, 2011)
  • Wool 3 – Casting off (Dec 11, 2011)
  • Wool 4 – The Unraveling (Dec 26, 2011)
  • Wool 5 – The Stranded (Jan 25, 2012)
  • Wool 6 – First shift (Apr 14, 2012)

The series was also released as “Wool Omibus” which includes all 6 novellas in the series.

The story of Wool takes place on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Humanity clings to survival in the Silo, a subterranean city extending hundreds of stories beneath the surface. There is one paramount law within the Silo: never say you want to go outside, for if you do, you will get your wish.  To go outside is a death wish; anyone who has left the silo has never returned.

It all started one hundred and fifty years ago when there was an uprising.  The survivors now live their lives in the silos and have only heard stories passed down through generations about life outside, where the sky is rumored to be blue, not gray; the grass is rumored to be green, not brown. The only way to see the outside is through cameras that have been placed all around the exterior of the silo over a hundred years ago.  The cameras project real-time images onto screens inside and are very much valued by the silo citizens. The world they show is one of destruction and despair – brown, dusty, ruined, colorless and lifeless but everyone wants to see just the same.

The trouble with the cameras comes with the air outside which toxic and filthy that over the course of several months, the lenses become dirtier and dirtier until the view is completely obscured.  Someone has to clean the lenses for the good of everyone.  But who will do it?

After losing his wife Allison to cleaning three years before, Sheriff Holston has uttered the fateful phase “I want to go outside” thus “volunteering” to leave the safety of the silo and go outside to clean the lenses.  Since Allison died, Holston has been tormented with the unanswered question:  Why motivates the condemned to follow through with the cleaning?  Why don’t they just run away or refuse to clean the lenses?  What makes them want to help the very people who sent them to their death?

Hugh C. Howey spent 8 years working as a yacht captain. When he was pulled away from the sea by the love of his life, he turned to his childhood dream of becoming an author. His Molly Fyde series has won praise from reviewers, and now his Wool series has become a #1 bestseller, with Random House publishing in the UK and Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian securing the film rights. He lives in Jupiter, Florida with his wife Amber and their dog Bella.

2012, USA, Broad Reach Publishing ISBN 1469984202, Pub date 25 January 2012, paperback and ebook, 548 pages.  Kindle Edition, 1st Edition, 70 pages.