#843 When the Wind Blows by James Patterson

When the Wind Blows by James PattersonWhen the Wind Blows by James Patterson

Frannie is a vet and she lives out in the woods. One day she’s treating a deer and her fawn, the next day, or the same day, she sees something she never thought she would see. She can’t really believe it. She also has a new tenant. He calls himself Kit. She tells him what she thought she saw and he takes her seriously, but he has his reasons.

What Frannie thought she saw was a winged girl, a real, live girl with wings. The two are able to coax the girl to them. She says her name is Max and soon there is a whole story about where she comes from, but she’s reluctant to tell it. She isn’t the only one. She came from a school. She left. There are other winged children and some of them are put to sleep. The two want to protect Max, but soon people start coming after them. There are guns and fires. Can Kit and Frannie save the other children? Can Max help save the other children? Who is doing this and why?

What I liked

I actually found this book quite intriguing. It’s woo, but woo explained by science, or theoretically explained by science. People cannot have wings, nor can they lay eggs. This book was scandal nested in scandal. Frannie and Kit are both likable enough. The winged children are likable. I’m actually impressed with how this book turned out.

Who knows what secret labs do to humans behind closed doors, in secret labs, in the woods, down dark and long roads? There is absolutely no telling. We have no idea the potential human atrocities that occur in the name of science, or greed, or simply hate.

What I didn’t like

Like I said, people can’t have wings. It’s just incredibly far-fetched. Ok, I can see humans possibly having some sort of grafted wings. Possibly a like a very high-end prosthetic, attached to shoulder blades and upper arm nerves. What I cannot see is people having so much bird DNA that wings are inherent and they lay eggs. I don’t think there’s a point when humans will stop being mammals. I kind of think once you’re a mammal, you’re always a mammal. I mean, there are platypuses and they’re kind of weird. Unless you’re a lizard person, you’re a mammal. For me, there is this tinge of “this is too far out there to ever conceivably happen” and that kind of gives me some pause as far as this book is concerned.

Overall

You never know what you’re going to find in the woods.

Weigh In

If you had wings, where would you fly?

Do you believe people will have wings if they become angels?

#843 When the Wind Blows by James Patterson was originally published on One-elevenbooks

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#818 The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln ChildThe Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Before there were very many museums, individuals would collect strange specimens from real life–two-headed goats, strange human skeletons, strange artifacts, and so forth; these individuals would then display these items and charge an admission. These facilities were often called cabinets of curiosities. The rise of the public museum, which was often free, led to the decline of the cabinets, and ultimately, their demise.

Nora is an archaeologist who works at a museum in New York City. One day, a strange man shows up. He tells Nora that she has to come along and he needs her help. The man’s name is Pendergast; he claims to be a FBI agent. He takes her to a construction site. What she sees there is something she would not have expected in a million years. Down below, there are old coal tunnels. Inside these coal tunnels are bodies, old bodies. They’re mostly bodies of young adults and teenagers. Each of the bodies has been mutilated in a specific way, part of their spinal column has been removed. She gathers what information she can and leaves.

What follows is a strange story that Nora just couldn’t have expected. It involves a man who had a cabinet of curiosity and a doctor who rented rooms from him. There are tales about a man who wanted to prolong his life. Maybe he figured out how to do it. Maybe he’s still alive. When a rash of similar killings starts up in the city, Pendergast and Nora have to do something about it. They have to figure out if it’s a copycat or if the real mad scientist himself is still alive, over a hundred years later.

What I liked

This book was highly interesting. I liked the mystery. I liked all the science in it. I liked the history in it. I liked the “woo” in it. Woo has its time and its place, but there was just the right amount of woo in this book.

All the explanations about the cabinets of curiosities was educating. I knew of their existence, but I didn’t know the exact nomenclature used. Yes, I also knew that there was quite a bit of those exhibits that were faked. The cabinets sort of held the same status as the freak shows that used to tour around.

Archaeology is an interest of mine; I seriously thought about becoming an archaeologist at one point. It’s a mystery. You find something in the ground and you have to figure out what it was for, why it existed, and who used it. Don’t you just want to know?

The idea of prolonging life is a question we probably should have solved by now. Who knows–maybe someone has. We have managed to live longer, but we haven’t managed to get a great quality of life by doing so. We could all argue that to live a long time, let’s say a hundred and seventy years, that we would want to be young enough, or rather in our prime, to be able to enjoy those extra years. Who wants to live to be a hundred and seventy years old if you’re old, wrinkly, and have to stay in a wheelchair all the time? The most we can expect these days, out of our life span, is about a hundred years, and they’re usually not good years after about eighty. Heck, they may not be good years after seventy. If I had the choice of living to be a hundred and seventy years old, but most of it would suck past ninety, or dying at ninety, I would choose to die at ninety. There’s too much crap in life to add decades on to it that aren’t going to be that great.

What I didn’t like

Despite how interesting this prolonging life debate is, it’s cliche. How many stories have you read that involve some scientist trying to prolong his life for nefarious purposes or even just debauchery? It’s so darn common. Maybe someone does it and shares his discovery with the rest of the world and it’s freely given. It always tends to be someone hoarding this secret for themselves, or offering it to only the very elite. Doesn’t that say something about humanity? Never is something like this given to everyone. This just proves how inherently selfish we can be as humans.

Overall

What’s in that strange hole we dug up? You don’t want to know.

Weigh in

If someone found a way to prolong life, do you think they would share their secret?

If you had the choice of living multiple decades more than usual, but it was awful, or dying at a normal age, which would you choose?

#818 The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#781 The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy WeirThe Martian by Andy Weir

Mark Whatney was on a routine mission to Mars. Well, it wasn’t entirely routine as there hadn’t been that many missions before. The entire thing took over a year of travel and the crew was supposed to be on Mars for a month, studying things. Well, a storm came along and the crew had to abort the mission. The only thing was that Mark got separated. They thought Mark was dead, so they left.

Mark wasn’t dead. It sure seemed as if he were, but he wasn’t. His blood clogged the hole in his spacesuit when it clotted. Mark was alive. He knew everyone was gone. He had to figure out how to survive. He had no contact with anyone, at all. He was the only living being on the entire planet. Mark had to make a plan.

Mark was a botanist, so he decided to grow plants. He knew he could grow potatoes. So he managed to colonize the Martian soil with Earth bacteria. Things were going well for a while. He started modifying the rover and created water, in a crazy dangerous way. He went on a trip to get Pathfinder.

Around this time, the people on Earth realized that Mark Whatney was alive on Mars, by himself. NASA started scrambling for a way to get him off of the red rock. Mark knew his best hope was surviving until the next mission, which was around four years away. He rationed food and grew his own, but it didn’t work out entirely as planned. There was a breach in his hab. There was a power failure which ruined his communication with Earth via the Pathfinder. Mark kept on with the plan though. The plan, by this time, was to rescue Mark. He was going to the landing spot for the next mission. It wasn’t going to be easy though.

The whole world watched Mark Whatney. Would he make it off of Mars alive?

What I liked

I am not a space person. I usually don’t like books or movies about space. I don’t know why. This book was highly enjoyable though. Mark was a relatable character, who just happened to get stuck on Mars. His desire for survival and his ingenuity make for some very interesting reading.  It’s actually highly entertaining, but I am kind of a nerd, maybe I find talk of science and botany entertaining for that reason.

I feel like Andy probably did a heck of a lot of research for this book. I commend him for that. I’m not going to double-check it, but I think most of what Andy put in this book is fairly scientifically sound. I feel like I understand a Mars mission now.

This is a book that glorifies the world of the nerd and that’s not a bad thing. Programming, botany, and general science are where it’s at people.

This book does make the idea of Mars more tangible for me. I can see how life on Mars might work. It’s sad that we’re not going to see people living on Mars anytime soon, but we can always hope. There are definitely a whole lot of dangers that have to be overcome to make something like that work. There’s not food and there’s not oxygen. They only way to make it on Mars is to use what you take with you. It’s not like the explorers of Earth who took their own provisions, but were sure to find something to eat when they got to where they were going. It may be snails, but they could eat it.

What I didn’t like

I really enjoyed it; there’s not really anything bad I can say about it.

You know what, I do have something to say. I don’t trust that the government would save Mark Whatney. If this actually happened, would the government spend billions of dollars to get Mark Whatney back to Earth safely? Heck, this might even run into the trillions. I just don’t have the warm and fuzzies about the government actually spending the money to rescue one man. I can see them covering it up. “Yep, Mark Whatney is so dead, it’s like Dead McDeaderson up there,” all the while watching a man starve to death because they didn’t think this one life was worth it. People have been left to die before, by our government, is various situations. Why would Mars be an exception?

Overall

I don’t want to get stuck on Mars. It’s just as well that I’ll never get the chance to go.

Weigh In

Do you think your government would rescue Mark Whatney?

Could you handle being the only person on a planet?

#781 The Martian by Andy Weir was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#755 Stay Out of the Basement by R.L. Stine

Stay Out of the Basement by R.L. StineStay Out of the Basement by R.L. Stine

Dad is working on something in the basement and he’s been really strange. He hasn’t said a whole lot. He often grunts instead of using words. He’s even yelled at the kids to stay out of the basement no matter what. The kids just can resist though. They go down into the basement and find some strange-looking plants. They’re the kind of plants no one has ever seen before. Of course, when Dad finds out, he’s incredibly angry. He installs a lock on the basement door this time.

Mom has to go away to her sister’s because the sister is having surgery. The kids are there alone, with Dad, and his strange plants. Things with Dad get stranger. He becomes even more reclusive. He is spied eating plant food in the kitchen instead of human food. His blood is green. He starts wearing a baseball cap all the time, even though it looks stupid. When the baseball cap gets knocked off of Dad’s head, there is something strange there, something that doesn’t seem possible.

There are strange creatures down in the basement that no one could have ever imagined.

What I liked

This book sounds like a warning against Monsanto. Kids, this is what genetic modification of plants can get you. Don’t do it. Just say no. Ok?

These experiments are mostly impossible with our current technology, but who is to say that it Monsanto won’t go too far one day?

What I didn’t like

While I do think this is funny and I’m joking about Monsanto genetically modifying plants, this isn’t possible. It’s not even remotely possible. The best horror tales or science fiction tales are the ones that are just out of reach. Maybe, just maybe, this could happen. That’s what makes the best science fiction or horror.

Overall

Just don’t mess with the plants.

Weigh In

If your dad was doing weird experiments in the basement, what would you do?

Injecting plants with animal DNA, yeah or nay?

#749 Welcome to Dead House by R.L. Stine

Welcome to Dead House by R.L. StineWelcome to Dead House by R.L. Stine

Amanda and Josh have heard some bad news from their patents–they’re moving. Some uncle or the other has died and left their father an old brick house four hours away. They don’t want to move, but the house is much bigger than their current one and their father can finally work on his writing.

Amanda sees a boy in the house, which is odd. She assumed the house is haunted, but no one else in the family will give credence to her fears. The day comes; the family moves in. Amanda starts getting used to curtains fluttering with no wind and whispers in the night.

Josh and Amanda finally meet other children from the town. They start playing games at the nearby school yard. Several children say something strange–they used to live in Josh and Amanda’s house.

The dog has acted strange since moving in, but now he’s acting even stranger. The two siblings chase the dog into the graveyard. It’s there that they find a headstone of one of their friends, and then another, and another. They were dead.

The secret came out then yes, everyone in the town was dead. There was a terrible accident with some poisonous gas. Now everyone was the living dead. The town needed fresh blood to keep on going. Every year, someone else’s long-lost uncle died and left them a house. They moved in and then they were killed. The dogs went first.

Josh and Amanda had to get out with their parents, but was it too late for their parents?

What I liked

Nostalgia is probably my main reason to read this book. I’ve read it before, a long time ago, and there’s nothing wrong with revisiting it.

It’s a bit campy, but why not have a house where people are invited, to die? At least it’s fairly responsible. The people moving there will have most likely sold their old house and be less likely to leave behind debt to their extended families, you know, once they’re successfully dead.

What I didn’t like

This town sounds creepy. I’m sure nothing like this actually exists. It’s not a completely plausible story line, at least within the realm of reality. How’d they get out of their graves, if they’re the living dead? What kind of gas was this? What do they do with the blood, exactly?

Overall

If you inherit a house from an unknown relative, maybe be careful.

Weigh in

Would you take the house?

What do you think about the concept of the undead?