Glorious Madness, by Jude-Marie Green

Jude-Marie Green is a magnificent writer. Her stories have an incredible flow to them, and her use of the language is brilliant. She loves dogs and cats, and she knows the value of grandparents and stories.

Glorious Madness is a collection of fourteen stories, science fiction and fantasy. I was pleased with every one of them, and some of them touched my heart deeply, or broke it.

If I could ask Jude-Marie Green one question about this book, I would ask her how she came up with the idea to make storms the intelligent life on a planet. That was completely new to me. I never would have come up with something like that.

Impressive collection.

NIV Holy Bible

I’m relieved to have finally made it to the end of the Bible. If I had known it would take me almost three years to finish the Bible, I never would have started it. I know exactly when I started reading the Bible. August 20, 2019, right after I posted my review of Eric T. Reynold’s novel, The Artifacts.

It has long been my practice to not pick up another book until I’ve finished the book I’m reading and have posted a review of it. Holding true to my practice meant that for three years, the Bible was the only book I could read.

I’m exhausted with the Bible. I don’t really want to write a long review of it. I want to just post a quick note that says, “I read it, but I don’t agree with much that it says.” I’m regretting that I told people at one time and another to wait for my review, that I would try to outline all the problems I’m having with the Bible in my review.

So, I’m going to try sticking with the plan that I wish I had never made.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve read the Bible. The first time I read the Bible, I was around twelve, but I didn’t read it very carefully at the time.

This time, I read the Bible carefully, and slowly, and I often turned back the pages to read something again and try to understand it better.

This time, I read the Bible because I wanted to know what it really said. I also wanted to see if the Bible could give me reason to hold on to the faith that barely existed in me.

The Bible did not strengthen my faith. It pushed me farther away. Finally, I decided that I’m done with Christianity.

When I announced that I was done with Christianity, people were like, “Hang in there. Don’t give up.” Can’t you all just respect that I made a decision and that I have no desire to hang in there any longer? The thread is broken and I’m done with Christianity. Thanks to the Bible and the attitudes of many Christians, I’ve come to realize that Christianity is not for me.

Some of you probably want to say something along the lines of, “It’s not a matter of whether you agree with what the Bible says or not. These are the rules that God has set for us and He knows what is best.”

Yeah, bullshit.

Most of you haven’t even read the entire Bible. While reading the Bible, I had mentioned here and there that I was reading it. People would tell me to read some chapter or another.

Is that all you do? Just read certain chapters of the Bible? Many of you have admitted that you have never, not once in your lives, read the entire Bible. If you read the Bible from cover to cover, you might see that the chapters you think are special are actually meaningless.

God is love? Not the one in the Christian Bible. The Christian God is a horrible, cruel being. He is a passive-aggressive control freak.

“But that was the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus teaches us differently, how to love one another and turn the other cheek.”

While I was in the Old Testament, I kept hoping to see a big turnaround when I got to the New Testament. The Old Testament is full of hate. Hate for your fellow man who doesn’t follow the same faith that you do. It made me want to tell people who follow this crap that they should be ashamed of themselves.

But I kept in mind what some people have said, that in the New Testament, Jesus is going to turn the teachings of the Old Testament around.

After the long, slow crawl through the Old Testament, I finally reached the New Testament. Jesus was all right in some places. But in other places, I thought he was an asshole. Jesus seems to really like talking down to people.

Sometimes I wondered if it was just the way the writers of those chapters made him out to be, because in other chapters, he sounded like the kindest, most caring dude you’ll ever meet.

Part of me doesn’t want to bad mouth the Bible and Christianity. I wanted to come at this with more respect, whether I believe or not, but after reading all of this, all I really want to say is, “This is ridiculous.”

The Bible can’t even agree with itself. Here’s an example; in many places throughout the Bible, the drinking of alcohol is described as a sin. When the wedding guests, who were already drunk, ran out of wine, Jesus turned water into wine so the drunk wedding guests could continue drinking.

So much in the Bible doesn’t make sense. Passages conflict with other passages. How does anyone know what to do with this stuff? People who claim to follow every word of the Bible couldn’t honestly, realistically, possibly do that.

I have so many problems with the Bible. I tried taking notes, to keep track of all the problems I was having. But the notes became overwhelming and I chucked them. So, I’ll just recall what I can as best I can.

One problem, something I could never understand, and I remember being confused about this part when I read the Bible as a kid. It’s one of Moses’s chapters. Moses is on his way back to Egypt, doing what God commanded. One night God comes to kill Moses. Why? Moses was doing what God commanded, why did God come to kill him? I could never understand that.

I turned back the pages and read them again, to see if I missed something, and I didn’t see what I’m missing. God just decided for no reason that he’s going to kill Moses.

But what I find most interesting about that scene is how Moses’s wife put herself between God and her husband and made God back off.

God, the Divine, the All-Knowing, the All-Powerful, is made to reconsider his decision by a mere mortal? Doesn’t make God look very divine, it makes him look indecisive and certainly not all-knowing and all-powerful. It makes God look like he doesn’t really know what the hell he’s doing.

How many other times are there in the Bible when God was bent on doing something and someone talked him out of it? A few, I recall. What’s wrong with this picture? Why is God letting mortals deter his decisions?

Then there is the issue of who the Lord considers to be righteous. Twice in the Bible, there’s a tale, set at different times, but is similar. It involves a mob surrounding a house and demanding the homeowner send out his guests to be raped by the mob.

The homeowner refused to send out his guests, which I applauded… until he offered to send out his daughters in the place of his guests.

The first time this happened, the mob refused the offer of the daughters and insisted the guests be sent out. The second time, a daughter was shoved out the door and she was raped by the mob, over and over again, until she died.

These men who offered their daughters to the mob are seen as righteous in the eyes of the Lord.

Yes, I heard the reasoning behind this. That it was just an example of how you’re to treat your guests while they’re under your roof and yah, yah, yah. I don’t see how protecting your guests means you should offer your daughters in their place.

The idea that you need to be a Christian to be a good person, to be rewarded with a peaceful afterlife, is pretty stupid. There’s this threat of Hell. It’s like saying, “If you don’t hold true to the Christian faith, you are damned and will suffer in Hell for eternity.”

You know who uses threats to get people to stay in line? Dictators. The Bible also expresses that you should not question the faith, that you should follow unquestioningly, or else you are not true to the faith. That’s another tactic of dictators. Follow the leader blindly, ask no questions, don’t think for yourself.

All through the Bible, it’s implied that you can’t be a good person unless you follow the teachings of the Bible. That’s not true. Any intelligent person should know that.

Then there’s the great Biblical promotion of genocide. There are places in the Bible where it’s suggested that it is okay for those who follow to slaughter those who do not.

According to the Bible, slavery is acceptable.

Does anyone ever wonder why Jesus can’t give a straight answer to anything? Seems like every time someone asks him something, he breaks out some parable that you’re supposed to figure out the meaning of.

Why is it that almost every time the Bible talks about a person with disabilities, that person is described as having demons that need to be ejected from him?

Why do women follow a religion that tells them they cannot speak in Church? If they have something to say, they need to tell their man and have him speak for them. Why would men follow a religion that degrades their wives in such a way? This was in the New Testament.

Later in the Bible, someone is telling about his visons that supposedly came from God. In these visions, Earth is described as having four corners. I know that at the time the Bible was written, people believed Earth was flat. But if the Christian God is real, he would surely know that Earth is round. Why is God giving this person visions of an Earth that has four corners?

So, what is the Bible?

I think the Bible is a lot of things. I think it’s a mixture of ideas, theories, true history, pure fiction, exaggerations, fantasies, folklore, metaphors.

I think Jesus maybe really did exist, but that the Biblical stories about him are mostly exaggerations and tall tales. If Jesus really existed, he was likely nothing more than another person who fought for the betterment of humanity, much like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Surely, there were such people in Biblical times who tried to make a difference and who were assassinated by people who felt threatened by them.

The Artifacts, by Eric T. Reynolds

Don’t be a cube. Pick up a book and go back in time.

Remember the line from the Reading Rainbow song, “I can go anywhere…”? That’s more or less the case with The Artifacts, a novel by Eric T. Reynolds. I found this book quite fun.

Kayla buys a Victorian house on the outskirt of Sycamore Falls and moves in. Her property is vast and it includes the highest of the Flint Hills. On top of this hill is an old farmhouse that has not been lived in for generations.

In the farmhouse, there is a library with books that will take you back in time. When Kayla discovers this library, she is unable to resist going back to the earlier days of Sycamore Falls. She learns much about the town and secrets are unlocked.

The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy

I don’t feel like my review is going to do this novel the justice it deserves. I’m not feeling very crafty today and I’ll probably butcher it, but it’s my practice to write something about the books I read and I don’t want to make an exception for this one.

The Prince of Tides. I have seen the movie. It’s a movie that I remember well and often find myself thinking about. But the novel Pat Conroy wrote takes the story much deeper than any a movie ever could.

Tom Wingo is a southern from Celleton, South Carolina. He and his siblings, Luke and Savannah, grew up in a small house on an island. Their father, Henry, is a shrimper and their mother, Lila, was a house wife.

Tom gets word that Savannah had attempted suicide again and that she is in the hospital. He goes to New York City where Savannah has been living her entire adult life and spends the summer telling Savannah’s psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein, the stories their lives in Celleton county so Lowenstein can understand Savannah better.

This is complex story with very believable characters and situations. Henry Wingo had been a violent, abusive father and husband, and Lila, although not quite as brutal with her fists, was abusive with words. Henry and Lila had scarred their children for life.

The story is full of heartbreak, joy, struggle, heroism, suffering, forgiveness and so much more. At times, I had tears in my eyes as I read. Other times, I laughed out loud.

I’m not pleased with my review here. It’s lacking much. There’s so much more about this novel that I didn’t touch on. I’m having one of those days where I can’t find the right words.

But this novel, I recommend it highly. There’s much to be learned from it.

Gustav Gloom and the People Taker, by Adam-Troy Castro

I really enjoyed this book. Gustav Gloom and the People Taker is the first of a series by Adam-Troy Castro.

Gustav is thought to be the saddest boy in the world. He lives in a dark house and has only shadows to keep him company, at least until the What family moves into the house across the street.

It’s an adventure that takes place in a big, scary house where nothing makes sense at all. I laughed a lot while reading this book. I’d say the Gallery of Awkward Statues was my favorite chapter.

The Apocalypse Ocean, by Tobias S. Buckell

In my review of Sly Mongoose, I said “I’m guessing Buckell had a better grasp on the craft, or at least the series, when he went to work on Sly Mongoose.” But now that I think about it, that’s probably not it. It’s probably not so simple to pinpoint what it was that made Sly Mongoose come out so well. Sometimes the writer just does better than he does other times and sometimes one story works better for the reader than another story. It could be either and it could be both.

Well, I just finished The Apocalypse Ocean. I feel The Apocalypse Ocean and Sly Mongoose weigh pretty even on my scale of what’s good and what’s great.

The Apocalypse Ocean is the fourth book of Tobias S. Buckell‘s Xenowealth series.

The Doaq is terrorizing Placa del Fuego. Kay, the leader of a criminal organization, wants the Doaq gone because its undermining her power. But the Doaq is a powerful creature with a wormhole for a mouth and even Pepper has to run from it.

Far as I can tell, The Apocalypse Ocean is the last of the Xenowealth novels and I don’t know if Buckell plans to continue the series. I know there is a collection of short stories set in Xenowealth. I’ll probably pick that up if I start missing Xenowealth too much.

I think Xenowealth is the first series I ever finished. I’ve been reading books my whole life, but I’m not sure that I ever got to the end of any multiple book series. At least I can’t recall any that I have finished. I read a few books of Stephen King’s Dark Tower. The last Ice & Fire book I finished was A Feast for Crows. I read the first two Harry Potter books.

Nope, I don’t think there’s any other series that I’ve finished.

Sly Mongoose, by Tobias S. Buckell

“We.”
“Are.”
“The.”
“Swarm.”

The new threat is the Swarm. They are zombies, but a little different than the zombies of the Walking Dead. The Swarm can speak, and think, but the goal is pretty much the same. The Swarm will bite you, infect you and turn you into one of them.

Pepper crash lands on Chilo and warns the people that the Swarm is coming.

Sly Mongoose is the third book of Tobias S. Buckell‘s Xenowealth series. I enjoyed Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin a great deal, but I felt Sly Mongoose was a major improvement. I’m guessing Buckell had a better grasp on the craft, or least the series, when he went to work on Sly Mongoose.

The writing is very good, easy to read, an excellent flow. The world building dazzled me and the scenes were interesting. I’m not saying Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin didn’t have all that, but I feel it’s better done in Sly Mongoose.

If I was to rank the three Xenowealth books that I’ve read, I’d say that although I enjoyed Ragamuffin, I didn’t like it as much as Crystal Rain, and I liked Sly Mongoose far more than I liked Crystal Rain. Even so, I recommend you start the series with the first book and work your way through. It’s action-packed science fiction and it’s fun.

Confessions of a Female Safety Engineer, by Wendy S. Delmater

I never doubted that construction sites are dangerous, but I don’t think I put much thought into how dangerous they are or what the dangers are. Wendy S. Delmater goes into all that in Confessions of a Female Safety Engineer.

Wendy was a safety manager who did much of her work in New York City. It was her job to make sure construction sites were run safely. She made sure that crews working on skyscrapers had fall protection, that gases, chemicals and oxygen were stored properly, she took steps to make sure crews did not have to work in areas with lead. What I just listed there is only a small percentage of what Wendy had to deal with on the job.

She was a couple blocks down the street, standing on the sidewalk when the Twin Towers collapsed on 9/11. Although that’s not really what the book is about, Wendy’s account of what happened on that day really drives home how terrible it was. It was bad enough for those who saw it on TV. Imagine if you were on the sidewalk, not far from the Towers.

I feel like I learned a lot from Confessions of a Female Safety Engineer. It’s a very interesting read and it gave me a better idea of what it’s like working construction in a big city like New York City.

A hard book to put down.

Ragamuffin, by Tobias S. Buckell

I feel like I owe Tobias Buckell an apology for taking so long to get back to Xenowealth. I read Crystal Rain years ago and I was blown away. I thought I would pick up Ragamuffin sooner, but I got sidetracked and this was before I started keeping a to-read list.

Everything I’ve read by Buckell, mostly short stories and novellas, was very good and very fun. Ragamuffin is no exception.

At first the characters were unfamiliar, but eventually Jerome, John and Pepper came into the story. I was reminded why Pepper was my favorite character in Crystal Rain.

Nashara, Kara and Etsudo are some of the new characters. They were all important in the fight against the Satrapy. Nashara being another badass like Pepper.