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Original Essays | September 30, 2014

Benjamin Parzybok: IMG A Brief History of Video Games Played by Mayors, Presidents, and Emperors



Brandon Bartlett, the fictional mayor of Portland in my novel Sherwood Nation, is addicted to playing video games. In a city he's all but lost... Continue »
  1. $11.20 Sale Trade Paper add to wish list

    Sherwood Nation

    Benjamin Parzybok 9781618730862

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Customer Comments

brknhrt has commented on (29) products.

Back to the Homeplace by William Leverne Smith
Back to the Homeplace

brknhrt, May 21, 2010

Back to the Homeplace is an engaging story of four families brought together because of the unusual stipulations of a will. The cover of the book is beautiful and sets the Midwestern tone.

The characters are nicely developed so that each is unique. You understand who they are and why they returned to the homestead. The families are realistic with normal family dynamics, and it is easy to care about what happens to them. The reader understands how each character’s personality – the temperamental one, the team players, the loner – influences their role on the property. Mr. Smith’s descriptions of the different areas of property are well done and it was easy to visualize the White Oak trees, trails, and buildings.

As soon as you are settled in and comfortable with the story, there are several twists. Secrets are revealed and lives are torn apart. This has quite an emotional impact on the story. I appreciated the way the Mr. Smith handled sensitive subjects tactfully.

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Mokele-Mbembe: Mystery Beast of the Congo Basin by William J. Gibbons
Mokele-Mbembe: Mystery Beast of the Congo Basin

brknhrt, May 15, 2010

William J. Gibbons’ story of Mokele-Mbembe absolutely held my attention with his expeditions to Africa in search of strange creatures. Mr. Gibbons takes the reader alongside the explorers with his descriptive interpretation of his journeys.

Mokele-Mbembe: Mystery Beast of the Congo Basin begins with a history of recorded accounts from ancient texts to books throughout modern history with descriptions of huge water creatures.

The author’s own expeditions occurred from 1979-1992. His thorough descriptions of the locals, (especially the Pygmy people), the surroundings, and the dangers were especially interesting as they explored the areas in the jungles, swamps and hidden areas of Africa. He explains the many trials they experienced with travel problems, wild animals, illnesses, and corrupt politicians demanding bribes just to explore the area.

This is not a scientific study, but an exploration of the area with eye witness accounts. He freely points out which sightings he believed were not credible, but many, if not most, are quite credible. There is one interesting method they used with the eye witnesses. They presented a book with animals from the area and the locals identified them. He then gave them pictures of animals not known to be in Africa and the witnesses could not identify any of them. He then gave them a book of dinosaurs. Mokele-Mbembe gives a fascinating account of the responses they received from the third book.

As if the exciting tale of exploration was not interesting enough, it was an added treat to read about William Gibbons’ conversion in Africa from occult practice to Christianity. He gives his beautiful testimony in the book and talks about other missionaries in the area.

No matter what you believe, Mokele-Mbembe: Mystery Beast of the Congo Basin is a fascinating story.
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Bad to the Bone: Memoir of a Rebel Doggie Blogger by Bo Hoefinger
Bad to the Bone: Memoir of a Rebel Doggie Blogger

brknhrt, May 1, 2010

Meet Bo, a golden retriever/chow mix breed shelter dog. Bo has written his life story, and I enjoyed it thoroughly! Bad to the Bone is written from Bo’s point of view. We meet his “parents”, his feline friend (who almost didn’t make it into the family), and read about all of his adventures.

Bo’s humor will turn around the story of his injured paw and will make you laugh, as will his dream about being on a compilation of game shows. Also in Bo’s memoir is the inclusion of special pages with articles such as Why I Love My Mother (“She feeds me.” is listed three times), Canine Bingo, Ask the Magic Bo Ball, States I’ve Peed In, and many more. There are also photos of Bo and a Q & A with him.

Bad to the Bone is laugh-out-loud funny (and I don’t laugh out loud while reading very often) and a heartwarming story of why more people should go to their local shelter when they want a dog. Obviously Bo’s parent love and enjoy him, and he has brought as much joy as any pedigree pup could.
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Dress Your Dog: Nifty Knits for Classy Canines by Sys Fredens
Dress Your Dog: Nifty Knits for Classy Canines

brknhrt, April 29, 2010

This book elicited a lot of excitement when I showed it to friends, especially the sweater aptly named Ribbed Sweater. It is a simple ribbed knit but with kind of a rolled turtle neck. It is pictured on a small dog, and we all picked it as our favorite. Of course it is not the only charmer in this book. With all different colors, shapes, and styles, there is something for every small to medium sized dog in this book. Most of the circumference sizes for the sweaters are in the 20”-25” range, so for large dogs some tweaking of the pattern would be necessary.

There is a ribbed wraparound vest that would be perfect for a beginner because there is very little shaping or fitting needed. Also, a knit shrug which has simple shaping and little seaming. Although these are mostly knit patterns, there are a few crochet patterns.

There is much more in Dress Your Dog than just sweater patterns for warming up your pooch. Other useful items include also several non-clothing items. There is a crocheted shoulder bag for carrying small dogs and a crocheted collar and leash. There is a knit carry bag, a rug, a striped food mat, a patchwork blanket, two soft pillow-beds.

Dress Your Dog is a fun and practical book with patterns for all skill levels.


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A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer
A Fierce Radiance

brknhrt, April 25, 2010

A Fierce Radiance crosses genres as a historical novel, a love story, a crime thriller, and a murder mystery. It captured my attention from the very beginning and held it throughout. Claire Shipley is a fascinating character as a photo journalist dealing with situations in her job, her family, and her relationships. Claire is assigned to a local hospital to report on a still experimental drug, penicillin, but her interest was more than professional. Penicillin could have saved the life of the daughter she lost to an infection. Through her work she also meets her love interest, Dr. James Stanton.

The author brings to life the promise and heartache of experimental drugs. Problems arise when they cannot create the drugs quickly enough to give the patient a complete series, and some of the drugs have unexpected side effects. Competition among drug companies, the Federal Government, and greedy business men round out this superb crime drama.

I am very impressed with the author’s depiction of a mother living with the grief of losing a child. In A Fierce Radiance, Lauren Belfer captured this aspect of Claire’s life perfectly. I’ve read other books that do not come close to portraying this appropriately. All of the characters and their roles are clearly defined and developed. Claire is not always likeable, but she is always interesting.
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