An Accidental American by Alex Carr Nicole Blake's life has never been simple from growing up during Lebanon's Civil War, having a con man for a father, and spending six years in a French prison. She retreats to a quiet life living in a farmhouse and working as a consultant until a CIA operative asks for her help in finding her ex-lover and now supposed terrorist. Nicole's past is painfully fleshed out against the backdrop of Lebanon's political history, the Gulf War, and 9/11. An intriguing, exciting, and eloquent read!
If you resolve to live a cleaner, leaner, and greener life in 2008, check out these books:
Help! Around the House: a mother's guide to getting the family to pitch in and clean up Don Aslett
As a mother, you may often feel as though you do all the housework. The author believes that it doesn't have to - and shouldn't - be that way. He explains why and how to enlist the help of children, how to assign cleaning tasks to children based on their age, how to help children succeed at household chores, and what to do when children ignore or partially complete their cleaning responsibilities. This book will show you that you don't have to go it alone when it comes to keeping your home clean.
You may have seen news headlines referring to an asteroid possibly to hit or "threatening" Mars. It is true that a space rock, about 164 feet across, could hit the Red Planet on January 30. The event isn't a certainty, however, and if it does happen Mars will survive relatively unscathed. At first the odds of an impact were said to be 1 in 75. Recent analysis of other observations has refined the asteroid's orbit and the odds are now at 1 in 25. Astronomers will continue to narrow the odds between now and the end of January and will know in advance and for certain whether Mars will take a hit.
If the asteroid were to hit Mars the result would be a large crater (perhaps half a mile in diameter) but the planet as a whole would be largely unaffected -- Mars is half the size of Earth but it's still much bigger than the house-sized asteroid (if you have a really big house). In fact many space scientists hope the collision takes place because it would provide insight into the makeup of Mars and the dynamics of such a large event. Several spacecraft are currently in orbit around Mars and could make unprecedented observations of the impact and/or its aftermath. The two still-functioning Mars rovers would also make observations. Only space-based and, perhaps, the largest of ground-based telescopes have any chance of seeing the collision, if it happens at all.
Better Mars than us: The energy released by a 164-foot asteroid hitting Earth would cause untold destruction if it impacted anywhere near a population center. In June of 1908 an object believed to be of about the same size as the one we are discussing exploded over Siberia with a yield equivalent to a 10- to 15-megaton nuclear device. The "Tunguska Event" felled an estimated 80 million trees over 830 square miles. Today's tracking of the Mars-bound rock reminds us that there are still dangers "out there" of which we need to be aware and with which we may one day need to cope.
Souls of Angels by Thomas Eidson Here's the latest novel by the author of The Missing and St.Agnes Stand. Isadora Lugo, now Sister Ria, returns to her family estate in California from the streets of India. She's come home to help her troubled father who has been recently convicted of killing a young, pregnant prostitute. Sister Ria bravely seeks the truth behind both the gruesome murder and her painful childhood. A great western and mystery mix!
In the sequel to the Hugo Award-winning Spin, Robert Charles Wilson further explores the mystery of the "hypotheticals," small machines that have engineered a new planet called Equatoria for humanity. On that world, a journalist searches for her hypothetical-obessed father, a charter pilot with a checkered past, and a boy genetically engineered to communicate with the hypotheticals come together to pursue this enigmatic artificial intelligence that opened up a portal between the two planets.
This is character-driven science fiction, and not technologically dense as the genre can be. Reading the first novel, while not essential, would be both helpful and enjoyable.
Customer Feedback Central is a great site that provides lists of product-review Websites in the following categories:
- books and movies
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These sites provide feedback from actual customers.
Mars opposes Earth?
It's not really a rivalry. About every 26 months planet Earth passes between the Sun and sister planet Mars. It's also a time when the two worlds are closer together than normal. Because the orbits of the planets are not perfectly circular, the date of opposition and the date of closest approach aren't usually the same and the distance at its closest also varies.
This year the closest approach of Earth and Mars will take place on December 18 when they will be just shy of 55 million miles apart. Opposition takes place December 24 and Mars will be at its brightest for Earth-bound viewers. The close approach and brightness makes viewing the Red Planet its best during opposition and near-opposition periods.
Medicare Part D
There is open enrollment for the Medicare Drug Plans through December 31, 2007. Useful information on how to select a plan is available at the website of the Ohio Department of Insurance. Under Freatured Links click on "Medicare Drug Plans." Use the links to the www.medicare.gov plan finder to see the plans available in Cuyahoga County and to sort them by premium or dectuctible and to compare the plans' ratings.
Shopping for Toys
It's THE season for toy-shopping. Be sure that the toys you buy are not under recall. www.ToyInfo.org is the product of the Toy Industry Association. It lists and illustrates a number of toys and children's products that were recalled this year. It also conveniently links users to the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and to www.recalls.gov, a website that lets you search for recalls by all the relevant U.S. agencies.
www.parents.com has a slide presentation of the 20+ Biggest Toy Recalls of 2007 on its website.
Project Gutenberg is a great site for readers of ebooks and listeners of audiobooks. The site features titles in open formats, without problematic "DRM" (digital rights management) systems that prevent access. The works are public domain, but if you need a classic for school and our copies are checked out, or if you would like to explore the great books of the past, check out Project Gutenberg.