Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Lori by John Benton

From the back cover:

To Lori Hutton it seemed as if the world was against her.  She ran away from home to escape cruel parents, but found life on the streets even more cruel.  She turned in desperation to others, only to be deceived by her new "friends."

She was determined to find freedom; instead she found herself enslaved to the disgrace of prostitution.  Hopelessly entangled in the worst kind of human hurt, Lori felt that life was no longer worth living... Then Lori met Rich, a young man who gave her reason for hope and pointed the way to freedom.  In an ultimate expression of friendship, Rich risked his own life to help Lori escape from danger and leave her old life behind—forever.

Content:  physical abuse, streaking, shoplifting, four suicide attempts (pills, slashed wrists, hanging, jumping into the river), prostitution, abduction, violent rape

This book contains one of the funniest passages I have ever read in a book.  I posted it on Facebook while I was reading the book.

I wrote:

Lori is a troubled teenager who wants some painkillers.  She plans to have her younger sister, Peggy, steal the painkillers for her.  But Lori needs to create a distraction.

Lori strips off her clothes and runs around inside the drugstore while Peggy steals the painkillers!  I could hardly read due to how hard I was laughing!

This image shows that part of the book.  Click on the image in order to see it better.

Lori spends a weekend at a millionaire's house.  Lori has been hired to seduce the man's religious nephew.  On page 124, Lori and the nephew settle down to watch a television that has a six-foot screen. 

Okay, wait a minute.  That's impossible unless the image was projected onto a screen.  An actual television set could not have had such a large screen in 1980.  At that time, all televisions had picture tubes.  They were large and very heavy.  A six-foot screen?  Do you know how heavy that would be?

I searched online for information on the largest screen size ever made for cathode ray tube televisions or monitors.  The largest I found was a 43-inch screen set that weighed over 400 pounds.  If a 72-inch screen were to exist, it would have to weigh up towards 1000 pounds.  

This book is interesting in that Lori's conversion occurs gradually during the last one-third of the story.

I greatly enjoyed this book.  

Monday, January 23, 2023

Suzie by John Benton

From the back cover of Suzie:

Her gun brought her everything she wanted... except happiness!

Suzie was a fun-loving teenager who was excited about the challenge of life.  But her unending quest for more excitement and power led her to places and events for which she was not prepared...

At sixteen, Suzie could handle a gun like a pro.  She found that her gun opened doors for her:  it commanded respect and gave her power over others.  Then Suzie met Billy who opened another door for her—into the seemingly exciting world of crime.  But the pleasures of robbery were short-lived; before long Suzie was a fugitive of the FBI.  She fled from state to state, always attempting to go straight, but always slipping back into crime.  Inevitably, Suzie landed in jail.  But instead of her imprisonment being the end of the road, jail opened up for her a whole new beginning.

Content: shoplifting, theft, shooting, sexual abuse father/daughter

Suzie decides that she must have a gun.  She shoplifts in order to raise the money, then she purchases one from a student at school.  Suzie wants to practice, so she heads to the city park.  Suzie proceeds to use a fellow classmate for target practice.  Fortunately, the bullet only grazes his leg.  

Suzie also practices with her gun by shooting out someone's tire from inside her home.  Later, she shoots a glass bottle of milk out of a woman's hand.  Suzie fires from her bedroom window.  This girl is incredibly reckless and stupid.

Suzie wants to practice shooting from her basement.  So that her parents don't catch on, she buys herself a whip.  She tells them that she will practice with the whip in the basement and refers to herself as "Suzie the Wonder Whip."

Later, Suzie's dad questions her, because he smells gunpowder.

From page 30:

"Oh, gunpowder," I said, thinking quickly.  "I thought you were talking about a gun.  I don't have a gun, but I do have gunpowder."

My father bolted up in his chair.  "What in the world are you doing with gunpowder and no gun?"

"Take it easy, Dad.  I hadn't told you about that yet.  You see, if you put gunpowder on the end of the whip, when it snaps, people think it is real powerful.  It's amazing to see them jump back.

"Last Saturday night I took my whip and walked down to the corner of Eighth Avenue and D Street.  Sure enough, there were some gang members hanging around.  I walked up to them, laid out my whip, reared back, and laid a mighty thrust forward.  When I jerked it, it snapped, and gunpowder went everywhere.  Dad, it was the funniest thing.  Those gang members took off running, as if they had been shot at.  I just stood there laughing."

Suzie's parents began laughing, and so did I.

On page 66, Billy talks about a battery trick.  The plan is for Billy to ask the clerk for triple-A batteries.  The clerk won't know what they are, so he'll walk away from the counter to check the battery display.  Meanwhile, Suzie will steal a stack of traveler's checks.

I found that interesting.  This book is from 1979, and I can't remember what kind of batteries were used in most devices at that time.  Looking at some online pages for old electronics, I believe that 9-volt batteries were often used.  AA batteries were more common back in those days.  I assume that AAA batteries were not yet being widely used at that time.

The book also contains a crazy scene where Suzie smuggles a gun into the jail by hiding it in her bra.  She is allowed to visit Wayne, who is in jail.  She is locked in Wayne's cell with him.  Suzie kisses Wayne, telling him where the gun is.  The two proceed to kiss passionately with Wayne groping Suzie as he maneuvers the gun out of her bra.  A drunk in another cell looks on and hoots his approval. 

This book is utterly hilarious.  I loved it.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

January Health and Selling Hiatus Update #3

Due to my current condition, I probably will not return to selling books until sometime between March and late May.  This week I had a severe autoimmune flare.  I have only once before had a flare this bad, and that one occurred in August 2016.  

Nothing else in this post is about books except for a small reference at the very end, so quit reading now if this doesn't interest you.

With recent developments, I want to revisit what I thought happened and give my current perspective.  I continue writing about this in case the information is helpful to anyone who should run across it in the future.

This is from my November 12 post:

My immune system has gone bonkers since I got the bivalent Moderna booster on September 23.  I have heard of people having strong vaccine reactions after having had Covid, and unfortunately, I seem to have joined the crowd.  I had Covid in July, and I believe my immune system has gone into overdrive in an attempt to destroy the vaccine...

I've been dealing with hives and the most intense itching ever.  I have memory problems and a poor mental attitude, the likes of which I typically see in a strong autoimmune flare.  The problem is that I'm not exactly flaring, at least not in a normal fashion.  I feel certain that this is from the vaccine.

When I came down with Covid on July 14, it wasn't bad.  My thyroid took a hit for a couple weeks, and I seemed to get better.  I now think that my thyroid didn't recover. 

I do recall that I had intense hunger during most of September, to a degree that I hadn't experienced in many years.  I used to be intensely hungry all the time before I was put on thyroid medication nearly 10 years ago.  What I experienced in September was odd considering that I was supposedly stable on my medication.  The intense hunger started a few weeks before I got the bivalent Moderna vaccine.  The hunger wasn't caused by the vaccine, so my levels must have already become unseated.

I worsened noticeably after I got the bivalent vaccine, so it was also a factor.  However, Covid itself started the flare that worsened with the vaccine and then significantly worsened during the last two weeks.

I was stable on Tirosint 50 mcg combined with NP Thyroid 45 mg for three years, the longest I have ever been on the same medication.  I had intermittent hives for the entire time I was on NP Thyroid and suspected that the NP Thyroid was the cause.  I put up with the hives because I didn't want to have to go through the difficulty of switching medication and then months of trying to stabilize.

In early December, my provider agreed with my request to drop NP Thyroid and change to Tirosint only.  My Tirosint dose was increased to 75 mcg, and I quit taking NP Thyroid.

The hives continued until right around Christmas when they began decreasing.  Since then, the hives have continued to steadily decrease and then disappeared a few days ago.  I have no doubt that the hives were tied to the NP Thyroid.  

My T3 and T4 levels have improved slightly since switching my medication.  However, my TSH, which indicates whether my body is getting enough hormone, has increased significantly.  That is, significantly for me.  My numbers are never very high.  Apparently some people can have a TSH in the hundreds, while mine is always in the single digits.  More about that later.

Since my TSH went up, that means that I'm not getting enough hormone.  I am now taking Tirosint 88 mcg.  We will reassess in early March, and I may have to go up again.  Changing thyroid medication is a hassle since it can take months to get the dosage right. 

I want to share my test results since the average doctor would think that I am just fine and need no medication.  My levels are normal, yet I am quite ill.  The thyroid lab ranges are too wide, which is why many thyroid patients remain ill and untreated. 

Most doctors don't test the T3 free level.  T3 is what gives us energy.  Mine has been decreasing during the last three years, but I've been overall okay.  My body thought it had enough hormone.  When you look at where I am now, it seems okay.  I am not okay.

Always click on images to see them clearly.

Most doctors do test the T4 free level.  T4 is the inactive hormone that gets converted to the the active hormone, T3.  My T4 is down at the low end of normal.  Most doctors would think that this is fine.  It's not fine.

My TSH indicates that my body does not think that it has enough thyroid hormone circulating.  This is where you can see that I have a problem.

Even so, I am barely above the top end of normal.  I am quite ill if my TSH is anywhere above a 1.  Most doctors think that a 1 is borderline too low.  Most thyroid patients need to be at the very bottom edge of the normal range in order to feel okay.  That is where I was for the last three years, even though my T3 and T4 levels were kind of low.  My body was happy with the hormone levels.  It's not happy now.

Unfortunately, many doctors believe that thyroid patients should not be treated unless or until their TSH is above 10.  Mine is never above 10!  Doctors doom their patients to being ill their entire lives.  When the patients complain that they feel horrible, the doctors tell them that their labs are normal and that they need to see a psychiatrist.  The patients then become very upset, just wanting to be believed.

In closing, I take all of this in stride.  I stuck with the NP Thyroid for way too long because I didn't want to unseat my levels and have to go through months of readjustment.  Getting Covid and then the bivalent booster blew everything up, so I took the opportunity to drop NP Thyroid. 

I'm glad that I did drop NP Thyroid, and I can ruefully thank Covid for placing me in a position to where I felt able to face the fallout from making that change.  I will continue to have some hives as a side effect of my condition, but they should be at a much lower level from now on.

Also thanks to Covid, I was at home on the morning of December 5 and was able to purchase some very nice books.  If I hadn't gotten Covid and hadn't become sick, then someone else would have gotten those books.  Even difficult situations sometimes have a silver lining.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Patti by John Benton

From the back cover of Patti:

Patti Jacobson is a young teenager from Duluth, Minnesota.  Hanging out in bars at the age of fifteen, she finds herself involved with the wrong type of people.  Convinced that she can make "big money" as a prostitute, she is caught in a miserable, degrading spiral of sex, crime and disillusionment.  Running away from her life in one city after another, it seemed that she would never escape the ruthless, sordid world of prostitution.

Patti is one of thousands of young girls who are troubled, confused, misunderstood... desperately looking for happiness.  Yet, there is hope for these girls.  Her moving story contains a powerful, positive message for all young people who are searching for meaning in a complex, impersonal world.  Find out how she frees herself from her hopeless existence and discovers a new, rewarding way of life.
Content:  abortion, car theft, prostitution

This book is especially crazy.

Patti gets arrested and bailed out by a young cop.  He forces her into a relationship, and she gets pregnant.  She has an abortion.  Later, Patti steals her pimp's car and drives it to her own house.  This seems rather... stupid.  Of course the pimp has no trouble tracking her down.  Patti then runs off with an escaped convict who becomes her new pimp.  The new pimp's main gig is to have Patti steal from truck drivers.

From page 81:

I knew what was happening to him.  He was having problems with his wife.  She was another of those frigid girls.  She probably cut him off—that was her way of penalizing him.  Some wives don't know it, but they drive their husbands to prostitution.

Of course it's the wife's fault.

From page 132:

I knew what he wanted, but he didn't know what I wanted.  As we rolled back and forth, I worked his wallet out.  He didn't notice.  I was even able to open it and grab the bills.

He was getting more passionate.  Would he reach for his wallet and offer to pay me?  I knew I could get a hundred dollars now, but the bills I felt in my hand were over that.

Suddenly I just lay there quietly.  "What's the matter?" he demanded.

"I feel something."

"Feel something?  What's the matter?  Is the mattress too hard?"

I laughed.  "No.  I feel something between my legs that isn't quite right."

He rolled over.  I sat up straight, holding the hand with the wad of bills underneath me.  "I hate to tell you this," I said, "but I gotta go to the bathroom and check myself.  You see, I, uh... It's really embarrassing, mister, but I've been about four days late, and I think it's happened."

His chin dropped.  "What a dirty break!"

Oh, my.  It's astonishing that these books were written by a minister and were actually sold in church bookstores. 

On page 157, Patti is solicited by a man and woman who are living in a camper.  The man explains their situation.

"One night we got into an argument, and I said I wanted someone else.  So rather than breaking up our marriage, we both decided we would have the same person.  So we agreed to go to bed with the same person, and you are it.  Now, young lady, don't take me wrong.  We are plain, decent people.  You can trust us."

This scene struck me funny.  "You are it."  Ha.  This book has many funny parts. I loved it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Crazy Mary and Cindy by John Benton

From the back cover of Crazy Mary:

The dramatic story of a young girl's faith that conquered alcoholism and insanity.

They locked her in a mental institution.  But was she really insane?  No one knew for sure, not even Mary herself.  One thing was certain, though— she wanted to get out of the mess that her drinking, her crime, and her defiance had created.  

Find out how Christ delivered her from hopelessness to a new life that had love and meaning.  Drawn from the actual experiences of the delinquent girls that author John Benton has encountered, here is proof that Jesus can transform anyone's life.

Content warning:  attempted suicide, car theft, police chase, homophobia

Mary is crazy in the sense that she continually makes the stupidest, most impulsive decisions.  She uses very bad judgment.

This is a good book.

From the back cover of Cindy:

There were two sides to her life—mother and streetwalker.

Cindy was a prostitute.  Turning tricks was the only way she knew to support her addiction to heroin.  But how could she take care of her little girl Melody when she couldn't even manage her own life?  Like many young girls today, Cindy was confused and alone in an impersonal, uncaring society.  Loving mother or drug addict and streetwalker—which person was the real Cindy?  CINDY is the story of her struggle to decide.

Content:  prostitution, drugs

Much of this book was not that interesting to me.  A good amount of the book is devoted to events surrounding the creation of the Walter Hoving Home.  This doesn't necessarily mean that the book is boring; I just wasn't interested in reading it.

I skimmed this book.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Reading the Harry Potter Set for the Third Time

This post contains some spoilers, but I assume that the only people reading this post are people who know the story of Harry Potter via the books, movies, or both.

After I last read the books in 2020, I wrote at length about my earlier problems with the series and how they were resolved when I finally revisited the books.

My Thoughts on My Rereading of Harry Potter

This is a summary of what I wrote, being as brief as I can.  I was heavily invested in Harry Potter around the time that #4 was first published in July 2000.  I joined a Yahoo! group that discussed Snape and whose side he was on.  I spent lots of time reading the messages in July and August of 2000 and possibly for a few more months as well.

Sometime after that, Rowling made a dismissive comment about the Snape debate, saying that he was bad, period, and that she couldn't understand how anyone could think otherwise.  Um, because she wrote him ambiguously?  If I had had better discernment, I would have realized that she was being misleading since readers were guessing the truth.  I didn't know that at the time, and her statement squelched most of my enthusiasm.  I deeply resented her for ruining our fun.

I found #5 difficult to get through; it was too lengthy for my taste.

#6 was devastating, and I wasn't very interested in the series anymore after I finished that book.

I had a habit of rereading every previous entry before each new book was released.  I am certain that I did not do so before #7 was released, because I mostly no longer cared.  Also keep in mind that the hype and media coverage surrounding each new Harry Potter book was intense.  It was way too much, and that lessened my enthusiasm.  

This is how many times I believe I had read each book prior to 2020.

#1 - 4 times     #5 - 2 times
#2 - 4 times     #6 - 1 time
#3 - 4 times     #7 - 1 time
#4 - 3 times

I stayed away from the series for many years because I was so annoyed at Rowling ruining my fun when it turned out that Snape was playing both sides after all.  I refused to watch the movies, and I refused to read the books again.  The Harry Potter series was dead to me.

In 2020 during lockdown, I read through all seven books and then watched all eight movies.  I got over my negative feelings and came to appreciate Harry Potter again.  I haven't thought much about Harry Potter in the last three years. 

This next part of this post has been taken from my January 1 post on the books I read in 2022.

In early November, Pocket presented me with an article about the All the Young Dudes Harry Potter fanfic.

Since I am constantly reading even if it's just stuff online, I followed the link.  I was immediately intrigued.  From the article:

It’s called All the Young Dudes, and it's a 526,969-word fic that currently has a whopping 7.5 million hits on the fanfiction site, Archive of Our Own.  All the Young Dudes is set in the era when Harry's parents attended Hogwarts (ahem, known as the Marauders era), and features both familiar faces, and a budding romance between two of the series' most beloved figures: Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.

The 188-chapter story has now spawned a fandom of its own.  For many original HP fans, the story has become canon, and the ways in which it extends far beyond the universe J.K. Rowling created are all part of the appeal.  All the Young Dudes has a huge presence on social media, spawned audiobooks, has 16,000 ratings on Goodreads, has been fancasted, and is even the subject of a conspiracy theory involving Taylor Swift. 

My mind blown, I decided that I must check this out.  My favorite Harry Potter book is Prisoner of Azkaban, and if this fanfic even remotely deserved its fandom, then I had to see for myself.  I started reading it, and I liked what I read.  I didn't know what to do with myself when I finished, so I had no choice but to read the Harry Potter series again.

And so I did.  I read straight through all seven Harry Potter books in November and December.  This time I did what I didn't think to do three years ago.  I remembered far more details this time than I did three years ago.  However, some parts were a little fuzzy.  Whenever I reached an important plot point where I couldn't remember specifics, I got online and ran a search for that information.  This then led me to reading lengthy discussions about those parts of the books.

The end result is that reading those discussions greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the series this time around.  One example would be when the doe leads Harry to the lake where the sword is.  I knew that the sword was placed by Snape, but I couldn't recall how Snape knew where Harry was.  So I ran a search and found the information.  This made my reading so much more fun this time around. 

In fact, reading discussions as I read the books harkened back to the fun I had in the late summer of 2000 when I read the Snape debate in the Yahoo! group.  

Even though I'm finished reading through the books, I am still thinking about them.  I have joined a few Harry Potter subreddits, and I now receive a daily digest email from Quora with suggested Harry Potter topics.  I'm having fun reading these discussions.

If I am correct about how many times I read through the books originally, this is how many times I have now read through them.

#1 - 6 times     #5 - 4 times
#2 - 6 times     #6 - 3 times
#3 - 6 times     #7 - 3 times
#4 - 5 times

When I read the books this time, I didn't bother with the epilogue.  I have no use for it.  I still feel that the last book should have had more falling action rather than wasting space on that epilogue.

I have thought a lot about how the eighth Harry Potter movie ruined the ending.  Harry should have fought Voldemort in the Great Hall just like in the book.  The final confrontation in the seventh book is perfect.  In fact, I read that scene at least three to four times at different points as I read through the seven books this time.  I love it.

I looked up the Horcruxes multiple times, because I kept forgetting about some of them.  The seventh book glosses over some of the Horcruxes, which is a flaw in the plot.  It helped to look up the information.

I found the last four books to be considerably less dark than I did previously, because I thoroughly understand the underlying plot, such as the agreement between Snape and Dumbledore.  Having a complete understanding of the story lessens the dark aspect of it.

With Harry Potter, rereading the books is quite fulfilling because the reader knows all the little secrets.  Rowling placed many clues throughout the books.  It's so easy to miss something, and reading online discussions has revealed much that I have missed on my multiple readings. 

If you haven't read the Harry Potter books in many years, you might want to visit them again.  It's great fun.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Carmen and Teenage Runaway by John Benton

From the dust jacket of the 1970 edition:

Carmen began her descent into the hell of drug addiction at the age of fourteen.  This is her story.  It begins with an unhappy home, a drunken father, and the discovery that a touch of marijuana relieves the pain for a while.  She soon discovers that heroin works even better.  It is not long before she, as have so many others before her, finds herself trapped by the narcotics that had at first appeared so friendly.

Through the horror of violence, prostitution, robbery, every form of deceit and fraud, Carmen struggles to escape.  But she cannot, and after an agonizing withdrawal she finds herself more firmly hooked than before.  John Benton has written a novel you will not forget.  He has looked into the heart of an attractive, forlorn, and suffering girl—one very much like the many who have sought his help at Teen Challenge Girls' Home.

But the horror and degradation are only half the story.  The other half is Carmen's discovery that the dedication of Christian people and above all the love of God can rescue her when every man-made program has failed  You will know pain in this book but you will also see, in clear and realistic perspective, what the power of God is doing among today's dope-afflicted teenagers.

As I review these books, I will include a warning about the content of each book for readers who might not want to read about certain topics.  The books have disturbing content that could be upsetting to some readers.

Content warning:  physical abuse (hitting, whipping), homophobia, drug and marijuana use, prostitution, beatings (by hand and with chains)

I read this book some six months before preparing this post, so I don't remember most details.  For that reason, I can't do a proper review. 

The book contains a glossary so that readers will understand all the lingo used.  Enlarge the images in order to see them clearly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 

From the back cover of Teenage Runaway:

SIXTEEN... and on the road to nowhere.  Her mother, her boyfriend, her doctor, all wanted Becky to get an abortion.  But something her minister said made her pause—before she turned her back on the lot of them and became a TEENAGE RUNAWAY.

Becky is of one of thousands... young girls who are troubled, misunderstood, searching for happiness... caught in a miserable, degrading spiral of sex, crime, and disillusionment.

Her heartbreaking true story contains an powerful, positive message for teenagers and their parents.

Content warning:  abortion, rape, two suicide attempts (pills, slashed wrists), car theft

While I don't have any specific comments, I found this book to be pretty engaging.  There is always something crazy happening.

I do have one comment to make about my copy of the book.  Tammie Vogel had no idea when she wrote her name on the front cover of her book that it would be immortalized in a blog post.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

January Reading and Selling Update #2

Last night I published my overview and introductory post for The Living Hope Library Series by John Benton.

The Living Hope Library Series by John Benton

I will be publishing reviews of each book.  I hope that I can make it through the set and follow through with a review of each book.  I feel that using the word "hope" in this case, considering the series name, is a bit of a pun.  I don't mean it as such.  I sincerely hope that I can make it through the set and write reviews like I used to do.  We'll see.

Three of the books were read in June 2022, so those reviews won't be much more than the back cover summary and a single statement about how I felt about the book.  I'm not going to read those books again.  I want to work on the ones that I haven't read.

As of now, I have reviews finished for eight of the books.  That's not a bad start.

On Monday I mentioned the possibility of reopening my eBay and Etsy stores at the end of this week.  I have been going and and forth each day this week with no idea which way to go.  Open or stay closed?

While I haven't been feeling bad, I also haven't been feeling that great.  Each day this week, I have been quite tired in the late morning and have revived myself with an energy drink.  In the evening, I don't really feel tired.  In fact, I have insomnia, but I just don't feel that good.  I'm not sure how I'm doing.  

Whenever I have a thyroid medication adjustment, I go in six weeks later for a blood test to see how my levels have adjusted.  I will be doing that next week.  I feel like my levels may be off even after the dose increase.  I could need another dose adjustment.

I have continued to go back and forth on my decision whether to reopen my stores.  Tonight I finally came to a realization.  If I can't make up my mind which way to go, then I should stay closed.  And so I will stay closed.  Perhaps in a week or so I will reopen.  Perhaps not.  The store hiatus will continue.

I expect to begin posting the Living Hope Library reviews within the next few days and will stagger them two to three days apart like I used to do when I reviewed books.

I also have a review of the new Nancy Drew Diaries book, #24 Captain Stone's Revenge.  I will wait at least a few weeks on that one to give fans a chance to read the book.