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"Hot" is a compromise between recency and thumbs-up votes.

The history of alcoholism is colored by the fact it has spent almost the entire 20th century trying to be recognized as a disease. In Joe Miller’s brief but more than sufficient history of Alcoholics Anonymous, US of AA, doctors play almost no positive role until the 2000s. Ordinary Americans, suffering the effects, tried to figure out the extent, the how, and the why of alcoholism. They had their successes and plenty of setbacks, and by the 1960s were at the level of the Supreme Court, arguing it was a disease, not a crime.

Alcoholism was finally declared a disease in the late 1960s, not by doctors or the AMA, but by President Lyndon Johnson, who by then had been part of the organization for 20 years. Funding in the millions began to flow from federal coffers to agencies and commissions led by AA supporters. The focus was almost entirely on total abstinence as the only treatment. But as the rest of the world knew, that’s not true, not what it looks like, and not how it works.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the strongest brands in US history. Everyone knows it means constant meetings of verbal self-flagellation and obeisance to God, to ward off the temptation to drink. That members monitor each other with the sole intent of preventing the consumption of a single drop of alcohol by other members. Doctors all but automatically send patients to AA rather than any other course of treatment. It is an astonishing branding achievement by a small group of alcoholics.

Even more astonishing is their failure rate – 90 to 95%. AA is far from a proven cure. There are 25-40 million Americans who have recovered from alcoholism and addiction, and less than 20% did it by total abstinence. And even fewer are lifelong AA members. The vast majority learns to manage and control it, and can drink socially without getting blind drunk or go on weeklong binges.

AA chapters pop up all over the country, mostly thanks to the efforts of alcoholics who were saved by AA. They become evangelicals, who can’t wait to share with others. AA members are quick to work intensely with any alcoholic (above age 40) and get them on the path. Their method is to point out it is a disease, not a moral failing of theirs, that it can be overcome, that they are proof of it, and that a whole fruitful life lies ahead. But they avoid people in their 30s, because they haven’t yet hit bottom, and so have more trials and suffering to endure before they capitulate for real. A very odd disease, indeed.

Even stranger is the medical establishment’s avoidance of it all, despite the evidently huge market for treatment. Miller tells the story of the end of Prohibition, when drunkenness became so pervasive, the New York Times was certain the constitutional amendment would be repealed and Prohibition would return forever.

Few clinical studies, less research, and nothing in the way of political will mark the journey from the AA founding until about 60 years ago, when public relations efforts finally brought the public, at least, to believe it was a physical disease. To AA, alcoholism is like an allergy – a systemic physical defect that causes the alcoholic to crave the stuff if even one sip is imbibed. That’s sensitivity in the extreme.

The story Joe Miller has researched is one of constant conflict – getting alcoholics to admit they are, getting doctors to take AA seriously, getting governments to acknowledge alcoholism as a clinical disease. And it’s not just medical doctors who are a problem; psychiatrists play an important role in the fog of alcoholism. Miller himself had to go to numerous psychiatrists before he could find one to prescribe a most useful medication to reduce his own alcohol cravings.

With no small irony, Bill Wilson, the founder of AA, spent his dying days in bed with emphysema, begging for and demanding whiskey. His wife and medical team refused. Some alcoholism just doesn’t go away.

David Wineberg
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4 vote DavidWineberg | Jan 19, 2019 |
3. Becoming (audio) by Michelle Obama
reader: the author
published: 2018
format: 19:03 audible audiobook (normally ~529 pages equivalent, but 426 pages in hardcover. I guess she reads slow.)
acquired: December
listened: Dec 7 – Jan 15
rating: 5

It's a little difficult for me to see under the impact this book had on me and into the book itself. Listening to Michelle Obama during my commutes to and from work everyday around the holidays put a spell on my mental state. The moving stories of her life and her husband's, and the sincerity and, so valuable today, the reasonableness, left a kind of force field of hope and optimism for the world hovering around me. The government shutdown and its self-destructive minions faded into a temporary crime that should pass, because out there there are many people like this, dedicated, genuinely good and motivated to make the world a better place. They just need their window and our support. It was a nice drug, and I'm giving her five stars for it. This book is cathartic.

Underneath that spell is the story of child brought up by dedicated working-class Chicago parents, who learned to always try to be good, to earn her gold star of approval, through Princeton and Harvard Law and corporate law, and, unknown to me, to walking out of corporate law to work through a variety of jobs that were more fulfilling to her and more rewarding to her community. The truth is I knew very little about the first lady other than that everyone seemed to like her and she seemed to only accumulate good news. I didn't know what was behind all that, and went into it. I didn't know she was so adverse to politics. Or so likable and admirable up close.

I did, of course, know about all the criticism and negative spin from Fox and that part of the population that never even tried to find something to like in what was one of the most likable first ladies ever. She mentions about Barack how black Americans had learned you have to be twice as good to get half as far. It's something that stood out to me here, seeing up close how Barack was really ten times as principled as any other president since at least the Civil War, and yet has generated a population a devout haters. We are living an American tragedy where the victim is the accuser. As I've learned James Baldwin said, it's white America that has a racism problem and in the response to this couple it's painfully evident.

I didn't mean to end on such a sour note. And I've thought about deleting that last paragraph. But, it is our reality.
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2 vote dchaikin | 41 other reviews | Jan 19, 2019 |
Colonialist nostalgia – but interesting just the same. Although purportedly about the construction of the Uganda Railway, no track gets laid until halfway through the book; instead we get an account of the history of the area that eventually becomes Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda from when it first came to the attention of Europeans – around 1550 or so – to the start of the First World War.
It’s been pointed out that the establishment of the British Empire was a pretty haphazard affair; merchants established a trading station, then some sort of armed force was needed to protect that, then a little land had to be acquired to give the army room to maneuver, then the approaches to the area had to be secured, then the supply routes had to be defended, then the next thing you know the Sun Never Sets on the British Empire.
The Uganda Railway, of course, had ties, track plates, spikes and rails made of Best Intentions. The railway was needed to get Civilization to the area and end slavery – and even the most fervent anti-Imperialist agree that ending slavery was A Good Thing - but of course the railway had to pay for itself so it needed things to export, and since the natives weren’t enthused about growing more food than they needed European farmers needed to be settled, and pretty soon the colonists began demanding protection for their livestock and crops, and then they began wanting a say in how the government was run, and the next thing you know it’s necessary to Teach the Natives a Lesson by going into a village and shooting every man, woman, and child. And, of course, I can be smug and sarcastic about it as an American – even though the place I’m writing from was taken from the Arapahoe in much the same fashion.
The story is full of interesting characters; Seyid Said, Sultan of Zanzibar; Joseph Thompson, explorer who had the unique idea that it was better to get along with the Masai than shoot them; Frederick Lugard, possibly the model for Allan Quatermain; Charles Stokes, missionary-gunrunner; Lord Delamore, who more or less singlehanded established Kenya agriculture; and J. H. Patterson, who had to build a railway bridge over the Tsavo River despite a pair of lions who developed a taste for bridgebuilders. (In a somewhat strange denouement, the Tsavo lions ended up taxidermized in the Field Museum of Chicago, a long way from home. But they were probably Cub fans anyway).
The interesting characters are almost all white; when Africans are mentioned they’re seen through white eyes – because that’s who was writing things down. Can’t be helped and not Miller’s fault, but regrettable nonetheless.
Miller’s writing style is straightforward and easy to read. As usual, I think there could be more maps. The reference list includes a lot of historical works that I’ve put on my Wish List. Worthwhile as an introduction to a part of the world I knew little about.
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2 vote setnahkt | 5 other reviews | Jan 19, 2019 |
Michael Moorcock's Doctor Who novel has for its protagonists the eleventh Doctor (the one played by Matt Smith) and Amy Pond (but no Rory). The central characterizations are solid, but it doesn't pick up much else from the Doctor Who narrative other than a couple of references to the Time War and the relatively amicable presence of some Judoon. On the other hand, as the subtitle Pirates of the Second Aethyr indicates, it does connect to Moorcock's Eternal Champion hyperwork by means of Moorcock's "Second Ether" trilogy--which I haven't read. Jerry Cornelius puts in a guest appearance too. I've only read thirty or forty of Moorcock's books, many of them several decades ago, and I felt sure I missed quite a few passing intertextual references.

The "Terraphiles" are fans of and competitors in the "Renaissance Tournaments" of the fifty-second millennium, which purport to revive the sports of Old Old Earth, albeit in a quite muddled and relatively unrecognizable form. There is talk about whether a "broadsword" should be more or less than three feet wide. One of the principal games involves cracking nuts with hammers. And there is a lot of archery, with arrows routinely caught by hand. Moorcock supplies just enough description of these events that I was completely stumped at attempting to visualize them. He did manage to communicate the pacing and drama of the competitions, however. The whole scenario of a far-future affection for a dimly perceived human past also put me a bit in mind of some of my favorite Moorcock books, the "End of Time" series, as well as a number of Doctor Who episodes in which interstellar humanity have distorted understandings of their past.

In The Coming of the Terraphiles, the multiverse is imperiled by the "black tides" unleashed by a defect of the Cosmic Balance. It needs a component restored to it, and the Doctor is sure that it is connected with the Silver Arrow of Artemis that serves as the trophy for the recurrent galactic Terraphile championships. The Doctor joins the Gentlemen, a Terraphile sporting team, in order to travel with them to the grand tournament. The incarnation of the Eternal Champion peculiar to the Doctor's continuum turns out to be Bingo Lockesley, captain of the Gentlemen, which is something of a twist at the end of the book. I for one was relieved that it wasn't the Doctor.

This book wasn't entirely silly, but it was certainly silly enough. Moorcock didn't let down Doctor Who, nor did he mess up his own sprawling metatext. Still, I wouldn't suggest it as an introduction to either. It's the sort of indulgence that a veteran author should be permitted, but one that really needs an experienced fan to appreciate.… (more)
2 vote paradoxosalpha | 8 other reviews | Jan 17, 2019 |
The last formal pitched battle involving British soldiers on British soil – I choose my words carefully to avoid bringing in the brawls between black and white GIs in WW2 which are a whole other story – was a tawdry affair of 1746 that has been elevated to a romanticism that it does not deserve. It was a well-organised force raised by the Hanoverian George II under the command of his son William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, set against a rag-tag army raised, often on pain of loss of land, livestock and home, by Highland chiefs still loyal to the Stuart monarchy. Cannon and musket against broadswords, fought on a foul April day on a boggy moor between Inverness and Nairn with a bitter east wind blowing sleet and snow into the faces of the Highlanders. It was a rout; the moor afterwards littered with bodies of Highlanders many of them broken by grapeshot. It was also the end of serious resistance to the triumphant Whigs, who like all big winners went on to write the history of the times as self-righteous, self-justifying truth. The aftermath of Culloden isn't generally part of that history; it's not much taught in British school history and it's a shameful blot on the nation. What followed the events on Drumossie Moor was an act of genocide.

John Prebble, working in the 1950s and early 1960s (the book was published in 1961, just a year after Macmillan's "Wind of Change" speech) dug up the dirty truth of Culloden and its aftermath from accounts and journals of people who took part on both sides as ordinary soldiers. He is sympathetic those on both sides, they were the hapless pawns of history after all, but not to their leaders. Charles Edward "Bonnie Prince Charlie" Stewart, the hero of the romantic version, is only ever a shadowy presence in the background, flitting from one bolthole to another as the slaughter went on.

Prebble gives a clear and detailed account of the battle itself but that is less than half of the book and, for me, the least interesting part (although I'm sure those interested mainly in military history would be fascinated) but from the common soldier's perspective. The triumphant Whig soldiers, many Lowland Scots amongst them, marched from the battlefield into Inverness slaughtering any hapless civilian they met on the way, unrestrained by their officers. Inverness was occupied and prisoners crammed into the town's Tollbooth and, when that would take no more, into any available cellar until the stench of death and neglect became unbearable. From Inverness the Whigs spread out over the Highlands and Islands with a scorched earth, slaughtering, burning and pillaging the lands of the clansmen, driving off and selling the cattle into the Lowlands and England, starving the Highlanders, who were regarded as savages much as the Indians in the American colonies were, into submission. Unrepenting Highland chiefs were taken to London to be eviscerated for the entertainment of the Tyburn mob. The wearing of tartan and Highland dress and the speaking of the Gaelic language was proscribed; the law was repealed forty years later but by then it was much too late. The clan system was broken, the clan chiefs who survived were assimilated and their landholdings consolidated so that they could finish the job of clearing the Highland people so the land could be sold to English sheep-farmers. And all was safe for the romanticising of the Highlands, the invention of "clan tartans" made possible by chemical dyes and the Yorkshire woollen industry, and the whole shortbread-tin, tartan-tat Scottish tourism industry.

Culloden isn't an easy read; it's intensely harrowing in places as befits the subject matter. But it really ought to take its proper place in the history syllabus just to teach the point that national history and myth isn't all as glorious as some would have us believe. The winds of change are blowing once again, not through Africa this time but through Scotland itself, a Scotland which is waking up to its own history and regaining its self-confidence. The kilt – the authentic, homespun, vegetable-dyed version – is being worn with pride once again outside the tourist areas. There are Gaelic road signs in the Highlands and Islands and bilingual station names on the railways even in places where Gaelic was never much spoken. The true story of Culloden is not being forgotten.
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4 vote enitharmon | 5 other reviews | Jan 14, 2019 |
There's no soft-pedaling it; this book is terrible. You can see that from the incompetently formatted title onwards. It's self-published, I think, and the author for some reason thinks the subtitle goes in quotation marks and is connected to the main title with a semicolon. The book purports to be a retelling of Irish history, drawing on mythology. The issue is that the author has decided to be funny, only the author is not funny. Here's a bit from a page at random:

Did Téthur take a nasty fall, break a bone, get wounded? A wound that in those ancient times turned septic fast leading to a painful death. Or was Téthur ridding to within an inch of his life by eighteen young women who had bugger all to do of an evening and had yet to invent Ann Summers? Anything is possible. Though I should mention here that as a student of history, I don't know if I buy the whole idea of death by sex. For one thing, these stories have been passed down to us by monks, so sex, if the cause, would have been mentioned many times and in increasingly vulgar detail. And, sexual aids for women have existed for quite some time. [LONG DIGRESSION ABOUT SEX TOYS OMITTED] It is also possible that he ate a bad oyster or choked to death on a hazelnut with no one to offer the Heimlich manoeuvre as they were too busy diddling themselves stupid. You pay your money and you take your chance. (22-3)

The whole book is like that, unfortunately, just a long, unfunny, poorly written synopsis of Irish prehistory. The only good thing I can say about the book is that it made me want to read about these stories in the hand of a competent author. I got the book as a present, and I can only conclude the gift giver was the author in disguise, or the gift giver completely lacks the ability to discern good from bad.

The book has 100 numbered pages, but the actual "novel" runs only 79 of them. That's still about 74 too many.
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2 vote Stevil2001 | Sep 21, 2018 |
Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski; (4*)

This one is a Newbery Award-winning classic. (Umm humm. Says so right on the cover.) I enjoyed it tremendously.
It was copyrighted in 1945 and tells the story of two neighboring families living in the lake region of Florida in the early 1900s after the Seminole War. Most of the people in this region had moved down from the Carolinas and were known as the Florida Crackers. They had wonderfully colorful speech patterns, a wealth of idioms, and brought with them many a folk song, superstition and integrity of character (or not, as in the case on one of the neighbors).
This is a cross section of America. An American way of life not known to a great many of us, a poor but very colorful way of life.
The main character is a 10 year old girl named Birdie Boyer and the story is told through her eyes. Her family is a farming family attempting to grow strawberries, orange groves, and sweet potatoes among other produce.
The neighboring family, the Slaters, raise cattle and pigs. Or to be more precise, they have cattle and pigs. They pretty much just let them free range and raise themselves until it is time to round them up and take them to be sold.
The cattle and pigs continue to get into the crop fields of the Boyer family and trample the berries, eat the fruit trees down to nubbins and wreak all kinds of havoc. This does not sit well with Mr. Boyer and he speaks to Mr. Slater, who cares not one whit. So Mr. Boyer decides to fence in his property. Mr. Slater threatens him that if he does, something bad will happen. And so it goes.
The book was a quick read and it was easy to relate to and to get to know and care about the characters. I quite liked it and think that anyone else picking it up would like it as well. I will be looking for more of Ms. Linski's books.
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4 vote rainpebble | 33 other reviews | Jun 17, 2017 |
In this third instalment of the Hanaud series (but the second novel-length tale) the famous French inspector is searching, solving, and sorting matters is his own unique way, succeeding where others have failed.

Hanaud is an interesting and engaging character, appearing comical one minute, woeful the next, and wrathful the next. Mr Mason has done a good job with his lead actor, making Hanaud likeable and believable.

Certain elements of this tale resemble those in Book 1 – “At the Villa Rose” – in that the initial investigation centres on the murder of a middle-aged woman who has a young female companion living with her in a large home. Other elements here are also repeated from Book 1 but won’t mention any more for fear of revealing spoilers.

Also similar to “At the Villa Rose”, I worked out early on who was *not* guilty of murder and who *was* the guilty party. I also guessed another evil-doer soon after their appearance.

This doesn’t mean the story on the whole is too predictable or unoriginal, as the plotting is very well worked out. Knowing who is or is not guilty is one thing, yet finding out how one character is proved to be at fault and how another is set to prove their innocence is another matter.

Despite my admiration for the author’s plotting skills, I think I would’ve like this better with more action/dramatization and less explaining/guessing about things. Additionally, I feel that a certain desperate and dangerous situation for a character (who I won’t name for spoiler reasons) is resolved too quickly.

The author would’ve created more suspense and enthrallment by squeezing more out of this scenario and preferably not reveal everything so early as the subsequent chapter is robbed of all suspense with the reader knowing how things will transpire. In short, two later chapters would’ve been more effective if swapped around and been vividly dramatized rather than being recalled and explained.

As a result, I rate this novel 4 stars rather than the 5 that it has the potential for. “At the Villa Rose” appealed to me greatly, while “The House of the Arrow” just appeals to me.
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3 vote PhilSyphe | Oct 22, 2015 |
Una novela sobrevalorada.
2 vote fmorondo | 79 other reviews | Jun 13, 2009 |
I had never heard of the LA Central library fire in 1986, but given the fact that it occurred at the same time as the Chernobyl Nuclear accident, it's not hard to understand why. The premise of this book is built on the fact of that fire, but it is so much more. It is an ode to libraries, using the Los Angeles Central Library as the starting point for exploring:
The history of libraries and the profession of librarians.
The mechanics of libraries.
The importance of libraries in communities.
The future of libraries.
The architecture of the Los Angeles Central Library

And finally, the story of the library fire and the confusion surrounding the investigation of that fire. Including the entanglement of Harry Peak the suspected arsonist, but perhaps only a fabulist, who found himself at the center of the fire investigation.

It is a nonfiction story, woven in a similar pattern to that of the author's previous book, [The Orchid Thief]. To anyone who loves books and libraries it provides a story which is engagin and interesting.
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1 vote tangledthread | 47 other reviews | Jan 21, 2019 |
The evil days

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Review- point to love this book.
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▶Theme: New and futuristic
▶Story line up: awesome
▶Characters : did a justice to there role and here nature play his role effectively and tragedy happens
▶pace of the novel is great
▶cover gives a spooky feeling

The book talk about the year 3033 and future is not good , wars are going on and effects of that are women and men are becoming sterile, and syringe are there to born a baby girl and subsidy is given to family with female girl child, our protagonist make a device to control crime rate and change people and save innocent from mental torture by making a nuero-reader but evil find his way and use technology in a wrong way, and the time comes where end of the world is near and things goes from bad to worse for everyone in Orlando. Our protagonist wife save the day. And world survived from getting ended.

Summary.

Neuroscientist Nasir Hussain got kidnapped from his home after kidnapper said it on live TV show police came and then shoot but they moved away as they were using hologram tricks and then there is a blast in the home where all police men die.

In 3033 1st May, Mr Pythagoras connecting brains to machine but on finding Einstein brain he got to know that brave was stolen, and he went to inform you and army general.

2 months back Kalki and Padmavathi husband and wife who were childhood friends later become lovers and then become wife and husband Padmavathi parents guide and now they are making neuro reader to change people into good then the conversation goes to xx syringes To born a girl ,later he went to meet his horse Deva gifted by kalki's father to him.

May 1 Pythagoras thought goes from cannibals how xx syringes came into. Research on how women become sterile due to effect of wars and what happened to brain of Einstein and Japan ways to do rainfall in the country, he was about to break his TV but TV get his mood through AI intelligence and showed him his favourite Charlie Chaplin videos.
2 months before Kalki help is friend Troy to have Natalia in his life now she is pregnant and all the event went like a flashback through his eyes.

May 1 3033: General Irbanski, got a message from Dr Pythagoras regarding Einstein missing brain and his body got shaking after long time. Irbanski had a talk with Pythagoras and he suggest to take it rain Kalki to help in finding Einstein brain they finally agreed to take them in this work of UN.

2 months back ,Troy called Kalki informing OPD is ready to have a meeting with him on neuro reader and Kalki thank him for all the help you provided to him for his research.

Neuro reader inauguration Julian brown take test and conference come to an end outside the building a limousine Rolls-Royce appeared and man sitting inside the smile slyly crooked.

Torrent Kalki taken to BRB UN base, they came to know that they have to find Einstein brain with which is stolen. And UN need them to find that. From that lab in Bermuda triangle I came to know that there is women in the world which are made by UN, he came home and test the neuro reader an Natalia and come to know she is going to kill him which was not the truth, he went to meet Kalki told him the truth and now he want to do something to take Natalia out of picture as he gonna reveal the secret of UN he called everyone on a media at Orlando stadium to get a perfect wife and children UN call Kalki to stop Troy otherwise they are going to kill him. Troy got killed by Kalki when Padmavathi watch the news she used neuro reader on Kalki and come to know that he destroyed the neuroscientist bodies and stole the brain of Einstein and burn It down and she arrested him.

Later she came to find the truth because if you did that he must have planned it carefully to not being caught so she bail him out of jail. Start the search for the real culprit soon they found it was somebody else, and later went to hideout of the person who is behind this and had a fight with him by both husband and wife and truth revealed and then things falls into place and Kalki went to meet his friend in his new birth in Moscow and told him truth how they got cheated and he got killed to clear the mistake of the life.
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1 vote kanwarpal_singh | 1 other review | Jan 21, 2019 |
An iconic but really unreadable work that I think point to the current dissolution of literature and the higher education of literature; a kind of writing that portends to say much but in the end says nothing about writing and imagination. All this was supported by Mellon money (Bollingen Foundation) and translated by one of the 20th century giants of translation, Willard Trask.
1 vote JayLivernois | 7 other reviews | Jan 21, 2019 |
Published in 1971, The Lorax expressed the author's concerns about environmentalism and consumerism. The story is clearly a fable about the dangers posed by corporate greed to nature -- with the Lorax representing the environment, and the Once-ler being a stand-in for unchecked industry. Reputedly, The Lorax was one of Dr. Suess' favorite books. In a 1994 interview, he stated: "The Lorax came out of me being angry. In The Lorax I was out to attack what I think are evil things and let the chips fall where they might." And attack he did, in a tale that is entertaining at one level, but disquieting at another.

The tale ends with a clear moral: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
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1 vote danielx | 258 other reviews | Jan 20, 2019 |
Ottla Kafka(1892-1943) was Franz Kafka's beloved sister, with whom he maintained a close relationship for much of his adult life. Franz corresponded with her between 1909 and 1924 (when he finally succumbed to tuberculosis). Although Ottla was murdered in the Holocaust by the Nazis, Franz's letters to her were preserved by her husband and children.

The letters include correspondence to Ottla, as well as a few letters to Franz's parents. They were first published in 1974, and an English language edition was published in 1982. In addition to Franz' letters, the book also contains photographs of Franz, Ottla, and others, as well as images from the picture postcards that he sent to her.

Readers under the influence of the Kafka Myth will likely be surprised at how very ordinary most of the letters are. They chiefly deal with ordinary things in each of their lives -- work, housing, relationships, the parents, and so on (with no signs of the anguish and torment the more naïve readers of Kafka's fiction might have expected). A few letters give hints into what is happening in Franz' personal life, including his strange and protracted correspondence relationship with Felice Bauer (to whom he was engaged twice and ultimately never married). Some letters are written to Ottla after she has left home to go to school for an advanced degree; and others to her shortly before and then after her marriage to Josef David. Still other letters were sent by Franz to Ottla and to their parents from one of the sanitaria which he visited for his tuberculosis treatments.

Some letters reveal glimpses into his odd personality. In July of 1914, in writing about the confrontation with Felice and her friends (a confrontation during which she broke off the engagement), he writes to Ottla: "Just a few words in haste before I attempt to go to sleep, at which I quite failed last night... I will of course write to you about Berlin. At the moment there is nothing definite to say about the question or about me. I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into the deepest darkness. "

A full six years later, he writes to Ottla of the time Felice first visited Praguer: "I could easily have had time off, but preferred lazing around the office, only spent the afternoon with her, and really did not realize the mistake until much later in Berlin when she reproached me for it; but it had not been lack of love, perhaps fear of being together " Yes, Felice, his fiancé.

In 1914, he penned a long fragment of a letter never sent to his parents, a precursor to the infamous "Brief an den Vater" (Letter to Father). In this early version, he begins to lay out his plan to quit his job, leave Prague, and try to support himself through his writing -- something that he never did have the wherewithal to actually attempt.

Lacking Ottla's letters to Franz (that were taken by the Nazis) it is often hard to grasp to what Franz is writing in response. Most of the letters to Ottla are best understood in the context of details of his life, as outlined in the various biographies that have now been published. For this reason and others, this collection of correspondence will chiefly be of interest to Kafka scholars who may use them to seek insights into the life, personality, and psyche of the enigmatic author.
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1 vote danielx | Jan 20, 2019 |
E is for Evidence is not one of Sue Grafton’s best; in fact, I’ve ranked it lower than the other 9 that I have read of the Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mystery series. There are two unrelated plots. In one, she’s been hired by a woman (Irene) to locate her mother (Agnes) who has not been heard from for 6 months. In the other, she’s been targeted by a hitman hired by someone she’d helped to imprison. Kinsey hires a bodyguard (Dietz) to protect her as she searches for Agnes. When found, Agnes is afraid to be brought back home, and goes missing again. Most of the story involves Kinsey trying to locate Agnes and to figure out the family history behind Agnes and Irene (given discrepancies between legal records and a modified birth certificate for Irene).

I found the plot difficult to believe, the characters less than believable, the pacing of the story uneven, and the ending unsatisfying. The hitman has been hired for a mere 1500 dollars. He likes toying with Kinsey (his prospective victim) in a cat and mouse game, and over the course of many days, he periodically appears and shoots towards her and purposely misses. Further, he brings his young son along on his hits. Despite being stalked by a killer, Kinsey is constantly going off on her own, and getting shot at. As for the bod guard, he’s ineffectual, although Kinsey doesn't seem to mind, and in fact finds a use for him in bed. Finally, regarding the family mystery, it all becomes clear in the last couple of pages, when out of nowhere, a minor character (Patrick, who turns out to be Agnes’ brother) also turns out to be a serial killer who has killed his wife Sheila and various other people and buried them in his shed. Agnes is actually Irene’s aunt, and she had taken the young Agnes away when they saw Patrick murder Sheila. The ending is both forced and rushed, and none too credible. One murder would have been plenty, so to have Patrick turn out to be an aging serial killer makes little sense in the context of the story.

This is far from Grafton’s best. I am glad to say that the next novel in the series, H is for Homicide is far better, a 4-star offering in my estimation.
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1 vote danielx | 38 other reviews | Jan 20, 2019 |
I'm torn between a three and a half and a four star -- I'm going for four because for 1977 [Gateway] is a big step forward. He may call men "men" and women "girls" but at least the girls are there and working closely with everyone else as equals. A space explorer discovers, on Venus, tunnels and rockets from an alien culture and is taken to an asteroid (Gateway) filled with more spaceships. Problem is the alien technology is impenetrable to the humans, but the ships can be taken out to preprogrammed sites where treasures can be found and fortunes can be made if you don't die in the process, which many do. Enter Robinette Broadhead, regular dude, from Earth, seeking to make his fortune. He makes that fortune but at a price which, back on Earth he explores with a machine therapist. So much here, the alien treasure meme, still fresh, the machine intelligence, a strong move toward gender equality and neutrality about sexual preferences -- one disturbing episode of violence toward a woman mars the overall experience, when Broadhead, jealous of another man, beats up his girlfriend "because that's what guys do, they can't help it." Uh, impulse control? Should you get to have your fingers on the atom bomb, fellas? Just asking. Then to make things worse, she comes back to him. Bad and worse. Sorry if that is the kind of spoiler that will ruin the book for you -- it stood out as weird against the rest of it.. I will continue the series eventually but not right this minute. ***1/2 (Should be a **** but for the bad biz toward the end.)… (more)
1 vote sibyx | 75 other reviews | Jan 20, 2019 |
I didn't even make it to 100 pages, just a tad over 50. I woke up thinking, "I can't read this book. I don't want to read this book." It isn't fair -- my guess is that the novel is entertaining enough in its own way, capturing the postwar era for French and (some) American intellectuals, drawn to what will evolve into the moderated socialist ideas current in the present-day. Also showing how an educated and intellectual and politically oriented woman would manage (or not). (Almost convincing myself to pick it up again!) Deciding not to read a book is an uncomfortable thing. Often you find yourself surprised and edified in unexpected ways. But not this time.… (more)
1 vote sibyx | 11 other reviews | Jan 20, 2019 |
An intriguing tale of corporate intrigue. Tom Sanders, head of the tech division at a computer firm (Digicom) is expecting to become the new company VP. However, a female employee Meredith Johnson -- who happens to be Tom's former lover -- is being viewed for the same position. When she invites him to her office for a late night meeting -- one with condoms and wine -- he resists her attempt to seduce him. Each of them charges the other with sexual harassment. The company execs believe her story, not his, and Tom has to scramble against the odds to hold onto his job.

Tom turns out to have a recording of the entire episode (through a less-than credible fluke: he makes a phone call to the wrong number just before the "action" starts and accidentally doesn't hang up -- such that it's recorded as a message on the other party's phone). Meredith capitulates, but launches a plan to have Tom fired for incompetence. Tom has to uncover her machinations and manages to expose her in front of the company board.


A few points of note: The technology is laughably dated (but what should we expect for a novel from 1994?). There's much awe over hand-held telephones that can store up to 200 phone numbers. The novel features as a new hi-tech device -- a hand-held CD ROM with a tiny screen (a technology outdated within a few years of this novel). Likewise, there's a virtual reality system through which users can walk around in the file system looking and reading for their file. VR never really took off; it has its uses, but this isn't one of them. Also, there's this new thing called "Internet" that has to be explained to the reader.

Then there's the sociopolitical subtext, which deserves mention given Crichton's well-known conservative politics. Meredith (the villain) has "slept her way to the top" (as we used to say) and in her wake is a long list of men whom she's either harassed or managed to depose in other ways. No doubt, this will appeal to legions of male readers resentful of (what they may see as) women using sex as a weapon...as well as affirmative action policies that benefit female employees. To offset any criticism, Crichton does have another female character (a quiet, competent sort) who is promoted into Meredith's position once she is fired. And then there's the sexual harassment issue. Absent any corroborating evidence, the company execs naturally believe the woman's version over the man's. Come to think of it, perhaps things haven't changed all that much, in that respect at least.

As most readers will know, Disclosurewas turned into a movie, starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore. As a piece of advice: read the book first; otherwise all you'll envision is the movie characters while reading the book.
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1 vote danielx | 46 other reviews | Jan 20, 2019 |
This book was super grim. I read it right before watching the movie. While I do think it is better than the film version (Netflix), I found the primary motivation for taking the journey to be stronger in the film than the book.

That “journey” is a majority of the plot - it bounces back and forth between present-day, with a blindfolded journey down a river, and five years past, when we learn WHY everyone is blindfolded in this book.

It was dark and ominous. This book didn’t make me afraid, per se, but I did lay awake for some time after I finished it just feeling the intense after-effects of the book.
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1 vote underthebookpile | 127 other reviews | Jan 20, 2019 |
Isaac Asimov once wrote a book that started with chapter 6, eventually swinging around to pick up chapters 1-5. This book feels like that -- only minus the backward look to eventually explain what chapter 6 was about.

I know D-Day is one of the most famous events in military history, but everything needs some back story! Why were the Anglo-Americans attacking Normandy in 1944? (Because, until then, the Russians were the ones doing almost all the fighting against the Germans, and the western allies were afraid that either the Russians would give up, leaving Hitler too strong to beat, or would win outright, letting the Soviets take over all of Europe.) How many troops were attacking? (Initially, about the equivalent of four under-strength corps, but with many times more behind them to reinforce if they could capture a beachhead.) Why in Normandy? (Because fighters from Britain could only provide air cover over Normandy and the Pas de Calais, and the Allies didn't want to be too obvious and pick Calais.) Who are all these people -- Rommel and Eisenhower and Bradley and... all of them?

That last is both the strength and the weakness of this book. The vast majority of it is told from the standpoint of the grunts on the beach -- or who didn't make the beach -- getting killed at prodigious rates. It's almost unendurably heart-rending -- companies killed almost to the last man; landing craft being demolished with all the men aboard, men shooting other men because they had no way to hold prisoners. I don't know how many people died in these pages, but it's a lot.

Problem is, there are so many of them that there is no way to tell who they are! Every time you start a new section, you meet someone new private or ordinary seaman or radio operator. Have you read about them before? Maybe you can keep track of dozens or hundreds of teens and twenty-somethings, but I can't remember who they all were. A dramatis personae would really have helped. Or... an editor with a very big red pencil.

And amid all of that, you haven't a clue what's going on. Are the Allies winning? Losing? They're taking casualties like mad, and they aren't reaching their objectives, but no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. It's a good soldier's-eye view, but what an individual soldier sees doesn't really tell us much. Despite failing to make their first-day goals, the Allies did establish a beachhead, which was the only absolutely necessary objective.

You can't really tell this from the book, though. Maybe the maps would help -- but the maps weren't included in my Advance Reader's Edition (I had to dig up a map from an atlas of World War II to help me out. But it couldn't make up for the lack of an index).

And maybe some of the errors will be fixed in the final edition -- presumably almost anyone could spot, for instance, the error on page 5, "two officers, Sergeant Bluff and Corporal King" (sergeants and corporals are not officers), or pp. 74-75, which make a sub-lieutenant senior to a lieutenant. Or p. 166, in which "Spitfires were dive-bombing" -- but Spitfires were fighters; they strafed rather than dive-bombed. Or p. 203, which says that water at 13°C is "freezing" -- 13°C is 55°F, so it's chilly, but it's not even close to freezing (which is why people could stay alive in it for hours, rather than minutes as they would have had it actually been freezing). But will anyone catch the statement on p. 173 calling the HMS Glasgow a heavy cruiser? (She was a light cruiser of the Southampton class.) Or p. 148, "Brigadier General Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt, the only high-ranking general scheduled to land in the first wave" -- brigadier was the lowest rank of general officer. Roosevelt may well have been the senior brigadier to go ashore (most did not land at all, but Teddy, the son of the former president, was a rough-rider kind of guy). Or pp. 266-267, "Lieutenant Colonel Ralph 'Rebel' Ramsey was one of the first [officers]... training USS McCook's guns... [resulting in] infantrymen surrender[ing] to a battleship." But the McCook was a destroyer, not a battleship, and her commander and gunnery officers would have been naval officers, not Lieutenant Colonels! The general trend of the errors seemed to be that Giles Milton limited knowledge of military rank -- a real problem in writing military history.

Ultimately, the Allies won on D-Day because:
1. Despite many failures in detail, they had produced a plan that was pretty good in outline, and they had the technology to pull it off
2. the large majority of German troops were fighting the Soviets, so the Anglo-Americans had the overwhelming edge in available forces in France
3. the German command structure did not allow Rommel, the German field commander, to control his forces properly, meaning that he could not use the two reserve divisions that might have allowed him to push the invaders -- or at least the Americans at Omaha Beach -- into the sea

Very little of that is clear in this book. What came before D-Day isn't clear either. And what came after isn't alluded to very clearly. For someone who really knew World War II at a grand strategic level, this would be a good book, because it is a brutal (almost too brutal) reminder that those men who came ashore and won at Omaha and Utah and Gold Beaches were real men with real families who bled real blood and died real deaths. But I don't think that tells us "How the Allies Won on D-Day." It tells us that war is awful -- something that more generals should remember. It wasn't what I signed up for when I asked for this book, though.
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1 vote waltzmn | 2 other reviews | Jan 20, 2019 |
As a schoolboy, Ben Smith was a victim of relentless and vicious bullying, which affected him so much that he attempted to take his own life twice. Carrying his experiences through to adulthood, he suffered from severe depression and a crushing inability to reveal his true self to others. His saviour was running.

So when Ben wanted to take on a challenge to raise awareness of bullying and also raise money for two anti-bullying charities, it was to running which he turned. The challenge he decided on was to run 401 marathons on 401 consecutive days. Yes, you read that correctly!

Selling his house and all his possessions to fund the project, Ben set out on his odyssey throughout the UK running a marathon every single day. It changed his life, but as news of his challenge grew, it also changed the lives of many others. People would turn out not just to support Ben, but also to run with him – sometimes the whole 26.2 miles, sometimes a portion of it. Several people ran their first ever marathon alongside him.

This books tells the remarkable story of the 401 challenge, and it’s an absorbing and inspirational read. Not so much a running book as a lesson that if you really want to achieve something – and you are prepared to work damned hard at it – you can and will do it. Rather than a day to day retelling, each chapters covers chunks of the time, and as well as Ben’s back story, which is told alongside the story of the marathons, there are contributions from his partner, family, friends and other people who ran with him or were inspired by him. This meant that as a reader we see Ben’s experiences through other people’s eyes, and see just what an effect it had on those around him.

It’s an honest account of the good times, but also the bad times – you simply cannot take on a challenge of that magnitude without it affecting you, and Ben is quite straightforward about the physical, mental and logistical issues which the challenge threw at him and his team. Ultimately though, this is always a story of hope, dedication and a little bit of craziness. Engaging throughout and thoroughly enjoyable whether or not you are a runner.
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1 vote Ruth72 | Jan 20, 2019 |
The Selfish Gene is enough of a classic that it can still be read, understood and enjoyed today. But this follow-up has aged badly. Much of the information is outdated and large sections of the book consist of Dawkins rebuking the rebuttals to the original. This usually takes the form of inflamed ad hominems and meandering logical arguments - the kind of ego trip that Oxbridge intellectuals like to indulge in. I would not recommend this book to a general audience and only in a qualified manner to people interested in biology and evolution.… (more)
1 vote CalamariFritti | 10 other reviews | Jan 20, 2019 |
A pair of stats geeks with a podcast are given the opportunity to run a baseball team to see if they can test the concepts of sabermetrics - the empirical analysis of baseball - in a real world setting. The team they get to try this on is the 2015 Sonoma Stompers who play in the low level independent league, the Pacific Association. They face challenges of having a manager and players go along with their unorthodox suggestions for playing baseball, as well finding talented players to sign to the team, since the Pacific Association doesn't attract the best talent. To surprise of many, the Stompers do very well, dominiating the league in the first half. The authors are honest enough to admit that it wasn't always their ideas that contributed to the overall success. But sucess has its downside as it leads to many of the Stompers' best players getting signed to contracts on teams in better leagues, leaving the Stompers weakened for the second half and postseason. Nevertheless, I did find myself drawn into their account and caring very deeply about how the Stompers would do that season. The book is an interesting case study of putting sabermetrics into action and the real life challenges it may face, as well as just being an interesting baseball story.… (more)
1 vote Othemts | 16 other reviews | Jan 20, 2019 |
More than any other thriller writer I can think of, Lee Child seems determined to stretch himself. The 22 novels in the Jack Reacher series cover a dozen different thriller sub-genres, and at least 3 or 4 count (in my book) as flat-out experiments. Some work better than others, and reasonable people will disagree over which ones are which, but having watched a lot of thriller writers go stale and repetitive (hey there, Jack Higgins!), I give Child all the credit in the world for working to avoid that.

The Midnight Line is absolutely an experiment, and having read it I'm pretty sure I could reverse-engineer the specific challenges that Child set for himself in writing it. That he met those challenges, and produced a good book in the process, speaks volumes about his skill as a writer.

It's hard to say more without giving away parts of the story that shouldn't be given away up front, but here's one example of what I mean:

Virtually the entire story takes place in South Dakota and Wyoming: enormous states with very low population density and road layouts characteristic of much of the Mountain West. In The Midnight Line Child has the characters actually deal with those geographic realities: The tactical implications of enormously long, ruler-straight roads . . . the complexity of interpreting locals' time-and-distance estimates . . . the way you route-plan and navigate in a state that's mostly open space . . . and the welcome-to-the-West reality of 3-hour drives for routine errands.

And damned if he doesn't pull it off. The geometry of Wyoming and South Dakota are, in the end, like a character in the book.

What's even more impressive is that Child has at least four other aspects of the story where he's making himself play (more or less) by real-world rules, with no for-the-sake-of-the-story mulligans . . . and he handles them just as well.

That said, there's a cost: The pacing, the use of violence, and the way Reacher interacts with the problem at hand are all atypical for the series . . . and I can see longtime fans feeling like it plays a bit flat. I don't know that I'd want to read three more like this, but done once, and done well, it was thrilling.
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1 vote ABVR | 47 other reviews | Jan 20, 2019 |
Dr Dick Shepherd is a senior forensic pathologist in the UK, most lately well known for a TV programme in the UK in which he explains the autopsies and hence reasons for death of famous names. Whilst I find the premise of that programme distasteful for using people's deaths to create TV enjoyment, I admit to being wholly hypocritical; when I've happened to switch on in the middle of it from time to time it's been absolutely fascinating.

So too is this book. For starters, it's well written. Shepherd backdrops his professional stories with insights into his personal life, in particular the challenges of leaving the job on the doorstep when he comes home to his family, and the toll that his and his wife's demanding careers took on their marriage. Whilst for some this may be unnecessary mass market fodder, I felt this helped to answer that obvious question of 'how does someone do this as their job every day?'

There wasn't a dull story amongst the many told in this book. Some were murder cases where Shepherd explains how the body held the truth about what had actually happened to cause death (was that person attacked or were those self-inflicted knife wounds? Was that wife really defending her own life or cold bloodily murdering her husband?). Shepherd developed a specialism in stabbing wounds and also in the deaths of prisoners under police or prison restraint, and whilst at first glance these sound like gruesome subject matter, the forensic science was so incredibly interesting I found it compulsive reading.

He was also involved in some terribly sad high profile tragedies, including the Hungerford disaster, the sinking of The Marchioness, the Bali bombing, Stephen Lawrence's murder and the Clapham Rail disaster. Whilst all incredibly sad tales, the perspective of a pathologist in supporting in such incidences was again fascinating, particularly the insights into the difficulties of coping with so many bodies after a major disaster when grieving relatives want quick answers.

Shepherd also increased his notoriety when he was assigned as pathologist on the inquest of the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed. Although he did not perform the original post mortems, he was called in to review the original French post mortem reports which contained some inconsistencies which were feeding mass conspiracy theories.

Does this book capitalise on the sad deaths of many people? Undoubtedly yes. However, in its defence, real names are only used for those deaths which were already public knowledge, and where post mortem details had already usually been made public. I carry a bit of an unhealthy fear of death and get highly stressed at funerals, so I'm trying to educate myself around the topic a little more in hope that knowledge alleviates some of my terror. I knew very little about what happens to bodies after death, and it was interesting to become more informed around this. By using these high profile cases to explain some of his cases, it helped me put into context some of the public outcries that developed after these tragic deaths.

In all, a wholly fascinating read from start to finish. Some of the cases may not be known well outside of the UK, but I don't think that would detract from how interesting the science and pathology challenges are.

4.5 stars - definitely majorly ticks a box as a 'science for the unscientific' read. I'm just taking away half a star as the cover says he's Britain's top forensic pathologist - I get the impression that he's one of a number of senior pathologists, but that was probably his publisher more than him.
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1 vote AlisonY | Jan 20, 2019 |

Recent Firsts

"First" are first reviews for previously-unreviewed works.

Imaginative story perfect for Halloween. Riding on the "Ghoul Bus"
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  northerniowadave | Jan 20, 2019 |
Marlene Dumas' work is widely admired for its emotionally-charged portrayal of the human figure and its potent combination of drama, humor and sexuality. Born in South Africa in 1953 and based in Amsterdam, Dumas is a highly-skilled 'painter's painter'; her work comments on the state of painting today while asking what it means to be a woman working within the predominantly male genre of Expressionist art. Dumas' work is collected and exhibited internationally, and since the publication of the first edition of this book, her following has continued to grow. This revised edition, with a new essay by Ilaria Bonacossa and new writings by Dumas, has been expanded by 80 pages to include the artist's most recent work.… (more)
  petervanbeveren | Jan 21, 2019 |
Don't let the title fool you - NO santa in this book.
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  choubetcha | Jan 20, 2019 |
In other works Greer has explained that there are three major theories of magic: or types of magic, if you will. Natural magic, as described in this work, is based on the idea that the universe is permeated by energies that are mutually dependent. Everything is spiritually connected and the magician tests, compiles and used knowledge of these connections to perform magical work. Planting by the signs, for example, relies on the connection of the moon with the life energies on earth and the manifestations of other energies in the astrological signs. The simplest form of moon magic is to work for increase during a waxing moon and for decrease during a waning one. So you would plant wheat or leafy vegetables when the moon is waxing, root vegetables such as carrots or potatoes when it is waning. An almanac will contain more detailed advice based on the sign the moon is in, with some days good for castrating livestock, others good for painting or for cutting hay.

A second form of magic is based on obtaining power or favor from supernatural beings. This is the classic figure of the magician safely within a circle guarded by sacred names and signs, invoking a spirit to do his or her will. Faust is our cultural type of this magician and there are many grimoires that describe the methods.

A third type of magic is probably more familiar to most modern readers on the subject. However according to Greer it really got its start in the work of Eliphas Levi and relies on the focus of the magician's will. The world is still seen as containing energies and spiritual powers, but the magician is part of the powers, not a mere technician working with them.

Natural Magic has been neglected as a systematic study. Many books of spells, magical oils, etc. rely on the methods of natural magic, but few explain the principles or prepare the magician to construct their own workings from basic principles as this work does. I recommend it to anyone interested in magic, and certainly for witches and Wiccans of all types. It includes a guide to natural substances and their magical properties, a guide to making amulets, potions, incense, etc. a guide to growing and using herbs and a basic introduction to plant alchemy.

I would consider this a must have for any coven library and only wish it had been available years earlier.
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  ritaer | Jan 20, 2019 |
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Tortured Princess
Series: Shaman King #14
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy

Synopsis:


Joco's back story continues. His new master, Olona, wants to make the world a better place through laughter and comedy. But Joco's old gang doesn't want to let him go and beats up Olona. Since Joco now controls Mic the Jaguar, Olona is defenseless. Olona tells Joco that he has an incurable disease and that he would rather die at the hands of the gang members than see Joco resort to violence and death to save him. The gang kills Olona and the story reverts back to the present.

Joco shows a new move against Tecolote and immobilizes all his bone dolls with terrible jokes. He uses up his mana but gives Ren the opening he needs to move against Tecolote. He and Bason, his spirit ally, blow Tecolote away with one smashing blow and everyone see's that Ren's mana has increased exponentially. Hao, who is watching, comments that maybe it will be worthwhile to recruit Ren later on.

We get a cut scene of Lyserg, now one of the X-Laws, along with Marco the nominal leader of the X-Laws, unloading an Iron Maiden encased in chains.

The next Shaman fight starts, between one of the X-Law sub-groups, X-1 and Team Nile, an Egyptian themed group. Lyserg is now part of X-1 and takes on the challenge of fighting Team Nile all by himself. Marco and the Iron Maiden step aside and leave everything to Lyserg. Ryu is crushed that Lyserg has joined the X-Laws but Our Gang is cheering him on anyway. However, Lyserg has fully drunk the X-Law kool-aid and threatens to kill Team Nile. They refuse to surrender and continue the fight. Lyserg can't bring himself to kill them and so Marco and Jeanne, the Iron Maiden step in. Jeanne unleashes her power and eventually kills each member of Team Nile as punishment for not surrendering to her.

The volume ends with Yoh realizing that an X-Law member as the Shaman King will result in an age of tyranny and blood and he vows that he will become the Shaman King to stop such a thing from happening.

My Thoughts:

Yeah! I like fighting and I get it in spades here. Thankfully, the manga-ka leavens the action scenes with humor, so things haven't descended into dark, gloomy angst. For instance, when Iron Maiden Jeanne comes out of the iron maiden, both Ryu and Yoh exclaim “she's hot!” and the picture shows Anna putting her hand over Yoh's eyes. I'd definitely include that scene here but the digital version I'm reading is a pdf and I don't know how to extract a particular image from a pdf.

Between Marco and Jeanne, we get a pretty good idea of just what the X-Laws intend. A world of Law without mercy and death as the final sentence for any infraction. It is very harsh and unforgiving. Unfortunately, the manga-ka takes the cheap and easy route and portrays them as simply Hao-lite because their Justice ends in death. The thing is, Justice is about death. Only when Justice is paired with Mercy can death be avoided. There is just lots to go into with all of that and just like his handling of the “great spirit” philosophy, Takei neatly sidesteps any deeper thoughts to paint the X-Laws as no better than Hao. Sigh...

Thankfully, while talking about that took up a whole paragraph in this review, it doesn't play nearly so big a part in this volume and now that Takei's gotten it out of his system, I'm hoping we won't see a repeat of this particular shallow philosophy. I do expect to get lots of philosophy-lite as each new group appears though.

This was a good ending place for the month, as a battle is concluded and no other one has started. I'm thinking I'll try to find a good ending volume each month to conclude on, as long as it doesn't run over 5 volumes.

★★★★☆… (more)
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  BookstoogeLT | Jan 21, 2019 |
Reading this book is like listening to a community of people who have come together to share their most touching life moments. Some of the transformative stories are showing the ways we touch each other’s lives. Others are showing how we can learn, grow and live differently. Most of the stories are relaxing, and some bring smiles to your face. While others make you think deeply. Some of the inspiring stories are about what we learn in life, others are what we learn after a loved one's death and how we choose to live through grief. There is much to be discovered by hearing another’s thoughts on their life’s choices, journey’s and trials. I feel blessed to have been able to listen and learn from these great writers. I think everyone who loves goodness and encouraging stories would enjoy reading this book. Total listening time for the audiobook is about 12 hours.… (more)
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  cmelitawebb | Jan 21, 2019 |
Animals--Fiction. Food--Fiction. Stories in rhyme.
  brudder | Jan 20, 2019 |
I downloaded this free ebook a couple of years ago and ended up reading it now in the interests of getting my TBR stack down a bit. As I'm not a beginning any more, this book didn't really offer me anything I didn't already know or at least wasn't already aware of. Various sections also felt a bit old-fashioned in terms of the workplaces I've been a technical writer in—this book was originally published in 2009, after all. That said, some of the basic advice still seemed sound.… (more)
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  queen_ypolita | Jan 20, 2019 |
I like this book for the pictograms that help you remember the various kanji, and that it's a kind of companion to the Genki textbook series. My complaint would be that the chapters here don't exactly line up with the kanji chapters in that text. You'd think the authors would eliminate all the overlap and make some kind of plan to cover as many kanji as possible between this book and the two Genki books' vocabulary lists, but I guess they really wanted this one to be stand alone...… (more)
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  shinobipopcorn | Jan 21, 2019 |
Ghosts--Fiction. Robbers and outlaws--Fiction. West (U.S.)--Fiction.
  brudder | Jan 21, 2019 |
Richard "Beast" Best (Fictitious character). , who absolutely hates the March (month of)--Fiction. Class writing assignments-Fiction. Schools--fiction.
  brudder | Jan 20, 2019 |
Well-illustrated and well-researched history of domestic customs and homes in New England from a bit before the Revolution to the eve of the Civil War. Includes a full chapter on New England Thanksgiving.
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  auntieknickers | Jan 20, 2019 |
Schools--Fiction. Interpersonal relations--Fiction.
  brudder | Jan 21, 2019 |
Fear--Fiction. Schools--Fiction.
  brudder | Jan 20, 2019 |
The most comprehensive collection to date of the artist Bruce Nauman's writings plus all of his major interviews from 1965 to 2001.

Since the 1960s, the artist Bruce Nauman has developed a highly complex and pluralistic oeuvre ranging from discrete sculpture, performance, film, video, and text-based works to elaborate multipart installations incorporating sound, video recording and monitors, and architectural structures. Nauman's work is often interpreted in terms of movements and mediums, including performance, postminimalism, process, and conceptual art, thereby emphasizing its apparent eclecticism. But what is often overlooked is that underlying these seemingly disparate artistic tendencies are conceptual continuities, one of which is an investigation of the nature of language.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Nauman has refrained from participating in the critical discourse surrounding his own work. He has given relatively few interviews over the course of his career and has little to do with the art press or critical establishment. Indeed, he granted Janet Kraynak and The MIT Press almost complete autonomy in the preparation of this volume. In contrast to Nauman's reputation for silence, however, from the beginning of his career, the incorporation of language has been a central feature of his art. This collection takes as its starting point the seeming paradox of an artist of so few words who produces an art of so many words.

Please Pay Attention Please contains all of Nauman's major interviews from 1965 to 2001, as well as a comprehensive body of his writings, including instructions and proposal texts, dialogues transcribed from audio-video works, and prose texts written specifically for installation sculptures. Where relevant, the texts are accompanied by illustrations of the artworks for which they were composed. In the critical essay that serves as the book's introduction, the editor investigates Nauman's art in relation to the linguistic turn in art practices of the 1960s—understanding language through the speech act—and its legacy in contemporary art.
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  petervanbeveren | Jan 21, 2019 |
In her expressionistic drawings and paintings of the last three decades, acclaimed South African artist Marlene Dumas has focused on the human figure, probing themes of love, desire, despair and confusion in order to slyly critique social and political attitudes toward women, children, people of color and others who have historically been victimized. From her evocative portraits, based on photographs of friends and family as well as figures culled from printed pornography, to her large-scale images highlighting charged relationships within groups, Dumas' work explores the contradictions behind the physical reality of the body, merging acute social commentary with personal experience and art-historical antecedent to create unsettling and ambiguous psychological statements.
Accompanying Dumas' first major mid-career survey in the U.S., with stops in three major American cities, (one yet to be announced) this substantial, fully-illustrated publication features a newly commissioned essay by renowned scholar Richard Shiff, placing the artist's work in relation to both American figurative painting since the 1980s and Abstract Expressionism. The book also includes curator Cornelia H. Butler's examination of Dumas' photographic sources and shorter texts by Lisa Gabrielle Mark and Matthew Monahan. Writings by the artist, as well as an extensive illustrated exhibition history and bibliography, complete this comprehensive examination of the work of one of the most thought-provoking artists working today.
Born in Capetown, South Africa, in 1953, Marlene Dumas has lived in Amsterdam since 1976. Over the last three decades she has had numerous solo exhibitions throughout Europe and the U.S., including the Tate Gallery, London; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. In 1995 she represented The Netherlands at the 46th Venice Biennale
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  petervanbeveren | Jan 21, 2019 |
"Even when I am no longer here on earth, I live within you … I will always be a part of you … A mother's love does not have to die … It can live on ..... " Walter Anderson

This was a beautiful read. I got the book for a friend and ended up reading it myself. So glad I did!
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  Carole888 | Jan 19, 2019 |
Rocks--Fiction. Artists--Fiction.
  brudder | Jan 20, 2019 |
Offers a close-up view of shoreline ecosystems, with clear, black-and-white illustrations. Reading level is 5-8th grades with a great deal of information on each page. A glossary is at the back of the book. The book introduces the reader to many marine creatures, both familiar and less well known.
  uufnn | Jan 19, 2019 |
Illustrations are colorful and clearly show the animal or scientific principle being discussed. The quizzes are geared toward the information given or to the reader's previous knowledge. such subjects as moving, floating. and flying, sound, light, evolution, and the balance of nature are explored. Would be interesting to almost any age person! Reference: Title page Table of Contents
  uufnn | Jan 19, 2019 |
Somewhat informative book on the tragedy of professional women who aim high in their careers but end up losing some of themselves once the desire for children or a family appears. The short window of fertility forces the career woman to look at multiple options for child bearing. A job/position that allows you to pursue both a career and a family are the obvious choice for modern American women. How many can actually achieve this blissful state? The author leaves it up to the individual woman to find the best place to possess her specific wish list. Resistence to working mothers, Hewlett says, is said to be most often found among conservative ideologues who would prefer not to have the government involved in the private life of said conservatives. The author believes that government intervention will be necesary to make possible careerists who also opt for married family life.… (more)
  sacredheart25 | Jan 19, 2019 |
This is a journey of discovery through the world of plants and animals.It will tell about the world we live in, traveling further into space and beyond. Each page has a thumb guide of what each page contains. Activities, questions, and ideas are included with each subject area.
  uufnn | Jan 19, 2019 |
Victory Hop Devil, p.102; near spot on.
Stille Nacht, p.42; very good clone, aged beautifully.
Old Rasputin, p.111; very good clone.
Fullers London Porter, p.115; a bit darker and a bit more bitter; very good porter.
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  DromJohn | Jan 20, 2019 |
Hydrologic cycle--Juvenile literature.
  brudder | Jan 21, 2019 |
Hearing Dr. McHugh's opinions is always an interesting experience and he is a very good writer. I thought some of Try To Remember was more eloquent, especially the end, but it is still a very good book
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  Lorem | Jan 20, 2019 |
In a lakeside scene, a man leans on a graphic of an arrow as if it were a rake handle in the garden; tentacles rise from the shoreline and rectangular speech bubbles hang empty in the yellow sky. In a Dali-esque interior, the corner of a comforter drips off a bed. This major new overview of the work of the Leipzig painter Neo Rauch makes, once again, the case that he is one of the most important artists of his generation. He remains committed to putting brush on canvas in an age when digital media are gaining ground, and among a crowd of similarly dedicated colleagues, he stands out at the forefront. While his work of the 1980s was influenced by Expressionism, his more recent portfolio revels in a new take on Socialist Realism, clearly shaped by the experience of growing up in the former East Germany. Rauch riffs on the once-mandated styles of his youth and on western abstraction from the second half of the twentieth century, all in coloration and figuration that directly allude to the Socialist past. Between cartoon styling and historic technique, he has found a distinctive style, palette and concept. These dreamlike sequences feel both timeless and deeply rooted: Rauch gathers figures from the past in surreal landscapes and interiors to tell enigmatic stories about the present.… (more)
  petervanbeveren | Jan 21, 2019 |
Mummies--Juvenile fiction. Museums--Fiction. Mummies--Fiction. Humorous stories.
  brudder | Jan 20, 2019 |
Eyeglasses--Fiction.
  brudder | Jan 20, 2019 |
The massive political, economic, and social changes China has undergone during the past decade have dramatically altered its cultural landscape.

The exhibition Between Past and Future and its catalogue offer the first comprehensive look at the body of photographic art produced during this period. Often ambitious in scale and experimental in nature, the works encompass a wide range of highly individual responses to these unprecedented transformations.

AUTHORS
Wu Hung and Christopher Phillips with artist interviews by Melissa Chiu, Lisa Corrin, and Stephanie Smith

PUBLICATION DATE
June 2004
DESCRIPTION
Hardcover, 224 pages, 75 color plates, 40 halftone illustrations
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  petervanbeveren | Jan 21, 2019 |
Very interesting book which I as a female to male transsexual can certainly relate to. While there is women's liberation, men have not been able to go through a similar phase. This book covers things like how men are not free to express all their emotions, how they cannot touch other men (homophobia), and covers issues like impotence and how they cannot show fear, sadness, or tears. It is certainly something that if one is interested in gender studies, it would be important to read.… (more)
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  melsmarsh | Jan 19, 2019 |
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