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Recent Reviews | More Review Fun

Some Recent Hot Reviews

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

How To Be Safe starts with a school shooting, but it's not really about that. Well, it is and it isn't. It's about violence - school violence obvously, political violence and terrorism, domestic violence, violence against women, mob violence, gun violence, and the mental violence of societal insecurity and uncertainty.

McAllister's anti-hero is Anna, a not-quite-stable high school teacher with a lot of family and childhood baggage, who watches her town react to a shooting at a local school. We live inside Anna's head as she tries to make sense of what is going on around her, as she sometimes contributes to the chaos, and contemplates what it takes to be safe in the world.

I loved this novel and inhaled it in two days. It could easily be read in one. It's dark and acerbic and visceral, and I found myself shocked a few times to remember it was written by a man. I kept picturing the author angrily pounding away on her laptop, pouring out her rage and fear and frustration. That is was written by a man is startling to me, to be honest. But I think it's important that it was, as a reminder that there are men who may not be able to live the experience of being a woman at a dangerous time, but who can empathize and try to find that voice inside themselves.

I marked lots of passages - McAllister's writing is brutal and raw but also sometimes darkly funny.

After being accosted by a man on the street offering her money to take her photograph and getting angry when she refused: "Women do not own thier bodies. Men take pictures of us when we are not looking. They surreptitiously record videos of our legs on the bus and load them to the internet, where other men can stare at our legs and masturbate. We wore a dress that day because it was hot outside, because it made us feel good about ourselves, because we had a date, because we felt entitled to dress however we liked. They gather in groups on corners and follow us home with their eyes. They leave the residue of their vision on our bodies. They tell us they love women because they love their mother and their sister and their daughter." (p. 84)

On mass shootings: "Before the blood dries and clots, there's another one to report. Somewhere right now there is a boy acquiring a gun. There is a boy writing a manifesto. There is a man, angry at having been forgotten, at having been passed over, at finding out what life really is, loading his gun. There is a man fortifying his home and preparing for war. Listen and you can hear the hammers being cocked." (p. 121)

Referring to an exchange with members of a local apocalyptic sect building a bunker in the woods: "They said they had a master carpenter building out the walls now. I did not envy her job. To be a carpenter for a Christian church is a significant burden, considering the lineage." (p. 208)

5 stars
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7 vote katiekrug | 7 other reviews | Oct 13, 2018 |
Horse Under Water was Deighton's second novel and a sequel to his first, The Ipcress File. It continues with the same unnamed protagonist, told in his droll, often circumspect voice, singling out relevant details and allowing the reader to stitch the picture together. The plot involves a great deal of "frogman" action, largely off the coast of Portugal. But there is also intrigue in London, with a fair amount of travel back and forth. Chapters are short, often just one or two pages, and their titles all have the flavor of crossword clues, consistent with the obscurity of the facts as the man from W.O.O.C.(P) tries to discover the real narrative behind the malefactors he encounters.

Baix of the (Marrakech) Sûreté Nationale ...: "In any narcotics investigation we are most enthusiastic that the criminal is apprehensive."

"I know what you mean," I said.
(211)
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3 vote paradoxosalpha | 7 other reviews | Oct 14, 2018 |
This book was written around 2005, during the first term of G. W. Bush. Lerner was close to the Clintons briefly and saw how far short of the bright promises Bill Clinton fell. The Christian Right gives people some kind of spiritual sustenance that they can't get from the Democrats. Lerner wants to inspire a spiritual Left wing. The cornerstone of the book is a contrast between a spirituality based on fear and domination which is allied with the political Right, versus a spirituality based on hope and generosity which could become allied with the political Left if Lerner's vision came to fruition.

One big challenge with his vision is that the Left is aligned with science and opposed to religion, surely since the French Revolution at least. Lerner addresses this difficulty explicitly, contrasting science with scientism. Scientism holds that science is all-encompassing, i.e. if an idea is not scientific it cannot be valid, hence religion is invalid.

Lerner takes himself rather seriously - he's the editor of a magazine with significant circulation and hey he rubbed shoulders with a president. But in this book he has laid out a rather extensive vision. The extensiveness is probably intended to make the whole thing seem very realistic. He tries to cut any criticism off at the pass: anybody who calls his vision unrealistic must be cynical. My first criticism of the book would be that since it is broader than it is deep, it gets kinda boring. Probably some of that it is just that the book is a snapshot of a time that by now seems almost quaint.

I am a fan of Chris Hedges. It'd be grand to hear what Hedges would have to say about this book. Hedges is a Christian minister, so he wouldn't have anything negative to say about the importance of spirituality or religion. But Hedges points out that the Christian Right is really not Christian at all. I just watched a splendid interview where Hedges calls what the Christian Right is peddling a form of magical thinking. The megachurch ministers are cut from the same cloth as Trump. Maybe people are hungry for spiritual nourishment but really most people are in pretty desperate situations, with debt, imprisonment, drug addiction, domestic abuse, etc. etc. They are praying to be rescued from the traps they're caught in.

I have no idea what kind of position vision Hedges has, if any. Lerner gives us a reasonably comprehensive plan in this book. I think he is pretty far off target. He wants to remake the world to be filled with love and peace etc. That sounds nice! But the basic plan is to get the government to pour a lot of money into making the world more loving and peaceful and to make laws against hate and violence and to establish various committees to make sure all the facets of society head toward love and not hate. OK probably I am being a bit cynical but really - Lerner talks a lot about a new bottom line. Myself, I think the whole bottom line business is a lot of the problem. A focus on whatever bottom line is what enables prioritizing the end over the means, a famous source of trouble. Lerner does sprinkle in some encouragement to be careful about the means, too. That's part of the problem with the book's breadth. It's kind of a list of all good things. Why can we just make the world a good place, abolish war etc.? If we all just believe in it, can't we do it?

Myself, I think a lot of what we need is relocalization, physical as well as intellectual. People would get to know their neighbors if they were stuck living with their neighbors. Our communication and transportation networks enable us to live disconnected from any actual place or people, and hand us over to centralized systems that concentrate power and channel it to tiny elites.

I like bicycles and fountain pens, pinnacles of 19th Century technology. Stick with transportation and communication that keeps you really rooted. Hey, give it a try!
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2 vote kukulaj | Oct 19, 2018 |
Elias Canetti was a philosopher whose non-fiction work won him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1981; auto-da-fe is in fact his only work of fiction. I decided to read it out of curiosity following a visit to Ruse in Bulgaria, where Canetti was born, and reading about him in Claudio Magris’ Danube, in which he describes auto-da-fe as “one of the great books of the century, his only truly great book.” It was written – and is set - in Vienna during the inter-war years, but that is irrelevant; it is both timeless and universal.

Canetti’s novel deals with the world that we all create in our minds, and how everything that happens – or should happen – is filtered through this world view. Taking this to its logical – and extreme – conclusion, Canetti’s protagonists are the central figures and righteous heroes of their worlds, in which all their actions are totally justifiable and moral, irrespective of the consequences of those actions, whether – as in the case of the central character, Peter Kien - they are self-destructive, or whether destructive of other people.

Peter Kien is an obsessive misanthrope who lives with and for books – primarily his own library of books on ancient Chinese literature, a subject on which - the reader is led to believe - he is the most eminent and acclaimed authority in the world. He loves books more than anything else, and - to the extent that other people impinge at all on him - he judges them purely on the basis of their relationship to books. Thus it is that, mistakenly interpreting the behavior of his housekeeper as evidence of a love and reverence for books – she wears gloves to dust them in order to keep her hands clean – he impulsively decides to marry her; this is the beginning of his downfall.

The housekeeper, Therese, is equally obsessed, but her obsession is money – her lack of it throughout the whole of her life. In her own eyes, she is a women of extraordinary virtue, which makes her lack of financial security even more unjustifiable. The symbol of her virtue is the long starched blue skirt that she always wears; for her new husband the skirt will become the symbol of all that is evil. The lack of affection shown to her by Kien – he expects nothing at all to change in their relationship; he had married her purely as a reward for her imagined esteem for books – soon leads Therese to see him as the major obstacle to her security. She begins to demand changes in their living arrangements – in the rooms that are “her’s” and in the furnishing of the apartment – which Kien, in order to escape her intrusions into his inner world, accedes to. Her goal in life becomes getting hold of his money; she skims the housekeeping money all the time and banks it, but that is not enough; she makes sure that she is named in his will, but – waiting for him to die is too remote a consummation - eventually resorts to physical violence in order to gain access to his bank account – all totally justifiable in her eyes.

Kien escapes from Therese physically – although, by this time, she has become an indelible part of his mental furniture – when she throws him out of his apartment. He starts living in hotel rooms, having taken his beloved library with him – in his head. Each night, he carefully “unloads” each volume and stacks it carefully with all the others on the floor on paper that he carries with him in his valise. He spends his days visiting book shops where he enquires about books that he already owns and which we – and the bookshop owners – understand that he is never going to buy. He had finally understood that Therese was after his money, and – in order to thwart her – he has emptied his bank account and carries the cash around with him.

Kien encounters a humpbacked dwarf, Fischerle, who lives on the fringes of the criminal underworld and who becomes his living companion and “servant”. Fischerle is obsessed with chess – he plays it all the time in his head against himself – and knows that – if only he can get to America – he will become the world chess champion. He sees in Kien his ticket to America, and devises a scam to exploit Kien’s obsession with books in order to get hold of his money. The dwarf had his hands on Kien’s money a number of times, and could have just stolen it, but – whether out of a warped sense of integrity or fear of getting entangled with the law – he has to do it “legitimately”. He recruits three of his acquaintances in order help him with his scheme. Thus we meet another group of characters each with their own obsessions; the newspaper seller who for some reason adores Fischerle and will do anything for him, even though he despises her; the beggar who poses as a blind man - and who hates buttons, because he has to maintain his disguise and thank people even when they put buttons instead of coins in his bowl - and who dreams of nothing but a world of women whom he can possess; the insomniac salesman who becomes convinced that Fischerle and Kien are dealing in drugs that will give him the sleep he craves. There are many other characters, whose inner worlds - and how these shape their actions - we get a glimpse of. We also see the joint delusions that groups of people and mobs can create, and how easily group think and group action can result from and be justified by very diverse individual delusions.

When Fischerle’s scheme – and Fischerle himself – comes to an end, Kien becomes convinced that Therese has starved to death, as a result of him locking her up in the apartment, but knows that at his trial for her murder he will be totally vindicated and found innocent. Even when she shows up, he refuses to believe that she is more than a figment of his imagination. Kien ends up in the custody of the caretaker of his apartment – a vile character for whom physical violence is both and end and a means – and who involves him in his obsession with spying on people.

Eventually, Peter’s brother George, who is a very successful gynacologist- turned-psychologist in Paris, gets to hears of his brother’s plight and comes to Vienna to help him. George too has his own obsessions; he admires the minds of insane people so much that he feels guilty when he successfully treats them. He rescues his brother from the clutches of the caretaker and via his skill at communicating with the insane, gets to understand that Therese is the root of Peter’s problems. George charms Therese - he became a psychologist to escape the attentions of women, who find him irresistible - out of his brother’s apartment; he reinstalls him there, arranges to support him financially, and returns to Paris, with a sense of satisfaction at having – for the first time in their lives – communicated with his brother, who is by now totally detached from reality.

The totality of the obsession of each protagonist leaves no room for any insight into the minds of others, making each of them vulnerable to becoming instruments of the others’ obsessions; Kien – serially - to Therese, the dwarf, the caretaker, and ultimately his brother; after throwing out her husband, Therese soon succumbs to the violence of the caretaker; the dwarf can only influence the world by the deviousness of his chessboard-honed wits, and eventually becomes a victim of the type of direct action that he is too small and weak to even think of using. Even George, who knows only how to be charming – whether it be with women or the insane – is a slave to both.

There is nothing redeeming in this novel; in vain you keep hoping for a “happy ending” or someone who seems to live in this world, rather than the one inside their head. It is a caricature – but not an unrealistic one - of what it is to be human. It is also a remarkable work of imagination.
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2 vote maimonedes | 25 other reviews | Oct 16, 2018 |
Geoffrey Chaucer wrote (although he did not finish) a Treatise on the Astrolabe. He gave an interesting chemical demonstration (which has been shown to work) in The Canon's Yeoman's Tale. He discusses physics -- some of it valid, some of it wrong but the best that could be known at the time -- in the House of Fame. In other words, Chaucer was, by the standards of the fourteenth century, quite knowledgeable about science. There is broad scope for a book about science in Chaucer.

This ain't it.

This is, instead, a meticulously argued, thoroughly dull, profoundly absurd discussion of Chaucer and astrology.

Look, I know that people in the Middle Ages believed in astrology. Many people today still believe that evolution and climate change are hoaxes, and apparently all politicians, regardless of party, sign a contract to refuse to accept that the universe is governed by the laws of thermodynamics. But not everyone is fooled by this, and no matter what people believe, eppur si muove.

I simply cannot believe that the Canterbury Tales (which is all this book really covers, except for brief side glances at Troilus and Criseyde and Anelida and Arcite at the end) was constructed the way this book describes. Chaucer was creating characters, not animated horoscopes. If all it took to make a great piece of literature was an in-depth knowledge of astrology, there would be a lot more great literature in the world.

To be fair, author Walter Clyde Curry acknowledges Chaucer's use of Boethius as a philosopher. But I think he ignores Boethius as encyclopedist.

Obviously I am operating on an assumption here: I believe that astrology is garbage. I also believe that Chaucer was a great writer. Therefore I don't want the two to mix. But I simply don't believe Curry's detailed special pleading really does anything to prove the connection is as strong as the author claims. And, certainly, there is no science in this book. Not modern science -- and not medieval science, either. Curry -- who never covers the Treatise, the House of Fame, or the Canon's Yeoman's Tale -- evidently left those out because they were actually about science.
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2 vote waltzmn | Oct 15, 2018 |
When Robert B. Parker died in 2010, his estate sought to keep his book series going by hiring a string of second- and third- rate writers. The Jesse Stone series fell to Michael Brandman, who barely managed to keep it on life support for three books (2011- 2013). In 2014, the series was farmed out to Reed Coleman. Blind Spot is his first Jesse Stone attempt.

Blind Spot bears no resemblance whatsoever to the writing of Robert B. Parker. In place of snappy dialogue, we have awkward prose; and in place of fast action, we get verbose, clumsy descriptions. There’s more sex than in all of Parker’s novels put together; and profanity (which Parker eschewed) abounds.

The continuing characters are unrecognizable, not only Jesse himself, but the supporting characters of Molly Crane and Suitcase Simpson – the latter of whom barely makes an appearance. Jesse (a recovered alcoholic in Parker’s series) now drinks Black Label to excess. In contrast to Parker’s taciturn Jesse, he’s now verbose, with none of the wit. And instead of mooning about over his ex-wide Jenn (as he did to a tiresome degree in Parker’s novels) now constantly mopes around about how an injury kept him from a career in major league baseball. Over and over we get scenes of how he sits and broods, repeatedly throwing a baseball from one hand into the other. In Coleman’s version, Jesse is a pathetic, self- pitying lush. Little wonder that his assistant Molly treats him with disdain. Many a reader probably wants to slap him silly.

Aside from its failure as continuation of Parker’s series, Blind Spot is just plain bad writing. The plot is convoluted, and few readers will care through its 338 pages who has done what to whom. Character dialogue is replaced with long pointless descriptions and irrelevant commentary. Further, each of male leads has either had sexual relations with each of the four or so promiscuous women, or wants to. Everyone’s cheating on everyone with someone, or used to have a sexual relationship with someone, or wanted to, with all the attendant subterfuge and jealousies. The sex scenes are excruciating. For example, Ben Salter is about to have sex with Martina.

She swayed while she unhinged the silvery silken bra. She swung it over her head and threw it at him. He snatched her bra out of the air, took in her scent, and stared at her pert breasts. Her nipples were red, erect, perfect, and he said so. (p. 5) Try to imagine a young Lothario seducing his girlfriend with the line “Your nipples are red, erect, and perfect.” Good luck with that.

The action scenes are also badly written. He took a deep breath and opened the door. Though Jesse was slow to react to the punch out of confusion at seeing Vic Prado on the other side of his threshold, he jerked his head quickly enough to the left so that Vic’s haymaker didn’t connect squarely. Instead it was more of a glancing blow to Jesse’s right cheek. (p 185). The awkward description reads less like exciting action than a movie choreography.

Here’s an inner dialogue of Joe Breen, the hitman. He had always hated that expression about pinching yourself to make sure you weren’t dreaming. He hated it because he couldn’t understand the concept. His life could never be confused with a dream. And though he hadn’t pinched himself yet, he was tempted. (p 247). and on the same page, the vicious assassin ruminates: When the dead hit a hard surface, they made a sound like no other, for they were completely at the sway of gravity (sic). They did not tense to self-protect. There was always that hollow thud. And no thud had gutted him like the sound the girl’s body had made. He had never wanted redemption before. He had never wanted forgiveness. Now he thought there would be no moving forward without it. (p 247).

Parker was at his laziest in the Jesse Stone novels but they were saved to a degree by witty dialogue, fast paced action, and the occasional interesting character. Blind Spot is a weak attempt to continue the series, and it does not succeed. It is no better than mediocre and amateurish, and without Parker's name to carry it, it surely would never have been published.
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2 vote danielx | 15 other reviews | Oct 14, 2018 |
A solid YA, in the science fantasy vein, i.e., mixing a tiny bit of SF in the form of some of Peace Bombing that occurred when nuclear war broke out, leading to an interdimensional breakdown, but most of the story is magic-based. The setting is a radically changed Nigeria. It's clear the rest of the world has changed too, but the meat of the story and the future of Earth occurs here. Half a star just for that. The primary character is a female shadow speaker, who can hear voices from somewhere, though exactly what the shadows are (the dead? aliens) is never clear. It's claimed that they never lie, but they certainly are not consistent in their advice. That ambiguity occurs everywhere in the book, and is the strongest element, IMO. The main character is engaging and learning to be strong. The storyline is in part a quest -- called a walkabout but there's too much of a destination for that. Those elements struck me as average for YA. The plot resolution was well done, as was the anticlimax.

I had hoped for more of a breakout book, but still recommended,
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2 vote ChrisRiesbeck | 14 other reviews | Oct 14, 2018 |
Me lo recomendaron por aquí y la verdad no esperaba mucho, sin embargo la historia es simple y me comprometí enseguida con ella.
Tiene elementos que te enganchan muy rápido y los desenlaces son muy buenos porque te lleva hacia un lado y otro y cuando queréis acordar los personajes principales se van cayendo uno a uno.
Muy buena lectura.
2 vote dani125476 | 9 other reviews | Apr 3, 2018 |
A great book! I deserve a dreaded blue flag (or something) for trying to review an audio abridgement, but I definitively enjoyed this account of an amazing genius with some typical human weaknesses. The political conflicts within his immediate family (son, grandson) were expected and well, shocking to read, nonetheless. Highly recommended.
1 vote Sandydog1 | 56 other reviews | Oct 19, 2018 |
Very disappointing look at the life of Catullus. The author fills in imaginative gaps in our knowledge of him. We know very little in truth. The story begins with him as a teenager. He was born with his mother dying in childbirth; he is born with a birthmark covering most of his face. His father hates him because of his mother's death. As a teenager, he, his brother, and best friend Rufus enter a tavern and play dice with a stranger, gambling money, which is illegal. An official comes in, raids the place, and takes away his brother and the stranger. Apparently, the two strangers are crooks--one a con-man and the other just disguised as an aedile--and kill the brother. Catullus had gone outside so he wasn't picked up. I had a question--why wasn't Rufus taken away? His father imprisons him in his room in utter darkness for six weeks then he is told to leave and not come back. Another question: since he couldn't read and there was no light, how could he write poetry; did he supposedly do everything in his head and remember everything? Catullus, Rufus, and another boy who meets them, Calvus, go to Alexandria [instead of Rhodes where they were to attend a school for rhetoric in preparation for becoming lawyers]. Catullus wants to find the "perfect poem." No success there, so he goes to Rome and meets Clodia/Lesbia with whom he falls in love and to whom he writes poetry, among writing mocking verses on famous figures of the time. There is given some of his life in Rome. There he joins a group of poets; he feels poetry should express personal emotion, not the stories of long-ago heroes. Any mention of the affair is only through what he tells Calvus, the narrator of the novel. I got no flavor of the affair. Anything else he tells Calvus, Calvus brings in a similar personal experience. There were many "infodumps". Finally, apparently Catullus has written his perfect poem with his "I hate and I love" poem, to "Lesbia". There he really expresses his feelings where he is torn in two about her. The last word, Excrucior, [I am tormented, tortured, or crucified] really expresses his pain. There is really no exact English translation; the same is probably true in the German: zermartert=pulled apart on the rack. This was my translation, "zer" to a German word adds intensity.

I didn't feel close to any of the characters except Catullus as a teenager until he leaves home. This book really let me down, misleading me. I wondered if the birthmark idea came from Peter Green's novel on Sulla, Sword of Pleasure, or if this author stole the idea from Green, depending on when the books were written originally. I believe they were nearly contemporaneous. This book was worth it for the author's speculation on Catullus in Verona, but it fell apart in Rome.

Recommended for the Verona half.
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1 vote janerawoof | Oct 19, 2018 |
When a British commando unit drops into the frozen Canadian wastes west of Baffin Island to see what a mysterious Russian ship is doing in Canadian waters, it doesn’t take long to discover the carnage left behind by the cover creature.

Not all six members of the S-Squad are going to make to the end of Meikle’s story, and battling those critters through about a 100 pages doesn’t leave any room for a double agent – which I expected to see in a tale inspired by Alistair MacLean.

The opening, in a deserted fishing village at night, was atmospheric, but, to be honest, the critters didn’t do much for me. I did appreciate, being interested in geology, the origin story Meikle gives them.

Meikle does a nice job with the physical details. Cold water, however shallow, can kill quickly.. Fingers uncovered quickly become too numb to fire weapons. A character is half blinded from operating a cutting torch.

While I wished for some human treachery added to the giant bug plot and found the bugs eviscerating but not very emotionally invigorating, I am interested in more adventures of the S-Squad.
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1 vote RandyStafford | 3 other reviews | Oct 19, 2018 |
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: Love Lost
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #3
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 260
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:


BA (which abbreviation I shall use from here-on out instead of Bethany Anne), has to start getting a handle on the Empire that Michael has left to her. With hundreds of companies under her control and trillions of dollars at her disposal, BA can coast if she wants to. Obviously, knowing the threat is Out There, coasting isn't an option. She has to start assembling a larger team that she can trust. A team not only for fighting the Forsaken but a team to start dealing with the spaceship that TOM came in.

So the recruitment begins. The Fighting Force is the easiest, as she starts picking up specialists that have been disillusioned with the military for one reason or another. The kind of people that don't blink at finding out that vampires are real AND that they are expected to kill such super powerful beings. BA must also recruit information specialists, business specialists, etc, etc, etc. The list is long and she needs to start spreading the responsibility. So she recruits her dad, The General.

The other part of this book was taking the fight to the Forsaken who had attacked her allies here in the United States. Her and her team head to South America and take down one of Michael's granddaughters. BA gives the children of said granddaughter mercy as long as they don't hunt humans, thus assuring herself of more potential allies in the future. She also finds out that one of Michael's First Children was ultimately responsible and BA realizes she has to take care of the Earth's Forsaken before she can concentrate on any extraterrestrial problems.

My Thoughts:

This book had a LOT of character introduction going on. BA is setting up her own personal infrastructure and it is going to take a boatload of people. Trying to make 10+ people memorable and a character on their own is a tough task and Anderle doesn't really accomplish it in this 260page book. I just don't care enough about “Avengers, Assemble!!” for that kind of detail to keep my interest. It was half the book and while necessary for the overall series plot, felt very much like getting dumped on so Anderle could continue on in later books. Not cool.

The couple of battle scenes were enjoyable. I was hoping for a bit more in the fight scene between BA and the Forsaken she had to take down, but BA is just so overpowered that there wasn't much of a fight. Maybe once she moves on to Michael's First Children things will be a bit more even? Or even if BA's fighting teams take them on, that might make for more interesting reading.

Overall, I did enjoy this but there was just too much setup that felt like setup. Hoping the rest of the books don't follow this pattern.

★★★☆☆… (more)
1 vote BookstoogeLT | 1 other review | Oct 19, 2018 |
This was another audiobook (I’ve REALLY been getting into audiobooks this year), and it was narrated by Vanessa Coffey, who I thought did an excellent job. Admittedly, as this is non-fiction, she didn’t have to tackle different characters etc., but she kept it interesting especially during the parts where she was discussing statistics etc.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This book is a memoir of sorts, written by Jill Stark, a health reporter originally from Scotland but who has lived in Australia for many years. After one too many hangovers, on New Years Day 2011, Jill decided to give up alcohol for three months – this eventually turned into a whole year – and this is the story of how it was for her.

As well as the physical effects of not drinking, Jill concentrates a lot on the social effects – how for example her friends found it awkward to be around her, and stopped inviting her out on certain nights when they themselves planned on getting drunk. She was told that it wasn’t the Australian way not to drink, and people couldn’t understand why she would want to do it. Occasions when alcohol is not only normal but actually expected – birthdays, weddings, football season and first dates etc. are all navigated in due course.

A large part of the book discusses statistics surrounding binge drinking; how it is encouraged by the alcohol industry, however subtly, and the effects that it is having on families and society in general. Some of the statistics are frankly quite scary, and paint a picture almost of a timebomb waiting to explode.

To clarify – Jill Stark is not an evangelistic teetotaller – she understands the attraction of alcohol and has no desire to stop others drinking; indeed she hopes that after her sober year, she will be able to indulge in alcohol in moderation herself. However, she does have genuine concerns about the rise in binge drinking and the long term effects of this behaviour.

Overall, I found this a fascinating listen – my only niggle is that it is occasionally very statistic heavy. Nonetheless, it gave me a lot to think about, and there is no doubt that Jill Stark is an engaging and entertaining writer.

If you have any interest in the subject, I would definitely recommend this book.
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1 vote Ruth72 | 1 other review | Oct 18, 2018 |
This is a delightful tale of a little chicken sharing that wonderful pastime of homework with her Papa. Like most young students Little Red has only understood part of your school lessons for the day. But that will not impede her from completing her assignment to "Find the Elephant of Surprise!" This book is laugh-out-loud funny. It introduces the young readers to classics tales. And above all, the Elephant of Surprise is found in each one! Little Red is a refreshing engaged learner, likeable by all young readers. Papa's struggles are relatable to most parents out there and quite comical when happening to someone else.… (more)
1 vote rochellebarnette | 5 other reviews | Oct 18, 2018 |
This book had been sitting on my shelves for how many years? Forever. But once I picked it up I was completely hooked and could hardly put it down. At first it is the story of Michael Servetus, a man who refuted Calvin's repressive theology and was burned at the stake for it -- it is also a history of the printing press, The Reformation, the Inquisition, medicine, rare book collecting, and heresy. There is so much in this book that it sometimes feels like it is maybe spinning off the rails, but it is all so interesting that you can hardly help but want to follow wherever it goes.

Myself, I did sometimes want to read a little more of Servetus's actual writings, but then, I guess that just gives me more books to add to my TBR pile, which is fine.
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1 vote greeniezona | 13 other reviews | Oct 18, 2018 |
As usual in this series, I knew absolutely nothing about the two short stories in this tiny book, but was only seduced by the title. I mean, come on! I'm starting to think I should start a section of my shelves devoted to heresy, which is, I suppose, what I was hoping for.

Instead, the first, titular story starts off slow with a lot of context I probably didn't need. The story doesn't really take off for me until Bianchon finally confronts the atheist Desplein over seeing him attend mass, and Desplein tells his story -- which is, in the end, a story about bootstraps, and the impossibility of pulling oneself up by one's own, and the debt owed to those who help us rise.

The second story, "The Conscript," is a sad tale on the costs of revolution and suspicion and demands of idealogical purity.

Both stories I enjoyed to some extent but neither wowed me.
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1 vote greeniezona | 2 other reviews | Oct 18, 2018 |
Dit was absoluut een mooie ontdekking. Adichie gaf me een inkijk in een wereld die ik amper, of maar heel oppervlakkig kende: het moeilijke, chaotische bestaan in Nigeria, met zijn armoede en diepgewortelde cliëntelisme-cultuur; de bijna ondragelijk zware beproeving om als Afrikaanse migrant voet aan de grond te krijgen in de Verenigde Staten (en in Groot-Brittannië), de gespannen verhouding tussen Amerikaanse zwarten en niet-Amerikaanse zwarten in de VS; en tenslotte het dikwijls goedbedoelde maar daardoor net meer vernederende ontwijkgedrag van Amerikanen als het om de rassenkwestie gaat. Het meest treffende zinnetje in deze roman is de vaststelling van hoofdpersonage Ifemelu dat ze pas ‘zwart’ werd toen ze in de Verenigde Staten aankwam.
Adichie kan een stukje schrijven en weet hoe ze een lijvige roman evenwichtig moet componeren, met vooral oog voor de kleine, psychologische kantjes van haar personages en voor de subtiele, maar des te markantere sociale verschillen die zich uiten in taalregisters, kledij en vooral haarstijl (er wordt nogal wat over kapsels gesproken in dit boek). De blog-fragmenten werkten voor mij helemaal niet storend, integendeel, ze legden telkens de vinger treffend op de wonde.
En dan zijn er de liefdesverhalen, de verschillende relaties waarin Ifemelu in verwikkeld geraakt. De langgerekte en ook lang onderbroken romance met haar jeugdvriend Obinze laat je uiteraard niet onberoerd, al vond ik de laatste 80 bladzijden, die zich weer afspelen in Nigeria zelf, eerlijk gezegd toch wel erg klef, om niet te zeggen ‘Nollywood’-achtig (een verwijzing naar de Nigeriaanse filmindustrie). Het valt me ook op dat alle mannen waar ze op valt telkens erg ‘goeiige’, empathische, maar ook erg bemiddelde middenklasse-mannen zijn, en dat wringt wel. Ook Ifemelu zelf is best een lastig personage, zelf worstelend met haar eigenzinnigheid en met onvervulde gevoelens die ze meestal niet kan benoemen, waardoor ze soms als arrogant en zelfs antipathiek overkomt. Maar net dat siert Adichie, dat ze de lezer dwingt om de nodige afstand te bewaren van haar hoofdpersonages. Tenslotte kan ik me wel vinden in de geregeld aangehaalde kritiek dat dit boek gerust wat redactioneel snijwerk had kunnen gebruiken, al vind ik net het erg uitgesponnen middenstuk in de Verenigde Staten het meeste interessante.
Maar dit is maar bijkomstig: Adichie heeft een belangrijk boek geschreven, dat niet alleen vlot leest en je in de greep houdt, maar vooral je ogen opent voor een bepaalde sociale en culturele realiteit die wij in het westen meestal niet willen zien (en die we eigenlijk ook op ons zelf zouden kunnen toepassen). Tijdens de lectuur moest ik dikwijls aan Grapes of Wrath van John Steinbeck denken dat – op zijn unieke manier – hetzelfde doet, en je in die zin als lezer ‘rijker’ maakt. Wat kan je nog meer verlangen van een boek?
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1 vote bookomaniac | 180 other reviews | Oct 18, 2018 |
I loved this book, although it's a little bit difficult to understand why. None of the characters is like me, in fact all the main players are female and much younger than me. I did feel that all the characters were highly believable, and I very much liked Laura. I suppose she's the sort of person I could imagine myself being if I hadn't been born male. Parent-child relationships are always high up in my topics of interest and the mother-daughter relationship in this book is really the central element. My own mother just recently died (as did Laura's mother) so there's another connection which resonated with me. Laura's relationships also drew me into this story and the men, although not presented in much depth, were flawed in a very realistic way. Every single person and situation rang true, suggesting that Elisa Lodato is an astute observer of the world. I have unhesitatingly added her second novel to my wishlist - and I am pleased to see that my local library has a copy!… (more)
1 vote oldblack | Oct 17, 2018 |
The second book for our Less Stupid Civil War reading group. It was interesting as a follow-up to Battle Cry of Freedom, getting Grant's story before the war, going over the Civil War again, but this time with a focus on Grant's armies, but then, especially what happened after the war -- Grant's presidency, Reconstruction, violence in the South... Grant's strengths and weaknesses as a president, the corruption of the Gilded Age, the brief promise of full citizenship for freed blacks, and then how quickly that promise was eroded by murder, fraud, and antipathy.

Sometimes I questioned some of Chernow's choices -- he'd go into little asides giving minor biographies of some of the bit players in Grant's life, when I would have preferred more info on those closest to him instead -- or later, when Grant is president, there are mentions of so many Senators and other political players, and I was constantly wondering: Tyler, Polk, Garfield? Had they been presidents already or would be presidents later? Were they actually just relatives of presidents? But these almost familiar appearances were rarely explained.

Overall, though, I appreciated the relatively even-handed way Chernow approached Grant's controversies -- the drinking, the Whiskey Ring corruption, etc. As much as Grant's memoirs have been praised (which I may someday still read), I appreciated the perspective of a third party here.

I'm no Grant scholar, but I expect that's why I liked this book so much -- as a reintroduction to a man whose reputation has changed wildly over the ages -- largely inversely with the Lost Cause theory of the Civil War. It's good to have him back -- faults included -- but with a new understanding of all he did and tried to do to make the promise of America true for all Americans.
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1 vote greeniezona | 14 other reviews | Oct 17, 2018 |
Thomas Watson - [Hekatompathia or Passionate Centurie of Love].
Thomas Watson (1555-92) was an English poet and translator, and the pioneer of the English madrigal. He published his Hekatompathia in 1882 which consisted of one hundred sonnets. In his introduction to the “friendly reader” he says:

“I hope that thou wilt in respect of my travail in penning these love-passions, or for pity of my pains in suffering them (although but supposed) so survey the faults herein escaped, as either to wink at them, as oversights of a blind Lover; or to excuse them, as idle toys proceeding from a youngling frenzy…….Therefore, if I rough-hewed my verse, where my sense was unsettled, whether through the nature of the passion, which I felt, or by rule of art, which I had learned, it may seem a happy fault; or if it were so framed by counsel, thou mayest think it well done; if by chance, happily.”

Unfortunately if he thought he was publishing passionate love poems he was very much wide of the mark. Most of these poems are mechanical, with little trace of passion. He follows Petrarch’s template of writing about an unrequited love, without bringing anything new to the genre. Any innovations he makes are technical. This is courtly love poetry without a hint of soul. The best that can be said of them is that they are technically proficient as Watson finds one hundred different ways of writing the same poem.

Love is a sour delight; a sug'red grief;

A living death; an ever-dying life;

A breach of Reason's law; a secret thief;

A sea of tears; an ever-lasting strife;

A bait for fools; a scourge of noble wits;

A Deadly wound; a shot which ever hits.

Love is a blinded God; an angry boy;

A Labyrinth of doubts; an idle lust;

A slave to Beauty's will; a witless toy;

A ravening bird, a tyrant most unjust;

A burning heat; a cold; a flatt'ring foe;

A private hell; a very world of woe.

Yet mighty Love regard not what I say,

Which lie in trance bereft of all my wits,

But blame the light that leads me thus astray,

And makes my tongue blaspheme by frantic fits:

Yet hurt her not, left I sustain the smart,

Which am content to lodge her in my heart.


This (sonnet no.18) is one of the better examples. It can be seen that the poet lengthened the usual fourteen line sonnet to eighteen lines, however because each set of six lines ends in a rhyming couplet it feels like just three sets of six lines with no integration into a whole stanza. It was an innovation that did not catch on. The poems are collected in two parts: the first eighty poems are complaints from the rejected lover, while the last twenty are the poets reflection on his folly and new found freedom now he has woken up to the fact that he has been wasting his time. Poem number 80 is the watershed and Watson has set this out in the form of a pillar or large jug: an early example of concrete poetry. He does not tell us why he has untangled himself from his love lorn existence, only saying that he has finally seen reason.

The poetry is heavily laced with examples from the classical world, but Watson usually fails to find anything different or innovative to say. Reading through these poems I got the feeling that Watson was more intent in showing off his wit and technical skills; they seem horribly cliched today, however they read quite well, without too many rough edges. Not recommended for poetry lovers, only for completists like me. 2.5 stars.… (more)
1 vote baswood | Oct 17, 2018 |
I was really annoyed by this book in the beginning. It's set in a world related to our world and history, but different in a few key ways, and told with shifting perspectives and time periods that obscures for quite a while what those differences are -- and what the rules and conventions of this world are. I'm sure that this was a deliberate choice by Bolander, but it didn't work for me. Had this not been a little novella with a promise that all would have to be made clear fairly soon, I might have given it up.

Personally, I think giving up these tricks would have forced Bolander to tell a stronger story. The elements she's chosen to shape her story around are so fascinating -- the radium girls, the sentience and capacity for memory in elephants, the fight between direct and alternating current, and the electrocution of animals as a spectacle in that fight. But then there is an entire additional layer of long-term nuclear waste storage -- and that element in particular never seemed to serve the story for me -- it added too much confusion and did it ever even get resolved? I wish it had been cut.

This is a lot of complaining for a four-star review.

That's how much I liked the voice given to the radium girls. The voice given to animals who continue to be thought of as things even after they've been taught language. The simmering rage that finds power out of what seems like powerlessness. The criticism of a soulless capitalism that will continue to grind the powerless under its boot as long as there is a profit to be made.

A remarkable little book.
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1 vote greeniezona | 8 other reviews | Oct 17, 2018 |
My twelve-year-old came to me with this book and insisted that I read it. And I did, for him, despite much internal grumbling. I would have given up on the book several times as I didn't really like any of the characters in the beginning and at least one of the twists I saw coming several miles off, but I kept reminding myself that there must be a reason why my kid liked it so much and so I forced myself to carry on.

In the end, the valuing of things like art and stories and relationship over and above standardized test scores is a good message, but I feel like it was taken to an unreasonable and unrealistic level in order to make that point. Maybe it was an attempt to make things feel as big as they do in life to some of these kids, but raising the stakes so high turned me off as an adult reader -- because my brain was struggling between "that would never happen that way," and "if that were my kid's school, I would burn the administration and school board to the ground."

I imagine my kid identified because he struggles with a particular school official who values obedience over relationship and free inquiry. I can see why he liked this book, but it really wasn't for me.
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1 vote greeniezona | 1 other review | Oct 17, 2018 |
I had somehow mentally classified Goethe as "difficult to read classics" and had avoided him thus far. But somehow when I saw this charming little volume at my beloved bookstore's "going out of business" sale, I couldn't resist it.

And it was charming. And not difficult to read at all. Told mostly in letters, and letters only from Young Werther, we get none of the replies at all -- we get not only a one-sided but a "how I want to represent myself to my friend" side of a young man's descent into romantic obsession with a woman he cannot have. Part of what makes it so fascinating is how many chances and choices he had along the way -- to realize this path would never make him happy, could only end in misery, to choose to go somewhere else, give himself a chance to love someone else. But at the same time, making those different choices would make him a different person. So do any of us really have any choice at all?… (more)
1 vote greeniezona | 84 other reviews | Oct 17, 2018 |
This novella is a pendant on Baxter’s The Massacre of Mankind.

Like that novel, it’s told by Julie Elphinstone, ex-sister-in-law of Walter Jenkins, the man we know as the narrator of The War of the Worlds.

Besides references to that novel, Baxter works in another work by Wells and uses the concept of an old forest as a repository of memory similar to Mythago Wood (a novel I know only by reputation) by Robert Holdstock to whom the story is dedicated.

On July 7, 1907, as Jenkins is wandering about the ruins of London with its Martians dead in their tripods, another Martian cylinder lands in Homburgh Wood, an ancient forest untouched by the last glaciation of England.

The story depicts the effects of having a Martian in Holmburgh, particularly on Nathan Gardner, an orphan of the war who was nearby when the Martian landed. The increasingly long time he spends in the wood, often returning after weeks looking haggard and bedraggled, concerns his sister Zene. Nearby farmers are concerned with the dearth of wildlife and strange weather. When a local man disappears, things come to a head with Zena and Jenkins heading into the wood to see what’s going on.

It’s an effective aside to The Massacre of Mankind with Eliphinstone’s impatience and criticisms of her ex-brother-in-law Jenkins and his vacillations and pontifications, and the use of Holdstock’s ideas make this something more than just another sequel to The War of the Worlds.

Baxter has a knack for doing takeoffs on Wells’ work as seen in his earlier The Time Ships and The Massacre of Mankind, and this story is no exception.

Recommended for fans of Wells and The War of the Worlds and, I suppose, Mythago Wood though I suspect its appeal would be limited outside that circle.… (more)
1 vote RandyStafford | Oct 17, 2018 |
Je n'y connais rien, ni à la mer, ni à la voile, sauf ce que d'autres bouquins m'ont appris. Mais Moitessier m'a appris l'humilité devant les éléments et devant
soi-même, devant l'idée que l'on vit sa vie tout à fait - ou bien autant que possible - en harmonie avec les éléments. J'aime bien son style nonchalant, avec des clopes de temps en temps et du café souvent, pour bien savourer le moment, et à l'aide duquel il décrit la vie en mer d'une facon qui est compréhensible pour tout le monde.… (more)
1 vote Kindlegohome | 4 other reviews | Oct 17, 2018 |

Recent Firsts

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

This book was written around 2005, during the first term of G. W. Bush. Lerner was close to the Clintons briefly and saw how far short of the bright promises Bill Clinton fell. The Christian Right gives people some kind of spiritual sustenance that they can't get from the Democrats. Lerner wants to inspire a spiritual Left wing. The cornerstone of the book is a contrast between a spirituality based on fear and domination which is allied with the political Right, versus a spirituality based on hope and generosity which could become allied with the political Left if Lerner's vision came to fruition.

One big challenge with his vision is that the Left is aligned with science and opposed to religion, surely since the French Revolution at least. Lerner addresses this difficulty explicitly, contrasting science with scientism. Scientism holds that science is all-encompassing, i.e. if an idea is not scientific it cannot be valid, hence religion is invalid.

Lerner takes himself rather seriously - he's the editor of a magazine with significant circulation and hey he rubbed shoulders with a president. But in this book he has laid out a rather extensive vision. The extensiveness is probably intended to make the whole thing seem very realistic. He tries to cut any criticism off at the pass: anybody who calls his vision unrealistic must be cynical. My first criticism of the book would be that since it is broader than it is deep, it gets kinda boring. Probably some of that it is just that the book is a snapshot of a time that by now seems almost quaint.

I am a fan of Chris Hedges. It'd be grand to hear what Hedges would have to say about this book. Hedges is a Christian minister, so he wouldn't have anything negative to say about the importance of spirituality or religion. But Hedges points out that the Christian Right is really not Christian at all. I just watched a splendid interview where Hedges calls what the Christian Right is peddling a form of magical thinking. The megachurch ministers are cut from the same cloth as Trump. Maybe people are hungry for spiritual nourishment but really most people are in pretty desperate situations, with debt, imprisonment, drug addiction, domestic abuse, etc. etc. They are praying to be rescued from the traps they're caught in.

I have no idea what kind of position vision Hedges has, if any. Lerner gives us a reasonably comprehensive plan in this book. I think he is pretty far off target. He wants to remake the world to be filled with love and peace etc. That sounds nice! But the basic plan is to get the government to pour a lot of money into making the world more loving and peaceful and to make laws against hate and violence and to establish various committees to make sure all the facets of society head toward love and not hate. OK probably I am being a bit cynical but really - Lerner talks a lot about a new bottom line. Myself, I think the whole bottom line business is a lot of the problem. A focus on whatever bottom line is what enables prioritizing the end over the means, a famous source of trouble. Lerner does sprinkle in some encouragement to be careful about the means, too. That's part of the problem with the book's breadth. It's kind of a list of all good things. Why can we just make the world a good place, abolish war etc.? If we all just believe in it, can't we do it?

Myself, I think a lot of what we need is relocalization, physical as well as intellectual. People would get to know their neighbors if they were stuck living with their neighbors. Our communication and transportation networks enable us to live disconnected from any actual place or people, and hand us over to centralized systems that concentrate power and channel it to tiny elites.

I like bicycles and fountain pens, pinnacles of 19th Century technology. Stick with transportation and communication that keeps you really rooted. Hey, give it a try!
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2 vote kukulaj | Oct 19, 2018 |
Thomas Cleary’s new translation of two Chinese classics describing the essential philosophy and practice of Tao, written long ago as maps of the Way: Tao Te Ching and Chuang-tzu. Cleary’s presentation restores the power and mind-opening distictiveness of the original texts.
  CenterPointMN | Oct 18, 2018 |
I really enjoyed this collection of vampire short stories. They were unique and well-written and whilst most were written in 1991, not too dated. Enjoyable read, especially at Halloween.
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  Jane-Phillips | Oct 17, 2018 |
"Paula Gunn Allen is professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an American Indian of Laguna Pueblo and Sioux heritage. She is the author of many books, including 'Grandmothers of the Light: A Medicine Woman's Sourcebook, and editor of 'Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women', which won an American Book Award in 1990." The reviewer for 'Booklist' said of this work, "In these beautifully written essays, Paula Gunn Allen. . .makes a vital contribution to American Indian and feminist scholarship. . .Allen brings to vivid life America's powerful female roots."… (more)
  uufnn | Oct 16, 2018 |
2 short novellas with Harry Keogh stories. Not featuring the Vampires of his main novels, both are good stories and well written. If you have read Lumley before, you will enjoy these. If you have not, they are a brief taste of the Necroscope world.
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  Whiskey3pa | Oct 18, 2018 |
This is good fun. Three Asian privately-schooled boys decide to form a rap group in the 90s, just as their white peers are getting obsessed with indie.

The characters are the opposite of me in terms of musical taste and class, but there is still a lot to identify with - the protective Indian parents obsessed with their son becoming a doctorlawyerteacherbusinessman, the isolation and joy of developing interests that your peers (both white and brown) find weird, the super secrecy of socialising as an Asian teen, and generally finding your voice at a particularly confusing time of life.

I found the rap focus slightly difficult to get enthusiastic about, being more in the indie camp, but the characters definitely have more than enough enthusiasm to make up for it.

I felt that there were a few major (to me) things that come up but are never fully explored or have consequences, such as the overt racism displayed by the pupils and teachers at the boys’ school.

I think Shukla's most recent novel, The One Who Wrote Destiny, offers a better exploration of modern British Asian identity, but Coconut Unlimited is very enjoyable on the whole.
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  mooingzelda | Oct 18, 2018 |
The Mutter Museum was the brainchild of physician and educator Dr. Thomas Mutter. He left money in his will for its founding in order to share his extensive collection of artwork with other medical practitioners. Over the years the College of Physicians, the medical society that maintained it, continued to add, amassing in time an astounding collection of the gross and phenomenal: wax anatomy mannequins, early photographs of diseases and tumors, shrunken heads, and specimens of everything from human skulls to fetuses. All are arranged and displayed in the manner of a Victorian “Cabinet of Curiosities,” the forerunner of today’s natural history museums. For many years it was closed to the general public and visits were accepted only by special request. But curator Gretchen Worden changed all that. She brought the museum into the public sphere in the 1990s, opening it up to general admission and turning it into a more highbrow version of the Jim Rose Circus, which was also popular at the time.

This book was commissioned to highlight the museum’s collections. It’s a coffee table style publication in which photographers were invited to chronicle the displays each in their own style. They make the grotesque seem, if not exactly beautiful, aesthetic. The foreword gives the history of the museum’s founding and the stories behind some of its star exhibits, like Chang and Eng’s conjoined liver. It’s worthwhile to read for that alone.

My favorite pictures tended to be the most conventional, though I have a weakness for gelatin prints. My only criticism is that William Wegman’s Weirmaraner dogs, looking out dolefully between human bones, sort of broke the spell. The museum is a place of the dead, and though humor and social commentary can certainly be read into the history of medicine presented the decades, I’m not sure living creatures belong there.

If you can’t visit the museum in person, pay a visit to the Mutter website, where you can find rotating online exhibits and videos as well as an online gift shop where you can buy lovable stuffed versions of E. Coli, Malaria, and the HPV virus.
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  Cobalt-Jade | Oct 18, 2018 |
Sequel to "The Desert Rose"
  brendanus | Oct 19, 2018 |
This booklet is offered to accompany any textbook of Anatomy & Physiology or Anatomy. It is unique among atlases currently available in terms of topic selection.
  CenterPointMN | Oct 18, 2018 |
This was a short little book that counts backwards from 10-0 as it rhymes. It is a perfect book to teach counting to young children.
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  keiry.lopez | Oct 16, 2018 |
Das Mittelalter reicht hier von Odoaker und den Ostgoten bis zum Sacco di Roma durch die Truppen Kaiser Karls V., und das auf 288 Seiten. Naturgemäß bleibt da kein Raum für Details oder tiefergehende Analyse, und mit Ausnahme des Kapitels über Neapel-Sizilien wird hier nichts behandelt, was man nicht schon aus dem halbwegs passablen Geschichtsunterricht eines Gymnasiums kannte. Der einzige Unterschied ist der wissenschaftliche Jargon, der hier die Frage aufwirft, wem dieses Buch eigentlich dienen soll? Laien werden Begriffe wie Sedisvakanz oder angiovinisch nachschlagen müssen, für Kenner bietet es nicht genug Neues. Dazu kommen diverse Tippfehler, die Verwechslung von konzertiert und konzertant und überstrapazierte Lieblingsphrasen wie „drangvolle Nähe“.… (more)
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  MissWatson | Oct 17, 2018 |
Entertaining, if somewhat lightweight, this book compiles and reports myths from various cultures throughout time. She traces down the origin when possible, but many of these myths have multiple origin stories (some more plausible than others) and some have none, or at least none that are plausible. Easy to read and peppered with copious pictures, many with a sort of wry feel that is unmistakably British. The book suffers from a somewhat rushed, superficial treatment. Perhaps fewer superstitions with more discussion would have been of interest. And on a couple, she presents possible origins for the superstition without following up to tell you which, if any, of the origin stories is the most likely.… (more)
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  Devil_llama | Oct 19, 2018 |
Belaney, Archibald Stansfeld was known as Grey Owl (Wa-sha-quon-asin), forest ranger, guide, trapper, environmentalist, conservation officer, Canadian soldier, writer, and lecturer (1888 in Hastings, England to 1948 in Ontario. True to his background he lived an irresponsible and erratic life of poor judgment, but in his later life he became celebrated as a Canadian Indian conservationist. There is a detailed biography: "From the land of Shadows, the making of Grey Owl". cf Dewey 333 for conservation… (more)
  brendanus | Oct 18, 2018 |
Building the Empire State celebrates the monumental achievement of the design and construction of the world's most famous skyscraper. The construction was orchestrated by the general contractors Starrett Brothers and Eken, the premier "skyline builders" of the 1920s. To organize the worksite, the office developed detailed charts that scheduled the delivery of the vast quantities of materials and recorded the progress of construction. A daily job diary recorded the number of workers by their trades. From these records, the company compiled an in-house notebook documenting the entire construction process. Only recently rediscovered in the files of HRH Construction Company, the successor to Starrett Brothers & Eken, the 1930s notebook is reproduced here for the first time. Introducing the historical text are essays that place the Empire State Building in historical context and explain the engineering and construction techniques for a general audience.… (more)
  minnowasko | Oct 19, 2018 |
This taught a lesson and had a little magic touch with it, as well. The stories based around Monks and Monasteries always make me think that there is a higher power always playing a part in the things that happen in life. This story about Brother Bartholomew was, as I mentioned teaching a lesson, and made me think about what I need to do with my children. What someone else might think is wrong and not functioning for the purpose of what it is there for could truly have a deeper meaning. I found myself thinking about this since my husband is a hunter, but we have respect for the animals as well. We both instill the reason for hunting and its not just for fun, but for a purpose of feeding us and treating that animal with the same respect after it has been hunted. I thought it was also a trust your elders story. Sometimes those elders do know better than a younger person. Just gave me a thinking perspective and looking at what I tell my kids or my husband.… (more)
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  Ashley.Miller | Oct 18, 2018 |
Bob is sick, so Wendy gathers the team and they all work together to fix the road.
  uufnn | Oct 17, 2018 |
In Becoming American under Fire: Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship During the Civil War Era, Christian G. Samito “explores how, amid the tempest of war, statesmen, soldiers, and ordinary people forged a more robust definition of citizenship” (pg. 2). He argues, “Through separate but simultaneous efforts, African Americans and Irish Americans in the 1860s helped solidify three principles in the law: the primacy of a national citizenship that incorporated certain rights; the concept that individuals had the right to change their birth citizenship and allegiance; and the doctrine that all citizens, whether by birth of [sic] naturalization, stood equal in rights and protections regardless of race or prior status as a slave or alien” (pg. 4). In this way, Samito “engages military, legal, social, political, and diplomatic history and, as a study of changing ideas of American citizenship, [his work] encompasses evidence on a national scale” (pg. 10).

Addressing Irish service in the Civil War, Samito writes, “Irish American soldiers became the vanguard for those of their community who argued that service to the Republic defeated nativism, served as a communion between Irish Americans and native-born Americans, and earned Irish Americans an identity and equal inclusion as American citizens. Irish Americans argued that they established their place as full members within the polity, despite their lack of birthright citizenship, based on their choice to embrace and support the same political values that native-born American citizens held dear” (pg. 43). Of African Americans, Samito writes, “While some blacks may have enlisted for financial reasons, or because federal agents conscripted them, most joined the military for political motives, or eventually came to understand the broader significance and potential of their service. While prejudice in the armed forces persisted throughout the Civil War, serving in them also presented an opportunity for change which blacks eagerly seized, and it afforded them experiences that helped inform their evolving sense of what citizenship entailed as a concept” (pg. 47).

Discussing wartime attitudes, Samito writes, “Irish Americans and the native-born embraced each other in the 1860s in bonds strengthened by the shared experience of war. Participation in the Civil War intensified the demands of Irish Americans for inclusion and equal treatment but also their sense of American allegiance, even as they maintained facets of their ethnic culture and an enduring concern for Ireland’s liberation. Many Irish Americans increasingly came to recognize during the Civil War an American identity in addition to an Irish one” (pg. 103). He continues, “The service of Irish Americans allowed for them to assert that they deserved greater inclusion in American society and equality of citizenship based on the proof of loyalty offered by their military service” (pg. 132-133). Turing to African Americans, Samito writes, “The shared experiences of military service strengthened unity and American identity within the black community. Military service also helped inform black expectations of what citizenship entailed and afforded African Americans a powerful argument that those who defended the Union deserved full membership in its society. During the Civil War, blacks began to meet once again to assert their demands through national and state conventions that directly addressed governmental officials and spoke to white and black Americans” (pg. 143).

Samito concludes, “African Americans and Irish Americans energetically helped to shape the more modern and better-defined understanding of national citizenship that Americans fashioned after the Civil War. The experience of defending the Republic strengthened for many Irish Americans and African Americans their American identity and brought greater self-recognition of their allegiance to the United States” (pg. 217).
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  DarthDeverell | Oct 16, 2018 |
This large- format 128 page book offers an excellent collection of Edward Hopper's paintings. Its pages measure 9.5" x 13", and the art works commonly are presented in 1 to 1.5-page spreads, allowing appreciation of their content and presentation. The 1942 Nighthawks (perhaps his most famous work) is presented in a two-page spread. The first several pages are offer an account of Hopper's life and career, interspersed with photographs of the artist and paintings by other artists that influenced him. Most of the book consists of well- presented, full color presentations of Hopper's paintings, arranged chronologically from 1912 to 1961. More than 75 paintings are included, and each includes its title, year of production, and the museum where it is located. Although published in 1995, the quality of reproduction is quite good. This book is the 4th collection of Hopper's paintings that I have read, and I do recommend it to admirers of his work.… (more)
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  danielx | Oct 18, 2018 |
"Joy Wilt is creator and director of Children's Ministries, an organization that provides resources 'for people who care about children'. . .[The illustrator] Ernie Hergenroeder is. . .[a]ctive in community and church affairs [and] is involved in presenting creative workshops for teachers, ministers, and others who wish to understand the techniques of communicating visually." Source: The back of the book's title page. This is one of a series of books, called Ready-Set-Grow!, intended for children 4 to 8 years old. The author's goal is to help children develop good self-concepts.… (more)
  uufnn | Oct 16, 2018 |
Second entry in the Joanne Kilbourn series set in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

It's an excellent mystery, although a little heavy on the feminist issues.
Pg 118 Two women began to sing a cappella and the casket was brought in. It was covered in a quilt with a clitoral pattern, peach and ivory.
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  ParadisePorch | Oct 18, 2018 |
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich was a Roman Catholic Augustinian Canoness Regular of Windesheim, mystic, Marian visionary, ecstatic and stigmatist. Anne Catherine Emmerich was told by Our Lord that her gift of seeing the past, present, and future in mystic vision was greater than that possessed by anyone. Visions of Purgatory
  brendanus | Oct 18, 2018 |
A really good book written in Spanish. It has many pictures with few text but it is so understandable and it introduce the idea that both animals and humans can be funny.
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  keiry.lopez | Oct 16, 2018 |
Not bad, not a favorite. Standard Hagen-series plotline; their respective backgrounds...actually detracted from the story, for me. And Shannon is a little too good at beating up on herself to make her someone I want to be around. Derek's walking on eggshells so much that...I don't know, neither the romance nor the suspense story managed to keep my attention, partly because it was switching back and forth so hard. Alexi is mildly interesting, hope we see some more of him. And the villain was a complete surprise to me. Eh, it's OK. But I think I'll stop reading Hagen for a little while, and go read some other things until the plotline is a trifle less familiar.… (more)
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  jjmcgaffey | Oct 19, 2018 |
Linda Schwartz has written numerous books for youngsters, many of them in the self-help genre. She frequently partners with Sherri M. Butterfield as her editor and Beverly Armstrong to provide clear and bold illustrations. Source: Google search. "This book is a must for parents and teachers who want to prepare children for the unexpected, puzzling, and frightening situations that may arise when they are at home alone, at school, or out on their own." Source: Books back cover. It covers everything from being locked out of the house to how to handle the peer pressure of one of your friends offering you a cigarette. In addition to illustrations throughout the book, pictures and diagrams are provided for some first aid situations and household emergencies.The glossary is very helpful and the book is well indexed.… (more)
  uufnn | Oct 19, 2018 |
Has some good bits. Would love to see an update.
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  melsmarsh | Oct 17, 2018 |
Everyone on the classroom had a opportunity to show and tell so Spot wants to do a nice project for show and tell to his friends, and so does his monkey best friend.
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  keiry.lopez | Oct 16, 2018 |
I really enjoyed Gina by Bernard Waber. It shows a story of a young girl, Gina, who just moved into a new neighborhood. There are no girls for Gina to play with so she seems to have nothing to do for the summer. One day the boys find out that Gina is really good at sports, and so all of them want her on each of their teams. Gina ends up having fun playing sports all summer, and has a bunch of new friends going into the new school year. I like how this book looks past "gender roles", it shows young children that you aren't/shouldn't be limited by your gender. I think its important for children to learn things like this early so that they aren't afraid to be themselves.… (more)
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  bhammant | Oct 18, 2018 |
Sorel, Quebec, the arrival and departure of an attractive nameless stranger who arouses feelings of rivalry among the locals
  brendanus | Oct 19, 2018 |
A nicely researched book focusing on single women missionaries in Japan, who were associated with the Stone-Campbell religious heritage (Disciples of Christ, Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, and non-instrumental church of Christ). The period covered begins roughly in 1892 and concludes with the war, and years soon thereafter.

Numerous missionaries are discussed, but the work of Sarah Andrews (Japan 1916-1961) is featured most. My primary interest was Alice Miller (Japan 1895-1928) because of relations she had with members of the Christian Church in my Bloomington, Illinois home. Chapter three is devoted to the story Miss Miller and her work.

One nice feature of the book is an appendix on biographical data of 56 women missionaries (205-211). The book also includes a helpful bibliography (213-216) and index. Numerous photos enhance the book.

I am happy to have read this book as it greatly enhanced my understanding of and appreciation for the work of many faithful women who made sacrificial contributions for the cause of Christ in Japan.
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  SCRH | Oct 17, 2018 |
Schrijven over schrijvers is niet gemakkelijk. Hun werk spreekt voor zich, of zou dat moeten doen, en hun levensloop is soms spannend of bewogen, maar lang niet altijd. Bovendien is de link tussen biografie en literaire productie verre van rechtlijnig. De wereldreiziger kan een flutroman schrijven, de brave burgerman een meesterwerk. Barnard waagt er zich toch aan in dit in 2006 verschenen boek, dat 10 portretten brengt van moderne, Europese dichters. Ieder portret begint met een biografische schets, gevolgd door een handvol gedichten van de poëet in kwestie. Die aanpak werkt in al zijn eenvoud, en het boek nodigt zeker uit tot verdere verkenning. Minpunten zijn wat mij betreft Barnard's wat geaffecteerde prozastijl en het feit dat het soms wat te veel over hem gaat en te weinig over zijn onderwerp. Ik zie het boek daarom vooral als een vingeroefening voor Barnard's 9 jaar later verschenen 'Mijn gedichtenschrift' -ook een boek over literatuur- dat waarlijk uitmuntend is.… (more)
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  BartGr. | Oct 17, 2018 |
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