October 1, 2014

Review: Our Great Big American God: A Short History of Our Ever-Growing Deity

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 9:23 pm

Our Great Big American God: A Short History of Our Ever-Growing Deity
Our Great Big American God: A Short History of Our Ever-Growing Deity by Matthew Paul Turner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While at times Turner can be a bit irreverent, this book was a very interesting and eye opening if short jaunt through the history of how God has been received and presented by the different denominations of Christianity in the United States. What I found particularly interesting was the discussion of how integrated the Church was in the politics of the state before the independence was declared and how disastrous that was.

There were times I wish there was more in depth information provided about specific events or characters. I suspect that there is a lot more in the notes at the end but the version I read on the Kindle did not have easily accessible links to move back and forth to that information.

For a quick taste of the history of different denominations of Christianity in the United States to the present political movements we see today, this book is a great start.

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Review: The Toys of Peace

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 9:17 pm

The Toys of Peace
The Toys of Peace by Saki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first work of Saki and I must say I do look forward to reading more. I found the stories, while dated to the period, still quite humorous and enjoyable. Regardless of their age, there was much that was just as applicable to our current period.

I was very much drawn into getting a feel for the norms of the societies Saki moved through. I am at a loss for words here but I do recommend this book. Fun, entertaining, and delightful.

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August 7, 2014

Review: Influx

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 10:12 pm

Influx by Daniel Suarez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a big fan of Daniel Suarez’s fiction and Influx did not disappoint at all. I had been eager for some time to tackle this novel but waited until my vacation when I could devote my full attention to the story. I am glad I did so. The first chapter of the book lays on the science so think I almost felt a bit out of my element but Suarez was able to rein it all back in and I came away with exactly what he wanted me to know about the characters and the science involved.

As with his past novels, Suarez really challenges the reader with some deep issues regarding technology and the potential damage to society advances present. I and reluctant to go into any detail for fear of spoiling the book; but suffice to say he does a great job weaving in many concerns of today into his work.

Get this book, read it. And if you have not read his other books, what are you waiting for?

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Review: The King in Yellow

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 10:08 pm

The King in Yellow
The King in Yellow by Robert W Chambers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was intrigued by the King in Yellow from a line in the Blue Oyster Cult song ETI. I also read references to the supposed horror this book brings in some Lovecraft stories. This collection of short stories is split with the first group of stories tied to the play, “The King in Yellow” and the remainder not related at all. In fact, the a latter stories are more romance and speak of Chambers’ experiences in France. They are largely romance stories.Often times I felt like they were written in the 1920’s or so instead of the late 19th century and had to keep refreshing in my mind the publication date of these stories. They were interesting insights to the culture of the period.

The stories that surrounded the King in Yellow, while touching on horror, were themselves not akin to the eldritch terrors of Lovecraft. The King in Yellow itself is a play that when read drives the reader mad. The play is revealed in pieces before each story and is never told in full. Within the tales themselves, the King in Yellow merely plays a cursory role.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and I can see how many reviewers felt the last few stories were a drag to get through.

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July 22, 2014

Review: The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 9:02 pm

The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea
The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea by Sebastian Junger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this book was like watching episodes of Deadliest Catch. You can see how the show borrowed from Junger’s narrative.

I had heard bits about this book along the way, never saw the show, but the wife had picked up a copy at Goodwill and after hearing a bit more on Inquiring Minds of what to expect; I set to it. The book is fantastic, excellently paced; and haunting. The emotion one experiences for what these people went through drips from every page. While the story carries on Junger pieces in historical events, scientific facts, horrific and compelling experiences along with bits and pieces of psychology and sociology.

I have always had a love of fishing and at times pondered what it would be like to fish for a living. After reading this book one must seriously weigh one’s decision. The sea is a harsh mistress and does this book show it.

I cannot recommend The Perfect Storm enough!

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Review: Alas, Babylon

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 8:57 pm

Alas, Babylon
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a bit of a gut punch and reminded me of the dread after watching the Day After back in the ’80’s. Frank presented a very through experience of what it might have been like to live through a Nuclear Holocaust in the 1950’s. Character development was compelling and while there were scraps of happiness pulled from the ruins here-and-there; this was not a joyful story.

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June 5, 2014

Review: Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 11:50 pm

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I very throughly enjoyed this book and not only that; but it really sparked my motivation to try some new cooking techniques. Cooked consumes the four basic elements in each chapter with fire equaling barbaque, water as braising, air as baking, and earth as fermentation. Not only is a specific cooking tecnhique explored by the author but a lot of historical, anthropological and philosphical tidbits are exposed along the way. This is all completed by recipes at the back of the book he culled together from his research. Definetly worth a read and worth a test.

I myself have started favoring wood as opposed to charcoal for smoking now; focusing very much on a low and slow process. I also cultivated my own sour dough starter which is going strong now after three failed attempts. The family is truly digging the bread. I also got down to finally making my own Kimche. Thus, I must truly say, this book is infectuous. Give it a read!

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May 14, 2014

Review: Global Weirdness: Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas and the Weather of the Future

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 8:43 am

Global Weirdness: Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas and the Weather of the Future
Global Weirdness: Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas and the Weather of the Future by Climate Central
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a good primer on understanding the issues surrounding the climate challenges the world is attempting to understand today. Topics are broken down into short chapters covering what is pretty well known about an issue, how the knowledge surrounding the issues was attained, and what more needs to be explored. For one who wants to get caught up rather quickly on issues regarding climate change this is a good place to start.

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April 2, 2014

Review: Divergent

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 11:14 pm

Divergent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I primarily read this book because my daughter wants to see the movie and I figured I better get it in before it would be spoiled. I did not have very high hopes but I did find myself getting pulled into the story. Putting aside what my wife would call “the special flower” syndrome, the story was not that bad. The pacing was very well done and the character development hooked me up until about the last quarter of the book where I thought things just moved way too fast.

I suspect now that I have read the frist part I will eventually complete the trilogy.

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March 8, 2014

Review: Tales of the Jazz Age

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 10:32 pm

Tales of the Jazz Age
Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tales of the Jazz Age is a collection of eleven stories. While the requesite cadre of flappers, fops, and dandies dally through a few of the tales, there are some interesting seques taken. The first collection of stories, My Last Flappers, are what I come to expect from Fitzgerald. Privileged middle to upper-middle class characters drinking and partying and the woes there in, sprinkled with some bandits and socialists along the way. There are tales of longing; Oh Russet Witch and The Lees of Happiness, which reminded me a bit of Vonnegut but without much of the humor and aliens. Those stories spoke of paths taken and those not taken and regrets into one’s waning age. I include the Strange Case of Benjamin Button with these, but that story itself is more fantifical and memorable; illiciting a more power reaction in me; yet a similar one. A telling of a life in reverse that unsurprisingly ends the same way but comfortingly without the regrets.

The inclusion of the rather odd Button is buffeted by a more fantifical tale: The Diamond As Big As the Ritz. This was a story I was completely unprepared for in this collection and quite a treat. More of and adventure, survivalist tale, Diamond is a story of a Pre Civil War plantation owner who set about with his wealth on quest of discovery and chanced upon a mountain that was literally a diamond. Packing up his family and slaves he creates a fortress at the at the peak of the moutain, a castle of jewels and extravagance; isolated from the rest of the world. He sends his children off to private school and that is where we meet the protagonist of the story: A Southern boy of meager, yet proud heritage who is invited to spend the Summer with his fellow classmate, the son of the antagonist. I won’t spoil the rest of the story here, suffice to say it is rather wild and thoroughly entertaining.

I will part with another tale that felt more at home in Western magazine, perchance written by Howard if not for the bit more of romance in this tale; Jemina. A veritible Hatfields vs McCoys kind of story in the south. While a bit comical, it was even more short and quick to end rather oddly.

Overall, I enjoyed the Tales of the Jazz Age.

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