October 16th, 2011


Books 16-19

16. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins. The third and final book in the
Hunger Games trilogy (and this has a very definite ending). Wow. I
finished this book in a couple days, it was hard to put down. Mockingjay
moves quickly, and the ending... well, the ending is fitting, but it
left me feeling like I'd been punched. Wow. This is no fairy-tale style
ending, and a lot of character die, including one major character that
shocked me. Do follow this up with a comic chaser. The waters muddy even
further in this book as Katniss comes to realize that she has few true
friends, only war allies and those who would use her as a pawn -- on
both sides of the war. Katniss comes to realize that Coin, the president
of District 13, is little (if any) better than President Snow of the
Capital, which initiated the Hunger Games. I kind of guessed about the
ending, but it still came as a shock. The epilogue sort of put me in
mind of the ending of Ender's Game-- bittersweet at best, but realistic.

The Shark Handbook, by Dr. Greg Skomal. This is one of the two books I
picked up in Wilmington. Dr. Skomal's shark guide is one of the nicest,
most concise and most educational book on sharks I've seen, and it's
well illustrated with the photography by Nick Caloyianis. The text is
well written, even conversational, and the technical, scientific terms
are explained well. I'd recommend this for 12 and older (younger is OK,
if they have an interest in marine biology; if they can handle NOVA,
they can handle this). I learned a lot of interesting things about
sharks, such as good ways of telling the species apart, how the sharks
are divided scientifically and that some sharks can actually control
their own body temperature like mammals (Great Whites and Makos, for
example). Also found it interesting that the three largest shark species
-- the Whale shark, the Basking shark and the Megamouth shark -- are
all plankton eaters. I found it fascinating that a shark's liver is used
more to help provide bouyancy. My one quibble is in the descriptions on
the shark's status as to whether they are threatened with extinction;
the code the author uses is a bit confusing, and I wish the more
standard critically endangered/endangered/threatened etc. would have
been used. Otherwise, I think this book was worth every penny. 

And, just in time for Halloween:

Ghosts on the Battleship North Carolina, by Danny Bradshaw. This was
the other book I bought in Wilmington, catering to my interest in ghost
stories. Bradshaw works evening security and lives on the Battleship,
and relates some of his experiences with the otherworldy denizens on the
battleship, which is now a floating museum. The stories are
interesting, although I would have liked to have seen more information.
Does he know who any of the ghosts might have been? This was an
enjoyable read but it felt incomplete. Did love the reactions of his
friends and family to the various encounters.

19. Ghost Dogs of
the South, by Randy Russell and Janet Barnett. My parents picked this up
for me when they were in Hilton Head- they know me so well! This is a
collection of short stories involving dogs, ghost dogs and dog's
interactions with ghosts. The title is slightly misleading for not all
of the dogs related here are (or become) ghosts but the tales are so
enjoyable this didn't bother me. The tales ranged from possibly true to
almost certainly tall tales and legends. Some stories, such as A Dog's
Wish (which falls into the later category of probable fable) are
hilarious. Also loved Watch Dog, which sounds like it could possibly be
true, about a dog which saved his master not once, but twice. Also like
how the authors go into some of the general terms with ghosts and ghost
dogs, such as plat-eye and moss dogs (neither of which you want to
encounter.) The vintage pictures throughout are not connected to the
stories but are a nice touch.


Just before the liberation of Iraq began, business gurus Michael J. Silverstein and Neil Fiske published Trading Up: The New American Luxury, and the publisher chose to feature yuppie cheerleader David (On Paradise Drive) Brooks on the dust jacket, praising the work as "smart and illuminating ... packed with insights on how shoppers think and behave."  On toCollapse )

What amuses about Trading Up is the authors' struggle to distinguish their New Luxury shoppers from garden variety status seekers.  (Thus, for instance, the BMW is the anti-Cadillac, and some shoppers shun credit cards or place a value on environmentally friendly food and clothing.)  At best, though, it offers seriously dated advice to producers of consumer goods.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)