July 5th, 2013

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

You know, when I have to sit around waiting for specialists to return phone calls about patients, I have lots of time to read books. However, I did spend some time before going to sleep to get through the last dozen pages of one book, just because I couldn't go to sleep without finishing it.

So, there's three to report:

First was Lost on Planet China: Or How I Learned to Love Live Squid. As I mentioned, I recently finished a book by a Peace Corps volunteer about his time in China; that book I liked a lot, and learned from. This book? I learned a bit, yes; heck, there's a section that emulates a recent TV travelogue by Anthony Bourdain, so I had a mental picture of what he described. However, I just didn't care for the author's attitude, and his flippancy. I guess I'd give this book a C-.

Next was Osprey Men-at-Arms #355: Wellington’s Belgian Allies 1815. This really deals with the final campaign of Napoleon, culminating in Waterloo, thus it deals with that major battle from a slightly different viewpoint. Pretty solid.

Finally, there was Osprey Men-at-Arms #361: Axis Cavalry in World War II. In a war famed for the technologies deployed by all combatants, but especially the German forces, it's strange to see that they still had cavalry units, when history I've read suggests that WWI was the end of cavalry as a force on the battlefield. I found this one thought-provoking.


Arthur Schlesinger wrote his The Crisis of the Old Order: The Age of Roosevelt in the late 1950s, by which time he thought there was sufficient time to reflect on subsequent events and sift the evidence.  The Age to which he refers is actually the end of World War I until the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, or, in the vernacular of Presidential Hagiographers, the Wilson (good), Harding (bad), Coolidge (meh), and Hoover (oops) administrations.  I purchased the 2002 reprinting in 2003, which includes a preface speaking to Enron and obliquely the dot.com bubble.  Had Professor Schlesinger lived to see the aftermath of 2008 ...

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Those ideas, however, are submerged in the Presidential Hagiography Consensus.  There's still work to be done in clarifying the interaction of the Citizen and the State.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)


Book for June 2013

The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

Bannon and Clare are back again for another adventure in Brittania. In this book, the two race against time as a mad scientist and villanious mentath unleash a new for of the Black Plague upon the innocent citizens on Londonium. As they work to track down the killers, Bannon must face the loss of one of her own as the plague infects those she cares about.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. Saintcrow's steampunk world are quite technical, and I find myself paying close attention less I get lost in the jargon and landscapes. But it's also enjoyable being challenged while reading. The story is strong, characters fully developed and the premise is interesting. My only gripe with the series is the murky nature of the relationship between the mentath, Prime and her shield. It's confusing, and at times, it makes me annoyed.

Two Graves by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast's world is turned upside down when his wife, Helen, thought to be long dead, suddenly reappears - very much alive; however only moments after being reunited with her, she is kidnapped and Pendergast must race across the country and against time to save her. But Helen's kidnapping is only the opening move of an intricate plot that includes a serial killer loose in New York City whose agenda seems directly tied to the agent and the discovery of a long-hidden sect of Nazi soldiers in Brazil, intent on rebuilding the Third Reich and completing its World War II mission of global domination.

As he struggles to find answers in these increasingly complex cases, Pendergast soon discovers Helen kept many things hidden from her - revelations that will change his life forever.

Two Graves is a fast-paced story that does an excellent job balancing the several plots woven throughout the pages. Long-time readers will be excited to see the return of Corrie Swanson, and the authors finally bring closure to the reasons behind Constance Greene's incarceration at Mount Mercy Hospital for the Criminally Insane. All the familiar favorites return for this globe-trotting adventure, including a few who haven't been seen in quite some time, and new faces are introduced - two in particular who will directly influence Pendergast's future adventures.

As always, the reader is suspected to suspend disbelief at Pendergast's remarkable abilities - some bordering on the supernatural - but all in all, this was a terrific book that long-time readers will find satisfaction in as they join their favorite FBI agent on another remarkable adventure.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

If you're a Neil Gaiman fan, prepare to be surprised by the intimate tone of his latest book. Gaiman's story - magical, remarkable and dark - is perhaps his most revealing work to date. As I read this book, I felt Gaiman was sharing bits and bobs of his own childhood, skillfully woven into the fictional narrative. The result was the feeling that I was reading a somewhat biographical account of his own life.

I will never be able to do justice to this story. All I can say is go read this book and be prepared to laugh, to cry and be given a glimpse into this amazing man's life.

The Walking Dead Vol. 18: What Comes After by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (artist)

This ever-evolving series is dark and gruesome, as evidenced by Rick's group dealings with Negan and the Saviors. I particularly enjoyed watching Carl's evolution and the struggle he faces between being a scared little boy while trying to be an unafraid man. It's powerful stuff, and Kirkman and crew keep deliving nail-biting drama and beautiful art.

Books completed: 37/50