June 7th, 2015

Dead Dog Cat

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A few more days, a couple more books finished. I'm actually reading several at the same time, skipping from one to another, so I'm apt to complete a bunch all at once in a few more days.

Anyway, over the last two days or so I read two books.

First was Osprey Fortress #28: Forts of the American Frontier 1820 – 91: Central and Northern Plains, obviously primarily aimed at protecting US forces and civilians from Native Americans. A number of towns have grown up around the old sites, and their names confirm this. I found it moderately interesting.

Next was Beachbum Berry Revisited, a book primarily about how to make the typical exotic drinks that you'd find in a tiki bar. There's a bit about various associated topics as well. This is a compilation and revision of two previous works on the subject by the same author. Nice piece of work!

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11. Brontë - Jane Eyre
Finally time to read this classic, and it was so much worth it. In a way ahead of time, and Jane was such a strong and lucky character. :)

12. Gurnall - The Christian In Complete Armour
The 'so heavy you could hurt someone throwing this'-size kind of a book. Very thorough - and over 1200 pages long - study of the 'Christian Armour' story taken from one of Paul's letters. A lot to read but worth it.

13. Ellsberg - The Saints' Guide To Happiness: Practical Lessons In The Life Of The Spirit
This is also very much worth reading. Light in mood and really helpful.

14. Burroughs - The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment
Similar in style to the Gurnall book on how to reach this Contentment.

15. Dogen - A Primer Of Soto Zen (borrowed from parents)
Some useful stuff, but in the end not worth keeping (and my parents had put it in the 'take to the library' pile, where I put it back after reading).

16. DeLeón - The Names Of Christ (English translation)
Underrated Renaissance Spain classic, with profound study of various names, like bud, shepherd, Prince of Peace and even his name, Jesus. If one is in any way interested on this subject (or the man), one should get this.

17. St. Albert The Great - On Cleaving To God (English translation)
Very short, not necessarily essential, but worth at least reading through once :)

18. Anonymous - The Way Of A Pilgrim (English translation)
Very good story involving the subject of Jesus Prayer and some stories from the main person's journeying around.

19. Singer - The Life You Can Save: How To Do Your Part To End World Poverty
On why one should give, who should one give to, and how much. Very convincing IMO.

20. Conze (transl.) - Buddhist Wisdom: The Diamond Sutra & The Heart Sutra
Well, I wanted to read these sutras... but they gave me nothing. The explanations opened the text much, but I gained nothing or at least nothing new. But it's good to know. *nods*
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Books 21 aand 22

21. 100 Ideas That Changed Fashion, by Harriet Worsely. Really enjoyed this look at the defining moments of fashion, some of which I'd never considered. One, it's hard to overstate, and this book drives it home, how much the two World Wars changed the fashion scene, particularly for women. Many trends listed here have a direct or indirect connection to those world-shattering events. The brief articles are chock full of interesting information on fashion, trends and trendsetters. This would be a great book for anyone wanting a quick primer on the fashion world, or your "reluctant reader" who follows Project Runway religiously. A couple minor nits. One, in the article on the white wedding gown, it mentions Queen Victoria as the one who slowly ushered in the concept, making it sound like she was doing this as a romantic and revolutionary. Actually, her white wedding dress and eschewing a crown of jewels for a garland of flowers were a sign of austerity- plain fabric was less expensive than print, certainly less expensive than brocade. The country was facing financial difficulties at that time, and the new queen's white gown was her way of scaling back on costs. Also, in the same section, it mentions that most women wore pink or blue at their weddings. Blue, yes, but at that time pink (and red) were considered men's colors. You occasionally see a portrait of a woman in a pink print dress but not often. In another section, it makes mention how much World War I changed women's fashions, and how military uniforms impacted women's wear. This is very true, and as I said earlier, the World Wars did more than anything in completely turning women's fashion on its head. But the way the article is written, it makes it sound like war never had an impact on women's fashion. Certainly not true. In the Civil War, women often used military-inspired braiding on hems and sleeves, and the fashion of slashing garments in the middle ages to allow undergarments to show through was a result of war. Still, all in all an entertaining and enlightening read. Especially loved the sections on the impact of technology on fashion.

22. In the Shadows, by Kiersten White, with illustrations by Jim DiBartolo. This novel actually tells two related stories, in two different formats, and the effect is quite ingenious. It opens with a series of illustrations, then goes into a seemingly unrelated chapter. As the book goes on, the pieces of the dark mystery come together. The story centers on five teens living at a boarding house in a remote town- Cora and Minnie, who run the house with their recently widowed mother; Thomas and Charles, brothers who have been sent there for the summer by their father for Charles' health- and perhaps darker reasons; and Arthur, who harbors several closely-guarded secrets but who knows more than he lets on about the mysterious happenings in the town - happenings that threaten to ensnare all five of them. This is a quick read, with an engaging mystery. The five main characters are well done. My only nit is I wonder if this would have worked even better as a series, so we can get more into the back stories on several of the other characters, including Mary. Also, I do wonder if the ending was wrapped up a bit too neatly and quickly. All in all, though, I really liked it. The illustrations are just gorgeous, detailed and dark. This would be good for preteens and teens looking for a good mystery or a quick summer read.

Currently reading: Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas; Cleveland in the Gilded Age, by Dan Ruminski and Alan Dutka; and A Curious Man, by Neal Thompson


I recently picked up Kirsten Powers's The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech, and I'm going to have to waive my anathema on Regnery long enough to get off Book Review No. 12.  But "polemical mental floss" is about right.

Put it this way: if you've been following campus PC atrocities from the days of D'Souza's Illiberal Education; if you perceive MSNBC as Granma or TACC in English; if you think President Obama would like a fly-whisk to go with his palace-guard media, you'll agree with the stories in Silencing.  But Ms Powers wrote the book with the hopes of encouraging her Democrat colleagues, and the self-styled progressives, to get to know people who have a different world-view and explore the foundations for their beliefs.  Here, though, allowing Regnery to produce the book may have been a tactical error on her part, as it has been run through the usual edit-to-preach-to-the-converted red-meat-grinder.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)

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Book 65

Blast of the Dragon's Fury (Andy Smithson, #1)Blast of the Dragon's Fury by L.R.W. Lee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In many places it's more like a 3.5. I recieved this from the author in exchange for an honest review which is what I intend to give. This is geared toward the middle age reader and I think some of the humor would appeal to them. The curse and some of the 'punishments' Andy faces are a bit soft but keeping in mind this is for a younger reader that makes sense (less so through adult eyes of course).

Andy is brought into a parallel universe and does pretty well coping with that. He's a slightly underachieving, computer game addicted son of two high achieving parents with no time for him. Andy is brought into the cursed kingdom by Mermin, Merlin's cousin (and I have to say this wizard's speech impediment was annoying to read). He befriends Alden a neon-green haired serving boy (who does serve to illustrate xenophobia and prejudice in a way that would make young readers see the dangers of such things).

Andy makes a lot of mistakes with big dire consequences (though the king keeps letting him off lightly), he gets close to Alden's mother (who is nuturing unlike his own) and finds out he seems to be a chosen one as a magical sword and other things appear to him. The king and wizard seem to think he has to be the one to get the items needed to break the curse (which seems to be immortality and a dense fog that cuts them off). That's easier said than done. there is a neighboring kingdom that's trying to take over and stop Andy and Alden and he has to get a scale off a rare red dragon, something a bit hard to do for a young boy. Worse there's a mysterious unseen villainess who is out to stop him.

Overall it was fairly enjoyable and I think younger readers would really enjoy it. There were some things that bugged me like them cutting up a dragon and eating it because the dragon keeper wants them too (that seems like it would be traumatic for younger readers and honestly not as easy to do as it was portrayed) and it was a bit draggy in the middle but not so much that I set it aside. It was mostly fun.

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