Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A Life Well Portrayed


I sat before this very daunting looking book, coming in at over 900 pages, feeling slightly excited as my expectations where high after Dr Roberts last offering. I have read a few books about Napoleons campaigns before but never had I taken a look at the entire life of the man.

I am pleased to write that this book delivers an informative and enthralling read that sees the pages melt away as you are pulled into Napoleons life. This book is very balanced, with the author trying to peel back the stories and legends around the man to tell as best as possible the real story behind the man.

The huge amount of research that went into this book is evident and gave the author some great insights into Napoleon’s characteristics. This book is a must read for anyone that loves history.
 
4 Stars

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Good Ole Dad

Here is another  review from our star reviewer Pamellia.
 
 
Hmm...I am a reader of many genres. However, for the past several years I have read a lot of horror and some of it being a bit disturbing. I have not read any thing from King to Meikle or Strand to Saunders this disturbing and horrific.

Bad is bad. Good is good. Covered up bad (in my mind) does not equal good....and certainly does not equal a happy family. This book does present a moral dilemma that any parent could face, but most will not. The author must have had this idea that does sound cleaver at first thought, maybe a second thought would have prevented the matching of a light heart-ed very public dinner with such a shocking and private topic.

The dinner's various categorizes of the menu were suppose to match (I think) the conversation of these 2 men and their wives. I wasn't convinced of that. In fact for at least the first 35% of the book, I had no idea it was going to be such a true horror! These 2 couples had monsters for children, no doubt in my mind. Any one of any age would have seen that ATM booth and called the police. What they did was not logical. And then for responsible parents to cover something like that up. Not helping, people!! The parents were not helping their futures they were hindering the future of these two boys. Obviously these boys needed professional help and maybe even prison time. There was not even a mention of parental punishment, was there. And what was approved by Claire, the mother of Michel, good Lord, that woman was psychotic!! What...she knew something should have been done, decided this was the way to go, not even informing her husband??

Our narrator, Poor ole Paul...”Good Ole Dad” as Michel said a few times in the book, who started off in such a light-hearted upbeat way, sure turns the tables doesn't he. Paul is one of several characters in this book not to like. In fact there were no characters in this book to like. They were all scum-bags. I honestly do appreciate likeable characters in books I read. At least one or two.  

There were a few things I wondered about. What exactly is this author trying to do in this book? Is he trying to promote a moral or political agenda? I mean if we know someone is going to be asocial, then should that life be eliminated before it's had a chance to be born? Paul obviously had issues. After the high school job, where did his money come from? At this point was Claire working? Paul mentions Claire not working and cared for her child with the support of Day Care, so she had 3 days a week for herself. What?? That alone is weird. No mother wants to take their child to day care 3 days a week, especially one that she knows_____(don't want to spoil here). So that whole set up was dysfunctional. Was Claire working then? What happened when Claire was in hospital and Babette and Serge came over and found the mess? Was it impossible for Paul to care for his son, even though he thought he could? And what about Serge's political ambitions. He just throws them away and then decides not to or what? The hitting, the scars, the beard. It's interesting, yes indeed, but it doesn't seem to come together to make any sense. Another issue is Serge wants to be in the public eye, but he doesn't want this event to be in the public eye...so he invites Paul and Claire to met him at a very public place where servers are always at the table and the public is there for pictures and if someone could catch a word Mr. Future Prime Minister (look out Mr. Rutte!) would say, it would be public knowledge soon. Why not meet in a private setting? That seemed odd to me.

What I don't know now is this, Was the book written poorly or did the author actually mean for the characters to be as idiotic as they were unlikable? I'm not sure, but I do know there is a lot of information that we do not know (see previous paragraph) and it could have been easily included in the story.

However, even the illogical and left out information, I thought the book was a good read. Starting out as a nice dinner where we soon find out, is not such a nice dinner. One sympathizes with Paul at the beginning, thinking he really wants this happy family and thinks he has it. He thinks he can take care of his son and honestly thinks he's doing a good job. It's sad really, for Paul is out of touch with reality. I believe Clair knows this and feels she must cover up for him and their son. So then one has to ask themselves when is family right and when is it wrong. Looks like in this family and extended family, if you are on Clair's side you are right.  I might recommend this book, but I think I would be more inclined to strongly recommend certain people not read it. 
 
3 Stars

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Bite Sized Fun



Hell Island sees my first foray into the works of Matthew Reilly, which as a fellow Australian really is not good enough. I decided on trying this bite sized read first  after several friends recommended it.

I have to say the book did not WOW me as much as I was expecting. Don't get me wrong all the elements for a great action read where present but the premise of the story as a whole seemed a bit tired to me.

It was like I had read it or seen it play out on the Silver screen before. What was written on the page was definitely a page turner if not a tad predictable. This did disappoint me but at the end of the day I was overall entertained. I think that to get a better feel for this author it is time to try one of his more substantial works.
3 Stars

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A Great Read That Stands Apart From The Rest



This short but highly satisfying read is my second book by this author and like the first it delivers a fresh take on the apocalypse scene. Be warned if you are after a book full of action and stuff blowing up and going splat then give this book a miss.

What this book delivers is a very realistic view of what the world would be like if all hope is lost and the human race is on the way out. As the title might suggest this book centres on a teacher whose students can be counted on one's hands and whose numbers are dropping every day. As one can imagine this is a very depressive state of affairs as life and Society as we know slowly fades away.

Chris Dietzel manages to deliver a deeply engaging narrative that does not rely on action to keep one engaged. As a reader you are made to feel uncomfortable as you think of what you would do in similar circumstances, and this is what makes this book stand out. It's than ability of the author to touch something in the reader that gives the book a very frightening feeling of reality to it. I for one will be returning to the world that is The Great De-Evolution series.
 
5 Stars
 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Sociology In The Projects

 
 
Sudhir Venkatesh once again shows his ability to take academic learning from the classroom to the streets and put a real life spin on it. In this book he takes sociology to a whole new level by becoming a part of the community he was studying. Ignoring all safety warning Sudhir enters the projects to see how it works from the street level.

I can hear all the academic minded screaming "NO, NO, NO" you cannot become a part of what you are studying. To them I say this book is a shining example of what can be produced when you immerse yourself into your subject why maintaining an objective view.

The inner workings of the projects are truly mind-boggling and had me thinking how can society turn a blind eye to the goings on in these lower social economic areas. Often left to look after themselves the communities developed are complicated and the line between legal and illegal are blown away. This book goes way beyond the gangs and lets the readers into the inner workings of a part of society many would prefer to sweep under the carpet.

4 Stars






Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A Quick History of the Easter Egg

Easter Egg Tradition

Eggs have been associated with the Christian festival of Easter, which celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ, since the early days of the church. However, Christian customs connected with Easter eggs are to some extent adaptations of ancient pagan practices related to spring rites.

The egg has long been a symbol of 'fertility', 'rebirth' and 'the beginning'. In Egyptian mythology, the phoenix burns its nest to be reborn later from the egg that is left; Hindu scriptures relate that the world developed from an egg.

With the rise of Christianity in Western Europe, the church adapted many pagan customs and the egg, as a symbol of new life, came to represent the Resurrection. Some Christians regarded the egg as a symbol for the stone being rolled from the sepulchre.

Eggs as an Easter Gift

The earliest Easter eggs were hen or duck eggs decorated at home in bright colours with vegetable dye and charcoal. Orthodox Christians and many cultures continue to dye Easter eggs, often decorating them with flowers.
 
The 17th and 18th centuries saw the manufacture of egg-shaped toys, which were given to children at Easter. The Victorians had cardboard, 'plush' and satin covered eggs filled with Easter gifts and chocolates. The ultimate egg-shaped Easter gifts must have been the fabulous jewelled creations of Carl Fabergé made during the 19th century for the Russian Czar and Czarina, now precious museum pieces.
 
Chocolate Easter eggs were first made in Europe in the early 19th century, with France and Germany taking the lead in this new artistic confectionery. Some early eggs were solid, as the technique for mass-producing moulded chocolate had not been devised. The production of the first hollow chocolate eggs must have been painstaking, as the moulds were lined with paste chocolate one at a time.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A Remarkable Memoir

 


Working Stiff tells the story of a young Medical Forensic Examiner in her first two years of training in NYC. Judy Melinek does not hold back in this memoirs and the result is a fascinating and heart felt look into her life and profession. At times this book had me in tears as I read some of the cases she had to work on.

Yes she has some very firm views on suicide that may not sit comfortable with some of the audience. But with her personal experience in this matter one cannot blame her for that view.

What I truly found humbling about this book was how she wrote about her experience with the 9-11 tragedy. She did not down play its horror but neither did she allow it to dominate the book or overshadow the everyday tragedies she bore witness to. The couple of chapters dedicated to 9-11 where harrowing and some of the images that where conjured up in my imagination will stay with me for a very long time.

Overall Working Stiff delivers a deeply personal account of one Doctors induction into the world of Forensic Medical Examiners. I for one thank the author for giving us a view into this very difficult and technical line of work and the impact it has personally on her.
 
4.5 Stars