I'm so glad I bought Better than a Dream . I'd read the summary on amazon and the plot seemed pretty thin, but sometimes you just have a good feelingI'm so glad I bought Better than a Dream . I'd read the summary on amazon and the plot seemed pretty thin, but sometimes you just have a good feeling about a book and I had that feeling about Better than a Dream . Something told me I would like it so I decided to give it a try.
Yuuki is the owner of a cafe in a small town. He's still mourning the loss of his lover to a tragic hiking accident when Kamishiro, a mysterious chef walks into his life. Initially, Kamishiro's resemblance to Yuuki's lost lover is what draws Yuuki to him but over time his feelings become more complicated.
What I appreciated most about Better than a Dream was the maturity of the main characters and the realistic portrayal of their emotions. Yuuki's grief and conflicted feelings especially rang true. In general this is very much a story about two adults slowly coming together. I thought it was paced well and everything came together in a way that made sense. Despite the simple-seeming plot, the author balances the suspense and the character development nicely. Don't think for a bit though that this means there was no steam. Far from it. Yuuki and Kamishiro sizzle off the pages.
In some places I would have liked a little more insight into Yuuki's thought processes but overall this was a really pleasant surprise on many levels, including the quality of the translation. If DMP keeps this up, I'll definitely be buying more of their novel releases. ...more
This is one of my favorite shounen ai manga and I finally got my hands on the first english volume. Shirasagi and Karasu are both wonderful contrary cThis is one of my favorite shounen ai manga and I finally got my hands on the first english volume. Shirasagi and Karasu are both wonderful contrary characters and the plot is great. Angels, demons, romance and a little bit of philosophy make this a great read....more
Before reading Enrique's Journey I had no idea of the horrifying experiences that are a fact of life for illegal immigrants migrating from Central AmeBefore reading Enrique's Journey I had no idea of the horrifying experiences that are a fact of life for illegal immigrants migrating from Central America to the United States.
Obviously I knew the journey was difficult but it's impossible to imagine the depth of the pain and suffering they go through. I was even more stunned by how many of these migrants are children in search of their mothers. Their stories broke my heart in so many ways from those who are attacked by gangs to those who lose limbs trying to get on and off trains to those stuck in jails and detention centers with no idea how to find their parents.
The strength of the book is in the way Nazario higlights the trade-off that so many immigrant mothers make by going to the US in the hopes of creating a better life for the children they leave behind. Yet, the impact of the separation on these children is irrevocable. Many children lose their own lives trying to follow their mothers to the US while others fall into addiction and crime. Even those who don't fall by the wayside must live with deep emotional scars and resentment. Nazario therefore does a good job of posing the question of whether it is worth it.
I was also particularly intrigued by the fact that Mexicans are currently facing some of the same challenges and grappling with the same issues that the US is in dealing with illegal immigration. In Mexico's case, the illegal immigrants are from other Central American countries and much of the same animosity towards and ambivalence about immigrants exists there as well.
Because I'm interested in development, this book also makes me think about the roles of labor mobility and remittances in development. Researchers like Lant Pritchett for example argue that labor mobility is perhaps the singlemost effective path to poverty alleviation in lesser developed countries. Yet, it is impossible to deny that countries like Honduras and El Salvador should also be responsible for creating economic opportunities for their people. Given that we're still not quite sure how development happens and the role of global forces in influencing development I wonder what is the most equitable way for countries to share the benefits and the burdens of low-skilled migration.
What an odd strangely disturbing book. Gideon Mack is a minister who doesn't believe in God. One day he falls into a ravine where he claims to have meWhat an odd strangely disturbing book. Gideon Mack is a minister who doesn't believe in God. One day he falls into a ravine where he claims to have met the Devil. That single encounter changes his life forever.
I picked up The Testament of Gideon Mack because the premise seemed interesting, but the book didn't quite meet my expectations. Firstly, at 400 pages, this is a slow ponderous read in many places. Overall I enjoyed it but it had very high and very low points. The length is a serious issue--or maybe the "literariness" of it is. I could tell from the narrative voice, the structure and the many allusions to Sir Walter Scott that it was perhaps supposed to mirror a certain type of 19th century novel. However, I picked this up as a casual read and I often found the rambling style tedious. I wanted Robertson to start off with Gideon's encounter with the Devil. Instead, he first takes us through 200 pages of Gideon's story from boyhood to marriage to his life as a minister.
We learn about Gideon's strict upbringing by his father who was also a minister and about his timid mother. What emerges is a picture of a peculiarly weak man. I could not decide if Gideon lacked conviction and passion, if he was a coward, or if he was simply happy to just settle. Nothing ever seemed worth fighting for. Furthermore, while the idea of an atheistic minister is a little odd, 200 pages was just too much to have to read through to get what was ultimately not a very interesting backstory.
Throughout the novel, Gideon torments himself with the idea that he's a charlatan but this seemed pointless to me. What does it matter what you believe if your actions are consistent with a minister's? It is the acts that take precedent over words. There's no such thing as a person who does no ministerial duties but claims to be a minister "in his heart". Again, another strike against the tormented wishy-washy Gideon.
Then there is the encounter with the Devil. This is the one area where I think The Testament of Gideon Mack shines. Gideon's portrayal of the Devil is frightening not because he's scary but because he's not. Gideon's relationship with the Devil is almost romantic, a curious mirror image of the brotherly love usually associated with Christ. It raises a number of questions that Robertson holds masterfully in tension. Where was God in all of this for example?
I found it hard to believe that he'd simply forgotten about us as the Devil claims. Do good and evil not define themselves in opposition? So if God was missing, to me it only suggested that he and the Devil were one and the same. It's a disturbing picture in the context of the furtive, unpredictable and immature character the Devil plays in this book. Another more disappointing interpretation of course is simply that as an atheist, Gideon is being deceived by the Devil and has met the end predicted for him by the likes of Peter McMurray.
I think Robertson is telling a subtler story than this and he carefully weaves together enough contradictory pieces to make the meaning of Gideon Mack's encounter really unanswerable. That is the saving grace of The Testament of Gideon Mack and what in the end makes it memorable....more
In Spying Blind: The CIA, the FBI and the Origins of 9/11, Amy Zegart identifies the organizational failures at the root of 9/11. In particular, ZegarIn Spying Blind: The CIA, the FBI and the Origins of 9/11, Amy Zegart identifies the organizational failures at the root of 9/11. In particular, Zegart attributes the CIA’s and FBI’s failures to intercept the terrorists to a failure to adapt.
In both cases,“structural problems, cultural pathologies and perverse incentive systems” prevented the CIA and the FBI from adapting to meet the terrorist threat. The organizational failures of the CIA and the FBI in turn interacted with the perverse incentives which prevented three presidents, Congress and the Senate from effectively using their power to spur organizational change when it would have mattered most.
I think this book is so damning--and frightening--precisely because it doesn't take the easy route and point fingers at individuals or particular adminstrations. Zegart makes a convincing case for why US intelligence agencies failed so badly at intercepting the terrorist attacks.
I'd always imagined the CIA and FBI as these highly efficient agencies, but after Spying Blind, I'll never look at them the same way again. From the CIA's lame duck director to the FBI's outdated computer system which took fourteen commands to enter a single document, it becomes painfully clear just how prone these seemingly invulnerable organizations are to the same failings as the rest of government. This is a quick and highly entertaining if sobering read. Recommended for anyone interested in 9/11, organizational behavior and policy disasters...more
A very readable, but meticulously researched look at the growth of India and China and the particular challenges each faces as they become more integrA very readable, but meticulously researched look at the growth of India and China and the particular challenges each faces as they become more integrated with the global economy. Meredith highlights how much China and India are changing the global economic and political landscape and argues that if America does not keep up by investing in mathematics, science and research, improving its educational system and providing better safety nets for those who will inevitably lose their jobs to China and India, it will fall far behind. She emphasizes that protectionism is not the answer especially when China's and America's economies are so intertwined.
I thought this book was fascinating on many levels. In particular, the different paths of India and China and their different political systems raises the interesting question of which is better for economic growth--authoritarianism or democracy? Or perhaps less starkly, does authoritarianism produce fast but unsustainable growth while democracy produces slower but more sustainable improvements? I doubt it's that clear of a dichotomy but it certainly provides food for thought.