Extensively researched, but with a few typos and other errors.
The author analyzes the mauling death of Diane Whipple, the events leading up to that ev
Extensively researched, but with a few typos and other errors.
The author analyzes the mauling death of Diane Whipple, the events leading up to that event, the background of the dogs' owners, and the bigger picture elements, including the purchase of the dogs involved in the attack to use for breeding fighting dogs for the neo-nazi Aryan Brotherhood.
This book paints a very clear picture of the elements that go into making a dog unstable and dangerous, including keeping a breeding pair of dogs (unspayed and unneutered), and although they were kept as pets before the attack, both dogs were unsocialized and chained outside for much of their lives prior to that time. None of the caretakers/owners of these dogs disciplined them appropriately, and they were allowed to escalate their aggressive behavior through the years, eventually leading to Ms. Whipple's death.
The only complaint I have with this book is the author's use of the phrases "left-wing liberal" and "bleeding heart liberal" to describe the defendants in this case. Although Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel were public defenders who offered their services pro bono to the disadvantaged, and may have considered themselves to be "liberal", at heart it appears that they were interested only in themselves rather than being of any particular political leaning. To use a disparaging term to describe them as liberal is inappropriate, and it's hard to believe the author herself truly believes in that characterization. I found the comments to be distasteful and unnecessary.
Although I remember hearing about this attack when it happened, I'd never heard anything more about it (my primary interest in reading this book was based in my interest in dogs) -- there is information in this book that seems nearly impossible to believe, and much of it is very hard to stomach. If you are more familiar with this case, perhaps you won't be overly shocked by these details, but please be warned -- some of the allegations are extremely bizarre and disturbing.
This is one of those books that I am EXTREMELY torn about how to rate. On one hand, the author presents some very interesting hypotheses that I had neThis is one of those books that I am EXTREMELY torn about how to rate. On one hand, the author presents some very interesting hypotheses that I had never really considered before -- and I absolutely love when someone can make me look at things in a whole new light. His arguments are very well thought out -- at least initially -- and seem to be exhaustively researched. On the other hand, there are some controversial (and arguably offensive) sections. I'll touch on these just briefly, as I think one would need to read these sections to determine for oneself how offensive they might be. In one section, the author speculates on the possibility of humanity being interbred with some "alien" life form -- although alien wouldn't be accurate in his view, because he theorizes that these creatures possibly pre-date humanity, so "alien" simply as compared with modern humans -- then continues his speculation to include genetic diseases, questioning if these could be construed as proof of this (detrimental) hybridization. Don't get mad at me -- I didn't write the book! There is another brief chapter discussing the origins of a certain religion -- which religion is left for the reader to speculate and/or research on his own. Granted, to a non-believer (of any religion, regardless of which one you choose), the origins of particular belief systems can seem a bit . . . peculiar. I was personally unfamiliar with the story he was referring to -- after researching, I believe he is referencing Islam. The tone of this chapter comes across as very negative, and I was disturbed by it. I think I would have felt the author was being a bit more intellectually honest had he applied his same analysis across the board -- which I can guarantee would have offended most readers. At least then it would have seemed to be less of an attack against one particular faith. The final few chapters become more and more religious in tone (fundamentalist Christian), to an unpleasant degree. If there was any mention in the book description of this viewpoint, I would have probably not picked this one up. The author is certainly entitled to his beliefs, just as I am entitled to my own -- I'm simply not that interested in reading about them. As for more technical considerations -- although beginning strong, there are more typos throughout the second half of the book. My copy says "Third Expanded And Revised Edition" on the cover, leading me to wonder if those are the sections that perhaps were not proofread thoroughly. Another problem with the book is that, although there is a wealth of information, the author does tend to repeat himself -- quite a lot. I'm not sure the repetition adds anything to the discussion -- several chapters read as though they were written without thought to what had already been presented. Again, it's possible these portions were part of the new and/or revised material in this edition. I would have loved to give this one a much higher rating, and based on the sheer audacity of the ideas presented I would have rated it higher. But, ultimately, the flaws for me were too great to ignore -- so I'm settling on "just ok". I will probably look at some of the author's other works to see if the views he explores at the end of this book are present in all of his books -- I'm very curious to see if this is perhaps common knowledge that I somehow overlooked. ...more
In general, I love the Cabal books -- the author can't write fast enough, IMO. So I was very excited last fall to see that there was a new story cominIn general, I love the Cabal books -- the author can't write fast enough, IMO. So I was very excited last fall to see that there was a new story coming out to tide me over till there's another book.
So . . . In terms of having something Cabal, ANY Cabal to read, this fits the bill. My issue with the last book, The Brothers Cabal, was that there wasn't enough Johannes in it. This story is all Johannes, and has a seductive spider devil thrown in -- full disclosure, a spider devil would be one of my worst nightmares.
But . . . I think the problem for me was the villain, a sorcerer hiding within the depths of hell who REALLY doesn't want to be bothered. He's fairly one dimensional, which I could probably deal with, but there was a real emphasis on his being a eunuch. I'm not sure why this bothered me so much -- it just seemed like his character flaws were because of this. Perhaps that wasn't the author's intent, but it just didn't sit well with me.
I also found the devil tedious after a certain point. We get it, she uses sex as a weapon -- ho hum. I would have liked Cabal to team up with a female character who could really hold her own with him in a way that was separate from her sexuality.
Still, a decent read, and I'm still crazy about Cabal. ...more
A good read, but points subtracted for the lack of detail that such a short book necessitates. The book also needs a serious revision of the afterword
A good read, but points subtracted for the lack of detail that such a short book necessitates. The book also needs a serious revision of the afterword -- although the rest of the book was proofread well (although not perfectly), the afterword is filled with typos and unclear sentences. It's really a shame because the author has some interesting ideas to share in that final chapter. Unfortunately, many readers will probably find the mistakes distracting from the point he's trying to make....more
I was eagerly anticipating the release of this book -- I've read all of the Cabal books, as well as the shorter stories, and absolutely love them.
SadlI was eagerly anticipating the release of this book -- I've read all of the Cabal books, as well as the shorter stories, and absolutely love them.
Sadly, this one missed the mark for me.
The first half to three quarters of the book is told in flashback, narrated by Cabal's brother, the vampire Horst Cabal. We see only brief glimpses of Johannes (the necromancer) during this part of the story, and I just didn't enjoy it as much without J. Cabal being the primary focus.
The author actually addresses that complaint towards the end of the first half of the book in a clever and amusing way. It made me smile, but I still missed Johannes.
Horst is an interesting character, and it was fun to get a fuller picture of him, but the books for me are all about the necromancer brother -- Johannes is cold and calculating, which really adds something to the humor of the book, while Horst is nice enough in his own way, but definitely not a character I want to read a whole book about.
The story picks up when Johannes Cabal finally enters the picture -- I love this character!
It looks like the author is definitely going to be working on another Cabal book, which I will be anxiously awaiting. For Cabal fans, this one is a good but not great entry....more
Andy Weir's love letter to science, this book is a great adventure story -- Robinson Crusoe in space. As a kid, I was kind of weirdly obsessed with DaAndy Weir's love letter to science, this book is a great adventure story -- Robinson Crusoe in space. As a kid, I was kind of weirdly obsessed with Daniel Defoe's novel (I was a peculiar kid, another favorite book was Beowulf: A New Verse Translation**), and apparently my fascination with survival stories hasn't diminished with time.
There's so much I liked about this book. Beyond the basic tale of an astronaut becoming stranded on Mars (!), this is flat out science fiction, with a heavy emphasis on science. That might sound dull, I suppose, but the author dumbs it down just enough to hold your attention, and he keeps the action moving right along. One thing I enjoyed was how Weir was able to introduce these life threatening complications in a very organic, believable way -- then shows you exactly how and why these things could happen on a real mission to Mars.
The main character, astronaut Mark Watney, is a bit of a lovable goof. You can see not only why his NASA co-workers would be willing to risk so much to save him, but also how his light hearted character helps him to survive.
As an unapologetic optimist, I appreciated the fact that there are no "evil villains" in this book. That's fine for a certain style of writing, but when something is this tense to start with, I don't really need to be wondering how so-and-so is going to double cross the hero for his own personal gain. I liked how everyone pulled together, and I agree with the author that in times of trouble we humans do more often than not help each other out. That's not to say there is no conflict between characters -- there are differences of opinion, but not self-serving decisions, and the characters are all decent and likable.
There are a couple of minor issues -- and I do mean minor, and they're pretty much just style preferences for me: several of the characters have a similar sort of wise-cracking smart ass "voice". Not a big problem for me, as I enjoy that kind of tone, but I know there are readers who would be bothered by that. Also, the author seems to have an affection for "W" surnames -- surely they aren't as common in real life as they are in this book?! And . . . nope. That's about all I can nit-pick about. Pretty much everything else is just pure fun.
I was thisclose to giving this one 5 stars -- the only reason I haven't is because it feels just a little "light" to me, there wasn't a big emotional resonance. But 4 stars is still pretty darn good, and I would absolutely recommend this one highly.
**Full disclosure, I have no idea which edition of "Beowulf" I loved as a kid, so I linked to the one I read as an adult! Kind of wish I was young enough that this edition was the one I read as a kid . . ....more
One of the most moving books I've had the pleasure of reading. On the face of it, this doesn't seem like the sort of book I would love -- there is bleOne of the most moving books I've had the pleasure of reading. On the face of it, this doesn't seem like the sort of book I would love -- there is bleakness and despair here, but also a genuine exploration of "humanity". I was surprised by how the author made me feel while reading this, as well as how she challenged my feelings and beliefs about our prison system. I'm not sure I've read anything else -- especially fiction -- that has made me really examine my attitudes towards the less fortunate in our society, the broken and abused who are easier to ignore because the problems seem so vast. There is also a thoughtful examination of the death penalty, with the author coming down on neither side, allowing the reader to see both sides of the question on their own. As a strong opponent to the death penalty, I found this challenge disconcerting. Discovering that truth in a novel is surprising and refreshing. This is a slim book and a fast read. Highly recommend....more
Christopher Buehlman is becoming one of my favorite authors. I was so excited to see that he had a new book out, I rushed right out to buy it and coulChristopher Buehlman is becoming one of my favorite authors. I was so excited to see that he had a new book out, I rushed right out to buy it and couldn't put it down. This might be my favorite book of his so far.
One thing I really enjoy about Buehlman's work is that every book is different -- different time periods, different types of characters, different themes -- and yet the writing is uniformly wonderful, the stories interesting, and the narrators likable. No matter who these guys are or what they do, you can't help but root for them.
The Lesser Dead takes us into the world of vampires, circa late 1970s NYC. Buehlman really nails this time period, and you can really imagine the gritty New York of that time.
We follow our narrator, Joey, as he navigates life as a vampire in the city -- taking detours along the way to see how he became a vampire, as well as his life before that event. The main story concerns his vampire "family's" discovery of several child vampires. This discovery propels the story into unexpected directions.
To say anything else about this book would ruin the pleasure of having the story unfold as you read it, so I'll close for now.
Full Disclosure: The author, Jake Kerr, is my long-suffering spouse. I can assure you that this is more of a hinderance than a help when it comes to g
Full Disclosure: The author, Jake Kerr, is my long-suffering spouse. I can assure you that this is more of a hinderance than a help when it comes to getting a good review from me.
Perhaps because I read the earliest drafts of it, I was lukewarm (at best) at the prospect of reading this book. I was genuinely surprised and pleased that the story grabbed me from the first sentence -- I honestly couldn't put this down until the very last page, then eagerly read the preview chapter for the next book in the series.
Tommy Black is a young teen who has been thrown into a formerly -- to him -- unknown world of magic. Yes, yes, how very Harry Potter. But beyond that passing resemblance, this truly couldn't be more different. Set in the build-up to World War II, there is an historic feel to the story, much of which will be more obvious to adults than to the YA target audience, although I feel that there is a lot here for younger readers to explore if they so desire. Many of the characters and events are real, and spotting those parts is like a delightful treasure hunt.
Rather than being based on English lore, this story centers on the Middle East, pulling in mages, djinn, marid, and more. I think it's a unique twist on this type of story, and I enjoyed the exotic imagery immensely.
We follow Tommy as he learns about his magical legacy, then goes on a quest to find his grandfather. Along the way, he meets Naomi, who is probably the most badass character in the book. As the mother of three girls, I love that this story has a strong and powerful female character, and I hope we see more of her throughout the series.
Although it is in no way preachy, the story does touch on some interesting subjects, such as equal rights, cultural appropriation, and the bonds and responsibilities that come with family and friends.
I thought that the story started off fairly simply, growing in complexity as it went along, and there was a lot of foreshadowing that I missed the first time around. (I read it straight through twice. It was interesting -- and fun -- to see the clues that were scattered throughout.) It looks as if the characters, as well as the story, will be growing and maturing in the next installment -- I'm very excited to see what happens in the next book!
Extremely fascinating book detailing the author's research into the identity of "Jack the Ripper" -- although this is apparently his first book, thereExtremely fascinating book detailing the author's research into the identity of "Jack the Ripper" -- although this is apparently his first book, there are very few obvious missteps in the writing, rather it comes across as being quite accessible to the reader. Edwards does repeat himself a bit, but this is understandable when you consider how carefully he is presenting his evidence.
I especially enjoyed the details of the scientific process of extracting and analyzing the DNA, as well as learning how the author was able to track down descendants of both the victim and possible killer to compare their results with.
While it is true that Edwards narrowed his focus to one of the possible suspects, the careful reader will see that he initially thought it likely to be someone else, and he does explain his reasons for discounting the others. Considering the time and expense that would have been required to test every suspect, this certainly was the best use of resources.
Yes, this isn't peer reviewed, and yes, there is a lack of notations, but this is a book published for the layperson. Let's face it, the casual reader would most likely skip all of that anyway. Hopefully there will be more information presented to the scientific community in the near future -- although I very much doubt even that will silence the "experts" who prefer the killer's identity to remain a mystery. Unfortunately, there are many people who are more invested in keeping the "Ripper" industry alive rather than in celebrating the use of scientific advances to solve this mystery.
Another great installment in this trilogy -- I really enjoyed every story in this collection, and was happy to see that, while most of the authors conAnother great installment in this trilogy -- I really enjoyed every story in this collection, and was happy to see that, while most of the authors continued their stories from the first book, some of them switched it up a bit by exploring different aspects of their characters' worlds. I've been waiting since the first book, The End is Nigh, to see what happened to my favourite characters, and each author really took an interesting direction with their stories. I was very surprised by some of them, and none of them were boring. Looking forward to the next book!...more