Inspired by a featured program on History Channel, I purchased this book as a curiosity and as additional Americana for my library.
Two introductory a...moreInspired by a featured program on History Channel, I purchased this book as a curiosity and as additional Americana for my library.
Two introductory articles by members of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History rebroadcast the core information contained on that TV show. An essay by Harry R. Rubenstein (Political Curator) and Barbara Clark Smith (Curator) elaborates upon the history of this publication. Conservation descriptions are expounded by Janice Stagnitto Ellis (Senior Paper Conservator).
The subtitle reads: “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted Textually from the Gospels in Greek, Latin, French & English.” Thomas Jefferson had spent years cutting, aligning, and pasting typeset classical language passages against the English version. His patience and precision in amassing this assemblage are amazing. It has been decades since I could read Greek and Latin with understanding, so I was not able to decipher the first three columns on each page; but, I read the King James English text almost like the Cliff’s Notes version of the New Testament.
This version is astonishingly clearer in presenting Christ’s messages. Jefferson has eradicated any confusion that might arise through reading the divergent texts of the four gospel writers. Since Jefferson has eliminated all the evangelical editorial remarks and hearsay from this text, Christ’s preaching parables and moral messages are more focused and remarkably more comprehensible.
The inclusions of Jefferson’s handwritten bibliography as well as the folded map of the 18th Century Mediterranean area have added precious connections to this work. The reproductions of clippings, smudges, and handwritten marginalia are ribbons that connect us to hours of intensive effort two centuries ago in Monticello. The faux-leather binding and hard plastic book jacket create an elegant addition to any bookshelf. Paradoxically, this book by a U.S. President and sponsored by a renowned American institution was printed in China.
I can appreciate why Jefferson used this book for his daily reflections. This work may become a reader’s breviary or a primer in learning classical languages, but certainly it will sit as an antiquarian acquisition on anyone’s bookshelf.(less)
Snicker. Chuckle. Guffaw. Snort. This 89-page e-book should elicit some humorous reaction.
Styled in a quick-witted British pacing, the book serves as...moreSnicker. Chuckle. Guffaw. Snort. This 89-page e-book should elicit some humorous reaction.
Styled in a quick-witted British pacing, the book serves as a manual to activate a retiree. This cheeky presentation is slanted more as a woman’s guide to encourage her GOM (Grumpy Old Man). But the suggestions can be reflective—a mirroring for any person in retirement who needs to engage in some activity.
The reader is taken alphabetically from “aeroplane” and “archery” to “zorbing” and “Zumba” as examples of tempting pastimes that the GOM might pursue. Blended into a hobby’s description or explanation are historical events, trivia associations, and category award winners from the Guinness World Records.
Puns and word play abound liberally in Wyer’s slick style. Also, quirky riddles are interspersed throughout. For example, “Q: What do you call an American drawing? A: A Yankee Doodle.” Groan, if you must; but, believe it or not, that’s what passes as “humour” in this work.
It is possible that a non-British audience might be clueless about some parochial material. We might miss the importance of “Kinder Eggs” or “PG Tips.” And, references to Only Fools and Horses (1980s’ BBC comedy series) or to the Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse sketches will prove meaningless to a foreigner. But the reader might translate some insular items: “Kendall Mint Cake” as York Peppermint Patty and “Meccano” as an erector set.
There are a few grammatical gaffes in this publication. Some hyphenation would allow the text to be better read. Numbers, especially percentages, are handled inconsistently. And, of course, British spelling can be off-putting to an American audience; although the reader might learn a few new terms for crossword puzzles: e.g., “rumbustious” (“rambunctious”).
Despite any different spellings, the humor in this guide enlivens the panoply of thoughtful suggestions. The work is a delightful, enlightening entertainment. Then, “Bob’s your uncle,” a pensioner just might launch into a new pastime.(less)
You might recall the Harvard art historian and symbologist from other Dan Brown novels. In this novel, Robert Langdon bounces through Tuscany and visi...moreYou might recall the Harvard art historian and symbologist from other Dan Brown novels. In this novel, Robert Langdon bounces through Tuscany and visits classical sites in pursuit of an evil genius bent on infecting the world population. Langdon searches the native territory of Dante Alighieri as referenced in his Divine Comedy in order to dismantle the Doomsday bomb planted by a bio-terrorist.
Langdon’s initial problem is that he has no memory when he awakens in a Florentine hospital. His eidetic recall has been impaired apparently by a head wound, and his escapade is launched by the appearance of an assassin. His evasion and gradual recollection are assisted by an ER doctor while they zip through Aegean sites, following pertinent clues, avoiding sinister pursuers, and racing the clock.
Dan Brown blends literature, literary history, and philosophy into this work. The inclusion of many verses from Dante’s poem captures the flavor of Italian Renaissance literature, and the author adds a précis of some verses while introducing the historical background, events, and personalities involved in Dante’s work. Brown renders descriptions of the classical buildings, sculptures, and other artwork with vivid aplomb.
The novelist also introduces the philosophic propositions of 18th Century British scholar Robert Malthus, who postulated that the world’s population would grow faster than the earth could provide subsistence. The Malthusian model also posited that population was controlled through famine and disease. Unfortunately, in our modern world pharmacology has eliminated many diseases, medical advances have advanced living ages, and the population has been exploding exponentially while resources are diminishing, bringing the human race to the brink of extinction. Genius geneticist Bertrand Zobrist, at odds with World Health Organization and in collusion with a secret group headed by the Provost, has devised and is about to execute a solution to overpopulation—unless Langdon can stop him.
Despite the intriguing revelations in this literary jaunt or the conflicting sociological viewpoints, Dan Brown’s formulaic plot here has become a bit threadbare. Even the romping visits through various exotic vistas are becoming tedious. The ageless Robert Langdon has become a picaresque protagonist, more a pliable foil for other characters than a self-actualized hero. Yet, a fascination to discover what evils will be released into the world will propel the reader onward.
This novel demonstrates how difficult it is to maintain a specific standard within Dan Brown’s genre. But consuming this book is not a waste of time.(less)
A promising thriller: a rogue CIA element colludes with a heartless pharmaceutical company to infect the unsuspecting population with Alzheimer’s. The...moreA promising thriller: a rogue CIA element colludes with a heartless pharmaceutical company to infect the unsuspecting population with Alzheimer’s. The book’s thrill, however, diminishes for lack of editing.
The plot develops nicely and the climax has startling elements; but the finale is saccharin and unbelievable. Tighter revisions would abbreviate the tearful confessions and fanciful hugging, and might discover other ways to satisfy a reader’s happy-ending quotient. There are other flaws, too.
People: The author uses the shortcut device of dubbing his characters with peculiar names rather than painting them with memorable traits: a limp, a weird tic, a scar, peculiar lisp, or an odd wardrobe. These flat characters are unremarkable since they lack significant details. Foreign-sounding surnames are intended to suggest some xenophobic fears. Some of the baddies include Schoenfeld, Brokowksi, Seidelman. Even Simon Gobels hints to a Nazi of memory. Ray Copernicus is an odd moniker for a central character; but implied here is that the notion that the eye of the storm of this story is akin to the author of helio-centric theory. Lawyer Eisenhower Richter is the antagonist. Attorney-author Woodfin shows his prejudice for the legal community by continually having his characters refer to Ike as “Mr. Richter.” In casual conversations, people don’t refer repeatedly to an attorney as “Mister.”
Places: Chase scenes and travel routes read like gazetteer renderings from an atlas. For any non-Texas reader the routings are meaningless, although they lend authenticity to the story. But a few picturesque scenes along the way would invite us along for the ride and make the trips more memorable.
Things: The use of washed-up or has-been politicians as exemplars—a “John Edwards haircut”; a “Mike Huckabee comb-over”—might prove hollow to anyone but an historian. Rather, more popular and recognizable personalities might be better appreciated especially by a younger audience. Usually, writers are warned to avoid slang (“ginga” for Pete’s sake). Woodfin loves to employ the slang “Bimmer.” Is he fixated on BMW cars or is he lecturing us on vernacular jargon (“Beemer” is the slang for BMW’s motorcycle)?
Some other problems: (a) The typographic use of italics in Chapter 21’s dream sequence is a bit odd. A better use might be to use this section as a first-person memory flashback. (b) The medical/chemical jargon is vague enough to be believable without being technical; but, serum production in a hotel room seems a far stretch of the imagination. And, (c) When not preaching, some characters deliver rather robotic, bland, and stilted dialogue.
One description for this novel is “forgettable.” This novel is a raw read—perhaps it is a draft rushed to print. It cries for more polish to be memorable.(less)
Here is a quick and enjoyable read whose whimsy reminds me of bedtime fable-fracturing to elicit children’s giggles. The stories might produce some ch...moreHere is a quick and enjoyable read whose whimsy reminds me of bedtime fable-fracturing to elicit children’s giggles. The stories might produce some chuckles, but the humor throughout is too inconsistent and satirical to draw out any belly laughs. There is a shelf-life to the hilarity of these classical tales since there is much dabbling into recent politics or current social affairs.
Within the span of 120 pages, the author splits familiar genres into five sections: Part One contains fairy tales that twist common renditions through parody, pun, or prank. “Thumbelina,” for instance, becomes an extended spoof of a current TV reality show whose main character could be Thumby Boo Boo.
“How The Kangaroo Got Its Pouch” in Part Two pretends to explain real evolution. It becomes almost Aesopian when the mother roos compete to outdo each other in stylish fashions as humans might.
Part Three lampoons some “Gods, Goddesses and Other Important People.” The King Midas tale ends with a snappish pun, but this tale has a refreshingly positive denouement compared to the original. “William Tell” displays the most inconsistent humor treatment and plot development, and it doesn’t resolve the use of children and apple pies.
“Sort of Scary” in Part Four lists two shorts, but neither “Frankenstein” nor “Picture of Doran Gray” rise to the level of terror. Comedy is sort of sorry.
“Nursery Rhymes” constitute Part Five and are all quite familiar. Most remind me of my own attempts at seasonal doggerels, since each has basic meter or simple rhyming scheme that lends itself to parody. Some also employ double entendre: “Jack and Jill” each carry a buck and a quarter down the hill and Jill ends up with $2.50. Hmm. Try to explain that to a youngster.
An exciting feature in this e-book is a “Read Out Loud” function available through computer software. But the male or female mechanical voice sometimes mispronounces words. “Buffet” is pronounced as the surname of an American billionaire when it should mean the chow line at Golden Corral. And, “Ed. note” is heard as “education note” rather than editor’s note. Nevertheless the availability of an audio reader is charming feature for youths or second-language students learning to read.
Fishducky might not supplant Mother Goose but her wisecracks could launch a reader’s occupation into spinning more frayed yarns.(less)
Babe Huggins is a woman who needs no introduction—and she doesn’t get one until the second chapter. Ellen Feldman’s “Prologue” is an interesting devic...moreBabe Huggins is a woman who needs no introduction—and she doesn’t get one until the second chapter. Ellen Feldman’s “Prologue” is an interesting device to throw the reader into the middle of action before detailing the actor.
We eventually discover that Babe is Bernadette Dion who marries Claude Huggins. Together with chums Grace Painter and Millie Vaughn, Babe’s life unfolds over a 20-year period. The study of the trio’s lives is couched in the seminal notion that war impels lovers into consequential states. In this exposé we get to examine variations of love or sex, marriage or widowhood, children or not, constancy or deception. These choices are posed during the cultures, mores, and lifestyles of 1940s’ World War II up through the 1960s’ Vietnam conflict.
Feldman uses a compelling device by voicing her novel in the present tense. That mechanism may intensify the action and it does simplify flashbacks, but it sometimes prompts confusion as to where we are in the story. There are some nifty historical references from wartime telegraphy and train travel to pre-plastic ‘50s cocktail partying. The reader might be inspired to reflect on how our grandparents lived or dallied about before we populated their lives.
There is no prime protagonist as the main focus of this novel. Although Babe serves as the book’s initial figure, she becomes part of a mélange once the other two women are introduced and developed in their lives, loves, and children. Succeeding chapters sporadically define and describe the trio’s various choices that interact and interweave through this epoch storytelling.
The novel proves to be a simple and easy read. Feldman has accomplished yeoman success in looking at three generations of three women over nearly three decades in examining how—next to love—war is a major actor in most lives.(less)
“Shut Up!” has become a mall moll’s colloquialism to express disbelief. The watchword cautions a noisy crowd into meditative reception. It is a catchp...more“Shut Up!” has become a mall moll’s colloquialism to express disbelief. The watchword cautions a noisy crowd into meditative reception. It is a catchphrase that lessens the loud babbler and empowers the silent observer. In other words, as the book’s title suggests, we should stop our palaver and ponder the quiet person.
Susan Cain executes a fine defense of moderate people in a frenetic world. A former Wall Street attorney, she has presented an academic product as is evidenced by approximately 47 pages of endnotes as well as her 16-page introduction. Citing clinical studies, expert opinions, and professional comments, she traces the history of her subject from individual chivalry and personal character to our current culture of marketable personality.
Her exemplars and case studies substantiate the biological differences as well as some cultural nuances surrounding our understanding of extroverts and introverts. And yet, no person is completely outgoing or entirely introspective. There is balance, and we may have elements of both behavioral traits.
Cain’s compilation of material and weight of argument guides us to nod in agreement that we live in a society that is fixated on outgoing stylists rather than the ponderous sustainers. We live in a world of yin-and-yang; there is no extrovert without an introvert present. Her elucidation might prompt a private understanding of our personality makeup.
A final chapter offers suggestions to parents and teachers about cultivating the introverted child. But Cain’s creation is more a textbook than a self-help guide. Although her style is readable, it tends to be treatise-like and rather dry, lacking the hype, glibness, or glossy banter of a self-help guru akin to John Gray’s Men are from Mars… franchise.
While comprehending this book you might experience some self-awareness—an “aha” moment—that cries out: “I’m not an introvert; I’m merely highly sensitive.” But you’ll not discover that epiphany unless you hush up and read this book.(less)
This compendium reads more like a writer’s sketchbook or workbook than a publishable portfolio. There is no central focus or thematic organization to...moreThis compendium reads more like a writer’s sketchbook or workbook than a publishable portfolio. There is no central focus or thematic organization to this collection. The prose pieces are admirable by themselves, and they would create a charming—or chilling—world if assembled with more reason. The major flaw lies in the alternating poems that distract from any enjoyable flow.
Presented in some peculiar typesetting, the prose pieces are parables wherein characters such as Fame, Fortune, Destiny, Famine, or Death discourse with considerable humor and struggle with moribund morals. Hutchings’ invented persons and places, such as the Mayajat, Telelee, or the Owls of Yib, smack of Douglas Adams’ wit and result in Rod Serling’s thaumaturgy.
Humor within these pieces runs a gamut from risible malaprops to slangy puns to outright groaners. Simple jokes can lie in converting names (H.P.) Lovecraft to Hatecraft, or punishing Death with a life sentence, or detailing altruistic Sir Benjamin Envolent on the subject of benevolence. Footnotes are mere devices to insert additional or extended punnery. Humor can be tenuous and most comedy applied here reeks of locker-room chortles rather than consistent and polished routine.
The verse constructions interrupting the prose waft more as doggerel than Dionysian craft. They seem student attempts and imitation than studied craft. The meters are inconsistent although considerable attention had been given to end-rhyme patterns. Still, the poetry is more loony than lyrical.
Nevertheless and if the above-articulated points are ignored, Hutchings’ offerings could rise beyond being a mere pastiche of prosody. For the next two months, read one item while strumming a lute and pretend you are Scheherazade.(less)
This short compendium features a dozen fables attributed to Aesop plus two of the author’s original pieces. The tales are wrapped within a snarky Fore...moreThis short compendium features a dozen fables attributed to Aesop plus two of the author’s original pieces. The tales are wrapped within a snarky Foreword and Afterword assigned to Aesop.
The twelve fables, presented in slightly edited versions, are accompanied by parodies to each. The edited and/or expanded fables don’t introduce the topics; rather they serve as seminal spoofs for political barbs. Chapter 12’s “Frogs Asking for a King,” for instance, changes Aesop’s notion about being careful about requests into a Republican paean about reducing government.
There are inconsistent attempts at humor throughout this novella. Chapter 3’s burlesque on “The “Bear and The Two Travelers”—advice about misfortune testing the dynamics of affection—changes into a couple stale renderings of jokes poking fun at religion as well as politics. Necessity is the mother of invention in Chapter 4’s “The Crow and The Pitcher,” but that changes into a weak gag about stuporous air travel.
Erway’s two original tales smack more of political diatribe than moral guidance. The overall impression here is that the author is either prepping for a stand-up routine or working out a monologue for a political roast. The ebook’s title suggests some type of reworking old morals into modern versions of ethics. What we get are socio-political lampoons.
Considering that there are a couple hundred fables attributed to Aesop, the author has a tremendous volume to mine and he has not even scratched the surface. Either he rushed to get his preliminary pieces into print or—like the tale of “The Old Woman and Her Maids”—he exhausted his own cunning.
The positive impact of this short publication should inspire the reader to revisit and savor Aesop’s tales in their original forms.(less)
This publication is more jeu d’esprit than tour de force. The trip—more mechanical than macabre—is like overdosing on Edgar Allan Poe fiction. But the...moreThis publication is more jeu d’esprit than tour de force. The trip—more mechanical than macabre—is like overdosing on Edgar Allan Poe fiction. But the ride is enjoyable. Set in 1847 New York, the tale is told by Poe as he channels his detective alter-ego, C. Auguste Dupin, in solving the local murders that replicate those proposed in Poe’s writings. Chasing throughout the boroughs, Poe is as hot to capture the culprit as he is to avoid the police pursuit since he remains the chief suspect. Historically, Poe’s wife Virginia died in January 1847. We’re not told exactly at what time in 1847 the story happens. Regardless, it might be more poignant for the narrator to be more morose and depressed at her loss than we have evidence here. The narrator is helped as well as harangued by a raven named Tap that isn’t “rapping at my chamber,” but actually rapping inside the room. Initially, Tap’s patter might seem out of place and time until we discover later what Tap does during his night flights. At that point, we can appreciate the charm of this talking bird device. The insertion of the character names Coppelius and Olimpia should signal a snicker to E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “Sandman.” Coppelius was a menacing alchemist and Olimpia—well, please refer to this novel’s title. There are proofing glitches in this printing, and publisher’s quotation marks would smooth any eye-strain. Accuracy is the bane in writing historical fiction. Although Dickerson acknowledges some glaring anachronisms in his Afterword, he overlooks several others. Trains, for instance, were not in vogue in New York until the mid-1850s, and Grand Central Station (nee Terminal) wasn’t erected until 1871. Eyedroppers came into use in the 1930s; pipettes were normally used in laboratories. “Zombie” is a late 19th Century concept. And the golden age of automata is generally acknowledged to run from the 1860s to about 1910. Although attempting to imitate Poe’s prosody, Erickson’s narrative style doesn’t quite consistently capture Poe’s. Dismiss his literary inaccuracies or flawed biographical references and we can enjoy the many Poe-tic elements from panic and pyschosis, to spectres and dopplegangers, and macbre scenes plus splashes of automatons and time travel.(less)
This engaging novel plays upon the history and crimes surrounding the Russian Revolution during the early years of World War I. The story begins and e...moreThis engaging novel plays upon the history and crimes surrounding the Russian Revolution during the early years of World War I. The story begins and ends with our eavesdropping on Lenin in his study as he spins the characters into action. Early British MI6 agents work with confederates to discover the Reds’ monstrous machinery invented for battlefield strategies. As they race to ascertain the secret designs, they are confronted by the multiple machinations of a gangster-revolutionary assassin and Bolshevik spies.
The author apologises in the Foreword for his uses of British verbiage. (See, I can translate “apologizes”). American readers can learn that submarine captains shout “shoot” rather than our customary “fire.” We can tolerate some different spellings, such as “carburettor.” But what might send us to a dictionary are slang terms like “bloaters” (smoked herring) or “gee-gees” (horses).
A disturbing construction seems to be Ashton’s long paragraphs. I don’t know if long-windedness is a British writing practice or if I am too conditioned from reading American thrillers. Usually the spy-story writer uses short segments and sparse dialogues to prompt the reader toward a faster pace in consuming the plot. The larger portions of Ashton’s text do slow the reader enough to allow more time to reflect upon—if not project into—the plot.
Some characters seem inconsistent. The males are prone to bandy words rather than brandish weapons. Maria is totally undeveloped as a love interest; she’s pale, passing, and plastic. For a man of action, the protagonist Brian Finch-Malloy talks too much. But the antagonist assassin Kolinski is the most problematic.
Comrade Kolinski is introduced as sort of a dunce, an uneducated oaf; yet, he is supposed to be a world-class killer. Mostly, he comes across as a clever, multi-lingual ninja; but, he escapes unscathed certain tight spots through happenstance rather than skill. A savage killer during his tour, at one point he stops to play an elaborate prank on his next victim rather than promptly subduing the guard. Nevertheless, Kolinski’s final undoing hinges on a lack of ammunition—something an experienced hired gun would have discovered and avoided.
The novel is a worthy read and it provides considerable historical flavor of Europe’s Great War. If you don’t lurch to research Netopyr, you might investigate taiga.(less)
This book’s title and cover-art suggest a more sinister story than is delivered. This novel would be a better if refined through tighter editing and c...moreThis book’s title and cover-art suggest a more sinister story than is delivered. This novel would be a better if refined through tighter editing and careful printing.
The initial chapter introduces the myth of the Nunnehi, which according to Georgia Cherokee Indian folklore, are immortal spirit people living under mountains or water who come to anyone’s aid in a time of need. I kept expecting that lore’s revisit in succeeding chapters; but when the myth finally appears, there has been scant development for a character’s merge into that myth.
Some of the characters seem shallow, if undeveloped and predicable, in this conflict over Florida real estate. A chief problem I have is with the choice of the protagonist’s name. When Ben Gates is mentioned throughout the story, I’m distracted with images of Nicholas Cage in the National Treasure movies. But Tim Jackson’s Ben Gates is more milquetoast than savvy adventurer.
The typesetting throughout could be better. The lack of proper line spacing is disconcerting and distracting. Run-on characters create a stream-of-consciousness expression in parts—but without true literary merit.
Jackson uses a nifty writing device to render some of the back-story to explain the central characters and the evolving central plot. The prime storyline is presented in straight-forward third-person narrative chapters. Following each such chapter, there is one—usually provided by one of the townspeople—that is printed in italics, which normally would substitute as evidence for that character’s direct address to the audience. Unfortunately, a few narratives contain overly precise physical descriptions and provide excessively specific dialogues to be believable as true witness hearsay. And one chapter (Chapter 12, p. 123ff) uses direct quotation marks in addition to the italics, which necessitate more internal, singular quotation marks—all of which render the text very uncomfortable reading. Another chapter (Chapter 14, p. 142ff) pretends to be a reproduction of a local newspaper article. But the entire chapter is printed in italics similar to the other narrations. Usually in publishing, periodical quotations are mimicked with single-spaced, block typeset. Plus, the writing in this reproduction lacks journalistic, reportorial style.
Overall, the printing is imprecise, the material is unfocused, the characters are ill-formed, and the denouement is improbable. Mangrove Underground is not sub-rosa, it is substandard.(less)
Females can serve in the military—provided they are spayed. Of course, Lisa Rogak is addressing the U.S. military eligibility of canines and not human...moreFemales can serve in the military—provided they are spayed. Of course, Lisa Rogak is addressing the U.S. military eligibility of canines and not humans. This thought is one of many insights and descriptions the author has presented in this well-documented exposé on MWDs.
And, don’t be looking for a Christopher Walken-type Hollywood warrior searching for weapons of mass destruction. This book reveals the history, selection, training, and maintenance of military working dogs (“MWDs”)—the nearly 3,000 canines drafted by the Pentagon. Interspersed are sidebar vignettes of certain canine lives, deaths, and contributions or sacrifices, as well as several pages of color photos of dogs and their handlers.
Rogak’s text is supported by 17 pages of footnotes and eight pages of further resources. Some of her material seems to be repetitive and that is perhaps because she has used so many different sources that she wants to include as authority in her writing. Nevertheless, her style is breezy and her points are poignant in discussing the vital role that canines provide in human defense, either in military combat zones or in civilian security postings.
One disturbing notion that Rogak addresses is that of a returning veteran suffering from PTSD that is summarily euthanized. Human soldiers aren’t treated that way and we don’t eat dogs as a delicacy as some cultures might. The counter-argument she presents is to explain about certain avenues of rehabilitation and adoption of the canine combat veteran. According to the author, adoptions have accelerated since the public discovered that a MWD—a Belgian Malinois called Cairo—was part of the Seal team that assaulted Osama bin Laden’s Pakistanian compound.
This book is well worth reading in order to gain basic information on this compelling but neglected topic. There is one simple point that seems muted: If GIs are issued dog tags, what do MWDs get?(less)
Time traveling can become exhausting and confusing—a condition much like reading this book might be.
Writing in this genre can be tricky, and Julie Cro...moreTime traveling can become exhausting and confusing—a condition much like reading this book might be.
Writing in this genre can be tricky, and Julie Cross seems to have misstepped in this offering. Charles Dickens had his character Ebenezer Scrooge engaged in time-travel, visiting and observing himself at different periods of his life. Cross has Jackson Meyer do jumps and half-jumps into different times of his life, but he actually interacts with his previous life—sort of like cavorting as his own doppelganger.
H.G. Wells used the apparatus of his time machine to launch his Time Traveler narrator into eons. Jackson relies purely on a fabricated genetic quirk to travel. A victim of a DNA experiment known as Tempest, Jackson’s journey jumps remain unconvincing as controlled visits. His traveling is undisciplined, but at least it prevents us from thinking him as being psychotic.
Often stuck in 2007, Jackson sometimes reminds us that he is living like Phil Connors, the Bill Murray character in the movie Groundhog Day. But I’d suggest he should feel more like James Cole (Bruce Willis) in 12 Monkeys since Jackson contaminates so many remote scenes with his current person.
Tempest has nothing to do with weather but it does focus on the stormy encounters of EOTs (Enemies of Time) or evil-doers combating a secret unit of do-gooders in a world of DNA experimentation. Jackson Meyer is growing into a do-gooder, although he doesn’t know it. He just knows he is different.
This coming-of-age novel stumbles through the introduction of 19-year-old Jackson Meyer, who must come to grips with his DNA facility and a love interest. Prefacing plot elements such as shadow and mirror timelines, cloning, dimensional life, parallel universe, and the conflict of EOTs and do-gooders, this character should be available for future writings.
I did think that Jackson’s relationship with his father is quite improbable and unbelievable. Surely in reality they would have discovered each other well before this timeframe. And previously, wouldn’t Jackson have been more curious about his mother? Maybe Jackson will search for his biological mother in Julie Cross’s next fiction.
Blake Mycoskie’s brief book covers his struggles in launching one of his companies: Tomorrow’s Shoes (TOMS). This work is not an autobiography. It i...moreBlake Mycoskie’s brief book covers his struggles in launching one of his companies: Tomorrow’s Shoes (TOMS). This work is not an autobiography. It is somewhat a company profile, almost an entrepreneurial self-help guide, and mostly an elaboration of his mission statement.
Based on a marketing One-for-One (1-4-1) notion, Mycoskie caught the charitable consumerism wave with his version of the Argentinean shoeware called alpargata, which seems to be a cross between a sneaker and a deck shoe and is sometimes known as espadrille. In counterintuitive fashion, the “Chief Shoe Giver” translated the current sales tactic BOGO (Buy One, Get One) into the altruistic Buy One, Give One. His startup company features selling a comfortable loafer and then matching that sale by donating a pair of shoes to unfortunate children. (Even his publisher promises to donate a new children’s book to needy children for each book sold.)
Mycoskie presents scant biographical glimpses of his home-life for this work to qualify as an autobiography. His personal references reflect his journey, maneuvers, and exploits in building his company. He includes material and sidebars about other successful entrepreneurs and charitable purveyors. Mycoskie writes enthusiastically like a Pentecostal preaching altruism. His corporate methodology seems to be a blend of the Golden Rule monitored by the KISS principle. I found his section on freebies to be quite useful.
Although fervent in pontificating over the birth and the growth of TOMS, Mycoskie initially hoped that other products might find a place in this type of eleemosynary consumerism. His final chapter prays simply that others might embrace a philanthropic passion no matter what product, service, or venture they are pursuing.
This book is an easy reader and a slight motivator into action. I caught myself looking up local directories for TOMS outlets. You might also.(less)
This fiction treats pirates, a religious sect, and royal naval administrators inhabiting the mythical land of Caldaria. In popular culture there is a...moreThis fiction treats pirates, a religious sect, and royal naval administrators inhabiting the mythical land of Caldaria. In popular culture there is a sci-fi PC game involving the Caldarian navy with a feature called Raven. In Mike Kalmbach’s novel, Raven (also known as Krell) is an antagonist who drives the subversive conflicts of the plot. I don’t have enough information about the video software, so I don’t know whether this novel is an original treatment or if it is a parody of that video game.
I do have a problem with a writer who adapts cultural knowledge of monastic life to some bastardized pagan cult. The device demonstrates little originality in story-telling or in framing a fantasy world. In this writing, cloistered hooded religious (ranked as novices, brother monks, priests, and an abbot) pray to any number of pagan gods and goddesses, while the mendicants apparently are infused with certain magical powers. Unfortunately, when consulted, the gods can warn of impending trouble but are not omniscient enough to prepare the supplicants. Plus, in our reality a monastery’s abbot would never comply with a community member’s whim to pursue a specter. The weak motivation to pursue Mendell’s suspicion is suspension of belief.
The protagonist is a monk named Mendell (not to be confused with geneticist Friar Gregor Mendel), a man of action who thinks too much. He glimpses a shade, shadows a pirate, and eventually commands a rebellion that unseats a draconian royal duchy. The story’s action tacks about like a sailboat on a windless day, due mostly to so many reflective thought passages that belay the monk’s actions. The character Mendell is capable of turning a slight wheat wafer into a loaf of bread but later frets that he can’t possibly feed a group of refugees. Additionally, he is powerful enough to mend a pirate’s severed hand but cannot stanch a wounded man’s stabbed leg. Mendell’s inconsistencies are as erratic as the plot is sporadic.
Some few fantasy elements are named without definition or history: death madness; assassin’s guild; amulets that function as private two-way radios. There are other inconsistencies: unprotected dusters who are unaffected while scattering fast-acting poisonous flour into the faces of victims; uneducated characters that dialogue eruditely; and, the initial problem of the pirate Shannon’s head. Blown to smithereens in mid-ocean, how could her head survive? Who would have found it? Apparently her magical boogie board caught her skull and whisked it back to port.
The book’s ending is abrupt and scant compared with its preceding wanderings. The conclusion reads like someone pulling the plug on a video game in mid-play. I admire any writer whose efforts produce a full-length novel. Kalmbach’s work here needs more thought and tighter editing to elevate the book to a smoother read.(less)