Few people would argue against the idea that the late 1960's/early 1970'sThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.75 of 5
Few people would argue against the idea that the late 1960's/early 1970's was a time of tremendous change in our music and our politics. Author Steve Millward picks one year, 1970, to highlight what was happening politically and socially in the music scene. While Millward does touch on events world-wide he focusses primarily on the United Kingdom and the United States.
In the US, Richard Nixon was still early in his presidency but feeling a lot of heat regarding Vietnam and Cambodia.
In music, things looked a little bleak. The Beatles were working individually, with each of them releasing a solo album in '70. Simon & Garfunkle, a duo that typified the folk scene, separated. And other big names didn't seem to have the endearing magic any more.
But just as you might expect, other musicians stepped up to fill the gaps and politics provided plenty of material for the social change called for in the songs.
I was a pre-teen in 1970 and while my interest in politics at the time was zero, music (pre Pandora, Spotify and the internet) was one of the few things I could relate to and claim as 'mine' (since my parents weren't very fond of it). Millward brought back many memories, but more importantly, showed me how the pieces of the music-scene jigsaw puzzle fit together. Motown found (or re-found) its voice and some of the big names that I followed for decades (James Taylor; Crosby, Stills, Nash [and Young]; Elton John) were emerging at this time.
The only political talk from the 70's that I could ever remember was about the Vietnam war (with a brother of draft age, this was a constant concern). I was unaware, until reading the book, of the political strife facing the UK, beginning with Prime Ministers who have been rated among the worst in British history.
I struggled with the book early on ... perhaps in part because I wasn't aware of the sort of book I was about to read ... but as I got further and further into it, the more I could sense the bigger picture and how it all fit together and I didn't want the book to end. If there were another book, for 1971, I'd have dived right in
Looking for a good book? Different Tracks is a non-fiction book that will appeal to fans of classic pop music, politics, sociology, and history. it is a fascinating look at our culture in 1970 through music and politics. I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. ...more
I will admit that when I started this book, I was expecting it to be more of a coffee table style book, full of pictures, but it's not. While the book is lavishly illustrated, it is not in a coffee-table display sort of way.
Spectacular Rubens is very specifically about a special series of paintings (and tapestries) designed and painted by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) referred to as "The Triumph of the Eucharist."
I can't say that I'm particular familiar with Rubens. Like most who recognize the name, I know he tended to paint larger (or "plus-sized") women which has led to the term "Rubenesque" for chubby ladies. Beyond that, I couldn't tell you much (which is sad, considering my appreciation for art).
This book takes a detailed look at Rubens' plans and sketches for a series of six scenes painted on large panels. The paintings were also used as a design source for tapestries. We learn about the degradation of the paintings and the efforts taken to restore the works (highly detailed).
I learned something that wasn't a specific goal of the book ... I learned that I want to study Rubens more. That his sense of play and spectacle is as much of interest to me as his craftsmanship and artistry. I was completely enthralled with Rubens' concept of having cherub/angels holding up painted backdrops behind the characters of the paintings. Sometimes that backdrop would cascade off the stage and out of the picture. But it was almost as if Rubens was suggesting that he wasn't painting scenes of the Eucharist, but that he was recreating a staged recreation of the Eucharist. It is just the sort of thing I enjoy thinking about!
Spectacular Rubens is certainly targeted to a small, specific audience, but it is generally well written and well researched, and anyone looking to specific information about this particular work of Rubens will be very pleased.
Looking for a good book? This detailed look at the creation and restoration of artist Peter Paul Rubens' "The Triumph of the Eucharist" is worth reading for anyone interested in art and art restoration. I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. ...more
I am always a little leery of "How to Draw ..." books, finding that most ofThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.5 of 5
I am always a little leery of "How to Draw ..." books, finding that most of them look good, and have step-by-step guides, but then make a big leap to the finished product, failing to explain some of the important means of detail.
This particular book is geared toward teachers and students and the simplicity of the instructions will prove beneficial to anyone who picks up this book. Each section of the book has topics to know (teach -- ie: Elements of Design: color, value, line, shape, form, texture and space); things to understand before proceeding; things to do with the lesson ("practice hatching, pointillism, texture, line, shape..."); an 'extra' thing to do for the more ambitious artists; and, perhaps the most important item (and something I rarely see) -- a vocabulary of the important terms and concepts for the section.
I will also admit that I was very pleased to see "shading" being explored very early in the book. This is one of the most difficult concepts to grasp and more difficult to practice, and yet it is often the difference-maker in seeing a drawing go from appearing 'flat' to fully realized.
Even so, I still felt a bit of a twinge when looking at the progress of some drawings as they began simply, took form, and then shading was added and it looked finished. So often the shading, or cross-hatching, of a drawing can be the most time-consuming part. I'd liked to have seen the progress of the shading in more of the examples. Take for example, this page on foreshortening:
The last part of the drawing is "Shade" -- as if it's just that easy to get to the final product! Fortunately, as I say, shading is addressed early in the book. Still...it does make it seem as though the easiest part is 'shading.'
Even so, this is one of the best examples of a how to draw book that I've ever come across. It should be the recommended text-book for every school art program, and it should energize any student (of any age) who wants to learn to draw better.
Looking for a good book? How to Draw Cool Stuff by Catherine V. Holmes is an excellent beginners guide to drawing, explaining and putting in to example, a number of valuable lessons, and it does so in a very well-organized manner. ...more
This book might better be called 'Zen and the Art of Photography' becauthis review was originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 2.5 of 5
This book might better be called 'Zen and the Art of Photography' because it seems to be a book geared more about how to find your zen through the use of photography, rather than 'meditation' in a more general sense.
There is very little writing within the book. Each chapter (twenty-eight of them) is only a page or two long and usually illustrated with the author's photography to help make his points.
Based on the title of the book, I was expecting to learn how to use my (amateur) photography skills to meditate or to find an inner peace. It didn't quite happen that way. The beginning of the book seemed to be more about the meditative qualities of a photograph -- how it affects the viewer -- rather than using the practice of photography as meditation.
The middle portion of the book seemed to be geared more to using meditation to find ways to take better photographs (note the description of the book in Goodreads even includes this sentence: "Hoffman shows how meditation can lead to the source of inspiration" which would be the opposite of what the title declares.
A couple of the chapters (remember, these are very short) discuss the methods of zen and zazen -- a form of meditation that requires emptying of the mind to find an inner peace. I'll be honest ... I was looking to this book to find that inner peace through photography, not by taking lessons in zen.
As we finally get to some tips to finding meditation through photography, author Hoffmann includes one very important note: "The technical aspects of this type of photography should be second nature to you before you attempt this type of photography." That's right, he suggests you should be a fairly accomplished photographer to achieve this (though, to be fair, he does go on to say you might want to work with the automatic functions of the camera to make it easier to "enter a meditative state of mind" -- but if it does make it easier, then why isn't that the focus from the start?)
Some of the photography is very nice and would be interesting to see in a gallery. Some of the photography made no impact on me at all, which was disappointing.
Overall, I was underwhelmed. I think Torsten Andreas Hoffmann has found a way to combine his love of Zen teachings and photography and that it has proved very valuable to him. Unfortunately, he hasn't quite found the right way to share that combination.
Looking for a good book? Photography as Meditation by Torsten Andreas Hoffmann tries to show how to use your creativity to find a peaceful 'zen' but lacks the right focus to get us there. This book was received free, in electronic form, from the publisher, through Edelweiss, for an honest review. ...more
Advertising and marketing has come a long way since the days of Mad Men. OThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.25 of 5
Advertising and marketing has come a long way since the days of Mad Men. Or at least, it should.
When there were three television networks, it made sense to spend good money to advertise on television – you were pretty much guaranteed a good audience to reach anyone in the United States. But today, the audience is much more global. The internet can put you in the homes of nearly anyone in a first or second world country. But with thousands of television channels available, how do you decide where to spend your money? More channels likely means fewer people watching each channel.
Well…one thing hasn’t changed so much. Word of mouth.
Through the use of examples from his business, Ted Wright explains the importance of word-of-mouth-marketing (WOMM), what to look for, and how to approach it. As he states in his introduction:
Word of mouth marketing has always existed. We’ve just found a better and more efficient way to do it by using a method that is both replicable and remarkably consistent. My hope is to share some of those secrets with you and help you get started on your own word of mouth program. … I promise you’ll walk away with a better understanding of how consumers today are driven by conversation – and how that can help you….¹
Wright lives up to this promise.
I don’t work for a major corporation, and I’ve not even dabbled in marketing, so some of this might already be common knowledge, but I found the book incredibly helpful and I will be putting in to practice many of the tips I’ve gotten from here to promote the small non-profit organization that I work with.
Wright explains the very basic needs for successful WOMM campaigns and how to follow-up with it. He also reminds the reader that many executives might balk because it’s out of the ‘ordinary’ or at least not what they’ve come to expect, but “Because of technology and the proliferation of brands, it’s a sampling culture that we live in. And we are never, ever going back.¹”
Regarding television advertising, Wright says:
This is one reason I sometimes refer to broadcast as the “heroin of business.” The first time you do it, you get this big bump in sales – a bump that exceeds what you invested. That’s a big thrill. But over time, the more you try to re-create that bump, the harder it gets. The increase in sales is rarely as dramatic as it was that first time. And further harshing your buzz is the fact that the media guys keep jacking up their rates on you. After a while, you realize you’re just chasing the dragon – a destructive and expensive habit.¹
I found this book quite easy to read and very informative. A lot of it seems to be common sense, but as is often the case, it sometimes takes a professional to remind us to use common sense.
Looking for a good book? If you are in any way looking to promote something – your self, your business, your favorite charity – then do yourself a favor and read Fizz: Harness the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing to Drive Brand Growth.
¹All quotes from an advance reader copy of the book and may not reflect the printed work.
I received this book free, from the publisher, through Netgalley, for an honest review. ...more
If you don't know who Joss Whedon is, you should. He is a prominent figureThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.0 of 5
If you don't know who Joss Whedon is, you should. He is a prominent figure across a number of different mass media outlets. Famous for creating the iconic Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie and television series, he has created a number of tv series' that have garnered much attention and praise (such as Firefly and Dollhouse and Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D). He is also the force behind the blockbuster The Avenger's movies, but is also noted for his creation of the internet sensation, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Simply put, Joss Whedon is a creator whose works have probably caught your attention.
And...being someone who's work is much watched, it only follows that fans and critics of the work will discuss and dissect it and compile that work into scholarly books. This is that book.
Be aware that this is not light reading. This is academic, scholarly analysis of Whedon's work and how it relates to his other works and how it identifies Whedon the person. As it notes in the introduction, "Scholarly writing on Whedon has been produced at a faster rate than any other figure in television studies" and "There is more yet to say; there always will be more to say on Whedon, and that is one of the things that prove him to be an artist. Best of all, he has more to say: his revels are not ended."
I can easily see this book as a recommended text-book for a college course on media studies or even a course or segment of a course on Whedon's work. Much of the writing comes from academia professors ( PhD candidate in Film and Moving Image Studies; a Research Analyst at Georgia State University; a Professor of English; a JSD candidate at Columbia University; an Assistant Professor; a university English teacher; a Professor of English; an Associate Professor of English; a Professor Emeritus; etc etc etc). While these professors may be fans of Whedon's work, this is not your typical fan writing. This is writing coming from academics who often need to publish scholarly work on occasion to make their departments and their tenure, look good.
(I guess you can tell how I feel about this....)
I don't mind scholarly works. I like to stretch my brain a bit, but I think the way to judge such work is by how much I get out of it.
Despite its 461 pages, I came away with very little new insight or new appreciation for Whedon's work. The most valuable insight I got actually came from the book's introduction, "Much Ado about Whedon," as Rhonda V. Wilcox wrote about Whedon and music:
Like Shakespeare, Whedon is perfectly comfortable using music to enhance a character, deepen a theme, or even advance a plot. (Shakespeare planted a song about men as deceivers in the middle of Much Ado.) Probably the most famous instance of Whedon's musical work is the musical episode of Buffy for which he wrote both lyrics and melodies. He also wrote melody and lyrics for Firefly's theme song and melody for Shakespeare's Much Ado lyrics.
I would have liked to explore Whedon's musical expression a little more (though Ms. Wilcox does mention that there already exists two "full volumes of essays" devoted to Whedon's music).
Despite the rather awesome essay title "Hot Chicks with Super Powers: The Contested Feminism of Joss Whedon" by Lauren Schultz, I was mostly bored with this collection. I generously give it three stars because of the subject matter and because nothing is necessarily poorly written or weakly discussed ... it's just that nothing is dramatically revealed. I didn't really learn anything about Mr. Whedon or his works.
Looking for a good book? Anyone looking to critically study the works of the magnanimous television and film writer/director/creator/producer Joss Whedon, may want to explore the essays in Reading Joss Whedon - others may just want to watch a Buffy rerun. ...more
You probably wouldn't be reading this blog, or this review as posted on-liThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.25 of 5
You probably wouldn't be reading this blog, or this review as posted on-line, if you didn't know what 'spam' is, or if you only thought it was a canned meat-like food. And if you know what spam is, you probably find it annoying -- a clutter filling your email in-box -- but not necessarily dangerous. You would be wrong.
Brian Krebs, the cybersecurity expert who first reported the infamous security breach at Target®, is a journalist and blogger who has devoted himself to investigating and reporting on cyber security. In Spam Nation, he details the rise and fall of the world's leading spammers. Perhaps it's not too surprising (especially to anyone who has actually read through some spam) that the leading spammers are from the Russian Federation and neighboring states. What is surprising (at least to me) is how much of the spam is fueled by so few people; how a personal feud between the top two leading spammers brought about their own downfall; and how much money these criminals actually make.
For an example of the latter... Krebs reports that one leading cyber-criminal had his very expensive import car stolen and decided that because it was a vehicle that was considered to be highly valuable property he decided to by a different car (a BMW, I believe it was) rather than try to get the car returned. I can't imagine having the kind of money where you just buy a new vehicle (and a BMW or Mercedes) instead of trying to recover a stolen vehicle.
The book is incredibly interesting, but also more than a little technical. It likely wouldn't have mass appeal because too many people may find the computer jargon difficult to follow. On top of that, because of the nature of who the criminals are, it also reads a bit like Dostoevsky with a great many East Slavic language names. Keeping them straight was often a challenge, made more difficult by the fact that they often were referred to by their on-line nicknames, which sometimes changed.
Krebs, on the one hand, occasionally came across as arrogant and boastful -- making sure we know how much the spammers kept an eye on him because of what he could do -- but on the other hand, as we read through the book we learn that much of what he presents was gifted to him by insider sources, likely because of the feud.
The presentation of material felt a bit scattered, as though Krebs had so much he wanted to share but didn't know what to give us first. He is a good blogger and journalist, but putting information in a book-length format requires a different sort of thinking and planning. It might have been just as successful if he had simply published a collection of his blog posts.
Even so, I learned some things from this book, which is often more than I can hope for from a non-fiction title. I was more thana little shocked to learn that at one point in 2013, "nearly 70 percent of all email sent daily was unsolicited bulk email relayed via spam botnets" and that the cyber-jerks sending spam were sending approximately 85 BILLION junk/spam messages every DAY. Ouch.
I've come away with new knowledge and perhaps even a way to make myself a little better, and that's definitely worth something.
Looking for a good book? Spam Nation gives you a look inside the belly of the cyber-spamming beast, and you might not like what you see inside but the knowledge is a good thing to have. ...more
Nathan Sawaya's, The Art of the Brick, is a truly beautiful book.This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 5.0 of 5
Nathan Sawaya's, The Art of the Brick, is a truly beautiful book.
Sawaya is an artist whose choice of media is the Lego®. You know...those little, bright-colored plastic bricks that kids (and kids-at-heart) play with? Yes...that is the medium for an incredible art form.
Sawaya's art is anything but childish. His ability to create form and movement with the solid squareness of the Lego® brick is remarkable, but it's the vision he has that makes the art. You need only look at the cover of the book, as depicted above in this review, to get a sense of what Sawaya does, but I promise that you'll want to look at more than this cover ... this is only the beginning!
How does one become a Lego® artist? Sawaya writes about this; from his leaving his job as an attorney to become an artist in a medium that wasn't recognized. He even had to battle with the Lego® company for a time (fortunately he had the background in law) to continue his work.
It is hard for me to pick a favorite work of art from this collection ... so many stand out as being quite exceptional ... but I would lean slightly in favor of "Red Dress" for its concept and realization.
As amazing as the work itself is (and it is amazing), it is fortunate that the photography captures the sculptures in ideal ways. This book owes much to these artists as well, and sadly their names only appear as an end note. Thanks to Jim Herrington, Erica Anne Photography, Dean West, Mitch Haddad, Suzanne Bauer, and Nelson Chenault for making Nathan Sawaya's art stand out!
But there is more to this book than fantastic brick sculptures photographed well! Nathan Sawaya writes about art, art in general and his specific art, very eloquently. It was almost like reading a book of artistic daily devotions. I didn't want the written parts to end, although I knew that when they did, it was to make way for the visual art.
I'm not sure that my rural area of the country will get the opportunity to see this art first hand and so I am grateful for this book.
Looking for a good book? The Art of the Brick is a book that every artist or art lover, should own. ...more
I've really come to appreciate Inhabit Media publishing for the variety ofThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.5 of 5
I've really come to appreciate Inhabit Media publishing for the variety of books on Inuit themes. I can't say that I've ever been particularly knowledgeable, or even, perhaps, interested in, the Inuit history. But I realize now that it's likely because it's just never been in front of me. Since sampling a few books, I've become very interested in these hearty people. Kenn Harper's book, In Those Days, is a collection of newspaper articles he's written which are generally brief biographies of a variety of Inuit people. Now the Inuit as a 'people' become individuals.
Harper's writing is very clean and quite readable, without being dumbed-down. I've chosen to follow Harper's blog, and the on-line newspaper that he writes for, based on my enjoyment of this book.
In Those Days features a number of interesting articles, my favorite of which was "Inuit at the World's Fair" in which an Inuit girl, Nancy Columbia was voted prettiest girl at the fair with 8,000 more votes than the runner-up.
But articles such as "Who Was Albert One-Eye?" and "An Inuit Boy in Scotland" and "Simon Gibbon: First Inuit Minister" and "In Memory of John Shiwak, Inuit Sniper" are also extremely interesting. In fact, there's not a bad story in the book and each mini-biography is well researched and presented.
This is a wonderful book that opens windows to let the world look in on the early days and lives of the Inuit people. Even if you've never heard of the Inuit or never thought you'd be interested in learning more about them, Kenn Harper will change your mind.
Looking for a good book? In Those Days is a collection of mini-biographies of some early Inuit people and is a book you want to read, even if you don't realize it yet. ...more
Anyone who has even the most rudimentary interest in the theatre will likeThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.5 of 5
Anyone who has even the most rudimentary interest in the theatre will like this book. Note that this is a paperback re-issue of the book originally published in 1998.
I've longed decided that theatre people, more than any other group of people or profession, live in the past. There are always stories to tell about things gone wrong or things gone extraordinarily right, and because we're often not sure what (or when) the next job is going to be, the jobs we have had are most of what we have to talk about. In many ways, that's precisely what we have here, except that those telling some of these theatre stories are people who have inside scoops on some of the most famous people and most famous shows in the history of Broadway.
Every story in here was new to me and every moment was interesting. Editors Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer have done an excellent job of gathering stories from some of the top names in the business and with only a few small exceptions, none of these stories had an air of superiority but were rather quite down-to-earth (this is not always the case when 'stars' tell stories from their early days).
This is a book every theatre geek should have on his or her shelf.
Looking for a good book? It Happened on Broadway is a delightful reflection on some of the early days of theatre's mecca, often told by those who made it happen....more
Handel's Messiah is quite possibly one of the most beautiful pieces of musiThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.0 of 5
Handel's Messiah is quite possibly one of the most beautiful pieces of music written, and surely the "Hallelujah Chorus" is easily recognizable. Author Albert L. Blackwell has written what I at first considered to be an apology of Handel's Messiah, but upon reflection, I am not sure that I've ever heard The Messiah criticized, and therefore 'apology' is probably not the correct term.
This is an Advent devotional, but with using the lyrics of The Messiah (which uses biblical verse for lyrics) as the starting point for reflection.
The devotional commentary is at times beautiful and reflective and precisely what you might look for in a devotional. At other times, it is dry -- too academic or clinical to be appreciated by the average reader.
Because this Advent devotional is based on a famous and familiar piece of music, I really wanted to listen to the sections that correlated with the reading.
This is not a devotional with the strongest theology that I've ever read, but because it's aimed at a large group of buyers from diverse Christian backgrounds, I suppose that is to be expected. This would not replace the devotionals I get through my church, but it could be a nice addition and a place to start conversation and careful reflection.
The layout in my kindle ARC version (through Netgalley -- thank you) was not particularly clean or efficient. I wold trust that this would get cleared up before publication.
Looking for a good book? For a somewhat generic Christian theology, this makes for a unique perspective for an Advent devotional by using Handel's Messiah as its source for reflection. ...more
Riveting! I sat down to read this in the morning and finished the book befoThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5
Riveting! I sat down to read this in the morning and finished the book before bedtime.
It is absolutely amazing to me the temerity and lack of morals that some people have. This book explores and exposes those types of people.
The Setup is an appropriate title as there are multiple set-ups within. The first is the set-up that begins the unravelling of a personal kingdom. Chris Butler ran a Private Investigation business, but supposedly a business with a bit of a twist...his PI's were 'soccer moms.' So innovative was this idea that Butler was working on a television deal for a 'reality' show of his soccer-mom-PI's. They'd been featured in People magazine and guests on the Dr. Phil show, and had hoped to gain a little publicity from a Bay-area magazine Diablo. Butler invited Diablo writer, Pete Crooks to ride along on an actual sting. Everything went swimmingly. Perhaps too much so, as Crooks was first surprised at how quickly the action developed (there was no need to wait around all day with the hopes that something would happen); at the seeming lack of concern over being spotted; and the taking of the 'victim's' car by the client without a resolution.
Crooks' suspicions had him hesitant to write the personal interest story the Butler hoped would be good PR for his reality show.
Although there is the opportunity to write this like a true-crime mystery novel, Crooks take a more direct/reporter approach and lays out the facts as he sees it and he often falls into fortune more than actually 'uncovers' anything. An anonymous 'tip' comes to Crooks from someone within Butler's organization, and it is the constant insight from the insider that lays the foundation for a federal investigation.
Yes... a federal investigation. Not because Butler is possibly providing phony investigations for a television series, but because Butler has other, illegal dealings going on, which also include high-ranking police officers. Crooks is tossed into the middle of all this, but steps aside to let the lawmen do what they need to do, while the insider continues to inform to both the authorities and Crooks.
Crooks, early on, lays out his suspicion as to the 'insider' and repeats it a few times. Perhaps I've read too many fictional mystery books, but this immediately had me thinking that it would NOT be the person Crooks suspected. It was a bit disappointing that Crooks nailed it straight off.
But what is almost as interesting as Butler's sting and fall, is Crooks' relationship with the insider. Crooks lays it on just a little bit thick that he looked upon his informant almost as a friend (it was Crooks the insider went to for help finding a trustworthy law official) so that when the insider later 'bashes' Crooks' role in the set-up, Crooks can't help but be hurt. Crooks also carefully points out that the insider's motivations for doing the right thing are suspect and that the insider is barely 'better' than Butler and the bad cop.
Yes...I am not naming the 'insider.' No...it is not because I am avoiding 'spoilers' but because it is my impression is that the informant is a fame junkie and I don't think this person needs to have their name out there, searchable, any more than possible.
This is a fascinating book on many levels. From a study in human behavior to a modern mystery to an insider look at reality tv, this book has a lot in it and is easy to access.
Looking for a good book? The Setup is a non-fiction book that you will not want to put down....more
Sunrise Sunset is both a coffee-table book and an 'inspirational' book. PhThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 2.75 of 5
Sunrise Sunset is both a coffee-table book and an 'inspirational' book. Photographer/editor Kim Weiss pairs her photographs with poetry and reflections meant to capture the awe and gratitude of our lives.
There is much to like here, and this will certainly be treasured by many. I, however, was a bit underwhelmed.
Enjoying the beauty of a sunrise or sunset is not something I take for granted, and my children could tell tales of our being in a rush to get somewhere and I'll pull the car over to take the time to sit and enjoy a beautiful sky. But for the sake of a book, I felt that there was a 'sameness' to the bulk of the pictures. Before turning each page, I could predict where the horizon would be in the photo; where the water-line would end and the tips of trees might be; where the clouds would be in the sky; etc etc etc. There were some pictures that were breath-taking, but for a book that is essentially a photo-book, I was hoping for a few more. My favorites were those on pages 78 and 105, mostly because of how different they were from the others.
Were I to read this book in the intended manner ... a two-page spread a week ... I may not have felt the same-ness. Instead I read this book over the course of a week and the consistent appearance was very apparent.
The reflective writings were brief and touching and from a wide range of writers, from Reverends to Rabbis. I'm not one to read devotionals or brief inspirational writings, but I recognize their value to many readers and these seemed generally apt for the book (though occasionally I wondered at why something was chosen).
This is a nice book, and will see its s of readers, but it's not a book I can rave or recommend.
Looking for a good book? If you like coffee-table inspirational books, this is the just the sort you're looking for....more
I really like bathroom-reader type books, and that's what this is. MiscellThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.75 of 5
I really like bathroom-reader type books, and that's what this is. Miscellaneous information given in short, easy to read snapshots.
Young Mr. McBride and Mr. Nief made two mistakes with this book... first, not all of these seventy-four articles are obscure (as the title says), and second, these are not "forgotten" -- at least not to some of us who remember many of these.
But other than what I might consider a tad bit of a misleading title, this book is a wonderful glimpse at pop culture and history. While not everything here is forgotten or obscure, they certainly run the risk of being so, and McBride and Nief do well to remind us of these gems from our past.
The factual aspects appear well researched, but the attempts to be 'cute' or funny, particularly with the "Hypothetical Usage in a Sentence by the Old and Settled," which ends each section fall short. The "Hypothetical Usage" doesn't read as 'real' nor as funny and I would have been fine without it.
Looking for a good book? The Mindset List of the Obscure is good bathroom reading and a nice way to stay current with the past. ...more
This has an interesting premise ... the crossing of paths between Marconi, the famous inventor of the wireless, and Harvey Crippen, and infamous EngliThis has an interesting premise ... the crossing of paths between Marconi, the famous inventor of the wireless, and Harvey Crippen, and infamous English murderer. The means of their crossed paths is moderately interesting (spoiler hint: they don't actually meet one another). But to get to this moderately interesting point, we have to go through a complete, sensational biography of Guglielmo Marconi as well as a complete, sensational biography of Henry Crippen.
Note my use of the word "sensational."
I have noticed of late that an awful lot of non-fiction has been written with a sense of heightened (ie false) realism. (I noticed this in Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincooln as well. The authors (in this case, Erik Larson, make presumptions about daily life and write husband/wife dialog as if it were true, although without recording devices at the times, certainly can't truly be presumed. Yes, someone may have made a statement about daily life, which the author then interprets, but it is NOT then completely non-fiction.
It is, however, more exciting to read.
This is slow going at times (I'm quite certain I would never have picked this up if I anticipated reading such a biography on Marconi, who, while driven, was also rather dull).
I can't exactly recommend this, but if you like True Crime stories, you may find this an interesting read....more
In our era of (what we consider to be) highly advanced forensics and crimiThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.75 of 5
In our era of (what we consider to be) highly advanced forensics and criminal investigations, it's sometimes difficult to remember that even in a relatively short time past, much of our modern forensics was still very much in its infancy. In Stolen From the Garden, author William Swanson reopens some old wounds by revisiting a kidnapping from 1972, a case in which modern forensics might very well have solved.
In July of 1972, Virginia Piper, wife of a prominent Minnesota banker, was abducted from her suburban Minnesota home. Aside from the audacity of a broad-daylight kidnapping, this was also notable for a number of reasons including the fact that it was one of the first kidnappings to seek a ransom payday of $1 million. It was also a case that the FBI (with dubious authority over the case) claims to have solved, but which much evidence (albeit some of it circumstantial) supports otherwise.
Swanson tries very hard to not comment personally on the case until near the end, when he admits his own opinions, based on his research. That research includes a great deal of information provided by one of the sons of Virginia Piper who had intended to write his own book, but for various reasons, including familial, chose not to do so. That information, including interviews with family members and others who were very close to the case, is invaluable.
It is a little difficult to write a review of the book without giving away too much of the information presented. Although most of the information herein is public information, Swanson tells the story smoothly and almost as though it were a mystery novel.
Among the most interesting facts of the case is that despite the fact that all the money ($20 bills) were logged and marked by the FBI, very little has turned up or accounted for since the ransom was paid.
This is a most beguiling, bewildering case.
Looking for a good book? Whether you're interested in True Crime, mystery stories, Minnesota history, or just a well-told story, Stolen From the Garden satisfies....more
In keeping with my Beatles reading, we have here another new book with theThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5
In keeping with my Beatles reading, we have here another new book with the Fab Four as the subject. This one, Beatleness, by Candy Leonard, might actually be one of the more important books on the subject.
There are plenty of books that look at the beatles themselves and their music (deservedly so) and it seems that there isn't much new to be mined there. So much scrutiny has been made of every single word and note that these four men have produced that it seems unlikely that we can get much more from it. But what hasn't been fully explored, until recently, is the social atmosphere created around and by the Beatles.
Recently I reviewed The Beatles Are Here! which collected essays from a variety of sources (including, most interestingly, the girls pictured in a prominent photograph). This latest book, Beatleness, takes this one step further. Rather than essays by a select few, Candy Leonard interviews a cross-section of individuals and gets to the heart of the people who changed (or formed) a turbulent decade -- the fans.
Arguments can be made over the music of the Beatles and whether or not they were/are incredibly talented or mostly lucky (my personal feeling is 'talent'), but there are musicians and groups all over the world who have incredible talent and push the limits of conventional music, and so few of them get the attention that the Beatles received. Without the fans, the Beatles would never have achieved the status that they did, and the world wouldn't have changed the way that it did.
Of course it's not as simple as all that... the fans were affected by other issues (the assassination of JFK being just one issue) that led to the search for something new, and the Beatles' fit the bill. Candy Leonard's book takes a look at many of these things, ties so much of it together, always using the words of the fans themselves, to highlight the scene. One thing that struck be quite a bit was what I interpreted as a clear difference between the older fans, who grew up with the Beatles from the beginning, and the younger fans who gained their 'Beatleness' a little later (often through an older sibling). Their reactions and interpretations of the music and the era tended to be quite different.
I see this book as being incredibly valuable, particularly to anyone with an interest in sociology and human behavior and a study of the turbulent 60's/70's. The sociological aspects of the fans of the Beatles is a story much greater than a story about four pop musicians.
Looking for a good book? Beatleness, by Candy Leonard, is not a book about the Beatles, but an insightful, well-researched book about the fans of the Beatles and the cause/effect relationship with the Beatles and the troubling times of the 1960's....more
I feel a little duped by this book. Let me share with you the Goodreads opeThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 2.0 of 5
I feel a little duped by this book. Let me share with you the Goodreads opening description of the book:
Sharing the lessons he's learned from over forty years as a magician and family man, Lon Milo DuQuette reveals his unique point of view about magick--its ups and downs, ins and outs, and how his family and home are the foundation of his practice. Written in Lon's humorous style that makes learning and discovery a joy, Homemade Magick will show you that everyday life events are, in fact, true magical adventures.
This sounds like a delightful, personable biography of a magician. For me, and I suspect the vast majority of readers out there, a magician is someone who performs illusions. Penn & Teller, Harry Blackstone, Harry Anderson, Criss Angel, David Copperfield, etc.
No. This is a book by someone who practices what most in the world would consider the occult or the dark arts (though that is a misnomer). This is a book by a self-made magick-as-religion magus.
Despite very quickly realizing that this was not at all what I was expecting, I did my best to accept it for what it was and give it the benefit of the doubt and read it cover to cover. This is made more difficult because it's not a topic I'm personally interested in (though I like to think I have an open mind and am willing to 'listen' to anothers' beliefs).
As a biography, I'm not very impressed with the book. There's very little biography here, frankly. This is more of a 'how-to' book. DuQuette does talk a little personal history, but only when referencing how he came by some of his magick, but as a biography, explaining his childhood and how he came to be interested in the life of magick rites and rituals? Not so much.
As a 'how to' book - how to perform rites and rituals and come by certain 'powers' without a magus in your area to teach you - this is probably a little more helpful. For those interested in this particular lifestyle (and let's face it, it is almost more of a lifestyle than a religion) this should prove helpful. But I couldn't help but wonder how ... shall I say 'authentic' a rite or a ritual is when it is performed by someone using make-shift props and incantations that are spoken without proper inflections. How important are these props and rituals if such substitutions can be made? Are they needed more for the person delivering the rites, to give them a sense that there's another power at work, than they are for actual necessity?
Not being interested in learning how to perform 'magick,' I grew bored with the book. there really was more of this than there was 'biography' and what biography there was really felt a little depressing. While DuQuette seems perfectly happy with his life and proud of what he's accomplished (this is good! More people should have such pride) I couldn't shake the sense that a 'biography' by such a person seemed really unnecessary. I'm not sure what the target market is here, though clearly it isn't me.
Two stars to this book because it MAY be helpful to people who want to know more about how to live this life, but it's NOT a biography, it does NOT show "that everyday life events are, in fact, true magical adventures" and it is not particularly interesting.
Looking for a good book? For the very small target audience, those interested in learning occult how-to, this might prove interesting, but otherwise it's not particularly worthwhile....more
I am not vegetarian, but my daughter is. One of my sons has typically not wThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5
I am not vegetarian, but my daughter is. One of my sons has typically not wanted to eat anything 'vegetarian' but because he's also a big Paul McCartney fan, and McCartney has been promoting 'Meatless Monday' he's been willing to have a vegetarian meal once a week.
Dina Cheney's Meatless All Day provides a very nice selection of vegetarian meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I will admit that I haven't made any of the lunch meals here, and only a couple of the breakfast meals.
Of the meals that I made, we found them all quite tasty. The vegetarian in the family would happily eat any of the meals a second time. The non-vegetarians...? Well, the meals were more-or-less eaten, but timidly, and nothing stood out as being a meal any of the family meat-eaters would request.
What I have found, and this is true for most vegetarian meals and not just Cheney's book, is that meat 'substitutes' don't satisfy. 'Meatballs' and 'burger patties' when made from nuts and other ingredients are pale imitations and to cover the lack of flavor in the meat itself they are often filled with spices to create a flavor not quite natural. I recognize that this may be a case where we meat-eaters are too familiar with a flavor, a taste, and eating something that pretends to be similar isn't likely going to live up to the original. That said, I still would try the spaghetti with white bean balls a second time.
Where I most appreciated the book was with meals that weren't imitations or substitutes for meat meals, but something unique. Stuffed Acorn Squash with Chickpeas and Moroccan Spices and Greek Stuffed Peppers with Lemon-Thyme Breadcrumbs are delicious dishes, as are many of the others within. But even with delicious meals, there is still a sense that spices are replacing natural flavor rather than complementing them. When this works the results are magnificent. When it doesn't work as well, the results are still delicious but a reminder of what isn't in the meal.
I live in a small town, and many of the ingredients were difficult to find. A half hour drive to a town with multiple co-ops and health food stores still didn't produce all the ingredients for some of the recipes. That did become a little problematic and worth noting for the home chefs looking to make recipes from this book.
Looking for a good book? Whether you are looking to supplement your meals with vegetarian alternatives or looking for new recipes for your meals, Meatless All Day by Dina Cheney is a very good choice. ...more
What a fantastic concept! Convince NASA/JPL to allow an average joe to sitThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 2.5 of 5
What a fantastic concept! Convince NASA/JPL to allow an average joe to sit in on the Phoenix Mars Mission; hanging out with all the brilliant minds (it is, after all, rocket science) and living on 'Mars time' just to be able to go home and write a book about it. Kudos to NASA/JPL for agreeing to it and for letting the visitor in on as many meetings as he apparently did attend. Shame on NASA/JPL for apparently not vetting author Andrew Kessler and making sure he would be able to write coherently and appropriately on the subject.
Kessler tries to be 'personable' with his writing, assuming his lack of science and technical knowledge will make what he has to say more approachable to the average reader. Unfortunately, his style, or 'voice,' comes across as juvenile and forced and frankly, out of place.
"The RAC (Robotic Arm Camera) is attached to the RA just above the scoop. The instrument provides close-up, full-frontal color images of the Martian surface close to the ground, under the lander, or anywhere the RA can go. Its got all kinds of filters and scientific attachments to capture and makes sense of extreme close-ups of dirt or whatever else Phoenix can dig up. I for one am hoping for a secret decoder ring."
A secret decoder ring. The author is sitting in a room with some of the brightest minds on the planet, who are about to reach out to a different planet, and all he can do is remind the reader how out of his league he is by 'hoping for a secret decoder ring.' I know he's just trying to be cute, or funny, but he's not. The information he's sharing is great. His secret hopes and wishes? Not so much.
Kessler has an opportunity many of us would like to have ... a backstage glimpse at NASA on a major project. When he relates the actual information as to what's happening and how the scientists at NASA deal with obstacles, then this is a remarkable book. When a glitch on the lander stops the progress of taking soil samples, we get to see these scientists as people, problem-solving and arguing. How they come to the decisions that they do, is what many of us want to know. It is this that keeps the reader interested. But when Kessler's 'fan boy' sensibilities kick in, he lacks a personal filter and he comes across as the teenage, excited fan.
Dara Sabahi, the chief engineer on the Phoenix project tells Kessler, "Documenting the mission will be very important for the future. ... I'm counting on this documentation. ... The more people can read about the mission process, the more we can learn about improving the process." Yet as the mission moved on, Kessler began to be excluded from some of the important meetings. I took this as a sign that the powers-that-be at NASA/JPL began to recognize that they weren't going to get the 'documentation' that they were hoping for.
I was hoping for an inside look at how NASA works. What I got was a long college essay on how someone spent their summer. I give this two and a half stars for the glimpses of the NASA machinations that we did get.
Looking for a good book? Martian Summer offers a behind-the-scenes look at the trials, successes, and struggles of a true NASA interplanetary mission but the book gets bogged down with the inexperienced writer's ability to let go of his 'fan boy' obsession and just share the story....more
I've read quite a few books on The Beatles lately. I'm glad to know that thThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. rated 4.5 of 5
I've read quite a few books on The Beatles lately. I'm glad to know that their music and their magic is still prompting people to seek out information on these musicians. This coffee-table-style book is a delightful summary of The Beatles ... who they were, how they came to be, how they came to be popular, and what happened to them.
Each of the Beatles' books I've read recently has had its own niche, from a detailed book on the albums and songs, to sociological effects on their influence to a generation. This particular book would be a summary of their career(s). A moderately thorough summary, to be sure, but a summary nonetheless.
Because The Beatles, their music, and books about them have been around for a while now, it is hard to say something new. I'm not well-versed in Beatlemania (I enjoy their music, a lot, but I haven't studied them) but I suspect that once the book is published there will be the ardent fans who've read everything commenting on what's 'accurate' and what's been published and where. For me, there was a little 'new' information.
I very much enjoyed the chapter on their years in Germany and the strong friendships they had formed at this time (Astrid, Klaus, Jürgen). Something that was addressed more in this book than any other Beatles book I've read is their philandering. One would expect that young men, musicians, would have a strong sexual appetite, but I've never heard much about this until now. We learn a little about the Hamburg red-light district and the different affairs that the men had, despite their marriages at times. I was not aware (and this is probably because I'm not typically a fan who needs to know every little detail) that Paul had paternity suits against him. It doesn't surprise me but, as I say, these bits of information have been well swept under the rug as far I am concerned.
The book even covers a chapter on each member of the Beatles after the break-up of the band. Their successes and failures. One moment is rather conspicuously missing -- the plagiarism lawsuit against Harrison. With as much detail as Hajeski has managed to include in the book I did expect to get a glimpse at how the lawsuit affected the former Beatle.
The book is filled with photos, making it very attractive as a coffee-table book. One would have to believe that there aren't too many photos of The Beatles that haven't already seen print somewhere, but it's nice to have them collected and arranged in this format.
My 17-year-old son has become quite a Beatles/McCartney fan and this is just the sort of book that he would find interesting. Hopefully this book will keep a new generation of music-lovers interested in one of the most famous rock/pop groups tio ever record.
Looking for a good book? The Beatles: Here, There and Everywhere is a fact and photo filled summary of four young men who, together, became pop culture icons and rock music legends....more
Mostly what I learned from this book is: 1) trying to explain quantum theorThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.0 of 5
Mostly what I learned from this book is: 1) trying to explain quantum theory in a graphic novel format doesn't actually make it any more understandable for someone like me, and 2) "Quantum theory cannot be explained. Physicists and mathematicians ... have admitted that it doesn't make sense." Number 2 is a sentence from the book.
Quantum Theory is a pretty tough topic. it IS after all, a theory, and one in which even some of our most brilliant scientific minds have disagreed on (Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein apparently battled [verbally] over the subject, each trying to disprove the other).
If I understand it, the theory essentially attempts to explain the motion of sub-atomic particles. Because the particles can not actually be measured or monitored individually, their movements and reactions are 'theorized' given different particulars.
I'm not a math guy, not by a long shot, so when I see things like "E = αf³exp(-ßf/T)" -- even in a graphic novel format -- I tend to start checking out.
Kudos to McEvoy and Zarate and the "Introducing" series for this format and for this attempt. I'm sad to admit that I'm not up to the challenge of learning about Quantum Theory.
Looking for a good book? Introducing Quantum Theory: A Graphic Guide does everything it can to make it understandable, but you still need to have some strong understanding of math and science to follow the principles of this theory that "cannot be explained." ...more
Having oftengravitated toward the water for rest and relaxation, I was intrigThis review originally published in LookingFora Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5
Having often gravitated toward the water for rest and relaxation, I was intrigued by this book, offering "surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier. connected, and better at what you do."
It is very clear that author Nichols is very passionate about this subject and excited to share his scientific proof of his theories. I definitely got caught up in his enthusiasm.
Nichols explores all the aspects of water. From its uses in literature to medical therapy ... even its color and how that affects our perceptions ... it becomes clear that we have an intimate relationship and dependency with water. And the message beyond this is quite clear...given this relationship, we need to take much better care of this resource and source of comfort.
Sometimes, people such as myself, can feel a connection to something but not understand what, how, and why we have such a connection. This book goes to great lengths to help us understand why so many of us feel such a connection to water. We all have a 'blue mind' even if we aren't fully aware of it. I'm not sure how or why the timing worked out as it did, but I read this book (mostly because it was next in my queue) at the same time that my wife and I began earnest research on buying a lakefront home. Kismet? Or just our 'blue mind' at work?
While I really enjoyed and got excited over what Nichols shares with us - the book was often over-long, and included science that was at best fringe-worthy ... do we need scientific evidence that the color 'blue' is inspiring and relaxing to us? I understand that the book is called "Blue Mind" but it is about water, not the color blue.
His final chapter, about blue marbles, is very inspiring, and I'd love to attend a lecture given by Nichols. If everyone could read this book, or perhaps hear him speak, so many more people will come to appreciate the importance of water on our water planet.
Looking for a good book? Blue Mind is insightful, introspective, and important and well worth the read. ...more
Daily painting. What a concept! Writers hear it over and over again...writeThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.5 of 5
Daily painting. What a concept! Writers hear it over and over again...write every day. I heard it in college, I heard it in high school, I recall hearing my English teacher in middle school say it. And yet...I was an art student until my sophomore year of college and I can't EVER recall hearing any of my art teachers repeating the mantra to paint every day. There was the "always carry a sketch book with you in case you see something or come up with an idea" but never the same push to do the work daily.
Talking with my wife about it (I was about to go out and purchase some art supplies), I recognized myself in some of the 'traps' that artists get themselves in to. First of all, I always felt that I had to produce something that was wall-worthy or sellable. Why is this? I think it's because of the material investment. Good, even decent, painting supplies are not cheap. You can paint on anything, but watercolor paper will absorb the water the best and gesso'd board or linen will work better than some more common material for acrylics and oils. So...if I'm going to make the investment to buy better materials, I want to make the most of it. As a writer, sitting at my computer costs me not much but my time (I can use the computer for other things), and even when I worked on a typewriter or even long-hand, scrap paper and legal pads were fairly inexpensive.
So, the need (in my mind) to only produce great works has hampered me, as has my lack of finding subject matters. I know...funny. But fruit portraits (ie, still-life paintings) never really excited me. And since I was bent on making the 'perfect' painting, worthy of bringing in money, I had to have the 'perfect' subject as well. Kind of doomed to failure.
(Photo of my first painting attempt included here on blog site.)
In comes Carol Marine's book, Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often to Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist, and in her brief book she manages to address some of the common problems artists face (such as the above) and she gives some very basic painting lessons with technique tips, including how to set up a still life (as she points out, setting up a still life can potentially take more time than the painting. It's not just a matter of putting some things together.
(Photo of my second painting attempt included here on blog site.)
Marine does more than just give some technique and design tips, she goes on to explain how best to prepare the paintings for web use, how to take photos of the art,and also suggests some web site alternatives for marketing and selling paintings.
And if this weren't enough, Carol Marine's 'voice' throughout the book is very relaxed and conversational and you get the feeling that she's talking directly to YOU through the course of the book.
Make no mistake...a book, even as well written as this one, is not a truly suitable substitute for taking a class and getting personal attention from an instructor (many communities offer such art classes through a community education program), but this book is a really nice primer for the beginning artist.
Yes, this book has motivated me. I restocked up on some small painting panels and cards, re-supplied some paints, and in the two days since i finished this book, I've now done two small paintings (a watercolor and an acrylic [maybe tomorrow I'll try an oil]). Neither represent my best work, but I like the idea of painting every day and I will do my best to continue the practice. And why am I doing this? Because Carol Marine's book has inspired me, and what more can you ask of a book than to become inspired?
Looking for a good book? If you've ever thought about doing any painting but keep putting it off or struggle with what and how to go about it, then read Carol Marine's Daily Painting to get some tips and to become inspired....more
If you work with or for a non-profit organization, no matter how small or lThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 5.0 of 5
If you work with or for a non-profit organization, no matter how small or large, you MUST have a copy of Heather Mansfield's Mobile for Good.
I've been working, and serving on boards of directors, for a variety of not-for-profits companies for just over a decade. In that time I've heard (and seen) a lot of talk about using social media more effectively but none have done it well. One organization with a budget (and fund-raising goal) of about $1M annually uses social media a great deal, with much success in attracting attention, but very little effort has been put in to using social media for planned donations. Other, smaller organizations (where $50K annually is a big deal) have spent very little time on social media and none at all for fund-raising. All that is about to change in my little corner of the world!
Heather Mansfield writes intelligently and thoroughly about all the benefits, and all the potential pit-falls and traps of social media and basic internet protocol for non-profit organizations. Her reasoning is sound and well supported by research, and the very fact that many of us will pull out a cell phone to 'google' this book is probably proof enough that we in the non-profit world need to get with the program and get our organizations accessible on all modern internet-surfing devices.
I read and ARC of this book on my Kindle and I have to admit I was using the highlighting feature frequently. So much of what Mansfield says not only make sense, but she writes about it in such a way that I actually was getting excited to start making some changes.
Other books and pamphlets I've read about social media marketing have been rather vague. For instance, a common theme is to use a CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) System. If you're lucky, there might be the mention of what to look for in CRM software, but Mansfield actually lists three or four of the top-rated systems, and she does this consistently throughout the book. A listing of top-ranking available options is incredibly helpful. You could easily spend an entire day just researching only one such system. And if you read the e-book on a web-accessible device, it's very easy to be taken to the site directly from the book, not just for CRM, but for all items, devices, and software that she talks about. This is so incredibly helpful. Mansfield, and McGraw-Hill, make this super easy.
But perhaps the best part of this book is that Mansfield creates a strategy for the non-profit organization. Starting on page one and working through the book, the reader sees how this works and how this can benefit the organization and how to put it all together. It's almost like having Mansfield on your board of directors.
Following the checklist plan in the back of the book, I've already put Mansfield's strategy in motion for one small organization and I've ordered a hard-cover copy of the book to sit in the office, for reference to any of the staff that might work on the strategy. I'm excited and confident that it will work for us. My only complaint? I'm wishing the book were spiral bound to make it easier to highlight and to use the checklists.
Looking for a good book? Mobile For Good by Heather Mansfield is an indispensable guide to fundraising for non-profits in the 21st century. If you want to raise money for your organization, this is the book that others will be quoting from and it's best if get familiar with it now....more
I really like these "Best American" book from Mariner Books. I've been readThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5
I really like these "Best American" book from Mariner Books. I've been reading them for many years now. Typically I'll walk in to my local Barnes & Noble or my local independent bookseller, see the series on an end cap, and purchase one or two. My favorite of all of these titles is The Best American Science and Nature Writing. In part, it is because of my interest in always learning something new, and in part because I often am not subscribed to any science or nature magazines. And when I am subscribed, I too often don't read the articles because they tend to be just a bit over my head. This collection not only pulls together the 'best' from a given year, but I find that every single article is approachable, readable by someone such as myself -- someone without a very strong science background.
I have also found, however, that since I've started writing my book review blog, reading collections has been difficult. I typically have enjoyed a collection such as this as something I have lying around the house and that I pick up, read an article or two, and put it down for a bit. It's not a book that I sit and read, cover to cover (hence the fact that I am reviewing a 2013 book in 2014).
Apologies done, let me say that this is an incredible collection! It's very difficult to choose an article or articles that stand out because every essay collected is top-notch and memorable. "Can Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?" by Nathaniel Rich is a powerful article and I can't believe that I haven't heard more about this potential 'secret' to immortality. I should think that this is BIG NEWS! (The ideas from this article became the basis for a children's book that I recently reviewed here.)
Sylvia A. Earle writes beautifully about restoring and preserving our waters and reefs in "The Sweet Spot in Time."
"Shattered Genius" by Brett Forrest was incredibly interesting because it was almost more an exposé on a reclusive mathematics genius.
I don't think it's news to anyone that our popular social media is not really bringing us closer together, and "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" by Stephen Marche is an informed look at the social sciences.
And though it's difficult for me to explain precisely why, I found "Is Space Digital?" by Michael Moyer interesting. Perhaps the very concept, in which the author is trying to prove that the very essence of knowledge is transferred, digitally coded, on all matter, incredibly fascinating.
I really like this series and highly recommend it.
This collection includes:
"False Idyll" - J. B. MacKinnon "The Last Distinction?" - Benjamin Hale "Talk to Me" - Tim Zimmermann "Beyond the Quantum Horizon" - David Deutsch and Artur Ekert "Is Space Digital?" - Michael Moyer: Trying to prove that the very essence of knowledge is transferred, digitally coded, on all matter "The Sweet Spot in Time" - Sylvia A. Earle "Machines of the Infinitie" - John Pavlus "Which Species Will Live?" - Michelle Nijhuis "The Larch" - Rick Bass "Shattered Genius" - Brett Forrest "The T-Cell Army" - Jerome Groopman "The Artificial Leaf" - David Owen "The Deadliest Virus" - Michael Specter "Our Place in the Universe" - Alan Lightman "Out of the Wild" - David Quammen "Altered States" - Oliver Sacks "Recall of the Wild" - Elizabeth Kolbert "Polar Express" - Keith Gessen "The Crisis of Big Science" - Steven Weinberg "Autism Inc." - Gareth Cook "The Life of Pi, and Other Infinities" - Natalie Angier "Super Humanity" - Robert M. Sapolsky "The Patient Scientist" - Katherine Harmon "Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?" - Nathaniel Rich "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" - Stephen Marche "The Measured Man" - Mark Bowden "The Wisdom of Psychopaths" - Kevin Dutton
Looking for a good book? The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013, edited by Siddhartha Mukherjee, is an approachable collection of science-related essays. ...more
If you know anything at all about guitars, you know that Gibson Les Paul isThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.5 of 5
If you know anything at all about guitars, you know that Gibson Les Paul is one of the best, most popular guitars of the world. Dave Hunter's book, The Gibson Les Paul: The Illustrated History of the Guitar that Changed Rock is at once both a beautiful coffee-table style book, and a history book chronicling the origins and changes of one of the most famous guitars ever made.
Starting with a very brief history of the Gibson guitars and their quest for the 'perfect' electric guitar. Hollow body guitars tended to produce too much feedback and so the move to the solid boy guitar was inevitable. Enter Les Paul and a brief biography. The fact that Les Paul was a musician is often forgotten (if ever known) by most people. Paul's notes and drawings are really a nice addition to this book. The photo of Paul's first attempt at an electric guitar is fascinating. It's got a sort of Frankenstein's monster look to it as it's made of pieces of other guitars.
There was some friction between Gibson and Paul, which is detailed here. Author Hunter doesn't pick sides, but lays out the facts as he can ascertain them. Some of the friction can be traced to the changes in ownership as Gibson was purchased by different companies throughout its history and the Les Paul name was added to some guitars that Paul didn't agree with.
All the history presented appears well researched and there is a real wealth of information. Personally, I found this to be the real rewarding aspect of the book.
Many people will find the second portion of the book to be more to their taste...a photo montage of the various popular artists who use the Gibson Les Paul. What is nicely done here is a very brief biography of the artist, the music they are best known for, a photo of the artist with a guitar, and a sampling of his/her record albums. This is not a complete album list, but just a touch. Something to whet the appetite.
The last section of the book, "Tone and Construction," is the technical section. Hunter tries to explain precisely what it is that makes the Les Paul stand out. This is difficult to do as even Gibson has tried to recreate the technical magic of the classic Les Paul's without getting it exactly right. Whether it's the weight or consistency of the wiring, or the thickness of the wire insulation, or the age of the wood, it is clear that the classic Les Paul guitars had the right blend of everything at the right time. Detailed photographs and hand-written notes from the Les Paul archives really add a personal touch to the book.
I learned a lot about the creation and construction of one of the most famous guitars on the planet, but the book happens to look good, too!
I received this Digital Review Copy for free from edelweiss.com
Looking for a good book? A photographic coffee-table book, a history book, a book on music entertainment... The Gibson Les Paul, by Dave Hunter, is a remarkably good book in all areas and will be much coveted by guitars lovers....more
Rod Pyle's Innovation the NASA Way is a very successful book on two levelsThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.25 of 5
Rod Pyle's Innovation the NASA Way is a very successful book on two levels.
First, this is a very nice summary of NASA's history, hitting the highlights (Gemini, Apollo, Voyager, Skylab, ISS, Space Shuttle, etc) -- the successes -- and touching briefly on the catastrophic failures. You could certainly write volumes on any one of the NASA projects, but Pyle manages to capture the essence and the innovation of NASA's existence.
Second, the book does precisely what it sets out to do -- point out the innovation of one of the most necessarily creative organizations in existence. Often born out of necessity, NASA's innovation comes from the fact that time and again, they set out to do things that not only had never been done before, but had to prepare for things that they couldn't possibly know might be problems. As Pyle points out, this is precisely why he chose to use NASA to illustrate innovation.
Pyle very nicely poses questions or challenges throughout each chapter, and follows these up with 'solutions' using NASA's history to illustrate his points.
We've probably all heard the over-used phrase "think outside the box" but NASA is the perfect example of this, and in many ways this book is a salute to that tired phrase. Innovation = thinking outside the box.
Something that I found very interesting, though it was not necessarily an intentional point to the book. Money, and the lack of it, can change the course of innovation.
At the beginning of NASA's existence and popularity, money was rather plentiful. Pyle notes that NASA's budget was almost 5% of the national budget (as opposed to the .5% today). At this time, when NASA had a Presidential directive to be the first to the moon, innovation came from a great deal of dreaming and planning and trial and error. When something failed, it was examined, corrected, and attempted again. There was money for this and in many ways it led to a very productive and positive beginning of the space program (with the exception of the horrific results of Apollo 1). At this time, innovation was a result more of preparing for the unknown (would the module actually be able to leave the moon and meet up with the orbiting ship?) and the known (thrusters would only be able to get a limited amount of weight out of Earth's gravity). As the U.S. government lost interest in the space program, innovation was often a result of monetary constraints. NASA might still want to push the boundaries and attempt the unknown, but now they are asked to do more with less. Both reasons for innovation, however, often lead to unusual (some might say unorthodox) solutions.
Having worked in the not-for-profit sector for decades, I can greatly appreciate the need for innovation, and can empathize with the need to be creative or innovative and to do more with less. However, Pyle makes one statement that does not sit well with me. At one point, Pyle's "challenge" is:
"Preserving a mission that has gone well beyond all expectations of achievements ... and budgets."
His solution is:
"Trim required personnel, equipment, and "mission footprint" to a bare minimum, and use only the time and personnel that are absolutely necessary to accomplish the task at hand."
While NASA may have had their 'fat' days and the luxury of indulging a large number of people to work on projects, this is very rarely the case in the private sector. I can speak from experience in the non-profit world, that there is already not enough money to hire the people who are necessary. Every year of preparing budgets I have heard the same mantra "trim the fat" and yet there isn't any fat. What happens is that more and more people are reduced and upper management points and says "See...you didn't need those people" not realizing that it has made a dedicated few over-worked for no additional compensation. Who decides what is "absolutely necessary" and what is the criteria? Innovation due to lack of funds is understandable. Innovation as a substitution for funding may show a lack of responsibility and can be dangerous.
I am definitely impressed with Rod Pyle's ability to give us a history of NASA and to point out how innovative the organization has been, challenging companies to think like NASA and come up with new solutions to their challenges. In many ways, I think the book can be summed up in Pyle's own words ... a quote which should have been highlighted, and will become a meme on my Facebook page (emphasis mine):
Despite the challenge of low budgets and risk aversion, thoughtful innovation does ascend through the system. There is always time later to rein in ideas to fit budget and schedule parameters. But if you don’t go large at the beginning, you will never achieve greatness.
Looking for a good book? Anyone looking to get the most out of their workers or company needs to read Innovation the NASA Way by Rod Pyle, and anyone with even a passing interest in NASA and space exploration will want to read this excellent book....more
I really really appreciate the publisher Dover for reviving/re-issuing someThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.0 of 5
I really really appreciate the publisher Dover for reviving/re-issuing some great art and art technique books. This particular book, Light for the Artist, from 1988, offers up some extremely valuable information. Light, its source and its effect on an object, might be one of the most important aspects of painting. Everything from color and hue to shadows depends on light.
Author Ted Seth Jacobs tends to get a little overly-complicated, explaining things multiple times, using paintings (his own) and painting diagrams to illustrate his points.
The difficult thing about art instruction by book is that the teacher/author must assume that the reader has no knowledge of what is being taught, otherwise they wouldn't be seeking out the instruction book. Jacobs certainly packs in a lot of material here, but it reads very clinically and without any excitement. A little artistic passion would be helpful, but even the included paintings are subdued, dry works (the cover, as depicted here, might be the most 'vibrant' of his included paintings).
Yet dry or not, the information here is definitely respected by Jacobs. He has three chapters 1: "Symbolism and Perception: Word Versus Light", 2: "The Nature of Light: Its Structure, Action, and Effects", and 3: "Toward a Philosophy of Perception" with sub-chapters such as "Light as a Paradigm of Consciousness:, "Light Moving Through Space", and "Unifying Washes of Light" among many others. If nothing else, Jacobs is thorough.
But in any discussion of light, as it applies to the painting arts, I would hope for examples beyond the author. How do you describe the power of light in art without acknowledging or sharing examples of Rembrandt or Caravaggio or Vermeer? While the budding artists who read this book aren't likely to achieve the status of these masters, it would still be nice to see Jacobs' teachings as illustrated by these masters.
Because of the dry nature of the writing, I did find myself losing focus and needing to re-read sections that I'd just read. And frankly, much of what is written here seems so natural to me that I don't understand why it's necessary to go in to such detail about light - its source and angles and effects. Jacobs does touch on this briefly in his preface:
As you might expect, many of the actions of light described here have been known for centuries. However, since the advent of nonrepresentational art, a large body of past knowledge about light, including some very basic ideas, has been virtually lost. This phenomenon is observed over and over in art schools—even among students who have been studying for many years. For this reason, I presume to hope that besides the student, even the professional artist may find here useful material about light.
I entered the university system as an art major, almost a decade before the book was first published, and I recall a number of my teachers talking about the importance of shadows and light (one small aspect of what Jacobs touches on) and very little discussion on "nonrepresentational art" so I'm not quite sure what he is referring to.
I was going to close saying that I wasn't sure I learned anything particularly new; however, I do think that the next time I go to draw or paint something, I will take a second and third look at the source(s) of light on my subject before I draw (and that's a good thing), so perhaps even this slight alteration to my methods, because of this book, suggests that even a dry, scholarly book on art can have an impact on the artist.
Looking for a good book? Light for the Artist is a thorough examination on how light can and should impact the artist, and though it reads a bit dull at times, it can still have a positive influence on the amateur artist....more
It's been a little while since my review of The Boy Who Said No, but I had really liked that book and when I was informed that there would be a follow-up, I jumped at the chance to read it and made sure there would be room in my week of biography reviews for it! And I can report that the follow-up book ... does not live up to the predecessor.
First, a reminder that this is a novelized biography. Taking what we presume to be fact from Frank Mederos' life, author Patti Sheehy weaves a tale more like an espionage thriller than a biography. There are multiple times when the story isn't even on Frank, but rather back in Cuba, from where he escaped in the previous book. This novelized biography idea is new to me, but it worked very well the first time around so I was game for giving it another shot.
The problem with this book is not the format in which it is written... the problem is the subject. Part of what made the first book so compelling was Mederos' drive. He had a clear, focussed goal and despite an army (literally) standing in his way, he was determined to overcome every obstacle in order to get away from Cuba and in to the arms of his girlfriend. This was the motivating action throughout the entire first book, and Sheehy heightened the tension with her taught writing. But in this book, Mederos has already found the freedom he was searching for and is quickly married to the girlfriend who was his guiding force to freedom. So what motivates him? Nothing out of the ordinary, really. He wants to live the American dream ... and does.
Mederos' drive in this book is to live in peace. It is the peace that is shattered -- by his friend who leads him in to riot territory, then by the death of someone very close to him, and then by men, loyal to Cuba, who are looking to kill Frank Mederos.
It's a nice idea, but a goal of living in peace is hardly an active, exciting challenge. Certainly not when compared to trying to avoid an entire military and escape an island! It's a wonderful goal, but it's the same as mine ... to live the American Dream without disruption. Sheehy does everything she can to liven it up, but ultimately, the book is about a man living in New Jersey.
The book definitely picks up when we are back in Cuba with Pino, Frank's former military commander and the man who took the heat for Mederos' escape, but also with Lazo, Frank's former Special Ops fellow soldier who knew of Frank's plans to escape. Lazo's contributions to the book are mighty and provide the spark that is otherwise missing. Unfortunately, it's not nearly enough.
The book is titled "Stalk" and I think it's safe to assume, especially with Pino's early inclusion in the book, that we are going to see Frank being menaced ... stalked ... by the Cuban Special Forces, or by Pino at the very least. We do, and it's easily the best and most exciting part of the book, but it only comes about the last 62 pages of this 310 page book. That's right...we have 248 pages of Frank living the American Dream and Pino plotting revenge. There are moments that overcome the tedium of this... Frank's wandering blindly in to a riot zone, for instance ... but mostly we lack excitement. It's the biography, without the interesting novelizing.
***WARNING-- MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD!!***
In the first book, Frank was driven by his desire to be with Magda, his girlfriend. It felt as though anytime he was on the verge of giving up, thoughts of Magda kept him going. Here again, we have nothing, it seems, driving Frank. He meets up with and marries Magda. They have a child. Magda gets sick and dies. All within a relatively short passage of time. Magda's illness and death feel dragged out, to draw on some sympathies, but already in this book there's less spark between them than there was when they weren't even together.
Note: there's a sex scene in here that is pulled out of the steamier romance novels and just really feels out of place. It's beautiful that Frank and Magda get to live their dream and get married, but why is it necessary to describe, in detail, their sexual congress?
The best parts of this book don't really involve Frank. The best parts are back in Cuba, with Pino, with Lazo, with Damian. And then in the United States, with these same people. It is interesting to note, that while Frank struggled for years, trying to get away from Cuba, Lazo arrives to protect Frank, with no trouble ("Lazo arrived in Key West the next day, exhausted.... he had tossed and turned the night before..." -- we never learn HOW Lazo managed to get away from Cuba!), and Damian and his 'handler' arrive in the United States to stalk Frank. How is it so easy? Recognizing that time has passed (more than thirteen years), we don't know if it's just that much easier to flee/leave Cuba now, or if their insider help makes all the difference.
I was very excited and eager to read this, but it definitely didn't hold the magic that was in the first book.
Looking for a good book? Stalked: The Boy Who Said No tries to recreate the adventure and excitement of the first book in the biography/novel series but ultimately Frank Mederos' life in America lacks the danger and excitement that he had when, as a Special Forces soldier, he was trying to flee Cuba. ...more