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review 2016-05-04 13:41
Current Affairs - Barbara Raskin

Current affairs by  Barbara Raskin  
Audio book and the sisters start out with numbered lists of why they are jealous of the other, why they are the same and why they are different.
Nat is married and no kids. Shay has had 4 husbands with a grandchild that she pawns off on others. Nat picks her up at the airport and they head to a party but the car is stolen. Real problem is highly sensitive government papers that Shay had are also stolen. Snapshots along the way are described.
The car is found and the cops question Nat as to the papers and she has no clue-they are Shay's. She wants to put her under the bus instead she tends to the little granddaughter so Shay can go track down who wants the papers now...
Lots of action as the FBI helps to protect her and they try to make a deal with the thugs...lots of DRAMA!
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).


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photo 2014-07-14 13:49
Why does this book remind me of this quote?...
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

So Markus Zusak's been on International Bestseller lists for years. This weekend I found out why.


I truly 'got into this book' one I 'got into the voice of death' - a truly unique narrative style - yet unfortunately not one inextricably linked to the Nazi movement therein, and apart from the odd zieg heil, could be heard in any other (modern) conflict.


Why did I feel like I was reading a warning manual rather than a piece of historical fiction?


The adventures of Liesel Meminger were particularly poignant for me; my grandmother, also Liesel, was about the same age, in the same location and living through very similar circumstances in mandated Hitler Youth - albeit (as far as I am aware), she was not hiding a Jew in the basement, much as I would've been exceptionally proud had she done so. I don't think she had a basement though.


An aspect I particularly liked of The Book Thief's life, was there was no one 'bad-guy' -

not every German enjoyed their marching and ration book for 'the cause'. The English struck fear during the raids at night as much as the domestic parades of captives during the day, or overzealous saluting neighbours. Growing up hearing both sides of the story (my Liesel married an English soldier), I think Zusak has handled complex motivations sensitively and with truth. Threats of the time came from all angles, including neighbourhood bullies and overbearing school mistresses.


Normal life prevailed in extraordinary circumstances. Until there was no normal any more.


The futility of war (and genocide) was a particularly well expressed theme - everything else serving to reinforce this **woefully politically overlooked** point. Were more books like this read by more people, do you think, would people simply decide not to engage with warmongering, fearmongering death merchants known as international governments?


And there I was promising not to get all political... Shoot.


I will always have a tear for Rudy, and Liesel's Standover Man, every time I hear an accordion's sigh... and every other soul Zusak's narrator encounters in such circumstances, now and in the future.




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review 2014-07-14 09:48
Always watching you...
Little Brother - Cory Doctorow

We don't have to vote for a surveillance state, we're entering into one voluntarily.

My hands down favourite thing about Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, is that it was going to be part of a massive national US summer reading program. And then they banned it. It's almost like the principal read the book, recognised himself, and then... whoops. The very fact schools are picking up on this, is intriguing to me. They should get V for Vendetta whilst they are at it. And a few more besides...


You can read more about all that here: http://www.writerswrite.com/cory-doctorows-ya-book-little-brother-banned-in-florida-61220141 - and watch a fantastic response from the author himself. This is the reason I picked up this book, and the reason I will be recommending it so thoroughly. Even if this does put me on some sort of 'list'. You're probably on that same list just for reading this review.


Welcome to the club.


You can download a FREE copy for yourself here: http://craphound.com/littlebrother/download/ Yep, gratis. And you know what, Doctorow himself has licensed that to happen, which he explains in great detail in his forward. Once data is out there, its public. I thoroughly appreciate his reminder of this, and progressive attitude working with the market rather than trying to dominate it. If only major publishers would follow suit (and the reason www.onetreefamily.com has gone indie.. check them out).


In essence, his story is about data control, and how this can be (is) used to control, predict and manipulate population behaviour. The trouble is, these days we give all this data voluntarily - every purchase, every swipe, every check-in, every FB share. 

In the wake of terrorism (cough), who are we really left feeling most vulnerable to? 


LB works on many levels - It will appeal to teens, written in an accessible first person narrative and technology heavy. And then there's the obligatory love interest (but hey, the guy's 17, it's a miracle he keeps on topic as much as he does). But it also works for adults, even those of us over 25 (and Marcus Yarrow, you can definitely trust ME)...


This perhaps should be *compulsory* school reading (much as I unschool my children and don't believe in any compulsory/prohibitive curriculum, many of the reasons are outlined well in LB's pages in fact).


There's certainly enough nods and references in there to get you googling.. And THINKING. And that's the mark of a good piece of social fiction or commentary - which the author well achieves. 


Download it, then buy it and read it again. Then give it to a young person you know, and get them to give it to an old person. The more people critically evaluate the circumstances we find ourselves in, the better chance we have of keeping our eyes open.


And if they're watching you, watch them right back... ;-)

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