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review 2017-06-27 02:40
Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
Ghost Talkers - Mary Robinette Kowal

Imagine a first world war where the English have recruited mediums and devised a method to have soldiers report intelligence from their dying moments before moving on. Of course, the Germans are trying to figure out the secret of how they do this, and this is the basis for the plot of the novel. Ginger Stuyvesant is an American heiress who is one of these mediums.


It was a quick read and I liked it overall but I can’t say that I ever really got fully absorbed by it. Little things kept distracting me. I’m not entirely sure whether they were even problems, exactly. Just little period details that made me wonder whether things would have happened quite like that. Maybe they would have. I do think the title could have been better.


Anyway, I read this for the booklikes-opoly Water Works square on a gamble since that one says to “Read a book with water on the cover, or where someone turns on the waterworks (i.e., cries) because of an emotional event.” I got lucky, and there were a few instances of people crying, usually as a result of a death. This wasn’t emotional weeping but more subdued crying, the kind that you just can’t seem to help, but I think it counts.


At 299 pages, this nets me another $6 for my bank, leaving with a current total of $156.


Previous updates:

187 of 299 pages (63 %)

82 of 299 pages (27 %)

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text 2017-06-26 23:46
Reading progress update: I've read 187 out of 299 pages.
Ghost Talkers - Mary Robinette Kowal

Now we even have crying in dreams!

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text 2017-06-26 20:45
Reading progress update: I've read 73 out of 383 pages.
All the President's Men - Carl Bernstein,Bob Woodward

I'm reading this concurrently with John Dean's Blind Ambition, in which I've just reached th point of the Watergate break-in and how Dean, as White House counsel, reacted to it.


In both books, I'm reading the original publication, old paperbacks that don't have any benefit of later editing or updates.  (I do have a Kindle edition of Blind Ambition, with updates, but I'm not reading it. . . yet.)


All the President's Men is not as easy to read as I had anticipated, because it's written in a single third person point of view, so it's Woodward this or Bernstein that, rather than we, I, etc.  Sometimes I have difficulty keeping them distinct.


But what's truly fascinating is how much these two reporters learned and how quickly they learned it from their own investigation, making their own contacts, making blind phone calls.  It's interesting to speculate how much different the task would have been with today's technology.  On the other hand, they were able to pick up a phone and call the White House and be put through directly to high level people like Bob Haldeman without any trouble.



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text 2017-06-26 18:02
Reading progress update: I've read 82 out of 299 pages.
Ghost Talkers - Mary Robinette Kowal

Helen shook her head, panting. Tears glistened on her cheeks. "It's not your time. I know... oh, sweet girl. I know it hurts, but you have to stay here."

This looks promising for Water Works... She's crying as a combination of the effort of keeping Ginger here and at the prospect of losing her friend, I think.


Also, later on in the scene:

Lifting her hand, which Mrs. Richardson did not release, Ginger wiped her eyes on the back of her arm.

She has just discovered that her fiancé has died. I think this information was included in the blurb, but just to be safe, I'm adding the spoiler tags.

(spoiler show)
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review 2017-06-26 10:14
The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting - Anne Trubek

I was enjoying this until I hit p.50 "The most beautiful of these hands may well be Insular, developed in Ireland by Saint Patrick, who had learned half-uncial in Europe and brought it to Ireland in the latter half of the fifth century." the small postits came out and there's a "citation please" note on it. Because, even though she annotates almost everything else this one came out of nowhere.  Having studied Early Irish Script in college this is unfounded.  Patrick brought Christianity and Latin to Ireland and from that came the Insular script; Irish scribes are also supposed to have introduced spaces and some of the common abbreviations.  Plus, while the Book of Kells is in Insular Script and resides in Ireland, common scholarship attributes it to somewhere in Scotland.


So after this I took a lot of what she said with a grain of salt. It misses the modern calligraphy revival, the proliferation of calligraphy on Pinterest, the use of pseudo calligraphy in a lot of places and the new discoveries about things like journalling by hand, like Bullet Journals and the resurgence in fountain pens.  It's an interesting read but lacks a certain amount of true depth.

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