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review 2018-09-11 10:15
Encounters of Sherlock Holmes - George Mann,Mark Hodder,Paul Magrs,James Lovegrove,Eric Brown,Richard Dinnick,David Barnett,Cavan Scott,Mark Wright,Stuart Douglas,Kelly Hale,Mags L. Halliday,Nick Kyme,Steve Lockley

As always with a set of stories this is a mixed bag, but there's a love of the stories of Sherlock Holmes that comes across from all of the stories.  Little details like the Persian Slipper become stories.  There's mashups from other stories (H G Wells War of the Worlds for example) and they often take an interesting twist.


None of the stories are terribly memorable or made me want to hunt up more by the authors but none were terrible and would suggest to me to avoid those authors.

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review 2018-09-05 11:25
An incredible story of survival and success!
The Girl with Seven Names - Hyeonseo Lee,John David Mann

The Girl with Seven Names, Hyeonseo Lee, David John, authors, Josie Dunn, narrator

Hyeonseo Lee had not meant to escape from North Korea or her family. Although it was dangerous, she had only wanted to secretly cross the river into China to visit with some relatives before her 18th birthday. She had planned to return in a couple of weeks at which time she would get an official ID card. However, life intervened in the form of a government census. Her mother was forced to report her missing. She had unwittingly put her mother and brother in danger. Her 18th birthday had come and gone, and now if she were to return she would be responsible for her actions and would be punished. She was trapped in China.

Growing up, Hyeonseo Lee had been a happy and well loved child. In school, she learned what all the other children learned. North Korea was the greatest country in the world. The leaders were like G-ds and even their pictures were valued more than any other possession. The students were brainwashed. They were taught to hate South Koreans and Americans. There were rules about dress and behavior. They were trained to denounce each other for any perceived infractions. Those families would then simply disappear, more often than not. Neighbors turned each other in for extra rations. The fear was pervasive. They had no real freedom, but they also had no real responsibility. The government was meant to provide everything, education, health care, food and shelter, although it was minimal, at best, and many went hungry.

This memoir is the remarkable story of Hyenonseo Lee’s journey to freedom after finding herself trapped in China without proper identification papers. Without any skills or visible means of support, she was forced to rely on her courage, her wits and her relatives and family friends to survive. She was willful and resourceful, and when she felt trapped, she simply picked up and moved on, without a plan, even abandoning those who helped her, if necessary. Fortunately, most often, luck intervened and prevented tragedy from overtaking her. Her story, though, is harrowing and hard to believe. Time after time she escaped from the most dangerous situations because of the kindness of strangers or simply serendipity. After more than a decade, and many hair-raising experiences, she was finally granted asylum in South Korea.

Still, she was alone there, and separated from those she loved. She despaired and would often dream about bringing her mother and brother to her. It would not be without great expense and grave risk to all of them. Escaping from North Korea was dangerous, even for those who had special relationships with the border guards, like her brother who was a smuggler. In the Asian countries mentioned in the book, North and South Korea, Laos, Vietnam, and China, bribery was a way of life. Smuggling of goods and humans was a common business. Brokers, sometimes unscrupulous, were paid to guide those seeking asylum out of the country. Bribes needed to be arranged so that border guards would look away. Government officials took money, as well. Sometimes the commitments were not honored and the money was lost and the asylum seekers were imprisoned and sent back to uncertain fates. No one could be trusted. People eagerly turned each other in to the authorities. Escape often depended on lucky breaks.

For almost two decades, Hyeonseo bounced from job to job, relationship to relationship and from one precarious situation to another. What her story reveals is the constant fear that the North Koreans live with daily. It reveals their distrust of everyone, since everyone is a possible enemy. It reveals their ignorance of all things other than North Korea. It reveals their hatred for America. North Koreans are brainwashed by a system that allows no outside information to influence their lives. It was cell phones and the internet that combined to open up Hyenonseo’s eyes to the world outside and that allowed her to maintain contact with her family throughout her years of exile.

After reading the memoir, I thought that the author either exhibited extreme courage or extreme naïveté. On the one hand, her cleverness allowed her to escape many an ordeal, but on the other, her lack of worldliness prevented her from being suspicious at appropriate times which exposed her to danger that might have been avoided. That said, I do not think there are many who could have successfully accomplished all that she has been able to accomplish in the two decades of her wandering, although, in order to accomplish her goals, she often compromised others. Luckily, things seemed to work out in the end.

There is a great deal of significance given to names in the book. First, a good name was very important in North Korea. Second, the author changed hers, for a variety of reasons, seven times before she found freedom. Thirdly, she also had a unique way of describing her relatives with names that revealed something about them, like Uncle Poor, Uncle Opium, Aunt Pretty and Aunt Tall.

While the book is really informative, and I learned a great deal about the hardships and the dangers the North Koreans face, I don’t think the book fully brought out the magnitude of the danger. So much happened over the almost two decades of  her trials and tribulations, but sometimes the story moved on before I fully absorbed it or understood exactly how it really played out.

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review 2018-09-01 19:59
Biggest, Baddest Book of Monsters
Biggest, Baddest Book of Monsters - Anders Hanson,Elissa Mann
I came across this book while doing inventory at the library. I loved the pictures inside this book. The colors chosen were excellent and the book screamed creepy. What I didn’t like was that there wasn’t that much information inside this book. The book gave basic information on a variety of monsters and I really didn’t feel it was the Biggest, Baddest Book of Monsters.
Inside the book, I found a two-page spread on a variety of different monsters from Bigfoot to zombies to ghosts. I liked that they covered a variety of monsters but a lot of details, they did not provide. On the werewolf’s pages, I learned how to defeat a werewolf, how to spot a werewolf, when they change and what they look like when they change. I found the illustrations wonderful and entertaining as they were both cartoonish and humanist in nature.
It’s a fun book to look through and you might learn a thing or two. I think kids will enjoy thumbing through it and it would be good for a resource.


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review 2018-08-28 10:50
Wut und Negativität
The Skull Throne - Peter V. Brett

Sie fielen tief. Als ihr Duell auf Leben und Tod seinen Höhepunkt erreichte, stürzte der Tätowierte Mann Arlen Bales sich selbst und seinen Gegner Ahmann Jardir, selbsternannter Shar’Dama Ka, in den Abgrund. Doch ihr Sturz war kein Zufall, kein Akt der Verzweiflung. Arlen braucht Jardir. Er verfolgt einen wahnwitzigen Plan, um den Krieg gegen die Dämonen ein für alle Mal zu beenden. Er glaubt, dass sie ihre Streitigkeiten beilegen müssen, um wie früher mit vereinten Kräften zu kämpfen. Können Arlen und Jardir Jahre der Enttäuschung und des Grolls im Namen der Menschheit hinter sich lassen?
Unterdessen versinken die Völker Krasias und des Nordens im Chaos. Erbitterte Machtkämpfe destabilisieren den zerbrechlichen Frieden. Krasia steht am Rande eines Bürgerkriegs um den Schädelthron, den vielleicht nicht einmal Jardirs durchtriebene Ehefrau Inevera verhindern kann. Im Norden bemühen sich Leesha und Rojer, die Herzogtümer Angiers und Miln zur Einigkeit zu bewegen, aber als Jardirs ältester Sohn mit seinen Truppen in Lakton einfällt, verhärten sich die Fronten. Von der Hitze des Krieges überwältigt drohen die Völker zu vergessen, wer ihr wahrer Feind ist…


Menschen sind dumm. Ich weiß, kein sehr positiver Ansatz für den Beginn einer Rezension, aber ich habe das dringende Bedürfnis, meinem Verdruss Luft zu machen. Ich ärgere mich maßlos über die niederschmetternd realistischen Entwicklungen, die uns Peter V. Brett im vierten Band des „Demon Cycle“, „The Skull Throne“, präsentiert. Wie kann man nur so dämlich sein, sich auf interne Kämpfe um Macht und Einfluss einzulassen, wenn Dämonen an die Tür klopfen? Arlen und Jardir werden nicht grundlos „Einiger“ genannt. Ohne ihre Autorität bricht die oberflächliche Einigkeit ihrer Völker zusammen und die schwelenden Konflikte eskalieren. Sie verkennen die Bedrohlichkeit der Situation, zeigen einen beschämenden Unwillen zur Veränderung und weigern sich, zurückzustecken, um zusammenzuarbeiten. Es ist zum Haare raufen. Ich wollte eingreifen und den Figuren Verstand einbläuen. Während sich die politische Elite um die Thronfolge in Krasia und um die Vorherrschaft über die Herzogtümer im Norden prügelt, leidet das einfache Volk unter ihren Entscheidungen. Peter V. Brett involvierte zwei neue Blickwinkel, die die Auswirkungen des Machtgerangels aus der Froschperspektive zeigen: die Sharum’ting Ashia und den jungen Spion Briar. Ich mochte beide gern, für Ashia schlägt mein feministisches Herz allerdings ein wenig lauter. Als weibliche Krieger sind die Sharum’ting im strikten Patriarchat Krasias eine revolutionäre Neuheit, die Inevera anstieß. Sie begründete diese Kaste nicht uneigennützig, erwies den Frauen ihres Volkes damit jedoch einen unschätzbaren Dienst. Zum ersten Mal in der jahrtausendealten Geschichte Krasias können Frauen durch die Tötung eines Dämons die gleichen Rechte wie Männer einfordern. Leider ist die äußerst konservative, traditionsbewusste Bevölkerung für Jardirs und Ineveras weitreichenden Reformen noch nicht bereit. Kämpfende Khaffit, kämpfende Frauen – sie erwarteten zu schnell zu viel von ihrem Volk. In Jardirs Abwesenheit flammt der Widerstand gegen die gesellschaftlichen Erneuerungen auf und trägt zur Instabilität Krasias bei, die Jardirs Söhne ausnutzen, um den Schädelthron zu beanspruchen. Allen voran der Erstgeborene Jayan. Ich weiß nicht, was in Jayans Erziehung schiefgelaufen ist, aber er ist zu einem widerwärtigen, grausamen Menschen herangewachsen, den man auf keinen Fall auf einem Thron sehen möchte. Um seine Machtübernahme zu verhindern und sich vor seinen Unterstützern zu schützen, geht Inevera eine weise, hochspannende Allianz ein: sie verbündet sich mit Abban. Ich hatte meine wahre Freude daran, zu erleben, wie dieses tödliche Duo trotz ihrer offensichtlichen Animositäten gemeinsam agiert. Ich finde es interessant, wie kontrastierend Peter V. Brett die Thematik des Überwindens alter Feindseligkeiten in „The Skull Throne“ nutzt. Inevera und Abban, Jardir und Arlen, selbst Leesha und Renna (die ich immer noch nicht mag) finden zu einem überraschenden Waffenstillstand für das höhere Wohl. Was im Kleinen möglich ist, scheitert im großen Rahmen kolossal. Dieser Kontrast potenzierte meine ohnmächtige Wut auf die kleingeistigen Machthaber, die einfach nicht begreifen wollen, was auf dem Spiel steht. Insofern war die Lektüre definitiv einzigartig, denn ich erinnere mich nicht, dass mich ein hervorragender High Fantasy – Roman jemals so zornig stimmte. Ich frage mich, ob Brett diese ungewöhnliche emotionale Resonanz beabsichtigte.


Ich erlebte eine sehr seltsame Leseerfahrung mit „The Skull Throne“. Denke ich an die Lektüre zurück, beschleichen mich überwältigende Gefühle von Wut und Negativität. Natürlich gefiel mir dieser vierte Band, denn er ist hochpolitisch, intelligent und illusionslos. Objektiv störten mich maximal kleinere Schönheitsmakel, wie die unausgeglichene Strukturierung, die Leesha meinem Empfinden nach mehr Raum als allen anderen Hauptfiguren zugestand oder eine Szene mit Rojer und seinen Ehefrauen, die mir moralisch fragwürdig erschien. Trotz dessen beeinflussten mich die inhaltlichen Entwicklungen der Geschichte so stark, dass ich zwar gefesselt war, aber keinen richtigen Spaß am Lesen hatte. Es wirkte alles so demoralisierend, besonders angesichts der Ausgangssituation für den finalen Band „The Core“: innerhalb der Völker grassiert weitreichende Uneinigkeit, die Spannungen zwischen ihnen führten zum Krieg und die einzigen, die die Geschlossenheit der Menschheit wiederherstellen könnten, haben sich verkrümelt, um einen selbstmörderischen Plan zu verfolgen. Tja. Keine rosigen Aussichten. Ich kann im Moment kein Potential für das Happy End erkennen, das ich mir wünsche. Ich hoffe, dass es Peter V. Brett gelingt, mich eines Besseren zu belehren. Ich möchte mich positiv an den „Demon Cycle“ erinnern.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/peter-v-brett-the-skull-throne
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review 2018-08-14 01:29
People I want to Punch in the Throat
People I Want to Punch in the Throat: True(ish) Tales of an Overachieving Underachiever - Jen Mann

A friend recommended this book and I was skeptical because of the title, but after reading a few chapters I had trouble putting it down and was totally that mom and understood where the author was coming from. As I listened to the book (driving to KY and back is an easy 4 hours of listening) I told my kids this is why I never sell at a garage sale. Other points I was nodding my head in complete understanding. I even recommended this book to my sil. She went looking for it, too on the library sites to see if she could get it. 


The title may be off-putting, but I do think this is a good book and I really want to get my hands on her other books, especially the holiday one. 

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