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review 2017-11-18 15:09
Podcast #77 is up!
His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt - Joseph Lelyveld

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it, I interview Joseph Lelyveld about his account of the last year and a half of Franklin Roosevelt's life and presidency. Enjoy!

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review 2017-11-16 04:27
Brave New World (Audiobook)
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley,Michael York

Brave New Shock Value: the Anti-Utopia


So, I read that. Or listened to that. I can see why this was a revolutionary novel when it was written. Huxley set out to write a satire of the utopian novels so popular in his day and wrote a horror story instead. It's certainly imaginative, and not entirely out of left field, unfortunately. It does show its age in some respects, but since this is meant to be uncomfortable, that's not as much of a deterrent as it could be. I'm not really sure what to rate this though, so I'm leaving it unrated.


Narration is top-notch though - 5 stars for Michael York.

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review 2017-11-14 05:45
An Explorer in the Air Service (WWI Centenary Series) - Hiram Bingham

"AN EXPLORER IN THE AIR SERVICE" (which was originally published in 1920 by Yale University Press) is Hiram Bingham's account of his time as an officer in the United States Army Air Service (1917-1919) in which he headed, first in Washington the Personnel Office of the Air Service - and then was sent to France in the Spring of 1918 as Chief of Personnel at Tours, where he labored for a few months before he managed to wrangle a transfer to Issoudun, where the U.S. had established a complex of military airfields 100 miles SE of Paris. Bingham, who had undergone flight training in the U.S. in March 1917 prior to the country's entry into the war and went on to earn the designation of Reserve Military Aviator (R.M.A.) the following August, wanted to freshen up on his flying skills. His work as Air Service Personnel Chief was so all-consuming that he had had no time for flying. 

From reading this book, one quickly sees how much of an aviation enthusiast Bingham was. (Indeed, before joining the U.S. Army, he was one of the persons instrumental in the establishment of the U.S. Schools of Military Aeronautics at 8 universities across the country - from Cornell to UC/Berkeley - which provided ground school training for Army aviation cadets, who later received advanced flight training in Europe.) At Issoudun, he was placed in command of the Third Aviation Instructional Centre (AIC). The Third AIC was the largest primary instruction and pursuit training school in the Air Service. It was made up of a series of airfields where pilot trainees were put through various stages of training, from simplest (Field 1, where the trainee pilot learned to taxi a 'wingless' plane at high speed along a straight course, so as to get a basic feel for handling a plane) to advanced (Fields 7 & 8, where formation flying, simulated aerial combat, and gunnery were taught). 

In reading about the training that took place at the Third AIC, Bingham goes into considerable detail in sharing with the reader the realities and challenges of training pilots and meeting the frontline requirements the Air Service placed upon him and the officers under his command throughout the summer and autumn of 1918. Sometimes the pilot trainee who has his heart set on flying 'pursuits' (fighter planes) fails to catch on to the demands of flying a fast, high-performance, single-seat airplane. No matter how hard he tries to keep his place in formation or learn combat tactics, he doesn't measure up. He falls short and his deficiencies become all too clear to his instructors. Rather than waste any more precious time and resources on a pilot trainee who doesn't have what it takes to serve in a pursuit squadron at the Front, he is shunted off into training as either an observation or bomber pilot (at Field 10, which was much larger than the other fields). 

Throughout the book, there are many photos of the various aircraft types that were used at Issoudun, as well as photos of Issoudun itself and some of the men who served there. Those photos gave me a very real sense of what it must have been like to be in the U.S. Army Air Service in France during World War I. There are also detailed illustrations of some of the flight maneuvers (e.g. the 'vrille' or spin, vertical virage, wing slip, and renversement) prospective pursuit pilots were expected to master.  Sometimes I would take a break from reading and study these illustrations. I would then close my eyes and try to imagine that I was in a Nieuport or SPAD fighter carrying out these intricate movements with deft handling of throttle, control stick, and rudder. 

"AN EXPLORER IN THE AIR SERVICE" is one of the best books of its kind that I've ever read. Bingham speaks both to his time and to today's generation with words that are sometimes prescient about aviation, as well as fanciful. His candor in speaking about America's lack of preparedness in developing the Air Service once the country is at war serves as an indictment of the narrow vision or blindness shown by the Army General Staff, which failed to appreciate aviation's potential and utility on the battlefield. Bingham himself says that "... it must never cease to be a source of amazement to our descendants that, while the great nations of the world had been fighting for their lives for two years and a half, and ordinary common sense would have seemed to have dictated the necessity of preparing for the day when we, too, should get thrown into the gigantic conflict, so little should have been done of what is known as 'General Staff Work.' " 

Anyone who wants to understand the origins of U.S. military air power, start here. This book is absolutely priceless. 

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review 2017-11-12 01:42
Impatient to read the next one
Hilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth - Judd Winick
Hilo Book 2: Saving the Whole Wide World - Judd Winick
Hilo Book 3: The Great Big Boom - Judd Winick

In an effort to expand my repertoire of graphic novels and maybe be more helpful when recommending books to my library patrons I took a trip to the shelves. I came upon a set of 3 books in a series written by Judd Winick and their covers were so eye-catching that I decided to grab all of them to binge. I'm grateful that I did because I breezed right through them and it's left me impatient for book 4 which comes out at the beginning of next year. The series centers around a character called HiLo (arguments could be made that it's written Hilo or HILO) who crash lands onto earth (and into our hearts) with The Boy Who Crashed to Earth. The title pretty much says it, right? HiLo looks like your typical kid except that he's super strong and extremely weird. He doesn't get why clothes are mandatory or that not everyone has superpowers like he does. Luckily, he makes friends with D.J. who is more than happy to show him the ropes and to absolutely have his back...even if that means fighting robots from another dimension. By the second book, Saving the Whole Wide World, their duo has expanded to include Gina who used to be D.J.'s best friend before she moved away. She's struggling with her own identity so it's challenging to try and sort out just what kind of a creature HiLo actually is...and if he's a hero or a villain. The stakes are higher and the danger is 100% real but it doesn't seem like there's anything that HiLo can't defeat...which brings us to the third book titled The Great Big Boom. There are magical warrior cats in this book. I don't think I need to say anything else because MAGICAL WARRIOR CATS. HiLo and his friends are going up against the ultimate baddie and it's only going to get worse which is why I'm practically vibrating with excitement over Waking the Monsters which is set for release on 1/16/18.


These books are full of heart and what it means to be a loyal friend no matter what (even if there are killer robots). The illustrations are 99% of the reason why I love these books. The colors, characters, and layouts are perfectly married to the hilarious, heartwarming prose. This is a solid 10/10 for me and I have been recommending it so much that now we only have book 2 sitting lonely on our shelves (they're going like hotcakes is what I'm saying). So catch up so that like me you can sit in anticipation for the 4th book to hit the shelves!


What's Up Next: Matt Phelan Masterpost


What I'm Currently Reading: Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly & Zach Weinersmith & I'm rereading Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie because I just saw the film :-D

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-11-10 16:57
Love, love, love this gorgeous cover...
In a Perfect World - Trish Doller



Book Title:  In A Perfect World

Author:  Trish Dollar

Genre:  YA | Realistic Fiction

Setting:  Cairo, Africa

Source:  Kindle eBook (Library)




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Plot:  4/5

Main Characters:  4/5

Secondary Characters:  4/5

The Feels: 4/5

The Pacing:  3/5

Addictiveness:  3/5

Theme or Tone:  4.3/5

Flow (Writing Style):  3.5/5

Backdrop (World Building):  4.5/5

Originality:  4.5/5

Book Cover:  5+ Beautiful!

Ending:  4.5/5 Cliffhanger:  Nope.

Steam Factor 0-5:  1.5

Total:  3.7/5 STARS - GRADE=B




This is a book that deals with some controversial subjects, that I feel, ultimately has its heart in the right place.  The MC, in the beginning, comes off as very immature and offensive with some of the comments she has about Muslim women.  But…I think it was done this way by the author for a purpose, so you could see her learn and relate and even grow as a person.  Which she does do, and she becomes a better person by the end. 


My only issue with this, was mainly just that it was slow; not much happens that excited me.  Mostly, just sightseeing and eating different kinds of food.  Then at about 85% mark something does happen, and yeah, you could totally see it coming…and then we're rushed into an ending and an epilogue…all very quickly done.  I did really like the Cedar Point references, (MC is from Sandusky, Ohio) because I do love Cedar Point.


Will I read more from this Author?  Yes, I would; I only ever read one other book by Trish Doller (Something Like Normal) and I really liked that one.


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