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review 2019-09-23 12:29
A joy of a book that will make readers feel as if they had been there.
Apollo 11: The Moon Landing in Real Time - Ian Passingham

Thanks to Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword for sending me an early hardback copy of this book, which I freely chose to review. What a blast!

There are events that become fixed on people’s minds, either because they witnessed them and felt they were momentous, or because the impact of the news when they heard them made them remember forever the moment when they heard about it and what they were doing at the time. Some become part of the collective memory. The first manned mission to land on the Moon is one of those. As I was a very young child (four years old, if you want to know), I don’t remember it, but I do remember my father recounting having gone to a neighbour’s to watch it as we didn’t have a TV at home at the time. And I’ve watched the images, seen pictures, and read articles and watched documentaries about it over the years, but no, I didn’t experience it live at the time. So, on this year of the fiftieth anniversary, I couldn’t resist this book. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The author collects an incredible amount of information from a large variety of sources (there is a bibliography at the end, which includes the sources although not the specific details of each and every one of the articles and news items, as that would have taken more space than the book itself), and manages to select the most informative, wide-ranging, thought-provoking, and entertaining materials, creating a fun and gripping reading experience that, although we know where it’s going, never gets boring. He is also at pains to try to provide a balanced view of the facts, collecting as well the voices of those opposing the project for a variety of reasons (mainly economic, to do with poverty and conditions in the USA, but also some for religious reasons, and others due to the fear of what that might mean for humanity and the likelihood of space’s exploitation for war purposes).

Passingham lets the materials speak for themselves in most instances (and it is a joy to read the opinions of the general public at a time before social media gave everybody the tools to share their voice with the rest of the world), and he does so while creating an easy to read and compelling account of events that evidence his professionalism and his experience as a journalist. Where some authors would feel tempted to butt in and make explicit their points of view, here we are allowed to make our own minds up.

After a first chapter called ‘Race to the Moon: 1957-69’ highlighting the USSR’s successes in what would become known as ‘the space race’ and the USA’s determination to turn things around (spurred on by JFK’s promise, in 1962, to get to the moon before the end of the decade), the book takes on the format of a count-down, from Wednesday, 2nd of July 1969 (launch minus fourteen day) to Splashdown day (24th of July) and a final chapter looking at what has happened since. This format makes us share in the excitement of the team (and the whole world), at the time, and, although we know what took place, we get to feel a part of it.

I have marked many items in the book that gave me pause, and the description also gives a good hint of some of the gems readers can find in the book. If I had to choose some, perhaps the comments by Michael Collins about how he felt about the possibility of having to leave his two fellow astronauts behind if things went wrong with the Moon landing; the advancements on computer sciences and technology brought up by the project (when looking at the data it sounds underwhelming today, but it’s incredible to think they managed to do what they did with the equipment they had) and the same applies to the cameras they took with them and used; the mention of Amy Spear’s role in developing radar systems used for landing and docking the module; worries about what would happen to all the people who had been working on the project once the flight was over, many of whom had come from other states (would the new jobs be maintained?). I loved the enthusiasm and the optimism of people convinced that in ten years there would be hotels in the Moon and humanity would be settling other planets (oh, and they were phoning aviation companies to book their flights already!); the sad comments by US soldiers in Vietnam who contrasted the public support the  Apollo 11 enjoyed with the general opinion about the Vietnam war; I was very sad about the fate of a monkey they sent into orbit (alone! Poor thing!);I was interested in the opposing voices as well, in the fact that Russian women had gone into space but at that point there were no women in the programme (and due to Navy regulations, Nixon’s wife couldn’t even accompany her husband when he went to welcome the astronauts aboard USS Hornet…), and a mention that the astronauts had access to a microwave oven in the Mobile Quarantine Facility (they had been in existence for a while, but they were large and only used in industrial settings at that point), and, oh, so many things.

I enjoyed the book, which also contains many illustrations, all from NASA, and apart from making me feel as if I had been there, it also gave me plenty of food for thought. Many of the things people imagined didn’t come to pass, although it is not clear why (yes, it would have been very expensive, but that didn’t seem to stop them at that point. And why did the USSR pull back as well?), there were many advances due to it, but space exploration has remained controversial, perhaps even more so now than before. I wonder if there will be some positive event that will pull so many people together again in the future, rather than the catastrophes and disasters (natural or man-made) that seem to have become the norm in recent years. I guess only time will tell.

I cannot imagine there will be anybody who won’t find this book enjoyable (OK, people who believe the Earth is flat or conspiracy theorists might not care for it, and experts on the subject might not find anything new in its pages), and I’d recommend it to anybody who either remembers that event and wants to re-experience it, or wasn’t there at the time and wants to learn all about it. A joy of a book.

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review 2019-07-03 22:30
Rocket Men by Robert Kurson, narrated by Ray Porter
Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon - Ray Porter,Robert Kurson,Deutschland Random House Audio

This is an amazing story, made even more amazing by Ray Porter's excellent narration!

 

I can't help but feel that, much like 1968 when this tale took place, we need this kind of patriotic, inspiring story to get us through this tough time. (And then I see something like this proposed Trump July 4th parade, and I think to myself, this is NOT what we need right now.) Sorry to get political.

 

These men were patriots, they were brave and they were Americans. It was a pleasure to learn more about them.

 

*Thanks to my public library for the free download. Libraries RULE!*

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text 2018-05-18 18:29
Little Kid Reads Are Fun
The Mouse and the Motorcycle - Tracy Dockray,Louis Darling,Beverly Cleary
Stuart Little - E.B. White,Garth Williams
Justin Morgan Had a Horse - Marguerite Henry,Wesley Dennis
Guardians of Ga'Hoole #2: The Journey - Kathryn Lasky
Wings of Fire Book Five: The Brightest Night - Tui T. Sutherland
Trials of Apollo, The Book One The Hidde... Trials of Apollo, The Book One The Hidden Oracle - Rick Riordan

Sometimes you just need to go back and enjoy so old classics you never got a chance to read as a child. I have been buying a bunch so my son can read them, and I figure well, why not? I have most all of the Guardians of Ga'HooleWarriors and several other children's classics like Charlotte's Web and King of the Wind. I loved those when I was younger. I think I will try to read a bunch of these over the next few weeks to help me with my slump and brighten my day. School let out so....yeah. I'm mom 24/7 until late August, and the hubs is leaving for a trip soon. I can use some cheering up. I love summer, and I dread summer. We are frenemies.

 

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-13 14:04
For Starters
Trials of Apollo, The Book One The Hidde... Trials of Apollo, The Book One The Hidden Oracle - Rick Riordan

Hey! I am Zander. For starters you should know a little about me before i start blogging.  have a dog and two cats, and I love sports! Anyways, lets get to my new favorite book The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan. I find a great interest in Greek Mythology. his book is about the god Apollo. He was thrown off of Mt. Olympus because he apparently started a war. Apollo does not think so though. He was mortal and he was scared and confused. 

[spoiler]

[/spoiler] Apollo gets jumped and a little girl named Meg goes and helps Apollo. Apollo is lost and confused and is losing his godly memories quick! He needs to get to camp halfblood.

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review 2018-03-08 00:53
Taudry Statue Gets Woman Laid in Desire of the Gods
Desire of the Gods: Apollo - Marianna Green

 

 

 

 

 

The last thing Paula needed was a blindfolded, glowing god in her bed, but that's exactly what she got.

 

Still reeling from her fiance, Nick, breaking up with her, Paula is desperate to try anything to get him back. So when her neighbor, Mrs. Stephanopolos gives her a magic statue that will give Paula her heart's desire, she's skeptical but does the required ritual anyway.

 

A split second later, Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, is standing in her bedroom, ready to help Paula, even though he thinks Paula can do so much better than Nick. Everything seems to be working out until Eros sneaks in and shoots one of his insta-love arrows at Apollo. Now the sun god needs to stay permanently blindfolded to avoid falling in love with the first woman he sees, especially when Paula is so not his type. Now Paula and Apollo are stuck with each other until Aphrodite can swoop in and reverse the spell. But with the two of them in such close proximity to each other, they might realize they're each other's types after all. 

 

 

I definitely enjoyed this book. A lot of little details were explained, like the history of the statue and why she and Apollo can understand each other, despite them speaking different languages. And even though this book has a lot of my usual pet peeves, like insta-love, arrogance, and even lack of regard for personal boundaries, I still didn't mind it. I think it's easier to accept because Apollo is a god and things work differently for him. His love for Paula doesn't have to be completely realistic because he's not human. 

 

However, the actual moment Apollo gets shot is incredibly anti-climactic. 

 

Suddenly, the golden god flinched, and he slapped at the side of his neck as if stung by a mosquito.

“No - Oh No! Not again!” He shut his eyes tight.

“What’s the matter?” Paula stared at him.

“Eros,” groaned the god, keeping his eyes tight shut, “He’s fired on me.”

 

That's it. It's a significant event in the book but it's as dramatic as a mosquito bite. You don't even meet Eros in this book. But aside from that unsatisfying scene, this was an excellent story. 

 

I really liked Paula as a character. She's a bit of a smartass and despite being insecure with her looks, she's not whiny or obsessive about it. Even though she needs to go along with Apollo's absurdity to get her heart's desire, she stays snarky instead of being resigned to taking his (unintentionally) hurtful comments about her appearance. The only thing I didn't really like about her was her attachment to Nick. I get the fact that he was her fiance and she's in love with him, but it got a little repetitive, even in this novella-length story. It was especially bad when:

 

Nick saw her with Apollo, jumped to conclusions, and called her a slut for moving on so quickly, even though he left her for another woman. 

(spoiler show)

 

However, for the most part, Paula rocked. 

 

 

Apollo is so absurd, he's adorable. Normally, arrogance turns me off, but Apollo is so over the top, it's impossible to take him seriously. 

 

"Turn away from me, and try not to think of my wonderfully developed upper arms or what you moderns call my six pack"

 

It's just so silly that it's funny. And Apollo genuinely does care for Paula. He warned her away from Nick from the start, telling her she could do better. He also offered to strike Nick dead for her and was in general very protective of her (but not in a controlling way). 

 

His lack of personal boundaries bothers me slightly. He has no concept of personal space and has no problem touching Paula randomly and without warning.

 

When sleeping in her bed, he used her breasts for a pillow, and while sleeping he dry-humped her.

(spoiler show)

 

While this sort of behavior would usually bother me, I don't really mind it because it's pretty clear he's not doing it to exert power over her or because he thinks he owns her. He's just pretty oblivious to how the world works. 

 

The second book in this trilogy explains that the gods are all pretty immature and careless like this because they do not have the ability to change and grow like humans do.

(spoiler show)

 

However, I really liked him for the most part. He's really sweet in general and has a great dynamic with Paula. 

 

 

This was definitely a short and sweet read worth checking out. People who love romance and Greek mythology will like this book, and the other two novellas in the trilogy. It's available for free on Smashwords.

 

Source: www.smashwords.com/books/view/671237
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