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review 2019-07-19 21:10
Reading progress update: I've listened to 100%.
Death In Kashmir - M.M. Kaye
Death in Kashmir: A Mystery - M.M. Kaye,Shibani Ghosh

Well, that was somewhat more of a slog than I had expected -- and only in a minor part owing to M.M. Kaye herself; even though she does rely more on "dark and stormy night" scenarios than I would have liked to see, as well as on characters, including protagonists, behaving TSTL to such an extent it's a wonder they don't all get killed in the first chapter. 


Chiefly, though, it just puzzles the heck out of me how anybody at Audible could have thought it was a good idea to let a book set firmly in the British colonial establishment, and featuring exclusively characters belonging to said establishment (with the attendant accents and attitudes) be read by an Indian narrator with a very pronounced Indian accent (whose narration moreover resembles that of an automaton, but let that be) -- and who doesn't have the first clue how to pronounce English place names and certain other English terms, to boot.  I mean, yeah, the book has "Kashmir" in the title, but it should have been some sort of clue in selecting the narrator that it was written by a British author and is set immediately before the end of the Raj ...


Oh well.  Onwards and upwards.  At least I finished it just in time to be allowed to roll again tonight!

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text 2019-07-17 00:25
BL-opoly: Dice Roll #17
Death in Kashmir: A Mystery - M.M. Kaye,Shibani Ghosh

It's past midnight CEST, so having finished my very satisfying return visit with Crowley, Aziraphael and the world of Good Omens, I am allowed to roll again.


This takes me to square 20: The Lake House -- read a book featuring a dog, with a dog on the cover, or set in an area known for its lakes or on a fictional lake.


Judging by its description (and the cover of my print edition), part of M.M. Kaye's Death in Kashmir is set on a lake, so that's what it will be.


Length: 333 pages

=> + $3 upon completion.




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review 2019-07-16 16:38
LIfe WIll be the Deah of Me... and You Too!
Life Will Be the Death of Me - Chelsea Handler
I Picked Up This Book Because: I love Chelsea.

I’ve always thought Chelsea was an open book when it came to her writing but this book take open, honest and vulnerable to new levels for her. This book follows a year of therapy and explores her losses in life. Her personality, the shortcomings that come with that and her need and ability to overcome these challenges.

This book was deeply personal on another level for Chelsea. I admire her for putting it all out there. It’s not always pretty but I’m glad to see how open and honest she is about this journey. It has inspired me.

The Random Thoughts:

The Score Card:


5 Stars
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review 2019-07-15 21:33
Death of Expertise
The Death of Expertise - Tom Nichols,Sean Pratt



Tom Nichols is wrong about eggs.


I will come back to this point below, but before I get there, I just want to write the sentence.  Because apparently, nobody on the entire Internet has written that sentence before now.  (Or if they have, somehow Google can't see it.)  And...  He is.  So if anyone else, for their own reasons, decides to put that exact phrase, enclosed in quotes, into a search engine, I want them to find this review!  (And if anyone stumbles upon this review because you actually did do a search on "Tom Nichols is wrong about eggs," I'd be tickled if you let me know in the comments!)


Okay, now for the non-egg stuff....


I am torn about this book, and I see from having read multiple reviews on Goodreads, I am not alone.  Nichols identifies serious issues.  Misinformation is rampant, and no amount of fact-checking appears to dissuade people who have become attached to a piece of misinformation.  Expertise has been devalued to the point where a person who does some shallow online surfing of articles related to a topic feels qualified to challenge people with deep, advanced knowledge about the subject.  They are convinced "My opinion is as good as yours."  The less they know, the more confident they are that they know everything they need to know.


He has a chapter on the higher education, where he identifies problems related to the universities adopting a customer-service model, where students have been transformed to "clients."  I have taught at the college level--as a teaching fellow at the university where I completed my PhD in English, as an adjunct at a college while I completed my dissertation, and as a full-time temporary instructor at the same institution for one year after that.  Between the two institutions, I taught for six years.  I definitely saw the effects of the student-as-customer mindset.  There was an increasingly pervasive sense that students were paying for a credential instead of an education.  There was a lot of grade-grubbing.  This was 1996-2000 and 2001-2003; I have heard that matters have worsened.


On the other hand, I was troubled by the author's tone when he discussed undergraduates.  He repeatedly referred to them as "children," making snide remarks about "children" who challenged their professors on various issues.  He also made much of prospective students' parents taking them on visits to the schools before they are accepted to them.  Nichols is about six and a half years older than I am (I have a May, 1967 birthday, and his is December 1960).  I'm not sure what the practices were for prospective students in 1977/1978, but when I was going through the college-application process in 1984, I distinctly remember on-campus interviews being part of the application process.  He has an ax to grind over "children" who choose schools based on how much they like the campus and amenities.  And he has a point, to a point.  But some of the things he chooses to clutch his pearls about baffle me a little bit.  Like dorms that are not designed like prison cells.  If undergraduates aren't forced to live in a box with a stranger, how ever will they learn to get along with people who are not themselves?  This can't possibly happen in a suite with private rooms and a shared living area.


He also takes cheap shots at "safe spaces" and students having "tantrums" over "hurt feelings."  (If you have spent any amount of time online, you have seen very similar rants about "kids today.")


One of the points that Nichols makes is that experts are not experts in all things.  There is a danger in behaving as if being an expert in one field means being an expert in all fields.  But there are parts of the book where he doesn't stay in his own lane, regarding expertise.  Although he even allows that he not an expert in journalism, he feels comfortable decrying everything he finds wrong with the current state of journalism.  One of his stranger objections is that journalism has become a profession, and that there are journalism programs in universities.  This, he points out, has displaced an "apprentice" system, where people learned to be journalists by working a beat, maybe starting out writing obituaries, and advancing through the ranks at a newspaper.  But this is a peculiar perspective coming from someone decrying widespread ignorance.  Why is it not better to learn journalism in a degree program, with an educated faculty?  What if you apprentice at a paper that is terrible?


So, about the eggs....


Nichols concedes that experts can be wrong, and a pet example of his seems to be that in the 1970s, nutritional experts reported that eggs "might be lethal."  Everybody stopped eating eggs (because apparently, everyone ate eggs), replacing them with foods that were worse nutritionally, and as a result, there was an obesity epidemic.  And then nutritional experts changed their minds and decided eggs are totes good for you.


All of which is inaccurate.  Trends in obesity cannot be explained by "everyone replaced eggs with something worse."  It's all more complicated than that.  And there are many experts out there who still advise against eggs.  (Insert vegan side rant about the cruelty of egg production).  Later on, toward the very end of the book, Nichols qualifies that although [various] nutritional experts took eggs off the definitely-do-not-eat list, this does not mean it's advisable to have fast-food egg breakfast sandwiches every day either (misuse of experts' findings).  In any event, Nichols is not an expert in nutrition, and the "might be lethal" was silly hyperbole.




I saw comments from many reviewers complaining that Nichols did not offer solutions, and that is not exactly true.  At the end of the last chapter, he does.  He concedes that experts need to be held responsible, but members of the public have a responsibility to inform themselves.  If they wish to engage with an expert, they need to do enough basic research (not on Google) to be conversant in the topic.


The Article


Another thing I learned from other reviews is that the book grew from an article (by the same name) in The Federalist.  Some have suggested that readers skip the book and read the article.  I might not necessarily go that far, but definitely read the article and consider if you want more of the same basic structure, stretched out into a book.  

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review 2019-07-13 19:47
Agatha Christie Murder Mystery!
Death in a Desert Land - Andrew Wilson

Agatha Christie is tasked, by letter, to what was then called Persia, now Baghdad, to investigate the death of Gertrude Bell. Her death was determined to be suicide. Gertrude was an English writer, traveler, political officer, administrator, and archaeologist. She played a major role in establishing and helping administer the modern state of Iraq, a very well respected woman in the Middle East. Gertrude felt that she was being followed and her life in danger so whether she committed suicide or was murdered has never been determined. 

She was also in competition with another archeologist, Mrs. Woolley. Katharine who had an official position as an illustrator for the excavation at Ur. Katherine's first husband committed suicide, many speculate it was because Katherine suffered from Complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, which meant that she could not have children. 

In Death in a Desert has Agatha trying to figure out why Gertrude died finds herself in a totally separate murder mystery. Agatha befriends Mrs.Wooley and while Mrs.Wooley is brilliant and temperamental Agatha is still able to have empathy for her. A young girl gets into an argument with Mrs.Wooley and ends up dead. Mrs. Wooley is leaning over the body of the young women and of course, Mrs. Wooley becomes a suspect and is locked into her room. When the investigators are able to get there, they find that there is a young man who says he killed Sarah Archer. 

Both suspects are kept locked in their rooms until the police can figure out who the true killer is. Agatha visits her in her room and begins to suspect Katherine's behavior to not be normal. Could she have been poisoned? There are substances that could be taken that would change a person's personality and that would explain a lot of things

There are a lot of well-fleshed characters that make this story very believable. I did not know until the end of the book, that this novel was based on the real lives of Gertrude Bell and Mrs.Wooley and her husband Leonard, and that the murder mystery was interwoven with the real events of these people. This is the first book I have read in this series and I think that I will go back and start from the beginning! A worthwhile read, a clean mystery but still a suspenseful who dun it. I really enjoyed the book and read it in a few sittings!

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