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text 2017-12-30 14:51
December Wrap-up
Old Celtic Romances - P.W. Joyce
Sigil Witchery: A Witch's Guide to Crafting Magick Symbols - Laura Tempest Zakroff
Fairies:: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk - Morgan Daimler
Dreamtime Dragons - Nils Visser
The Grand Phantom - Harold Cloninger
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
Plum Dandi Knits: Simple Designs for Luxury Yarns - Alicia Plummer,Melissa Schaschwary
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock - Imogen Hermes Gowar
The Toy Makers - Robert Dinsdale
About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution - Paul Davies

Yes, there's one more day but although I'm getting close to finishing Uprooted by Naomi Novik, I definitely won't be finishing any other books before January 1st.

 

I seem to have given myself a lot of non-fiction to read this month. Mostly from Netgalley.

 

I expect to finish Uprooted between today and tomorrow so I'm counting 11 books for the month. Not bad for me!

 

The stand out ones besides Uprooted (which I'm really enjoying) would be The Toy Makers and the Dreamtime Dragons Anthology. Both have given me a lot of reading pleasure. I enjoyed the re-reading of A Christmas Carol too. 5 of the books are non-fiction so only a couple of meh books.

 

I also got through some of the samples backlog again. I've only got about 80 left. I collected a LOT over Halloween!

 

I still have some non-fiction reads in progress so that may slow me down for January reading, but I seem to be averaging more in a month than I used to. I blame all of you.

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review 2017-12-23 17:20
Review of Einstein by Walter Isaacson
Einstein: His Life and Universe - Walter Isaacson

This another book that I have a hard time reviewing.  Isaacson is an outstanding writer who certainly knows how to tell a story.  However, I was simply not gripped by this one.  Even with the layman's breakdown, I still had a hard time following much of the science explanations dealing with Einstein and his ideas.  Also, I did not care at all for Einstein the person.  I felt he was condescending toward women and terrible to women closest to him.  He never even met his first child and was distant and incredibly selfish in his attitude toward his other children.  I know he did great things in science and was a cultural icon for his time, but I could not get past how little he cared for his family.

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text 2017-11-26 03:05
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square 10: Pancha Ganapati Task
Please Mr. Einstein - Jean-Claude Carrière
Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume - Julie Kenner,Jennifer Coburn,Megan McCafferty,Lynda Curnyn,Jennifer O'Connell,Melissa Senate,Diana Peterfreund,Stephanie Lessing,Laura Ruby,Erica Orloff,Stacey Ballis,Kristin Harmel,Shanna Wendson,Elise Juska,Kyra Davis,Beth Kendrick,Berta Platas,Kayla Pe
The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science - Andrea Wulf
The Chosen - Chaim Potok
Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman

Tasks for Pancha Ganapati: Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much. –OR– Take a shelfie / stack picture of the above-mentioned 5 favorite books.  (Feel free to combine these tasks into 1!

 

Tough cull...  the best of the best for 2017.  It wasn't a straight "5 star" rating thing, but rather the books that stuck with me long after I finished them.  Here then, is my list:

 

Please Mr. Einstein - Jean-Claude Carrière Hands down my favourite book of the year - possibly my life. It's fiction, but it isn't.  Imagine an easy, but in-depth, look at Einstein's theory of relativity, discussed within the frame work of a fantastical time-out-of-time construct.  Throw in a small amount of speculation on what it might have been like to be Einstein, and then throw in a little humour in the form of Sir Isaac Newton constantly trying to crash the interview and get Einstein to admit he was wrong, and you have a small idea of what this book is like.

 

It is not possible to adequately explain how much this book delighted me and moved me.  If you have any interest at all in Relativity and/or Einstein, this book is definitely worth investigating.

 

Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume - Julie Kenner,Jennifer Coburn,Megan McCafferty,Lynda Curnyn,Jennifer O'Connell,Melissa Senate,Diana Peterfreund,Stephanie Lessing,Laura Ruby,Erica Orloff,Stacey Ballis,Kristin Harmel,Shanna Wendson,Elise Juska,Kyra Davis,Beth Kendrick,Berta Platas,Kayla Pe On the other side of the spectrum is Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume.  I loved Judy Blume's books when I was a kid, and at some level I knew she was a best selling author.  But until I read this book I had no idea she'd had as profound an effect on so many others as she had on me.  

 

These essays were funny, moving and amazing.  I don't remember a bad essay in the bunch, but the ones that stuck with me were the essays about Deenie terrifying one author, though ultimately helping her when she herself was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder, and the author essay about having to hide Forever while secretly passing it from friend to friend.  That one might have been my life.

 

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea WulfA lot of you read this right along with me, so you know how good this book was, even when it stumbled a bit towards the end.  

 

Humbolt ... I still can't wrap my mind around how someone who contributed so much can be so neglected today.  There are ancient Greeks whom we now know to be full of shit that get more recognition than this man who was the first to do so many things, and to discover so many things that are absolutely vital to every person's life today.  Accurate things.  Like better weather maps.   And keystone species.  And, and, and.

 

We need to bring Humbolt and his work back, before the world goes to hell in a hand basket.

 

The Chosen - Chaim PotokThis was a very recent read for me, but such an incredible find.  I feel like my life would have been lacking had I never discovered this book.

 

The friendship at the heart of this book is the Jewish equivalent of a Fundamentalist born-again Christian and a Roman Catholic being best friends; both practicing and headed for a life in their faith.  Only, of the two, one is doing it because he wants to, and the other because he has to.

 

There's also a little softball, a fair amount about father-son dynamics and ultimately an entire book's worth about listening to your soul when it speaks.

 

Norse Mythology - Neil GaimanI have always been fascinated by the Norse myths - far more so than the Greek ones.  But I've never known much about the real myths - only what shows up in popular culture and we all know how accurate that is.  But studying Greek myths in college left me intimidated and wary of tackling the Norse myths.  I don't know how you can make stories involving minotaurs and swans dry and academic, but my university, at least, managed to do just that. 

 

But Gaiman... Gaiman can't make anything dry and academic. And after hearing he honoured the originals rather faithfully, I bought a copy on audio.  Then went out and bought a print copy.  I loved them.  They were horrific but entertaining and Thor is hilarious in his oafishness.  I feel like I can now say I have some familiarity with Norse mythology, and it didn't come from Marvel Comics.

 

 

 

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text 2017-08-01 09:20
July: Colophon
Please Mr. Einstein - Jean-Claude Carrière
The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time - Keith Houston
Dangerous To Know - Renee Patrick
Lincoln as I Knew Him: Gossip, Tributes, and Revelations from His Best Friends and Worst Enemies - Harold Holzer
The Secrets of Wishtide - Kate Saunders
The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science - Andrea Wulf
Other-Wordly: Words Both Strange and Lovely from Around the World - Kelsey Garrity-Riley,Yee-Lum Mak
The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories - Michael Sims
Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness - Nathanael Johnson

colophon: a statement at the end of a book, typically with a printer's emblem, giving information about its authorship and printing.

 

I don't have a printer's emblem, unless you count my gecko, but otherwise colophon seems to fit our monthly wrap ups pretty well.

 

I read 24 books this month, mostly in a the-game-is-almost-over rush to squeeze as much in as possible.  It's no longer practicable, sadly, to easily keep up with the number of pages read, because of at least two anthologies I only dipped into, rather than reading completely.

 

I had a great quality reading month with 2 Five-star reads and 7 four-and-a-half star reads. Far and away my favourite was Please Mr. Einstein by Jean-Claude Carrière.  

 

I had just one 1-star read, Assault and Beret by Jenn McKinlay  and it's already in the black box and a distant memory.

 

How was everyone else's reading month?

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review 2017-07-24 09:27
Please, Mr. Einstein
Please Mr. Einstein - Jean-Claude Carrière

I feel like I hit the book lottery.  I hate hyperbole, and perhaps after the book hangover has faded I'll find myself backtracking or offering qualifications, but as of right now, this last minute impulse buy, at a used book sale for $1, might be the best book I've ever read.  

 

Ever.

 

I didn't think so when I started it, because the back-cover had me expecting an historical fiction; a what-if look back. I was not pleased to start that first chapter and find myself confronted with a speculative fantasy told in first person omnipresent POV.  I found the narrative voice a bit condescending and supercilious and I didn't see how this was possibly going to be anything other than a pretentious attempt at literary fiction.

 

Thankfully that only lasted for 4 pages or so, before it became obvious what the author was setting up, and I suddenly found myself totally hooked.

 

Imagine the chance to step outside of time and place to have to opportunity to speak with one person in history; not only about themselves and their work, but about their entire field as it spans time and events; to be able to learn and explore ideas with a hero of the discipline, someone who changed the world.

 

This is the setup for the book.  A nameless young woman 'finds' Einstein in a place that transcends time and she is gained admittance to his study for an 'interview'.  What follows is a conversation to which we are invisible observers.  This conversation spans all of Einstein's theories, what his work started; its repercussions; the emotional fall-out and the consequences of his overnight celebrity and the cost of his Jewish background.

 

What can I say?  It's beautiful, this odd what-if of a book.  The science isn't for those disinterested in physics but it isn't incomprehensible either.  The personal element is ... the author made you feel like you were there and made you feel Einstein's wonder, amazement, melancholy, regret, betrayal and pensiveness; the 'doors' were an incredibly vivid way to bring the times and events to life, and a drop-in visit by Newton was both funny and heart-wrenching.

 

I loved this book, I loved it so much.  It's so good I'm overlooking the times the author tried to argue against concepts by using the very same assumptions that he claims makes those concepts false.  Everything else was so overwhelmingly good that the fallacy isn't worth a 1/2 star demerit.  I closed the book wanting to hug it.

 

It's obviously a work of fiction but only in its construct; 85% of this book is factual representation of Einstein's and his contemporaries' theories, so if you're partial to science, philosophy, and think Einstein is a legend, definitely check this book out.  I honestly just wanted to stay in that room with him forever.

 

(This is a English translation of the book Einstein, s'il vous plait.)

 

 

 

 

 

Pages:  185

$$:  $6.00  (location multiplier)

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