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review 2018-04-21 02:34
Invisible City
Invisible City - Julia Dahl

First in a series is tough. Making the jump from journalist to novelist is tricky. 


Invisible City is a solidly plotted murder mystery that reads more like a police procedural than a cozy (though our main girl is a journalist not an officer of the peace).   While better than many first novels, there's plenty of room for growth.  In particular, I felt like the book was a hodge-podge of thinly veiled elements from a number of recent sensational news stories rather than being fully original. 


Like the main character, author Julia Dahl has a Jewish mother and a Christian father.  While it's always difficult to write about insular communities without a true in, I felt like a lot of Ms. Dahl's personification of the Ultra-Orthodox characters was built on stereotypes.


I'm counting this as an IRL bookclub read because Julia Dahl will be speaking in my community about book #3 in the series (released about a year ago) on Sunday.  I read Invisible City because Conviction was checked out of the Library and I wanted to have read something by the author before I went to brunch.

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review 2018-04-02 17:07
The politics of international communications networks
The Invisible Weapon: Telecommunications and International Politics, 1851-1945 - Daniel R. Headrick

As technology has increased the speed of communications over the past two centuries, so too has it increased its importance to governments.  With knowledge being power, governments have sought to capitalize on the increasing rapidity and accessibility of communications, both for advancing their own control and to limit the power and influence of their adversaries.  This is something that Daniel Headrick clearly demonstrates in this book, which examines the political aspects of the emergence of the global communications network in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


Headrick begins by examining the emergence of the first technology to make rapid communication over long distances possible – the electric telegraph.  While developing internal networks was relatively easy, communications over long distances was politically risky, as messages could be intercepted and disrupted on lines that crossed hostile territory.  Security thus became an issue early in global communications, one that could only be guaranteed by submarine cables, which gave their owner direct contact with possessions half a world away.  The leader in the effort to establish an international network was Great Britain; though most Western governments seized on telegraphy in the second half of the nineteenth century, only the British had capital markets large enough both to fund the often expensive projects and to absorb their often considerable loss.


By the start of the twentieth century, a rapid communications network spanned the globe, one that served as a tool of national power and security.  Yet as Headrick notes, it also fueled international insecurity.  He sees the quickening pace of communications as a factor in the growing international tensions that plagued the world in the first decade of the new century, as the speed of events overtook the ability of diplomats (who were used to a much more gradual course that gave them time in which to operate) to respond effectively.  During the war, the British demonstrated the power granted by their control of the telegraph network, as they cut the Germans off from easy contact with other regions, especially America.  This gave Britain a vital edge in shaping the interpretation of the conflict, one that helped swing the United States firmly into their camp.


Yet as vital an advantage communications control was, it was a reflection of British power at its zenith.  Even before the start of the war, radio threatened to break the British monopoly on telegraphy.  Moreover, by the end of the war the British faced a rival of even greater wealth: the United States, which used the new technology to erode Britain’s dominance in telecommunications.  The adoption of shortwave in the 1920s ended British hegemony, while the Second World War saw the British bequeath their position as the dominant power in global communications to the United States, during a conflict in which communications played a decisive role in the Allied victory over the Axis powers.


If there is a complaint to be lodged against this generally excellent book, it is that while Headrick does a great job of explaining the impact of telecommunications during the world wars, he rarely demonstrates how telecommunications facilitated political control in peacetime.  It would have been insightful to examine episodes from the early years of telecommunications revealed its power and how such examples altered views towards the burgeoning new technology.  Yet this is a minor quibble.  Well researched and clearly written, Headrick offers a great introduction to the development of the global telecommunications network in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and its role in international politics, one that should be read by anyone seeking to understand the role of technology in shaping political power.

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review 2018-03-28 14:33
YA steampunk urban fantasy series makes good in volume 1! Amazing
The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman

Rating: 4* of five--I really hate the text editing here. I'd forgotten how emailish it is.

I want to be a Librarian.
The atmosphere of the place soothed her automatically; the rich lantern lights, the sheer scent of paper and leather, and the fact that everywhere she looked, there were books, books, beautiful books.
She was a Librarian, and the deepest, most fundamental part of her life involved a love of books. Right now, she wanted nothing more than to shut the rest of the world out and have nothing to worry about except the next page of whatever she was reading...
And then they were inside, and out of the wind, and surrounded by comforting walls and walls of books. The rich, delightful smell of old paper, leather and ink permeated the place, washing away the pettier odours of blood and oil and smog.
Need I say more?
A high level of chaos would mean that they could expect to meet the Fae, creatures of chaos and magic, who were able to take form and cause disorder on such a corrupted world. And that was never good news.
A Librarian’s mission to seek out books for the Library developed, after a few years, into an urge to find out everything that was going on around one. It wasn’t even a personal curiosity. It was a simple, impersonal, uncontrollable need to know. One came to terms with it.
And if she’d been able to choose her options a few hours ago, being trapped in a dead vampire’s private study with an angry Fae would not have been one of them.
Irene sighed. “So we have an incredibly glamorous female cat burglar who slinks around in a black leather cat-suit, who kills vampires in her spare time?"

Now. Are you sold? If not, skip it and regret nothing. The rest of us who aren't dead-souled potato heads will be happily reading the five extant volumes for the sheer verve with which Author Cogman lobs twists at us.

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review 2018-03-28 00:00
The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man - H.G. Wells Decent read. Liked the interactions with the Invisible Man and the other characters, especially the innkeeper. Didn't care for his violence too much.
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text 2018-03-20 22:24
Kill Your Darlings - Yellow Team (Round 8)
The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman
Artists in Crime - Ngaio Marsh


Who is the Bibliokiller's next victim?


I read The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman and I'm going to use it to play the Victim Card for Meg Murry.  (Author first name begins with G In Meg)



I'm also collecting:

The Dark Tower- Crime Scene card for Artists in Crime by Ngaio Marsh (Series has >8 books)

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