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text 2016-09-02 22:14
Just borrowed from library ...
Off Armageddon Reef - David Weber
Dune: House Atreides - Kevin J. Anderson,Brian Herbert
Sunday Soup - Betty Rosbottom

"Next book" feature on fictfact ... love/hate.


Off Armageddon Reef - David Weber is a series I've been meaning to start forever.  (A favorite author but after deciding to wait to start until series farther along it somehow slipped through the cracks).


I'm submitting a librarian correction for ISBN 9780553897821 (http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/78804/dune-house-atreides-by-brian-herbert/9780553897821 ) because that ISBN is actually for "House Atreides," the first book in the Dune prequels.  I'm pretty sure I read at least this first one before but another series I stalled on (not for content, just because got tired of waiting and paying for hardcover sequels then lost track).


Sunday Soup - Betty Rosbottom just browsing because fall and winter makes me think "soup" and am looking for interesting recipes.

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review 2016-07-20 18:13
Inspector Singh in Bali
A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul - Shamini Flint

The novel's opening text allows the reader to eavesdrop on the vacillating inner thoughts of a young jihadist as he waits for the final command to carry out a suicide bombing--not what I was expecting, but my attention has been captured.


It's a fairly intense read, and the author seems to possess a solid understanding of the jihadi mindset. Inspector Singh isn't a particularly likable character, but he is good at his job. There are several surprises in the plot, and a climatic ending.


(Illustration: Tapas Ranjan)


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review 2016-06-27 04:00
Answering Jihad
Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward - Nabeel Qureshi

This book provides a deeper understanding of Islam, and is set up in an easy to follow question-and-answer format. It's informative and thought provoking, and I found myself highlighting and engaging with the text throughout. I was expecting a dry, pedantic read, but I encountered a book that was apparently written with a broad audience in mind, a book that covers not only the history and teachings of Islam but also what that means for us today as we try to make sense of and move forward in a climate that is often rife with ignorance, fear, and misunderstanding.


Reading this book has given me a functional understanding of the religious and historical foundations of radical Islam. For groups like ISIS and Boko Haram, jihad is often a violent physical struggle for a much higher spiritual purpose, which is why actions deemed evil by the West are, to their way of thinking, actually divine. We are talking about two very different world views that will probably never be able to peaceably coexist in the long term because they are so incredibly disparate. To radicals, nothing less than strict adherence to sharia law is permissible, and there can be no peace outside of worldwide submission to "pure," fundamental Islam, an Islam that goes back to the religion's roots and is free from any outside influence.


However, three points stand out clearly from the beginning of Answering Jihad: the author understands that not all Muslims believe or practice the same, just as not all Jews or Christians practice the same within their faiths; the author feels that any religion should be defined by the characteristics that set its initial adherents apart from nonbelievers, so an understanding of the history and foundations of Islam are vital; and the author strongly believes that one must love Muslims, even if and while criticizing Islamic teachings. Qureshi isn't calling for war; he's calling for understanding, compassion, and love.


For some Muslims, Islam is a religion of peace, whereas for others, a religion of violence. According to the author, neither the Quran nor the teachings and traditions of Mohammed ever define Islam as a religion of peace, and, in fact, they prove otherwise. Qureshi states that some Muslim scholars actually consider proclamations that Islam is a religion of peace to be an "effort by the West to emasculate Islam." Clearly, peace is in the eye of the beholder.


This is an important book, well written and thoroughly researched, and though it provides some difficult truths, it is a book that must be read by anyone who hopes to understand why radical Muslims believe and behave as they do; it is, in fact, because of the truths presented herein that this book deserves to read, considered, and carefully digested.

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review 2016-01-01 00:00
The Last Jihad
The Last Jihad - Joel C. Rosenberg Wow! What a ride! Fasten your seat beats and be glad this hasn't really happened (yet).
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review 2015-08-20 20:16
Book 68/100: Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni
Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America And American in Iran - Azadeh Moaveni

I love to travel, but I hate airplanes and fear "traveler's diarrhea." I also am risk-averse, and know that, realistically, I will probably never work up the guts to travel to the more politically dangerous areas of the world even if I could scrounge up the money and vacation time to do so. It's because of this that I love books like this one, in which a knowledgeable guide takes me deeper into a place than I could ever go on my own.

In a country like Iran, this is even more important -- not only because authentic Iranian voices rarely reach the U.S., but also because the "news" we receive about the Middle East is little more than propaganda and sound bytes, when we receive news at all.

I'm so glad Moaveni has written about her experience living in Iran after growing up as part of the Iranian immigrant community in the United States. I wish everyone who worked for a sensationalist news outlet (not naming names) would read books like this, which provide a more nuanced and complicated picture of life in Iran. Yes, there are cumbersome rules about the wearing of the veil, but there are also women who paint their toenails, drive, and have careers. This does not in any way "soften" the reality of living under a repressive regime -- the stories Moaveni told about the "morality police," the "torture next door" and the celebrations broken up by violence were truly chilling. I cannot imagine living in a place where having your boyfriend beat when you go out together is a regular occurrence. But by sharing the conversations Iranians were having around their dining room tables, as well as those she experienced at the hands of a frequent "interrogator" of journalists, Mr. X, I could get a little closer to understanding Iran not only as a place of oppression, but also as a place that thousands still call home.

This book is well written but can be dense in places, requiring a slower, more thoughtful pace. I sometimes had trouble keeping characters straight, especially when they had similar names. The book left me overall with a somewhat haunted feeling, as if I had just journeyed somewhere very far from home that will take me a long time to process. In a way, I have. That may be why I am having so much trouble articulating my reaction to this book.

But it was powerful, with an ending that was as satisfying as a book about such an unsatisfactory situation could be.

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