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Search tags: june-2018
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review 2018-07-05 22:22
The Desert Spear / Peter V. Brett
The Desert Spear - Peter V. Brett

The sun is setting on humanity. The night now belongs to voracious demons that prey upon a dwindling population forced to cower behind half-forgotten symbols of power.

Legends tell of a Deliverer: a general who once bound all mankind into a single force that defeated the demons. But is the return of the Deliverer just another myth? Perhaps not.

Out of the desert rides Ahmann Jardir, who has forged the desert tribes into a demon-killing army. He has proclaimed himself Shar'Dama Ka, the Deliverer, and he carries ancient weapons--a spear and a crown--that give credence to his claim.

But the Northerners claim their own Deliverer: the Warded Man, a dark, forbidding figure.

 

This book is a distinct change of view from the first one, The Warded Man. We must back up and approach this story again, this time from the Krasian point of view. Jardir, who seemed like simply a back-stabbing traitor in book one now has his own version of the same events, giving us an alternate POV in this one.

We learn far more about Krasian civilization, which seems to be heavily based on early Middle Eastern cultures, with warrior values, harems of women, and contempt for outsiders, both non-warriors within the culture & actual foreigners. Many parallels can be seen within Arlen’s agrarian society, which is extremely patriarchal and very hidebound (very like medieval Europe), something which can happen when a society is under siege.

It almost seems, in this installment, that everyone has become much too comfortable with the demon-haunted night. Both societies seem to be channeling their inner demon hunters and the tension of the first book is gone in this regard. Hints are happening that we may soon get the POV of the demons—will they get the same sympathetic treatment as Jardir?

Arlen and Jardir were friends at one point—now they are rivals. Which one will become the great Unifier who will unite humanity and defeat the Corelings (demons)? But while Jardier claims to be the Deliverer, Arlen denies the title just as strenuously. Nevertheless, the demons clearly see them both as threats. These men could also have been rivals over Leesha if Brett had written things a little differently, but that ship seems to have sailed.

I’m displeased that my library doesn’t have book three and there’s no time for them to order it before I see Peter Brett at the When Words Collide conference in August. I’m not usually known for laying out the dinero for new books, but if I can get a bit of a discount at the merchants’ corner, I’ll maybe spring for book 3 (since I note that the library has books 4 & 5).

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review 2018-07-05 20:15
Casino Royale / Ian Fleming
Casino Royale - Ian Fleming

In the novel that introduced James Bond to the world, Ian Fleming’s agent 007 is dispatched to a French casino in Royale-les-Eaux. His mission? Bankrupt a ruthless Russian agent who’s been on a bad luck streak at the baccarat table.

One of SMERSH’s most deadly operatives, the man known only as “Le Chiffre,” has been a prime target of the British Secret Service for years. If Bond can wipe out his bankroll, Le Chiffre will likely be “retired” by his paymasters in Moscow. But what if the cards won’t cooperate? After a brutal night at the gaming tables, Bond soon finds himself dodging would-be assassins, fighting off brutal torturers, and going all-in to save the life of his beautiful female counterpart, Vesper Lynd.

 

***2018 Summer of Spies***

Two things about this book surprised me—first that Fleming was a pretty good writer, second that the book was so short! I’ve never attempted any of Fleming’s fiction before, partly because I saw some of the films of these works back about 30 years ago. You can’t live in a co-ed residence in university without at least having some of these movies on the lounge television set and I think I may have been dragged to the movie theatre as well (back when a movie only cost $5 and a person could afford to go).

Bond in the book is much less charming than Bond on the screen. He’s rougher around the edges and the racism & misogyny of earlier times are very apparent. It’s difficult for me to judge—how much of this is the fictional character, how much is just the zeitgeist of the 1950s, and how much of this is Ian Fleming himself?

I’ve requested a biography of Fleming from the library, to help me try to sort this matter. I’m also intrigued by how much he was influenced by the work of Agatha Christie. One of the very first scenes in Casino Royale involves Bond checking to see if his room has been searched, using exactly the same stratagem as a character in Christie’s They Came to Baghdad (the use of precisely placed, unobtrusive hairs). Undoubtedly Fleming read Christie, so I’m interested in that angle as well.

One can’t claim to have read spy fiction without reading Fleming, so I will pick up Live and Let Die in the near future and continue on during my Summer of Spies.

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review 2018-07-05 17:22
The Good Gut / Justin and Erica Sonnenburg
The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health - Erica Sonnenburg,Justin Sonnenburg,Andrew Weil

Finally, a book about the gut microbiome that actually offers constructive advice! This is what I’ve been searching for, even if I am a bit disappointed with the authors’ recommendations.


First off, there are things that affect your microbiome that you cannot change—if you were born by C-section or weren’t breastfed, there’s nothing that you can about it. Neither can you change the amount of antibiotics that you took as a child.

There are three things that you can do from this moment on, however. First, don’t rush off to your doctor and demand antibiotics for every little thing. Every time you take them, there is nuclear winter for the good microbes in your gut, leaving space for pathogens to muscle in and make you sick. There are times that you will need antibiotics—save your exposures for those time. (Having recently struggled with a nasty skin infection, cellulitis, which made me very feverish and scared, I am very thankful for antibiotics).

The second thing is that we have developed the idea that ultra-clean is ultra-good. Not necessarily so, say the authors. Accept a bit of dirt back into your life. Dig in the garden, get a bit of dirt under your fingernails, pet your dog or cat, don’t stress too much about washing. Of course, clean up to make yourself comfortable and always wash your hands after toilet visits, but your kitchen does not have to have the same level of clean as an operating room. You can benefit by challenging your immune system via the gut and maybe acquire some useful microfauna in the process.

Thirdly, we are starving our good gut microbes. They need the fibre from foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. Lots of it. Also keep in mind that our microbiome is a pharmaceutical factory, producing molecules that can affect our lives in unexpected ways. Too much meat favours microbes that produce a cancer causing substance. Finally the whole “eat less meat” message makes more sense to me, although it makes it no easier to follow. Moving away from simple carbohydrates can also be challenging, especially because we enjoy them so much, but they feed the wrong bacteria.

I find this kind of book very inspirational. It’s difficult to change life-long bad habits, but I’m always re-inspired after reading about current research and its ramifications. So I made a happy trip to the farmers’ market last night to buy cherries, raspberries and carrots and I plan to feed the beneficial bacteria as well as I can.

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text 2018-07-02 15:53
Monthly Run Down - June 2018

 

Books I Read:

 

The Fragile Ordinary - 4 Stars - I liked Tobias and Comet

 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life - 3.75 Stars - Some useful information. I’ve caught myself debating whether I should Give a F*ck or not several times since I’ve read this. It’s a good start to putting things in life in perspective.

 

Studly Period  - 4.5 Stars - I was totally sucked into this book. Super cute but also super hot.

 

Can’t Let Go  - 4 Stars - Jude and Ryanne’s stubbornness both entertained and frustrated me.  

 

Loved - 3.5 Stars -  Some mixed feelings here but overall entertaining.  





DNF:

 

Bad Men and Wicked Women - Eric Jerome Dickey - This book took way too many detours from the main story line to keep my interest.



Currently Reading:



Killman Creek - Rachel Caine - Good insights so far

 

Improper English  - Katie MacAlister - I enjoy the chemistry brewing between Alix and Alex

 

Just a Guy: Notes from a Blue Collar Life  - Bill Engvall - Bill is such an “All American” guy




Year to Date Totals:



January: 9 books

February: 10 books

March: 9 books

April: 6 books

May: 10 books

June: 6 books

 

2018: 50 books

 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good LifeThe Fragile OrdinaryStudly Period (The Ivy Years, #5.5)Can't Let Go (The Original Heartbreakers, #5)Loved (House of Night Other World #1)Bad Men and Wicked Women

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text 2018-07-01 20:30
June Books

 I had a really good month with 47 books. Part of that number was helped by the fact that I decided to clear out my reading list by reading some of my shorter books. In addition to reading 11 graphic novels this month, 13 of my books were under 300 pages (and 2 of those were even under 100 pages). I also finished several series I started years ago (IrredeemableRed QueenPrincess Jellyfish, and Assassination Classroom). My binge of The Dragonian series which started right at the end of May also ended in June. It was a productive reading month.

 

26 of my books were young adult. My most-read genres were contemporary, fantasy, and romance.

 

My favorite books were Archie, Vol. 5 - Mark Waid  and Children of Blood and Bone: The OrÏsha Legacy (Children of OrÏsha) - Tomi Adeyemi. My least favorite was Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli.

 

 

5 Stars

Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations - Amy Chua  Archie, Vol. 5 - Mark Waid  Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  Children of Blood and Bone: The OrÏsha Legacy (Children of OrÏsha) - Tomi Adeyemi  So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo  Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture - Roxane Gay  

 

4.5 Stars

Irredeemable Premier Vol. 4 - Mark Waid,Peter Krause,Diego Barreto Speak Easy, Speak Love - McKelle George  To All the Boys I've Loved Before - JennyHan  Girl Made of Stars - Ashley Herring Blake  P.S. I Still Love You - Jenny Han  Princess Jellyfish 1 - Akiko Higashimura  

 

4 Stars

Thunderlight - Adrienne Woods  Spring Awakening - Steven Sater,Duncan Sheik  Magpie Murders - Anthony Horowitz  Interlude with Tattoos - K.J. Charles  Undead Girl Gang - Lily Anderson  This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today - Chrissy Metz  Frostbite - Adrienne Woods  Moonbreeze - Adrienne Woods  Princess Princess Ever After - Katie O'Neill  Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen - Jazz Jennings  Orange Is the New Black - Piper Kerman  Irredeemable Premier Vol. 5 - Mark Waid,Damian Couceiro,Diego Barreto  Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us - Amanda Carpenter  Supergirl: Being Super - Joëlle Jones,Mariko Tamaki  Assassination Classroom (暗殺教室) 1 [Ansatsu Kyoushitsu vol. 1] - Yuusei Matsui  Beastly Bones: A Jackaby Novel - William Ritter  Not the Girls You're Looking - Aminah Mae Safi  Lies You Never Told Me - Jennifer Donaldson  

 

3.5 Stars

The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Emily M. Danforth Blood Water Paint - Joy McCullough  War Storm (Red Queen) - Victoria Aveyard Listen to Your Heart - Kasie West Final Draft - Riley Redgate  

 

3 Stars

Snow White: A Graphic Novel - Matt Phelan,Matt Phelan Deadly Class Volume 2: Kids of the Black Hole - Wes Craig,Rick Remender,Lee Loughridge  Starlight - Adrienne Woods Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change - Bonnie Burton  The Lies They Tell - Gillian French Generation X Vol. 1: Natural Selection - Christina Strain,Amilcar Pinna My So-Called Bollywood Life - Nisha Sharma Love & Other Carnivorous Plants - Florence Gonsalves  

 

2.5 Stars

Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli Ace of Shades - Amanda Foody  Crazy Beautiful - Lauren Baratz-Logsted Snotgirl Vol. 1: Green Hair Don't Care - Leslie Hung,Leslie Hung,Mickey Quinn,Bryan Lee O'Malley  

 

 

Books by author gender:

  • Male: 9
  • Female: 36
  • Male/Female Mix: 2

 

Books by format:

  • Physical: 26
  • Audio: 21
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