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url 2018-01-17 10:36
Ama Historical Fiction Free on Amazon this weekend
A-Ma Alchemy of Love - Nataša Pantović Nuit
A-Ma: Alchemy of Love - Nataša Pantović Nuit

Ama Historical Fiction Free on Amazon this weekend.

Ama Alchemy of Love Book Quote by Nataša Pantović Nuit

 

Spiritual Historical Novel. A-Ma is a historical spiritual novel set in the 17th century (Age of Enlightenment) Macao that follows lives and spiritual insights of settlers of this little peninsula in the middle of China. A-Ma main protagonist is Ama, an African alchemist, Goddess, a guru, a lover, a story-teller that inspires and gathers artists, preachers, priests, philosophers...

"Deep profound reading. Fallowing a very interesting story set in the 16th century of Alchemy, magic, Chinese I Jing. The dance of Yin and Yang, rational and intuitive is very obvious within the chapters of the book. A female dreamy approach to life versus a male, an energetic and scientific approach. Ama lives during the scientific revolution of Age of Reason, during the time when missionaries tried to convert Chinese to Christianity finding a rich, advanced, intriguing culture, and philosophical..."

https://www.amazon.com/Ma-Alchemy-Love-Nataša-Pantović-ebook/dp/B06X6GQHTZ

Source: www.amazon.com/Ma-Alchemy-Love-Nataša-Pantović-ebook/dp/B06X6GQHTZ
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review 2018-01-17 10:02
The Plant Hunters: The Adventures of the World's Greatest Botanical Explorers
The Plant Hunters: The Adventures of the World's Greatest Botanical Explorers - Carolyn Fry

First - this is a gorgeous book.  Generously and fabulously illustrated, at least half the pages are eye candy.

 

Second - it's really well researched, although it does lack a citation / notes section at the end, an unfortunate oversight.

 

Also unfortunate is the writing.  It's dry.  So, so dry.  Think academic history text dry.  If I had to guess, I'd say it's a case of severe editing; trying to pack huge chunks of history into small 1-2 page sections.  The result is a litany of names and dates guaranteed to make the most interested eyes droop.   

 

Luckily, the illustrations go a long way towards perking up a reader's attention.

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review 2018-01-17 03:40
My Favorite Universe by Neil deGrasse Tyson
My Favorite Universe - Neil deGrasse Tyson

This is part of the Great Courses series and although the video version would most certainly be better, Neil deGrasse Tyson is a pretty good lecturer. There isn't too much that's new here for someone with a general interest in astronomy, but it's always fun to revisit the old favourite topics, and I did learn a few historical details. It was probably worth listening to this just for the rant about flying saucers not needing landing strips and the comment about Phobos being a "poor little thing" (or whatever the quote actually was...I couldn't find it again).

 

For general astronomy, I still recommend the Astronomy Cast podcast.

 

[Aside: Guys! I have the new laptop! The sad news is that it looks like my old hard drive is dead, so I've lost everything since my last back up.]

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text 2018-01-17 01:05
Reading progress update: I've read 590 out of 733 pages.
Cedilla - Adam Mars-Jones

Cromer is exploited by another undergrad more motivated by her self-righteousness than any genuine desire to improve the plight of the disabled and suffers "Does he take sugar?" syndrome. Also, is dropped down some stairs when the police raid a student protest about...something.

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review 2018-01-16 23:45
"Year One - Chronicles of the One #1" by Nora Roberts
Year One: Chronicles of The One, Book 1 - -Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged-,Nora Roberts,Julia Whelan

Year one is sort of urban fantasy twist on "The Stand". It tracks the path of groups of survivors of "The Doom", a virus which kills anyone who is not immune. As billions die, some of the immune discover latent magical powers and find themselves drawn to The Dark or The Light.

 

It's an easy to read entertainment that effortlessly manages the large number of characters and multiple initially parallel but eventually converging plot lines. The good guys are clearly drawn and instantly likeable. There are babies and a lab-cross dog. The bad guys are irredeemably evil and everyone else is either dead or consumed by fear.

 

Nora Roberts' accomplished writing kept me reading, in much the same way that high production standards make it easy to watch "Chicago Fire" or "Rookie Blue" but the good guys didn't become people I cared about and the bad guys seemed more like comic-book demons than people.

 

About halfway through, I realised that, although "Year One" was entertaining enough for me to stick with it to the end, something was preventing me from immersing myself in the story. It took me a while to isolate the cause: my lack of empathy with middle-class America. Most of the main good guy characters in this book come from privileged, sometimes very privileged, backgrounds. The Doom has destroyed their bright futures and now they have to adapt to survive.

 

It turns out that the secret to surviving the apocalypse is to band together with skilled people who embrace middle-class values, choose faith over fear, work together as a team and focus on "doing what comes next". Of course, emergent magical powers are also pretty useful.

 

There's nothing wrong with this. It might even turn out to be true. It's also not so far from the message of "The Stand". What spooked me about it in "Year One" is that Nora Roberts wraps such positive emotions around these values that they slid into my imagination already tagged as a Good Thing. Then I thought about the scale of loss, of the billions dead, of cultures across the world extinguished, of losing everyone you ever loved, of having the value of your previous life challenged or eroded and it seemed to me that the main characters react almost as if they're on medication. Their ability to focus "on what needs doing" is certainly a survival skill but the ease with which they do it, the unthinking adoption of the "I'll protect Us against Them" mindset and the strong link Nora Robers makes between this stance and The Light made it difficult for me to empathise with or care about these people.

 

Later, I struggled with Nora Roberts' obsession with the idea that some things are "meant", that they're part of a "destiny", that it isn't enough for people to be attractive, privileged, educated and have magical gifts, they also have to have some kind of pintable-tilting agents of fate on their side. This began to feel like the dystopian urban fantasy version of meeting Mr Right.

 

At about the same time, we got the sex scene between the Alpha witch couple, Max and Lorna, the two "good guys" that I liked least, and it surfaced everything I disliked about the book: the sex was glossy, the sentiment was saccharine and the allegedly spontaneous vows that followed were so cliché filled and delivered with such self-absorbed seriousness that I felt I'd dropped into the middle of a romance novel. I have less trouble accepting a world-ending-virus and the emergence of latent magical powers than I do believing that people actually talk to each other like this when there's no camera crew present.

 

I liked the end section of the book well enough, setting aside the drumbeat message about "doing what needs to be done". I disliked that fact that not one of the bad guys was given any motivation other than fear, ignorance or just being born that way. The idea of a Messianic "One" sent to save the world doesn't do it for me so I won't be bothering with book two in this series.

 

If this book appeals to you, I recommend the audiobook version. It's skillfully narrated by  Julia Whelan. You can hear her work on the SoundCloud link below.

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/378462590" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

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