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review 2018-01-18 23:32
Making Money (Discworld #36, Industrial #5)
Making Money (Discworld, #36) - Terry Pratchett

The financial sector of Ankh-Morpork is dire trouble and Lord Vetinari looks to his Postmaster General to solve the problem, however he doesn’t want the opportunity but somethings are out of his hands.  Making Money is Terry Pratchett’s 36th Discworld novel and the second to follow the conman-turned-civil servant Moist von Lipwig who is beginning to pine for thrills and suddenly finds himself in the midst of them.

 

With the Post Office running as smoothly as possible and facing plain paperwork every day, Moist von Lipwig is looking for thrills and excitement in a variety of ways including scaling the outside of the Post Office and breaking into his own office.  Lord Vetinari attempts to sell Moist on taking over the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork and the Royal Mint, but Moist is satisfied with his life.  However Bank chairwoman Topsy Lavish changes her will to make Moist guardian of her dog, Mr. Fusspot, to whom she leaves her controlling interest in the Bank to.  Suddenly Moist is taking care of a dog and running the Bank and Mint much to his annoyance and that of the Lavish family and Mr. Bent, the head cashier.  Moist begins thinking about changes to the banking system but then is inundated with numerous challenges first from Mr. Bent, the Lavishes including one that wants to become Lord Vetinari (not Patrician just Vetinari), a former partner blackmailing him about his conman past, missing gold from the bank vault, and finally his fiancée arranging for an army of golems to arrive in Ankh-Morpork.  Soon Moist past is exposed, though no one cares, after saving the city from the golems as well as using them to base his new paper currency and is still alive at the end of the book which is the least he wants out of each day.

 

Moist is one of the most original characters that Pratchett has come up with and like Going Postal, I enjoyed following his story.  However, like the previous mentioned book this one is not up to the quality that Pratchett is known for.  While Moist, Vetinari, and Adora Belle Dearheart were well written, the overall plot and the numerous subplots just seemed to meander.  Pratchett attempted to avoid Moist doing exactly what he did in Going Postal by having him deal with other challenges, but they were a mishmash of ideas that didn’t seem to come together and pages were wasted with the Cosmo Lavish subplot that took up pages without really accomplishing anything.

 

Honestly, it was hard to rate Making Money because while I enjoyed reading Moist’s point-of-view, the overall plot of the book was just serviceable as it twist and turned based on the questionable subplots intertwined with it.  If you are a first time Discworld reader, don’t read this book until you’ve sampled some of Pratchett’s other better quality writing.  If you are a veteran Discworld reader then focusing on enjoying the point-of-view of Moist even though the book’s quality is just okay.

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review 2018-01-06 00:00
Good introduction but rather academic.
Muslims and the Making of America - Amir... Muslims and the Making of America - Amir Hussain

Saw this book available at the library and was intrigued. I understood the general premise and was familiar with some of the info (for example, about 10-20% of slaves brought to the US were Muslim) but I was curious to know what the author had to say about the role of Muslims and what it could mean. 

 

It wasn't quite like that. Although there were certainly rather interesting tidbits I didn't know (such as a Muslim survivor of the Titanic--I don't think non-European/white passengers are ever covered when talking about the Titanic unless you look for them specifically) but most of it was either familiar information (Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali) or people I really wasn't interested about. 

 

This is not to diminish the roles that these individuals have played and where they stand in US culture/history, etc. But at the same time it did feel a bit like name dropping and the author just wanting to talk about famous/well-known people who were Muslim. I suppose the most interesting parts was the history: the slaves who were brought to the US, what Muslims have contributed in things like architecture, etc. But as others wrote the book does come across as a bit disorganized.

 

It works best as a primer/introductory book but I wouldn't rely solely on it at all. If you're looking for a place to start this wouldn't be a bad choice. Library borrow.

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text 2017-11-26 12:48
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square 10: Pancha Ganapati
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea Wulf
A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie - Kathryn Harkup
William Pitt the Younger: A Biography - William Hague
Metamorphoses - Denis Feeney,Ovid,David Raeburn
The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey
Treffpunkt im Unendlichen. - Klaus Mann
Making History - Stephen Fry
Gilded Needles (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Christopher Fowler,Michael McDowell,Mike Mignola
Risiko: Roman - Steffen Kopetzky

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!

 

Inspired by Murder by Death's post this morning, I've pondered over my morning coffe which reads qualify as myfavourite books this year. Although there is still time for a truly great read to come up in the next month (I am looking at you, Winter by Ali Smith), below is my list of 5 (or, erm, 6) favourite books of 2017 (I have not considered re-reads for this, btw.):

 

The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf.

Although, I knew of Humboldt (and his brother), I had no idea of the extent of his influence on the sciences and of the adventures he went on to gain the deep understanding of the world that he did. I am still amazed at both. I am still amazed at the difficulties he faced. I am still amazed at everything I learned about his and his times from Wulf's extraordinary book. 

 

A is for Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup.

I love the works of Agatha Christie and I also love a good bit of science mixed with history - and this book had all of it. What is more, I particularly enjoyed how this book started a discussion with my mom (a retired chemical engineer) about all things chemistry and how scientific discovery changed crime fiction. For that alone, this book deserves 5 stars.

 

William Pitt the Younger by William Hague. 

One of the biggest surprises this year, not because of the subject (Pitt had been on my radar for quite some time) but because of the author. What I learned from Mr Hague's excellent account of Mr Pitt and the political landscape of Georgian Britain is that I may not agree with the author on everything (especially political outlook) but that this doesn't lessen my appreciation for the excellent work he has produced with this book. The sheer amount of research that must have gone into this is staggering. 

 

Metamorphoses by Ovid (tr. by David Raeburn)

This is the book that has taken me longest to read this year, but it is a book that demands a slow and deliberate read. Becoming reacquainted with the myths and legends of Ancient Greece and Rome has brought home how far we've come as a society, how much we still face the same issues, and how much I miss reading the "classics". 

 

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey.

As it turns out, my 2017 seemed to be geared towards a history side - and I loved it - with a mix of murder mystery thrown in for balance. Tey's book takes both and showed how a good "vintage" mystery can actually take a serious turn. Tey loved history and it shows when she used her laid-up Inspector to investigate not just the murder of the Princes in the Tower, but also how history itself is subjective and prone to be re-written for the benefit of propaganda ... and how easy it is to fall in line believing anything by virtue of it being repeated as truth over and over. 

A timely read for 2017.

 

Treffpunkt im Unendlichen by Klaus Mann.

I've been a fan of Klaus Mann's for a while, and in this book he shows how spot on his powers of observations were when he wrote about the times he lived in. Treffpunkt is one of the best books I have read to bring to life the Lost Generation in the late 1920s / early 1930s. Loved it.

 

 

 

Of course, there are some honourable mentions too:

 

Making History by Stephen Fry. 

 

Gilded Needles by Micheal McDowell (I'm still in love with basically every single book of McDowell's that has crossed my path.)

 

Risiko by Steffen Kopetzky 

 

 

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review 2017-11-20 13:27
The evil that men (and women) do
Rose West: The Making of a Monster - Jane Carter Woodrow

Absorbing and sickening in equal amounts this biography and evaluation of the life of notorious killer Rose West is essential reading for anyone interested into the thinking and deranged mind of serial killers. The early years of Fred and Rose is a harrowing tale of constant physical and sexual abuse in a world where there were few if any boundaries. What goes around comes around is the central theme and children will often imitate the teachings of parents whether that be good or bad. If the young are witness to and the object of incest, beatings, and even murder it is not surprising that they may choose to adopt this way of life as some code of practice. However no amount of bad upbringing can excuse the crimes committed by Fred West and Rose Letts. Crimes that spanned a period of some 25 years and never once did anyone suspect what this lovely chatty couple at 25 Cromwell Street were involved in behind closed doors. It was only after a flippant remark made by the younger West children when in care..."their father had joked that he'd put them under the patio like their big sister"...that social workers and finally the police in the guise of DC Hazel Savage demanded entry to Cromwell Street where the lives, deaths and torture of so many innocents was soon to be discovered under the patio.

 

This was never an easy read and yet once started I found it impossible not to finish so fascinated and shocked was I by the content, simply astounded by the evil that man or woman can perform and see as normal or accepted. The whole experience is best summed up in a quote from the early chapters...."I think the human race is pretty rotten. The more I see of it, the more rotten it becomes."...

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text 2017-10-20 14:57
Settlement Money Mostly Spent
Making Gay History - Eric Marcus
The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well - Meik Wiking

I have 36 cents left after doing some settlement credit shopping on B+N (nada from Amazon due to not buying Kindle books during the period that the settlement covers). I was given a $5.34 settlement, so to make the credit stretch as far as I could, I went to the under $5 section. I picked out Making Gay History by Eric Marcus (the 2009 edition, which was updated and revised the 1992 edition) and The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking.

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