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photo 2018-05-27 18:42
Understanding Our Cosmos
Understanding Our Cosmos - Bhaktee Kale

Description: This book aims to make an earnest endeavor to reconcile the different aspects and realms of the cosmos. It is a compendium of original philosophical ideas presented in the most practical way. From comprehensively defining God - De-cluttering the disarray that surrounds it to classifying human nature , categorizing instinctual behavior of individuals and elaborating pertinent theories and proposing new ones - this book beautifully touches upon all those aspects with simplicity and clarity. The book also gives ample illustrations to make concepts clear and tangible. Focusing on Morality and virtue, it explains logically as to why that is the best choice there is for individuals - systematically proving the same. It explains righteousness in the light of several theories including the Karma theory.
It also compares and contrasts - logic, instinct and intuition and the validity of each of those under different circumstances. The author also speaks of the importance of progressive thinking and lucidly explains aspects like evolution of the soul.

To quote Socrates - " All right conduct depends on clear knowledge, that not only does the definition of a virtue aids us in acquiring that virtue, but also that the definition of the virtue is the virtue." This book is an attempt at doing just that.

Source: www.amazon.com/dp/B07CVDY388
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review 2018-04-10 16:10
The Amazing Mr. Morality
The Amazing Mr. Morality - Jacob M. Appel

Appel's stories are always quirky, fun and imaginative. In my opinion though these were not his best. It felt like there was something missing from most of these stories to make them truly stand out and be great. The big reason I chose to read this was because of the woodchuck on the cover. A failed television producer wants the woodchuck in his yard gone, so he has it relocated only for it to send him written letters begging to come back. I did enjoy that one as well as the long story at the end in which the title of this collection comes from. In it two ethicists writing for rival newspaper columns answer questions such as 'If you’re going to commit a murder, is it worse to kill when the victim is sleeping or awake?' I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for more from this author.

Thank you to Netgalley and Vandalia Press for an ARC.

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review 2018-03-31 17:49
The Animators, by Karla Rae Whitaker
The Animators - Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators struck a deep chord with me on two levels: as an artist and as best friend to a fellow artist. If you are either, you'll likely love this novel as I did.

 

Funny and engaging from the first page, The Animators starts with our narrator, Sharon, in college, where she meets the charismatic Mel Vaught. Both are aspiring animators who are into the same shit and share an aesthetic; both come from poor, rural southern U.S. backgrounds. Many of us in the arts could identify that time when we learn we're not actually outsiders, that others share our interests; college tends to be a place where we find our tribe.

 

But this is not a novel about being a college arts student. The narrative quickly brings us to a present where Sharon and Mel have made a successful indie animated feature that centers on Mel's life. They live together in New York City. Mel drinks and does a lot of drugs; she's the life of the party. Sharon...is not. She spends a lot of time and emotions angsting over her latest romantic interest, of which there are many.

 

Tension develops between the two, much of it, from Sharon's perspective, owing to Mel's lifestyle. There's a blowout, followed by a shocking, life-altering health crisis for one of them. It's a reset that leads them on a path to mining Sharon's childhood for their next project. This raises very real questions artists face about using their lives in their art in ways that may hurt loved ones. I wasn't quite satisfied by the resolution to this issue, but I appreciated its being seriously considered.

 

This book excels at depicting partnerships between women, their working lives as artists, and craft. The prose is engaging, the characters vivid, and there are some heartbreaking and harrowing moments. Even if you're not an artist or friends with one, I can't imagine Whitaker's (first!) novel not winning you over from page one.

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review 2018-02-09 20:41
A book strong on plot and fast action and full of information about la Santa Muerte.
Freaky Franky - William Blackwell

 

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

I have been reading a book called Paperbacks from Hell and when I saw this book, it reminded me so much of many of the covers and topics I had been reading about that I could not resist, although I was not sure about the title (was it horror, humour, or something else entirely?).

The novel begins with quite a bang. A strong scene where we are introduced to la Santa Muerte (Saint Death) a religion/cult (depending on whose point of view you take) that has flourished in Mexico and is spreading to many other places. Although we all have heard about the Mexican Día de los Muertos, this might cover new ground for many of us, but the author is well informed and provides good background into the history and the various opinions on Saint Death, that is an interesting topic in its own right.

But don’t get me wrong. This book is not all tell and not show. We have a number of characters who are linked (unknowingly at first) by their devotion to Saint Death. What in the beginning seem to be separate episodes, which show us the best and the worst consequences of praying to Saint Death, later come together in an accomplished narrative arc. Whilst praying for health and good things can result in miracles, praying for revenge and death carries serious and deadly consequences.

The story, written in the third person, alternates the points of views most of the characters, from the main characters to some of the bit actors, good and bad (although that is pretty relative in this novel) and it moves at good pace. It is dynamic and full of action, and this is a novel where the plot dominates. The characters are not drawn in a lot of detail and I did not find them as cohesive and compelling as the story, in part, perhaps, because they are, at times, under the control of Saint Death (but this is not a standard story of satanic possession). Although none of the characters are morally irreproachable,  Anisa and Dr. Ricardo are more sympathetic and easier to root for. Yes, Anisa might resent her missed opportunities and the fact that she is stuck in Prince Edward Island looking after her son, but she goes out of her way to help her friend Helen and her brother Franklin and warns them not to pray for revenge. Dr. Ricardo threads a fine line between helping others and protecting himself, but he does the best he can. Franklin, the Freaky Franky of the title, is a much more negative character and pretty creepy, especially early in the novel. Although we learn about his past and the tragedies in his life, he is Anisa’s brother, and she’s also gone through the same losses, without behaving like he does. He uses Saint Death’s power mostly for evil, although he seems to change his mind and attitude after Anisa’s intervention (I was not totally convinced by this turn of events). I found Natalie, the American tourist visiting the Dominican Republic with her fiancé, Terry, difficult to fathom as well. Perhaps some of it could be explained by the love/lust spell she is under, but she clearly suspects what Franklin has done to her, and her changed feelings towards a man she has known for five minutes makes no sense, at least to me (sorry, I am trying to avoid spoilers). Much of the action and events require a great deal of suspension of disbelief, but not more than is usual in the genre.

The novel keeps wrong-footing the readers. At first, we might think that everything that is going on can be explained by self-suggestion and that all the evil (and the good) is in the mind of the believer. These are desperate characters holding on to anything that offers them a glint of hope. And later, when bad things start to happen, it seems logical to believe that the characters we are following have acted upon their negative thoughts and impulses (and even they have doubts as to what they might have done). But nothing is quite as straightforward as it seems.

Although there is plenty of explicit violence and some sexual references (those not as explicit), I did not find it frightening or horrific as such. However, it is a disquieting, dark, and eerie book, because of the way it invites readers to look into the limits of morality and right and wrong. Is revenge ever justified? Is it a matter of degrees? Who decides? It seems la Santa Muerte has very specific thoughts about this, so be very careful what you wish (or pray) for.

An eye-opener with regards to the Saint Death cult and a book that will be enjoyed by readers who don’t mind supernatural novels with plenty of violence, and prefer their plots dynamic and action-driven.

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review 2017-10-11 21:57
For iddle passing of time
Secrets in Death - J.D. Robb

A lot of how this one will be taken depends on how much you can accept the protagonist's view of things. There are some fine and healthy bits of hypocrisy. Healthy because, to my to my sensibilities, hard cut and unbending stances are unmerciful at best, inhuman at worst.

 

Anyway *waves away*

 

I was entertained. I like it when the books focus on the characters friendships, and there was a lot of talk on loyalty. I'm also a bit amused by this trend where the dead body was a poor excuse for a human being. It says quite a bit about a hopeful outlook of humanity, where the ones getting killed are the despicable creatures that push everyones buttons beyond the limit.

 

Of course, then it goes and balances it with the little crazy shit that actually did it, so a bit of fast-stepping on that one.

(spoiler show)

Not as great a time killer as the first volumes, but better than the one before.

 

 

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