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review 2018-02-21 07:16
To no one's surprise, corporations are destroying the world
UnSouled - Neal Shusterman

Third out of four book series digs deeper into the capitalism, convenience, and corrupt corporations angles of this incredibly well-developed dystopia. Deeply disturbing, largely because of just how plausible it is. Still some hope for the main cast to chase, but there's no backing down on exposing the selfishness and willful blindness of humanity either. Doesn't overdo it with caricature-like saints of heroes either. Shusterman has a genius for weaving together several viewpoints and plot threads into an explosive crescendo of a conclusion, so I'm definitely looking forward to the big wrap up.

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review 2018-02-21 04:31
Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin
Hero Dad - Melinda Hardin,Bryan Langdo

Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin is a lighthearted yet meaningful children's book. This book highlights the heroic characteristics of a soldier from the perspective of a child and does an excellent job of highlighting their duties as a soldier. It is child friendly while still being informative. The illustrations do an excellent job of showing the meaning behind the text for readers who may not understand the vocabulary.

 

I would use this book in class when students are learning about descriptive words or even when discussing occupations. This book could also be used during a lesson discussing the military around Veteran's Day.

 

Lexile Measure: AD610L

 
 
 
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review 2018-02-15 01:41
My ninety-first podcast is up!
The Road to Armageddon: Paraguay Versus the Triple Alliance, 1866-70 - Thomas L. Whigham

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it, I interview Thomas Whigham about the second and concluding volume of his history of the Paraguayan War (which I reviewed here). Enjoy!

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review 2018-02-14 16:52
An excellent history of a monumental conflict
The Road to Armageddon: Paraguay Versus the Triple Alliance, 1866-70 - Thomas L. Whigham

The second volume of Thomas Whigham's history of the Paraguayan War picks up where his previous volume, Causes and Early Conduct, left off, with the forces of the Triple Alliance — Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay — preparing to invade Paraguay after having driven Paraguayan troops out of Argentina. Though the Paraguayans initially checked the Alliance's advance, their defeat at the battle of Tuyuti devastated their army. Yet while the leaders of the Alliance expected such a loss to result in Paraguay's surrender, the Paraguayan dictator Francisco Solano López refused to accept terms which required him to give up his position, thus dooming Paraguay to a drawn-out and destructive defeat.

As Whigham explains, a key factor behind Paraguay's ability to endure for so long was its cohesion as a population. With their nation under attack, López was able to mobilize the population to sustain a seemingly unimaginable war effort. With Paraguay's access to the outside world cut off by an Alliance blockade, the Paraguayans were forced to undertake extraordinary expedients in order to sustain their war effort. Yet not even the total mobilization of their population could overcome the increasingly capable Alliance forces from taking the fortress of Humaitá in 1868 and capturing the Paraguayan capital in the new year. Only with López's death in March 1870, though, did the war finally come to an end, with ramifications to be felt for decades to come.

The product of years of archival labors and writing, Whigham's book is a superb account of a war too often underappreciated in the north. With a narrative that reflects the tragedy (and even absurdity) of the conflict, he captures well its epic nature while analyzing the various factors at work in the conflict, from the command structures to logistics and medical care. Together the two volumes combine to provide readers with the definitive study of the Paraguayan War we have long needed, one that nobody interested in the subject can afford to neglect.

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review 2018-02-14 09:01
The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren
The Ones Who Got Away - Roni Loren

They were together in a janitor's closet on the night of their prom, where the majority of their class was shot dead, and then he left her alone, trying to save as many of their classmates that he could, leaving her exposed to the shooters.

Now they meet again, twelve years later, during interviews for a documentary. They're strangers, completely different from the boy and girl that used to make-out in secret, the experience having shaped them both, but the spark is still there...



Sometimes giving a new-to-you author a shot pays out big time. This book is one of those. I went in without expectations, and was blown away by the story and its characters. I'm not really a big fan of straight-up contemporary romance, but this one hit all the right notes, despite not having any real suspense or dangerous situations.

It's a lesson in life, really. How a tragedy can shape a person, influence their choices, and how much strength and stubbornness, it can take to get out of the boundaries of predictability and "safety" a life without risks offers. But that is only a half-life, as both Olivia and Finn proved with their story.

I liked their relationship, the reunion that showed there was still something there between them, but I loved how they tried to be just friends in the beginning, tried to ignore the big elephant of their attraction. And I loved how they made the decision to give it a go despite knowing it was temporary and it was going to hurt in the end.
Did I find the romance, the reunion, the reconnection somewhat too easy, too much like it was nicely tied with a bow? Yes, I did. It was too convenient and neat they way they found each other and slipped into a relationship, but it worked because it was so convenient. They've been through that night together, they knew the "pressure points", and they knew the drill. I don't think it could've worked without that experience and that "intimate" knowledge from twelve years prior.

This was a poignant story with wonderful, nicely-developed, layered, scarred characters (supporting cast included, and I cannot wait to read the other three girls' books), filled with friendship, snark, humor, and topped by a sometimes bittersweet, sexy second-chance romance.


Speaking of humor...

“Do you need us to get you anything, sweetie?” Kincaid asked, sitting on the opposite side of the bed from Finn. “Water? A pill? A former football player in his underwear? Because we’ve got the last one covered. And I can make the first two happen.”
Liv looked up at that, registering the fact that Finn was shirtless and his thick hair was sticking up every which way. Her gaze drifted down to his black boxer briefs. “You’re in your underwear.”
“’Fraid so,” he said. “Good thing I don’t sleep naked.”

 

“We’ve got to up our game. Liv’s about to tackle a letter item and her football player. She’s officially become my patron saint.”

 

“Hey, erect is a perfectly proper word. I can’t help it if your mind was in the gutter.”
“I’ve been celibate for two years. Assume it’s always there. I’ve set up shop and built a little gutter town. We’re about to elect a mayor.”

 

“You’re allowed to have fun. You’re allowed to have a fling with an old boyfriend and not feel like it’s some big life decision or an unhealthy coping mechanism. Be smart about it, but don’t deny yourself some simple life pleasures. Taking your photos. Hanging out with your awesome, amazing, super-wise friends. And hot cop penis.”
A real laugh burst out of Liv this time, and she quickly pressed her hand over her mouth to staunch it. “He’s FBI, for the record.”
Federal cop penis,” Kincaid corrected. “That’s top shelf. It has authority across state lines.”

 

“They sell engagement rings at the airport?”
“Yep.” He smirked. “Next to the Cinnabon.”
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