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review 2018-01-30 00:20
Occupied by Joss Sheldon
Occupied - Joss Sheldon

While it did take me 3 tries to get into this book, I’m glad I stuck with it. Occupied is a thought-provoking work. The three main characters, Tamsin, Ellie, and Arun, start off as kids, each coming from different backgrounds. As they age, they are pulled apart and their friendships set aside though they do occasionally intersect later in the story. A fourth pivotal character, Charlie, comes into the tale much later.

While this story qualifies as a satire, I did feel that I would have gotten quite a bit more out of it if I was more knowledgeable on Middle East politics (past and present). For the most part, the story stood on it’s own though I admit that I often lost track of which character is a Godly versus a Holy. I had the feeling that the underlying alluded to politics were more important than the story and I really just wanted to be swept up into the tale.

There is a lot of repetition in this book. Lots. That is the main thing that kept me from getting caught up in this book. If the book was 1/3 to 1/2 as long I feel that it would have more of punch, the important scenes would hit harder, and there would be more poignancy to the disturbing bits. All those things exist in the book as it is but you have to wade through the repetition to get to them.

The last fifth of the book was my favorite. It takes us into a near-future view of a consumer driven society. It definitely had that Brave New World vibe which I quite enjoyed. Also, I didn’t feel I had to be knowledgeable about certain politics to get what the story was telling me. This was the most chilling part of the book because there’s a society-encompassing apathy whereas the rest of the book has plenty of emotions flying around as one wrong is done after another, usually in the name of Right.

So, all told, I’m glad I finished it and I can see how fans of the satire genre would be interested in checking this book out. While the repetition and my lack of great knowledge on the politics alluded to made this book a bit of a chore to get through, it did end on a very strong note that resonated with me. 3.5/ 5 stars.

The Narration: Jack Wynters gave a decent performance. He had some accents and some voice range though not all of his characters were distinctly performed. He sounded interested in the story for the entire book never going deadpan bored. The pacing was good and there were no technical issues with the recording. 4/5 stars.

➜ This audiobook was received at no-cost from Audiobookworm Promotions. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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review 2017-12-20 20:46
Thinking ahead
The Great Questions of Tomorrow (TED Books) - David Rothkopf

Have you guys ever watched a TED Talk? Well, apparently some of those Ted Talks are turned into published works so that the ideas can be delved into a little deeper. (To see more you can visit their website here. (They haven't asked me to review today's book by the way.)) I hadn't watched David Rothkopf's talk but The Great Questions of Tomorrow was featured in my regular 'what's new at Simon & Schuster' email and it seemed to be calling my name. Rothkopf is exploring a very wide and diverse range of topics with a central theme of  'what does this mean for the future?' running through them all. I guess it should come as no surprise that this book thoroughly freaked me out while at the same time fascinating me. Have you thought about the future of drone warfare and whether or not it might constitute the necessity for intelligent machines to have rights as members of society? WELL, NOW YOU ARE. He jumped from frightening scenarios like that to ones that hadn't even occurred to me such as complete mobile banking which would see the demise of physical currency and brick and mortar banks. O_O I especially enjoyed his take on government and how we should be trying to elect leaders who not only understand technology but can look towards the future to prepare accordingly. His example of how this was not done was that just because there was one shoe bomber it shouldn't mean we have to remove our shoes at airports into perpetuity. All in all, it was a fascinating read that I zipped right through. It's great for the people in your life (or yourself!) that enjoy philosophical discussions about the future and how actions of today and yesterday have and should continue to have direct bearing on how we handle events in the future. 10/10

 

Rothkopf's original TED Talk "How fear drives American politics"

 

 

What's Up Next: Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons From a Small-Town Obituary Writer by Heather Lende

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Mine Own Execution by Nigel Balchin

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-12-06 00:57
A River of Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa
A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea - Masaji Ishikawa,Risa Kobayashi,Martin Brown A compelling journey that was both horrifying and heart-breaking! This one was hard to put down; I read it in one sitting. An eyewitness look into the North Korea behind the façade that it likes to portray.
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review 2017-12-01 16:09
Little boys at war
The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane,Alfred Kazin

Today's book is a classic that I have wanted to read for quite some time but never got around to...until now. Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage covers the American Civil War from the point of view of a Union soldier. It's the gritty portrayal of life at the front and just what it's like to lay down your life for a cause that you don't fully understand. In fact, our protagonist has almost no clue what it is that he's fighting for or against. He joined up because it was the done thing which seems to be the case for the rest of his regiment as well. There are those that brag about their bravado but when the time comes for the bullets to fly they are the first to turn and run. At first, our soldier is condescending towards these 'cowards' as he sees them but he very quickly sees the futility of their regiment's actions as they seem to be merely feinting and arbitrarily gaining and losing ground. It is a gritty, raw description of battle and defeat which is undercut with confusion and fear. These are children playacting warfare but the injuries and death are very real. Crane's insistence on not holding back lends a realistic, deadening of the senses feel to what it's like on the battlefield when you are surrounded by death and horror at every turn. He was making a commentary on the futility of war and how those who are a part of the 'war machine' are generally lost as to the meaning of why and who they are fighting. I am immensely glad that I finally picked this book up and gave it a read. I encourage ya'll to do the same. It's a slim volume and will take no time at all (though I don't promise you'll want a break every now and again from the bloodshed). 9/10

 

Here are a few more covers which I thought were worth sharing because they tell slightly different stories (and illustrate the point that covers do matter):

 

This one screams patriotism. Source: Goodreads

 

 

Yes, that is a bald eagle. [Source: Waldina]

 

 

Just so you get the message. [Source: Goodreads]

 

 

And my fave because RAINBOW. [Source: Amazon]

 

What's Up Next: Science of the Magical: From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpowers by Matt Kaplan

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Slightly Foxed: Issues 50-53

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-11-30 21:17
The campaigns of the "Great Commoner"
William Jennings Bryan, Vol. 1: Political Evangelist, 1860-1908 - Paolo E. Coletta

Among failed presidential candidates, few have the iconic stature of William Jennings Bryan. Though frustrated in his three campaigns for the presidency, his championing of the issues of rural Americans made “the Great Commoner” a hero to millions. Paolo E. Coletta’s book, the first volume of a three volume biography of Bryan, covers his early years and his political career through his final attempt to become president.

The son of a local politician, Bryan grew up in Illinois in a strongly religious household. After college he embarked upon law school and a career in the law, moving to Nebraska in 1883. Though successful as an attorney, his true passion was politics, and he won election to Congress in 1890 as a Democrat. There he became a staunch advocate of agrarian issues, calling for tariff reductions, the establishment of an income tax, and the free and unlimited coinage of silver. Bryan soon found himself at odds with Grover Cleveland over the silver issue, and decided to leave Congress in 1894 in a futile pursuit of statewide office.

 

A powerful orator, Bryan’s continued advocacy for silver coinage even after leaving Congress made him a contender for the 1896 Democratic presidential nomination. His famous and impassioned “cross of gold” speech at the convention captured the imagination of the delegates, who chose him as their party’s nominee the following day – at 36, the youngest presidential nominee in American history. Though Bryan campaigned vigorously, he was defeated by the Republican nominee, William McKinley, in what proved a historic turning point in national politics.

 

Despite his defeat Bryan continued his political activism. He remained true to the cause of silver, and when Cuba’s status became a national issue Bryan advocated its independence. Defeated again in a rematch with McKinley, Bryan nevertheless maintained a visible presence with highly profitable speaking tours and the publication of The Commoner, a weekly journal espousing agrarian political issues and Jeffersonian principles. Coletta argues that during this period Bryan was a prophet of progressivism, endorsing the emerging political mood for which much of his own advocacy had paved the way. His concerns about the excesses of capitalism prompted Bryan to run for the presidency a third and final time in 1908, in a campaign that ended in a frustrating and perplexing defeat at the hands of William Howard Taft.

 

First published in 1964, Coletta’s book represented the first scholarly biography of Bryan. Based as it was on considerable archival labors, it remains an essential source for anyone seeking to understand the course of Bryan’s iconic life. Yet the lack of a systematic analysis of Bryan’s life based upon the research Coletta undertook is a serious disappointment, as readers are forced to draw their own conclusions from the details the author provides. Because of this, anyone seeking an introduction to Bryan would be better served turning to Robert Cherny’s A Righteous Cause or Michael Kazin’s A Godly Hero, both of whom have built upon Coletta’s work to provide an understanding of Bryan’s considerable legacy as a politician and activist.

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