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review 2017-06-22 21:00
Kinda loving this series
Supergirl (2016-) Vol. 1: Reign of the Cyborg Supermen - Steve Orlando,Brian Ching,Emanuela Lupacchino

I knocked down one half star for the art - which was actually quite good technically, but the style didn't match the story for me - and I knocked down one half star for trying to incorporate issues from the TV show.   (A TV tie-in would work far better for that, and some of the ways that, say, Cat Grant was in this book?   Just felt forced.)   And while Cat is a character from the comics, so legitimately could be part of this without feeling like it's from the show, she's a doplleganger for the Cat on the show.   (And again, I don't blame DC for trying to capitalize on the success of the show, but I'd rather have a tie-in.   This Supergirl is a teenager - and a young adult on the show - is probably what makes Cat's appearance feel so forced.)

 

Still, making Supergirl a teen is a good way to deal with the alienation and anxiety and angst that comes with getting through those awkward, awkward years.   And this takes full advantage of Kara being a Kryptonian, adding another level to that sense.   Cyborg Superman is chilling in this volume, brining Kara part of her home - at an unbearable price.   It pits the family she's born into against the family that raises her on Earth, asking for even more unbearable choices to be made. 

 

And overall, that was kept me rapt, and makes me want to read more of this series.   The tension kept ratcheting up, the pacing just divine, and while I do think there are minor, minor flaws, it's not enough to keep me from reading more or from enthusiastically recommending this series.

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review 2016-05-06 00:00
Tao Te Ching
Tao Te Ching - Toinette Lippe,Jane English,Gia-Fu Feng,Jacob Needleman,Laozi Beautiful, inspiring, special.

Carry it with me at all times and use it as my Guiding Book. The best ancient wisdom in its simplicity, in its beauty, in its wisdom. Must read for all!
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review 2016-02-19 07:56
The Cambridge Illustrated History of China
The Cambridge Illustrated History of China - Patricia Buckley Ebrey,Kwang-ching Liu

An overview of China from prehistoric times to the present that serves its purpose well. As with most histories, information density is weighted towards modern times, with a disproportionate number of pages spent on the Qing dynasty, early twentieth century and the People's Republic. Having said that, 2,000 years of imperial history still inevitably ends up with a lot of focus. Bigger emphasis is placed on wider patterns of growth and change than top-down political intrigue, with few individual names mentioned except for the major figures of the twentieth century.

Surprising amount of time was spent on the Northern and Southern Dynasties period, for what I thought was good reason: the first major diffusion of Buddhism, creation of institutions that the Sui dynasty would adapt to end three and a half centuries of division. Ebrey notes in an interesting statement that China very well might have split into two permanent kingdoms of north and south, just as the Roman Empire did into east and west, although it ultimately did not. One long-term impact of such an event is a cultural tendency to look on periods of division as undesirable, with the ideal state being "All-Under-Heaven" as a single entity.

One continuous theme is China's seemingly endless give and take with what they saw as "barbarian" cultures, that is, the various groups of people on China's geographical periphery: the Xiongnu, Xianbei, Tibetans, Jurchens, Mongols, and Manchus being the major ones in chronological order. I like how Ebrey analyzes their distinct relationships with China as the narrative goes on: the Xianbei, for example, ended up assimilating almost fully into the Chinese, while the Mongols resisted such integration and withdrew into their homeland after the fall of the Yuan. I also notice that Ebrey avoids taking a cyclical view while still describing a Chinese identity that managed to endure. It was especially during the period of Mongol rule--the first time an outsider ruled over a united Chinese empire--that the native Chinese were forced to question the centrality and universalism of their culture. Ebrey's overall view is one that empathizes with the perspective of the Chinese, without falling to the biases inherent to a nationalistic standpoint.

Quite thoughtful was the evaluation of the Ming dynasty, a period generally criticized as "a dead weight, slowing down innovation and entrepreneurship just when some real competition was about to emerge." While political administration was flawed, the Ming also witnessed a growth in population, trade, and publishing as well as an extended period of peace. Also notable was the development of full-length novels, producing some of the greatest Chinese works known today: Water Margin, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, and Plum in the Golden Vase.

Some fun memorable bits: Cao Cao--the main villain in Romance of the Three Kingdoms--and two of his sons were excellent poets, developing the potential of verse in lines of five syllables that would eventually be used by the most famous of Tang poets. And the two-page section on Dream of the Red Mansions really makes me want to read it. Just look at the illustrations, man!

 

           

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review 2016-01-07 22:34
Cha-Ching!
Cha-Ching! - Ali Liebegott

"It was 1994, the year of bad, low-blood-sugar decisions. As soon as Theo was done watching her favorite episode of Top 25 Best 911 Emergencies she planned to leave her empty San Francisco apartment and move to New York."

 

I'm not going to say much about Cha-Ching! other than I really like Liebegott's main characters - they are flawed but good at heart - and even though their stories are quite depressing and deal with difficult issues like addiction, anxiety, and the role of being an outsider, there is also so much warmth and hope in Liebegott's books. 

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review 2015-08-17 00:00
Grounded
Grounded - G.P. Ching Currently free on Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Grounded-Trilogy-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00A6F67LK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1439845182&sr=1-1&keywords=grounded
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