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text 2017-04-30 11:16
April Wrap Up and Challenge Update Part 1
The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror - Joyce Carol Oates
Sedition: A Novel - Katharine Grant
Aurora - Kim Stanley Robinson
I Will Fear No Evil - Robert A. Heinlein
Women All on Fire: The Women of the English Civil War - Alison Plowden
The Breakdown - B. A. Paris

Well, April is pretty much over and as a reading month it hasn't been too bad. The first book I finished was:

 

The Doll Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates

This book was an opportune pick at the library. As usual I went in to get one book and came out with 5. I read a collection of her short stories a few years ago and wasn't that impressed but as this was a library book I thought I would give her another chance. I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much. The first story was mediocre and I thought that my opinion was going to be vindicated but I found the other stories much more to my taste. So 4/5 stars for that.

 

Next up was another library pick and the one that I had originally gone in for:

 

Sedition by Katharine Grant.

This one has been on my radar for a while and I wasn't disappointed. At the end of the 18th. century five teenage girls need husbands with pedigrees. But how to get them when all the girls have is money and no connections? Their mothers decide that the girls should shine at a piano concert but first they need lessons. So a piano is bought a tutor provided and many hours are spent in lessons - not necessarily of the musical kind. One of the girls is being abused by her father and decides to turn the tables on the piano teacher and get her revenge on her father. All hell breaks loose.

The story starts off fairly light and amusing but soon becomes pretty dark. This is one I would definitely read again. 4/5 stars

 

Another library pick was Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Green Earth left me somewhat lukewarm but I wanted to give this one a bash. I tested it on my husband first though and it got his approval so no worries. Although ostensibly a space opera I read it as more a tale of the environment. The message I got from it was that you can't have a second Earth so you had better look after this one. I don't necessarily have to agree with that but it has made me think about it. Another 4/5 stars. 

 

The biggest disappointment for me this month was Robert A. Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil. Set in the early 21st century this is the story of an old man who has his brain transplanted into the body of his young secretary (I should note that she is dead). Her 'soul' still inhabits the body and helps the new occupant to settle in. I have fond memories of reading this book a couple of decades ago but being the kind of reader who can't really remember what happened in a book after I close it, I couldn't remember the story, only that I enjoyed it so much. Having read it a second time I don't know why now. 3.5/5 stars

 

Finally, I come to Women All on Fire by Alison Plowden.

This time a non-fiction book about the Civil War. I found it interesting and easy to read, even for a newbie to the subject like me. There was enough background information to put everything in context without being overwhelming. 5 stars

 

Edit:

 

That's it for April. According to my calculations I'm about 4 books behind my challenge. I'm also lacking 3 German books and 3 classics but as my self-imposed challenge conditions are more guidelines than rules, who's cares? :)

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review 2017-04-18 00:00
Terror: Ein Theaterstück und eine Rede
Terror: Ein Theaterstück und eine Rede -... Terror: Ein Theaterstück und eine Rede - Ferdinand von Schirach Ausführliche Rezension:
http://nouw.com/cwidmann/terror-was-ware-wenn-29814282
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text 2017-04-07 17:24
OT: In shock

I'm sitting in front of the tv, following the news about the terror attack in Stockholm. It's hard to describe how I'm feeling right now. Stockholm was my dad's city, so in a way it's also mine, even though I've never lived there. I see images of places I've walked and where I might, in theory have been walking at the time of the attack, if I'd been out traveling. It's completely unreal. At least my whole family is safe and sound, right here, next to me. Today, it's never been more clear to me that nowhere is safe, no one is completely protected from this sort of thing. At the moment, I don't have anything more to say, except take care, hold on to your loved ones.

 

LittleLion

 

The image is of a little copy of one of the 'big' lions that briefly appeared in the footage from the news segment, one that my sister bought the last time she was in Stockholm, since we have passed it more than once while in Stockholm. I'm letting it symbolize my Stockholm.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-02-02 22:38
Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue - Maajid Nawaz,Sam Harris

'Liberals imagine that jihadists and islamists are acting as anyone else would given a similar history of unhappy encounters with the West. And they totally discount the role that religious beliefs play in inspiring a group like the Islamic State - to the point where it would be impossible for a jihadist to prove he was doing anything for religious reasons. Apparently it's not enough for an educated person with economic opportunities to devote himself to the most extreme and austere version of Islam, to articulate his religious reasons for doing so ad nauseam, and even to go as far as to confess his certainty about martyrdom on video before blowing himself up in a crowd. Such demonstrations of religious fanaticism are somehow considered rhetorically insufficient to prove that he really believed what he said he believed.' - Sam Harris page 47-48

 

I think that one paragraph sums up my frustrations with the debate on Islamic terrorism. Imagine if you went back in time to see the Knights Templar not give an inch in battle, driven by their religiously inspired, fervent belief in martyrdom. The conclusion you draw from this is that this was at root a frustration garnered from hundreds of years of eastern foreign policy in the form of Jihad and the knights' reaction has nothing to do with religion. Surely you'd have to be at least dishonest in that scenario to discount the role of religious conviction? And yet as Harris demonstrates, this has almost become a mainstream political opinion amongst so called liberals. Harris continues -

 

'The belief that a life of eternal pleasure awaits martyrs after death explains why certain people can honestly chant "we love death more than the infidels love life." They truly believe in martyrdom - as evidenced by the fact that they regularly sacrifice their lives, or watch their children do so, without a qualm. As we have been having this conversation there was an especially horrific attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, where members of the Taliban murdered 145 people, 132 of them children. Here's an except from an online conversation with a Taliban supporter in the aftermath of the massacre - Human life only has value among you worldly materialist thinkers. Death is not the end of life. It is the beginning of existence in a world much more beautiful than this. Paradise is for those pure of hearts. All children have pure hearts. They have not sinned yet... They have not been corrupted by their kafir parents. We did not end their lives. We gave them new ones in paradise, where they will be loved more than you can imagine. They will be rewarded for their martyrdom."

 

I think that speaks for itself. You would have to make the claim that the Taliban supporter is lying, in order to undermine the idea that extreme religious conviction plays some part in the terror debate and I personally think the weight of evidence rests against you if you do.

 

But anyway that's not even the debate that people should be having, the debate should be how do you deal with the tide of Islamist and jihadi groups around the globe? Maajid Nawaz argues that Islamism, the political belief of fundamentalism and the spreading of Islamic law and customs across all nations, must be defeated at grass roots levels within the Muslim community. They estimate that Islamist groups make up between 15 and 25% of the world's 1.6 billion strong Muslim population. He sees The Obama administrations refusal to name Islamism as being at the root of groups like IS as a failure. He believes that naming the problem instead of avoiding it, gives Muslims a choice to either 'reclaim our religion and its narrative, or allow thugs and demagogues to speak in its name and impose it on others. Calling it extremism is too relative and vague and sidesteps the responsibility to counter its scriptural justification.' He means scriptural justification here in the sense that one may interpret many things from the Qu'ran and ahadith and one of those readings is the skewed beliefs of Islamic State. He also mentions however that another essential thing that needs to happen is for there to be an acknowledgement that there are many different interpretations possible, each to the person who reads the scripture. Essentially if the Muslim community can get to the stage where the interpretations are personal to the person and there is no right answer, this is the first step on the way to pluralism and secularism. 

 

I've done rather a hatchet job here of what is a short, at 128 pages, yet valuable conversation in which the intricacies and problems of the debate are analysed in such greater depth. Despite its small length, it is definitely a worthy addition to the field and a good discussion between two respectful men, one a liberal Muslim, the other a liberal atheist. The more this is talked about and the less it is approached with apprehension and shame the better for our society. 

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review 2017-01-13 00:55
Must read,just don't read it at night
EIGHT: Terror Has A New Species - WW Mortensen

TERROR HAS A NEW SPECIES

Deep in the Amazon, the solution to the global energy crisis has been found; a mysterious source of power set to end our dependency on oil.

When she receives stunning photographs related to the discovery – courtesy of expedition leader and former partner, Ed Reardon – entomologist Rebecca Riley finds herself on the next flight to Brazil, heading down to join the team of scientists assembling there. She hasn’t seen Ed for more than a year, and their relationship hadn’t ended well.

But his revelation is impossible to ignore.

What she and Ed uncover is beyond imagination: strange statues in the jungle… a ruined city built by the refugees of a lost Pacific continent… and a terrifying new species of animal.

Forced to confront a crippling childhood phobia she’d thought long dead and buried, Rebecca realises this new species is no ordinary enemy.

It is an ancient enemy, one whose very existence has implications for all of humankind… and the planet itself.

What did I think:
My rating: 5
OMG this book was and is a great read, it had me hooked from the very start to the very end, as well as sitting on the edge of my bed, so glad that I picked it up, and as soon. I can I'm picking up a copy to add to my library. Once again thinks NetGalley for helping me find a new book as well as a new author to check out, all so I would like to say I was giving a chance at reading it in a change for my honest opinion and this is 100 % my honest opinion,also on a side note don't pick this up if you want to sleep a night.

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