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review 2020-10-05 05:43
All Things Huge and Hideous by G. Scott Huggins
All Things Huge And Hideous - G. Scott Huggins

TITLE: All Things Huge and Hideous

 

AUTHOR:  G. Scott Huggins

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DESCRIPTION:

 

"IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THANK A TEACHER.IF YOU CAN READ THIS AND YOU HAVEN'T BEEN FED TO THE DRAGON, THANK A VET.That's me, Dr. James DeGrande. Fire-lizards deflamed, dire-rats spayed, flea and tick removal a speciality. I'm your local veterinarian, but I'm also a slave of the Dark Lord. I've hired a new assistant Harriet, who is almost a witch. I just hope that she can do better than my last assistant who ... almost survived.There's no more heroes anymore. That's because they were all fed to the Dark Lord's pet Dragon after the last War.It's not the easiest position from which to make the world a better place, but I might be able to do something about the dragon. If His Darkness's vampiric Prime Minister doesn't do something about me first. It's time to go see my patients, and hope they don't see me first."

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REVIEW:

 

This is a compilation of vignettes in the life of the Dark Lord's human veterinarian and his assistant.  Entertaining and amusing. 

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review 2020-09-05 01:18
THE HOLLOW PLACES BY: T. KINGFISHER
The Hollow Places - T. Kingfisher

I think this book will stay with me for awhile, I'm afraid the willows have taken root. I know many people draw the obvious parallels with Lovecraft, but for me this one also had some vibes that brought up touchstones from The Mist (Stephen King) and a smidge of Pan's Labyrinth. Definitely that dark otherworldliness but also the religious and/or mythical undertones throughout.

 

Sometimes the vastness and imagination that goes into multiverses can be overwhelming but I thought this was beautifully balanced by the characters, with their lightness and their dark humor and being so down-to-earth (which is funny, all things considered!). Carrot and Simon, and even Uncle Earl help even things out and brought levity to a quagmire of disturbing otherness.

 

The disquieting undertones all throughout was classic horror that I greatly appreciate. It's like a feeling you get that something is behind you and that paralyzing moment where you're deciding whether to look or not, to quickly escape or rationalize it away. In willow world or not, that feeling stays with you throughout the story and it's fabulously unsettling. On the flip side the vivid picture painted with some of the more in your face creepy situations, like the bus or Sturdivant, was grotesquely clear and so easily visualized.

I think my favorite part of all though was the last part in the Museum. It brought a whole new heartwarming element to the tale that I wasn't expecting. For lack of a better term, there really is no place like home, and the idea that your home might feel that way about you too is quite touching. All in all this was a fast paced enthralling read and I definitely look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

 

I received an arc of this book from Gallery Books via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

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review 2020-08-17 09:49
German: Biography of a Language by Ruth H. Sanders
German: Biography of a Language - Ruth H. Sanders

TITLE: German: Biography of a Language

 

AUTHOR:  Ruth H. Sanders

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DESCRIPTION:

"Thousands of years ago, seafront clans in Denmark began speaking the earliest form of Germanic language--the first of six "signal events" that Ruth Sanders highlights in this marvelous history of the German language.

Blending linguistic, anthropological, and historical research, Sanders presents a brilliant biography of the language as it evolved across the millennia. She sheds light on the influence of such events as the bloody three-day Battle of Kalkriese, which permanently halted the incursion of both the Romans and the Latin language into northern Europe, and the publication of Martin Luther's German Bible translation, a "People's" Bible which in effect forged from a dozen spoken dialects a single German language. The narrative ranges through the turbulent Middle Ages, the spread of the printing press, the formation of the nineteenth-century German Empire which united the German-speaking territories north of the Alps, and Germany's twentieth-century military and cultural horrors. The book also covers topics such as the Gothic language (now extinct), the vast expansion of Germanic tribes during the Roman era, the role of the Vikings in spreading the Norse language, the branching off of Yiddish, the lasting impact of the Thirty Years War on the German psyche, the revolution of 1848, and much more.

Ranging from prehistoric times to modern, post-war Germany, this engaging volume offers a fascinating account of the evolution of a major European language as well as a unique look at the history of the German people. It will appeal to everyone interested in German language, culture, or history.
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REVIEW:

 

Interesting and informative, but too repetitive.

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review 2020-08-11 11:03
The Clock and the Camshaft by John W. Farrell
The Clock and the Camshaft: And Other Medieval Inventions We Still Can't Live Without - John W. Farrell

TITLE:  The Clock and the Camshaft: And Other Medieval Inventions We Still Can't Live Without

 

AUTHOR:  John W. Farrell

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2019

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9781633885721

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DESCRIPTION:

"This history of medieval inventions, focusing on the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries, vividly portrays a thriving era of human ingenuity—and the results are still being felt to this day. From the mechanical clock to the first eyeglasses, both of which revolutionized society, many of the commonplace devices we now take for granted had their origin in the Middle Ages. Divided into ten thematic chapters, the accessible text allows the reader to sample areas of interest or read the book from beginning to end for a complete historical overview.

A chapter on the paper revolution shows that innovations in mill power enabled the mass production of cheap paper, which was instrumental in the later success of the printing press as a means of disseminating affordable books to more people. Another chapter examines the importance of Islamic civilization in preserving ancient Greek texts and the role of translation teams in Sicily and Spain in making those texts available in Latin for a European readership. A chapter on instruments of discovery describes the impact of the astrolabe, which was imported from Islamic lands, and the compass, originally invented in China; these tools plus innovations in shipbuilding spurred on the expansion of European trade and the later age of discovery at the time of Columbus.

Complete with original drawings to illustrate how these early inventions worked, this guided tour through a distant era reveals how medieval farmers, craftsmen, women artisans, and clerical scholars laid the foundations of the modern world.
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REVIEW:

 

Short but interesting.

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review 2020-08-11 07:07
Gods and Robots by Adrienne Mayor
Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Tec - Adrienne Mayor

TITLE:  Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology

 

AUTHOR:  Adrienne Mayor

 

PUBLICATION DATE:  2020

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780691202266

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DESCRIPTION:

"The fascinating untold story of how the ancients imagined robots and other forms of artificial life--and even invented real automated machines

The first robot to walk the earth was a bronze giant called Talos. This wondrous machine was created not by MIT Robotics Lab, but by Hephaestus, the Greek god of invention. More than 2,500 years ago, Greek mythology was exploring ideas about creating artificial life--and grappling with still-unresolved ethical concerns about biotechne, life through craft. In this compelling, richly illustrated book, Adrienne Mayor tells the fascinating story of how ancient Greek, Roman, Indian, and Chinese myths envisioned artificial life, automata, self-moving devices, and human enhancements--and how these visions relate to and reflect the ancient invention of real animated machines. Revealing how science has always been driven by imagination, and how some of today's most advanced tech innovations were foreshadowed in ancient myth, Gods and Robots is a gripping new story of mythology for the age of AI.
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REVIEW:

 

This is an interesting and informative overview of what ancient myths (mostly Greek and Roman, but a few others) have to say about machines, robots, artificial intelligence (i.e. creatures made not born) and their implied philosophical questions.  The book also provides a chapter that covers the mechanics and technology during antiquity.  Mayor provides an eye-opening and transformative manner of looking at the ancient myths. I enjoyed this scholarly book a great deal.

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