deltatiger - Reviews

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The Able McLaughlins
The Able McLaughlins
Author: Margaret Wilson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 6/11/2012


This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1924. I think 1924 must have been a pretty weak year for fiction. Not that this is a bad book; it's a nice little story. It's got some humorous moments, and some tension, and the plot resolves nicely. It's an easy, quick read, enjoyable enough, but nothing all that special. It is far cheerier than most Oprah selections, so it at least has that going for it.

If you're looking to read a Pulitzer Prize winner and don't want to bang your head against Faulkner's works, this one might be the ticket.


Absalom and Achitophel (Contexts)
Absalom and Achitophel (Contexts)
Author: Robert McHenry
Book Type: Hardcover
  ?
Review Date: 6/20/2006


NOT the poem!

Contains reproductions of contemporary source material regarding the Popish Plot that gave rise to Dryden's poem.


America's Forgotten Pandemic : The Influenza of 1918
America's Forgotten Pandemic : The Influenza of 1918
Author: Alfred W. Crosby
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 4/1/2012
Helpful Score: 2


This book was originally written in the 1970s, and although it is a "New Edition" it doesn't appear that the text has been updated at all. This means that the scientific information in the book is badly out of date; we know much more about viruses in general and the flu virus that caused the 1918 outbreak in particular than the book says. If you are not concerned about more up-to-date science, the rest of the book is adequate.

This isn't nearly as good a book as John M. Barry's "The Great Influenza". That book is a more compelling read, and has the virtue of being written more recently so it has better scientific information. I would recommend that book much more strongly than this one, if you are willing to read a longer book.

However, this book is shorter, only 350 pages (about 1/3 of those taken up with references) to the 550 pages of Barry's book, and is easy to read. If you want a quick overview of what happened and how the flu spread, it's worth reading.


The Betrayal (Cyteen, Bk 1)
The Betrayal (Cyteen, Bk 1)
Author: C. J. Cherryh
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 28
Review Date: 3/10/2006
Helpful Score: 1


Normally I really like Cherryh's writing, but not this time. I got halfway through the book and realized that I didn't care about any of the characters and didn't care what happened to them. Maybe something happens later to turn that around, but I just felt that reading more wouldn't be worth my time.


Billy Budd
Billy Budd
Author: Herman Melville
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 1/28/2008


Also contains The Piazza Tales: The Piazza; Bartleby; Benito Cereno; The Lightning-Rod Man; The Encantadas, or Enchanted Islands; The Bell Tower. Plus The Town-Ho's Story from Moby-Dick.


Black May : The Epic Story of the Allies' Defeat of the German U-Boats in May 1943
Review Date: 4/20/2006


If you enjoy reading sentences like: "At 1301 the destroyer Broadway obtained a contact bearing 045 degress, range 1,500 yards. The commander dropped six depth charges, with no result. He then swung around for a second run, dropped six more charges and saw a large pool of oil and some air bubbles..." then you will love this book.

Tactics and overall strategy can sometimes get lost in all the attack details (a large number of them without result), which makes slow reading. Still, the book is based on numerous first-hand interviews with survivors in addition to making extensive use of contemporary records. Good reading for the WWII or naval warfare buffs.


Bread and Stones: A Novel
Bread and Stones: A Novel
Author: Ellen Alexander Conley
Book Type: Hardcover
  ?
Review Date: 1/30/2008


From Library Journal
A doctor who no longer practices medicine but teaches nurses in a Philadelphia medical school, Liat Bloom decides to take a year off and return to Schweitzerville, the clinic in Colombia where she had worked while in the Peace Corps. Hopeless poverty, disease, and inadequate supplies are the challenges she faces in this mountain village where revolution is brewing.

Torn between her husband back home and Marques, the handsome Colombian doctor with whom she has an affair, Liat is drawn into her lover's revolutionary activity. She agrees to take part in a daring scheme involving the theft of a relic of Simon Bolivar, an ideological act that gives meaning to her experience at the clinic as it revitalizes her life. For readers who enjoy fiction about social issues, this is an engaging and sometimes humorous account.


Bridge of Birds : A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was
Bridge of Birds : A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was
Author: Barry Hughart
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 50
Review Date: 5/5/2012


This is a wonderful book! Funny and moving and delightful, and just a joy to read. If you have ever enjoyed a fantasy novel, you should not miss this book.


The Broken Crown (The Sun Sword, Book 1)
The Broken Crown (The Sun Sword, Book 1)
Author: Michelle West
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 55
Review Date: 4/3/2006
Helpful Score: 1


Book one of the 6-volume Sun Sword series. I loved this book! It isn't an easy read, but if you don't let yourself be intimidated by the intricate language, I think you will be well rewarded by the novel.


Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution
Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution
Author: Simon Schama
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 3/28/2007
Helpful Score: 1


An interesting perspective on the French Revolution. Challenges traditional perspectives and opinions, and does not flinch from the violence that was an integral part of the revolution.

It's not a good book to read if you know nothing about the revolution, though. For example, it makes several references to the "Declaration of the Rights of Man" but no where does it quote them or explain their significance. The trial and execution of Marie Antoinette is also mentioned only in passing.

But if you already know a little something about the French Revolution, this is a great book to challenge your assumptions and refresh your perspective.


A Civil Campaign (Miles Vorkosigan)
A Civil Campaign (Miles Vorkosigan)
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
 21
Review Date: 5/31/2006


Up to Bujold's usual high standards! A little different than her other works, but still good, tightly plotted and thoroughly enjoyable.


Classics in Chinese Philosophy
Review Date: 3/16/2006


This book has works from all the major Chinese religions and philosophies: Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Maoist Communism. Interesting for anyone interested in Chinese thought or religions.


The Coming of the New Deal (American Heritage Library)
Review Date: 6/20/2006


The Coming of the New Deal, 1933-1935, volume two of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and biographer Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr."s Age of Roosevelt series, describes Franklin Delano Roosevelt"s first tumultuous years in the White House. Coming into office at the bottom of the Great Depression, FDR told the American people that they have nothing to fear but fear itself. The conventional wisdom having failed, he tried unorthodox remedies to avert economic collapse. His first hundred days restored national morale, and his New Dealers filled Washington with new approaches to recovery and reform. Combining idealistic ends with realistic means, Roosevelt proposed to humanize, redeem, and rescue capitalism. The Coming of the New Deal, written with Schlesinger"s customary verve, is a gripping account of critical years in the history of the republic.


The Confidence-Man
The Confidence-Man
Author: Herman Melville
Book Type: Paperback
  ?
Review Date: 3/20/2006


This is a difficult book to review.

First, it's a very slow and difficult read. Just understanding some of the sentences is a challenge - intentionally. Melville wanted to the reader to be a bit uncertain of what he was saying in a few place, so be prepared to take your time with it.

There are a couple of chapters that are downright painful to anyone with modern sensibility about the races. Melville was using the portrayals not because he believed them, but because he was making a point, but that doesn't make them easier to read.

Overall, I found that I walked away from the book feeling very differently about than the reviewer who is responsible for the description on the back of the book - although I understand why he believes what he does about the novel. This is a sort of inkblot test in book form, your feelings about the main character will be influenced more by your own opinions and impressions of the world and how it works than they will be by Melville himself. He created a work that allows the reader to paint it in their own colors.

It's an impressive work, a serious and weighty novel, not for the faint of heart.


Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews -- A History
Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews -- A History
Author: James Carroll
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 11/20/2012


If you can overlook the over sharing of personal information, then this is quite an interesting review of the ways in which the Catholic Church has fostered, used, and ignored antisemitism to further its own goals. Unfortunately, the personal details frequently fail to illuminate the history and sometimes distract from it.

There was some good historical information (the Jewish identity of the early Christian church was particularly interesting, I though, and the philosophical and doctrinal attitude toward Jews through the Church's history is a factor that is often overlooked when discussing antisemitism) and speculation on the way things could have turned out differently if different philosophers and theologians had held sway.

But there was also a lot of information about the author's life that I really wasn't interested in. I suppose he wanted to personalize the story, but he seemed to constantly bring in personal anecdotes that were sometimes relevant but often were totally unrelated to what was being discussed. The worst example came in his discussion of the First Crusade and the destruction of the Jewish community in Mainz, when he parenthetically mentioned that one location was the first place he had a legal drink of alcohol. I have no clue why he felt that should be mentioned.

His suggestions for the way forward for the Church were, I thought, very interesting. It seems highly unlikely that any of them will be taken, given the path the Catholic Church appears to be on; but it is interesting to see options being discussed.

This is a long, slow reading book; 616 pages of text, and the book is physically very heavy. A qualified recommendation, mostly to those who are restless with the current direction of the Catholic Church who would like to consider alternatives.


Cordelia's Honor (Cordelia Naismith, Bks 1 and 2)
Cordelia's Honor (Cordelia Naismith, Bks 1 and 2)
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 112
Review Date: 2/23/2006
Helpful Score: 1


This is the beginning of the Vorkorsigan cycle. Originally published as two separate books Shards of Honor and Barrayar, but definitely much better as a single book than two. Brilliant work by Bujold, as usual. Highly recommended!


Crime and Punishment
Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, David Magarshack (Translator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 14
Review Date: 12/29/2005


This is a powerful book. Haunting, moving, sometimes disturbing. The extent to which you can identify with Raskolnikov, understand and sympathize with him is enlightening or scary, depending on your image of yourself. This book is a great read, and a great classic.


Dark Forces
Dark Forces
Author: Kirby McCauley
Book Type: Hardcover
  ?
Review Date: 6/14/2006


Contents:

The Late Shift byb Dennis Etchison
The Enemy by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Dark Angel by Edward Bryant
The Crest of Thirty-six by Davis Grubb
Mark Ingestre: The Customer's Tale by Robert Aickman
Where the Summer Ends by Karl edward Wagner
The Bingo Master by Joyce Carol Oates
Children of the Kingdom by T.E.D. Klein
The Detective of Dreams by Gene Wolfe
Vengeance Is by Theodore Sturgeon
The Brood by Ramsey Campbell
The Whistling Well by Clifford Simak
The peculiar Demesne by Russel Kirk
Where the Stones Grow by Lisa Tuttle
The Night Before Christmas by Robert Bloch
The Stupid Joke by Edward Gorey
A Touch of Petulance by Ray Bradbury
Lindsay and the Red City Blues by Joe Haldeman
A Garden of Blackred Roses by Charles L. Grant
Owls Hoot in the Daytime by Manly Wade Wellman
Where There's a Will by Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson
Traps by Gahan Wilson
The Mist by Stephen Kind


A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought, Bk 2)
A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought, Bk 2)
Author: Vernor Vinge
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 93
Review Date: 2/4/2006
Helpful Score: 3


This is an amazing book. This is a book that reminds you (in case you'd forgotten) why it is that you like science fiction in the first place. Characters that you can identify with, aliens that are completely plausible and seem real, situations that you keep you at the edge of your seat. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!


Dreambuilder (Soulsmith, Bk 2)
Dreambuilder (Soulsmith, Bk 2)
Author: Tom Deitz
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 4/4/2006


From the cover:

In the Georgia backwoods stands a magnificent estate--its inhabitants the possessors of awesome powers passed on from generation to generation. Local residents look upon those who dwell within with respect and fear...trusting their fortune and their future to the mysterious Master of Cardalba.

For five years Ronny Dillon has denied the pain and the power that is his birthright -- hiding away in the halls of academia far from Welch County, Georgia. But an urgent summons has arrived from his half-brother, and Ronny knows he must return to the ancestral mansion -- where his past was erased, his dreams damaged...and his future and life very nearly destroyed in mists of magic and illusion. For there awaits his destiny -- a mystery of love and loss, a miracle of renewal...and a terrifying challenge beyond any he has ever known.


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