Andrew K. (kuligowskiandrewt) - , - Reviews

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100 Things Flyers Fan Should Know & Do Before They Die
100 Things Flyers Fan Should Know & Do Before They Die
Author: Adam Kimelman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 1/16/2016
Helpful Score: 1


I LIKE the "100 Things ..." series. In general, the books describe a lot of things that fans of the team (or musician, or whatever the book is about) already know but like to reminisce about. Some of the things ARE new to all but the most incredibly devout fanatics of the topic, and a few others describe sites to pilgrimage to rather than incidents.

Adam Kimelman's "100 Things Flyers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" is a great example of the series. I won't pretend to be a Flyers fan more the opposite, to be honest but you have to appreciate the history of a team in order to truly and effectively dislike it! There are so many characters in the history of the team, from Fred Shero and Bobby Clarke to Mike Keenan and Jeremy Roenick, from Bernie Parent and Bobby Clarke to Ron Hextall and Tim Kerr, from Dave Schultz and Dave "Big Bird" Saleski to Paul Holmgren and ... well, you get the idea. But not all the memories are happy ones Barry Ashbee's playing career was cut short by an injury, and his coaching career / life by cancer. Pelle Lindbergh's post-victory celebration with his teammates ended with his death in an auto accident. And throughout, the consistency of Ed Snyder's ownership ties the entire history of the team together in a consistent timeline.

This is the second book I've read in this series, and the third is in progress. On the basis of what I've read so far, I would not hesitate to pick up ANY book in this series, regardless of topic. I'm sure I will enjoy it.

RATING: 4 1/2 stars, rounded down to 4 stars.


100 Things Jets Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (100 Things...Fans Should Know)
Review Date: 2/27/2016


I have been impressed with all of the books in the "100 Things ..." series that I've read to this point both of them. "100 Things Jets Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die", as the author freely admits, is different than the other books, in that there are multiple incarnations of the Winnipeg Jets to address. There's the version that made news in the early 1970s by signing Bobby Hull to play in the World Hockey Association. There's the Jets that joined the National Hockey League in 1979 and played there for approximately 15 years until they moved to Phoenix (although the author of this book considers this just a continuation of what he calls "Jet's 1.0" from the WHA days). Finally, there's the team that moved to Winnipeg from Atlanta around 5 years ago.

The author does a typically good job in selecting 100 events and sights that encompass the history of the team(s). Each reader can (and probably will) believe that there is some particular site, image, or event that is missing from the book because the author selected something else and I'm sure that everyone reading the book will dispute the ranked order that the author assigned each component.

I would have preferred a slight departure from the traditional format in this instance. Given the multiple lives that the Winnipeg Jets have had, I would have preferred that the author break the book into sections say (counts approximate) 30 things from the WHA days, another 30 from the early NHL days, a third group of 30 for the newest edition of the team, and 10 to address the short lifespan of the Atlanta Thrashers (who are unlikely ever to merit such a book, given market conditions and interest) along with the minor-league Manitoba Moose who have recently returned to Winnipeg as the Jets' farm club. I would have found this much easier to follow than the intermingling of events that was used for this book.

Very good book. Enjoyed it. BUT think I could have enjoyed it even more.

RATING: 4 1/2 stars, rounded down to 4 stars where 1/2 stars are not permitted.


100 Things Sabres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (100 Things...Fans Should Know)
Review Date: 1/16/2016
Helpful Score: 1


True fans of a sports team love to debate things like rankings. Having grown up with the Sabres, cutting my hockey eye-teeth on the early days of the franchise, I was very eager to see what sports reporter Sal Maiorana selected as the Top 100, and what order he put them in.

How does one compare the Fog Game and the Bat from the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals vs. Philadelphia against "No Goal" in 1999's loss to Dallas? Who was the greatest Sabre to wear the Blue and Gold (or, for awhile, Red and Black) Gilbert Perrault or Dominick Hasek, or someone else altogether? How does the first play by play announcer Ted Darling stand up against the current Rick Jeanneret?

I believe I can safely say on behalf of all Sabres fans that Mr. Maiorana made, for the most part, a wise selection of individuals, incidents, and sites. I don't agree with all of them, and certainly disagree with the order, BUT almost anyone who reads ANY book of this nature will feel the same way. BUT if those readers compare notes among themselves, they'll see that they also largely disagree with each other, as well!

Sabres fans will truly enjoy this book, as will hockey fans in general.

RATING: 4 1/2 stars, rounded up to 5 stars.


17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History
Review Date: 8/3/2016


"17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History" by Andrew Morton is basically a pretty good book. HOWEVER, considering the number of offerings that come out every day, I expect more than "pretty good" when I'm to invest my times in over 300 pages (or 10 CDs worth of audio narration, each over 1 hour in duration).

This book is about the Edward VIII, better known as the Duke of Windsor for most of his adult life. King of England during most of 1936, his rise to the throne and his desire and training (or lack thereof) for the job, his abdication of the throne for his desire to marry the American Wallis Simpson, and his attempt to make a life for himself afterwards. It is ALSO about the rise of the Nazis in Germany, and England leading up to and through World War II. But mostly, it is about how the man and his wife intersect with that time in history, both on the home front and in international affairs.

The book claims that the Duke is one of the few non-Germans that Hitler respected (if, indeed, he truly respected anyone besides himself). It talks about how the German high command had hoped that the Duke could be useful once England came into line, whether through conquering or through a negotiated peace and how the Duke himself believed he could facilitate such a peace. Indeed, he believed that had he remained King, there would not have been hostilities between Germany and England!

The main title of the book alludes to the relationship between the couple and German Foreign Minister Joachim Von Ribbentrop or rather, between Wallis Simpson and Von Ribbentrop. The subtitle, to the attempt by the government of Great Britain to suppress the publication of German documents dealing with the Duke and the Nazis.

I felt the majority of the book was spent name-dropping, discussing the various movers and shakers that the Duke and Duchess dealt with between 1937 and 1945. Often, I complain about history books that lack detail. In this case, I found the opposite to be true there was far too much detail attempting to paint a picture of the petulant ex-Royal who had no concept of what "there's a war going on" really meant in terms of sacrifice. The part of the book that I really wanted to read about, the "greatest cover-up in history" according to the subtitle, was a tremendous let down. A few chapters at the end of the book described the British government mostly Winston Churchill appealing to the U.S. Government to turn over the documents of the Duke's dealings with the Nazis, and the U.S. largely turning them down. (Given that our Constitution describes "Freedom of the Press" in the 1st Amendment but intentionally does not set up any kind of royalty, this could be a prejudice of my upbringing.) Hardly what I would call "the biggest cover-up in history".

In short a lengthy, detailed set-up to a very disappointing and brief conclusion. (Sort of like this review, actually.)

RATING: 3 stars.

DISCLOSURE: I was awarded a free copy of this book in a random draw. No requirement of a review was made, let alone any conditions on the tone / content of a review, however, it was hinted that winners who write and post honest reviews have a better chance of being selected to receive future books.


17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis and the Biggest Cover-Up in History
Review Date: 8/3/2016


"17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History" by Andrew Morton is basically a pretty good book. HOWEVER, considering the number of offerings that come out every day, I expect more than "pretty good" when I'm to invest my times in over 300 pages (or 10 CDs worth of audio narration, each over 1 hour in duration).

This book is about the Edward VIII, better known as the Duke of Windsor for most of his adult life. King of England during most of 1936, his rise to the throne and his desire and training (or lack thereof) for the job, his abdication of the throne for his desire to marry the American Wallis Simpson, and his attempt to make a life for himself afterwards. It is ALSO about the rise of the Nazis in Germany, and England leading up to and through World War II. But mostly, it is about how the man and his wife intersect with that time in history, both on the home front and in international affairs.

The book claims that the Duke is one of the few non-Germans that Hitler respected (if, indeed, he truly respected anyone besides himself). It talks about how the German high command had hoped that the Duke could be useful once England came into line, whether through conquering or through a negotiated peace and how the Duke himself believed he could facilitate such a peace. Indeed, he believed that had he remained King, there would not have been hostilities between Germany and England!

The main title of the book alludes to the relationship between the couple and German Foreign Minister Joachim Von Ribbentrop or rather, between Wallis Simpson and Von Ribbentrop. The subtitle, to the attempt by the government of Great Britain to suppress the publication of German documents dealing with the Duke and the Nazis.

I felt the majority of the book was spent name-dropping, discussing the various movers and shakers that the Duke and Duchess dealt with between 1937 and 1945. Often, I complain about history books that lack detail. In this case, I found the opposite to be true there was far too much detail attempting to paint a picture of the petulant ex-Royal who had no concept of what "there's a war going on" really meant in terms of sacrifice. The part of the book that I really wanted to read about, the "greatest cover-up in history" according to the subtitle, was a tremendous let down. A few chapters at the end of the book described the British government mostly Winston Churchill appealing to the U.S. Government to turn over the documents of the Duke's dealings with the Nazis, and the U.S. largely turning them down. (Given that our Constitution describes "Freedom of the Press" in the 1st Amendment but intentionally does not set up any kind of royalty, this could be a prejudice of my upbringing.) Hardly what I would call "the biggest cover-up in history".

In short a lengthy, detailed set-up to a very disappointing and brief conclusion. (Sort of like this review, actually.)

RATING: 3 stars.

DISCLOSURE: I was awarded a free copy of this book in a random draw. No requirement of a review was made, let alone any conditions on the tone / content of a review, however, it was hinted that winners who write and post honest reviews have a better chance of being selected to receive future books.


1914: A Novel
1914: A Novel
Author: Charles B. Smith
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 4/24/2016


Long book. Most epics are it's kind of the definition of the genre. BUT worth the read.

1914 saw the start of World War I, the supposed "war to end all wars" (until the next one occurred). A lot of countries were involved, some immediately, some later. Charles B. Smith gives us a glimpse into the title of year through the eyes of the French, the English, the Germans, and one of the first Americans to cross over to the fighting.

I admit that I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book, being totally unfamiliar with the author (other than realizing that he took on an incredible challenge for his first published novel). BUT ... Mr. Smith managed to balance the historical facts and morals of the era against characters that we were bound to come to respect, admire, and even love (and in a few intentional cases, loathe).

At the end of the book, Mr. Smith offers up a sequel if the interest is there this reader / reviewer definitely votes "YES!"

RATING: 4 1/2 stars, rounded up to 5 stars. The author caught and kept my interest AND left me with some things that I will remember long after I've put it down to read other books.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book in a random draw. A prompt and honest (and hopefully favorable) review was probably desired, but no such commitment was sought nor given. And since I've had the book for around 2 years before finishing it, that's probably a good thing.


The 45% Hangover (Logan and Steel)
The 45% Hangover (Logan and Steel)
Author: Stuart MacBride
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/29/2015


Stuart MacBride has done a marvelous job of creating a series of interesting characters in the employ of the Aberdeen Police Department. He's told their stories in several full-length novels. BUT there are more stories to tell, and MacBride realizes that not all of them require a full-length book to tell.

"The 45% Hangover" is set on the day of the Scotland Independence Referendum. DCI Steel makes no secret of her pro-Independence opinion or rather, obsession. Her professional partner Logan MacRae realizes that criminal activity has not gone on hiatus simply due to nationalistic intensity. In fact, a strong supporter of remaining in the United Kingdom has gone missing ...

Another strong effort by Stuart MacBride although even his weaker material is still better than many/most other writers out there in my opinion.

RATING: 4 1/2 stars, rounded up to 5 stars where 1/2 stars are not permitted.


50 Things You Need To Know About the Prostate : A Clear, Detailed, and Reassuring Guide that Helps Take the Worry and Confusion Out of Prostate Problems
Review Date: 7/30/2014


When a friend advised me that he had been diagnosed with prostate trouble, I rushed right out and accidentally stumbled across a used copy of this book while I was looking for something else. Seeing the title, however, I grabbed it and promptly read it it was a quick understandable read at 140 pages, including a few diagrams.

I found the book to be quite informative, and provided a lot of hope for men who might be concerned after getting a diagnosis of an enlarged prostate, or even prostate cancer. Still, the book is copyrighted 1994, some 20 years ago. While the information is presented quite clearly and provides a lot of hope realistic hope to sufferers, it should at best be a starting point to research more current material. (Even if nothing HAS changed, it would be nice to be able to verify that with something published more recently.)

RATING: 5 stars (cannot penalize it for its age).


The Absent One (aka Disgrace) (Department Q, Bk 2)
Review Date: 8/27/2016


Many times, an author comes close to being great with their first novel in a new series, and manages to put it all together in the 2nd or 3rd book. The "problem", if you can call it that, is that I loved Jussi Adler-Olsen's first book in the Department Q series, "The Keeper of Lost Causes". It would have been difficult to improve upon that book. The fact that Mr. Adler-Olsen manages to stay close to that mark is noteworthy.

Our protagonist, Carl Mørck, the head of Department Q, is shown on the job and on the home front. (His co-workers are only shown / discussed on the job, with any hints that they have a personal life limited to conversations at work.) The other vantage points taken during this novel are those of Kimmie, a homeless woman who lives in and around Copenhagen's train station and those of a few of Denmark's most successful - and morally bankrupt citizens. Author Adler-Olsen keeps shifting the vantage point between those 4 perspectives, as they all begin to merge together into a tight and thrilling climax.

Not as good as "The Keeper of Lost Causes", but then, I didn't think it could be. Still enjoyable, though.

RATING: 4 stars.


The Absent One (Department Q, Bk 2)
The Absent One (Department Q, Bk 2)
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen, K. E. Semmel (Translator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 28
Review Date: 8/27/2016


Many times, an author comes close to being great with their first novel in a new series, and manages to put it all together in the 2nd or 3rd book. The "problem", if you can call it that, is that I loved Jussi Adler-Olsen's first book in the Department Q series, "The Keeper of Lost Causes". It would have been difficult to improve upon that book. The fact that Mr. Adler-Olsen manages to stay close to that mark is noteworthy.

Our protagonist, Carl Mørck, the head of Department Q, is shown on the job and on the home front. (His co-workers are only shown / discussed on the job, with any hints that they have a personal life limited to conversations at work.) The other vantage points taken during this novel are those of Kimmie, a homeless woman who lives in and around Copenhagen's train station and those of a few of Denmark's most successful - and morally bankrupt citizens. Author Adler-Olsen keeps shifting the vantage point between those 4 perspectives, as they all begin to merge together into a tight and thrilling climax.

Not as good as "The Keeper of Lost Causes", but then, I didn't think it could be. Still enjoyable, though.

RATING: 4 stars.


The Absent One (Department Q, Bk 2) (Audio CD) (Unabridged)
Review Date: 8/27/2016


Many times, an author comes close to being great with their first novel in a new series, and manages to put it all together in the 2nd or 3rd book. The "problem", if you can call it that, is that I loved Jussi Adler-Olsen's first book in the Department Q series, "The Keeper of Lost Causes". It would have been difficult to improve upon that book. The fact that Mr. Adler-Olsen manages to stay close to that mark is noteworthy.

Our protagonist, Carl Mørck, the head of Department Q, is shown on the job and on the home front. (His co-workers are only shown / discussed on the job, with any hints that they have a personal life limited to conversations at work.) The other vantage points taken during this novel are those of Kimmie, a homeless woman who lives in and around Copenhagen's train station and those of a few of Denmark's most successful - and morally bankrupt citizens. Author Adler-Olsen keeps shifting the vantage point between those 4 perspectives, as they all begin to merge together into a tight and thrilling climax.

Not as good as "The Keeper of Lost Causes", but then, I didn't think it could be. Still enjoyable, though.

RATING: 4 stars.


The Absent One (Department Q, Bk 2) (Large Print)
Review Date: 8/27/2016


Many times, an author comes close to being great with their first novel in a new series, and manages to put it all together in the 2nd or 3rd book. The "problem", if you can call it that, is that I loved Jussi Adler-Olsen's first book in the Department Q series, "The Keeper of Lost Causes". It would have been difficult to improve upon that book. The fact that Mr. Adler-Olsen manages to stay close to that mark is noteworthy.

Our protagonist, Carl Mørck, the head of Department Q, is shown on the job and on the home front. (His co-workers are only shown / discussed on the job, with any hints that they have a personal life limited to conversations at work.) The other vantage points taken during this novel are those of Kimmie, a homeless woman who lives in and around Copenhagen's train station and those of a few of Denmark's most successful - and morally bankrupt citizens. Author Adler-Olsen keeps shifting the vantage point between those 4 perspectives, as they all begin to merge together into a tight and thrilling climax.

Not as good as "The Keeper of Lost Causes", but then, I didn't think it could be. Still enjoyable, though.

RATING: 4 stars.


After Shock: A Novella (Lucy Guardino FBI Thrillers)
After Shock: A Novella (Lucy Guardino FBI Thrillers)
Author: CJ Lyons
Book Type: Audio CD
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/27/2016


Aftershock, a novella, is the 4th book in the Lucy Guardino series, but the first one that I've read. Fortunately, as a newbie, I had no problem catching up with the characters as the action progresses and I mean "action", as the author jumps right into the middle of the short timeframe in which this book is set. (There were a few things that might serve as spoilers for previous books when I get to them, but that is to be expected when you read a series out of order.)

Ms. Lyons jumps back and forth between "then" and "now" as she describes the capture and attempted escape of Ms. Guardino. I found this to be somewhat distracting at the start of the book, but became comfortable with it once I'd set up both the "captured" and "trying to escape" scenes in my mind. (Still, my mind functions better with straight linear plotlines as such, rather than "ding" ms. Lyons, I give the author credit for not losing me during these time flips!)

It's tough to tell a complete story in 111 pages. Ms. Lyons almost manages to squeeze a novel into this timeframe. Almost. Subplots subtleties of all types, for that matter get short shrift. Characterization, surprisingly, may be abbreviated but is not ignored. Unfortunately, some mystery still remains at the end of the book I found this frustrating as heck. (I'd describe, but there is no way to do that without putting some major spoilers into this review.)

RATING: 4 stars.


Alexander Ovechkin
Alexander Ovechkin
Author: Geoffrey Lansdell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 8/1/2015
Helpful Score: 2


In the book "Alexander Ovechkin", author Geoffrey Landsdell displays some weaknesses and some signs of a mandate to"write it quick and get it out to the market". His biggest weakness is an obvious interest and a bias in favor of his subject. However, this "weakness" also helps the biographer overcome the "quick hit" feeling and become something worth reading.

What makes me think that this book was rushed to market? Well, for starters, some 42 pages almost 25% of the content is devoted to the history of Russians in the NHL and an evaluation / quick biographical sketch on the most notable. Interesting material, BUT only tangentially related to the subject of the book.

Fortunately, that means that 75% of the book IS devoted to Ovechkin. The author shows all sides of his subject even if he is quick to forgive his shortcomings and to shoot down his critics. It talks about his history, it talks about his family (although he could not get much information on Ovechkin's late brother, a subject that the family does not like to discuss publicly).

"Alexander Ovechkin" is a quick read, and the book is inexpensive I admit that I'm surprised to say this, BUT, despite my early misgivings, it's worth the time and money.

RATING: 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 stars where 1/2 stars are not accepted.


All the Pretty Girls (Taylor Jackson Series)
All the Pretty Girls (Taylor Jackson Series)
Author: J.T. Ellison
Book Type: Audio CD
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 10/11/2015


I've had Miss Ellison's book on my To Be Read shelf for awhile; now that I've finished it, I am kicking myself for having waited so long to get to it!

The first in a series of novel featuring Nashville homicide detective Taylor Jackson, "All the Pretty Girls" features a protagonist who is both a police officer and a human being the two aspects of her character never stray far from each other. Her humanity shines through in official situations, while the cop in her is never far away during interpersonal times.

PLUS this is one of the few Procedurals that I have read that actually takes into account that squads and their team members typically have more than one case at a time to concentrate on.

I already have the second book in the series "14", and am looking forward to it.

RATING: 4 1/2 stars, rounded up to 5 stars. It kept my interest and it's stayed with me even after I've picked up (and finished) a subsequent novel.


All The Way: My Life on Ice
All The Way: My Life on Ice
Author: Stephen Brunt, Jordin Tootoo
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 4/3/2016


The front and back covers of Jordin Tootoo's "All the Way: My Life on Ice" quote reviews with adjectives like "notable", "honesty", "compelling", and "sincerity". All of these words are accurate, based on my reading of the book. However, this is what I EXPECT when I pick up an autobiography / memoir; Mr. Tootoo (and Mr. Brunt, who've I've found to be a most excellent writer) do not disappoint.

What makes this book different than others of its ilk? To begin with, Jordin Tootoo is still an active player in the National Hockey League. Sometimes, a book written at that stage of a career includes a lot of filler witness Eric Lindros' autobiography which includes numerous (understatement) quotes from various players stating what a regular guy Eric happened to be. Mr. Tootoo's life has been so varied that he CAN write a book before he's retired without the need to insert peripherally-related materials throughout the text.

Mr. Tootoo's life has had many notable aspects and incidents he discusses all of them. Being the first player of Inuk descent to play in the NHL, he is also the first one able to describe a childhood growing up in the territory of Nunavut, as well as his departure to play Jr. hockey in the provinces. He can describe the negative affect that alcohol has played in his life, both directly and indirectly through his parents and through his older brother, Terence a man who could potentially have been the first Inuk player in the NHL had a night of drinking not been followed by his suicide. He can describe racism fortunately, without many first-hand examples. Most of all, he can describe hope and how hope can be fulfilled.

Yes, Jordin Tootoo delivered what I expect to find in a hockey biography. As such, I give him high marks for his work. I hope his life and career allow him enough material to pen an equally-interesting sequel at some point.

RATING: 4 1/2 stars, rounded up to 5 stars.


The Almond Tree
The Almond Tree
Author: Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 17
Review Date: 5/23/2013


19th century author Horatio Alger achieved fame for his novels, which followed a formula of poor boy working hard gains riches. Michelle Cohen Corasanti's The Almond Tree owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Alger, but the story of Ichmad Hamid only parallels Alger's pattern at the highest level. The Book of Job may also have been an influence on this novel, as might the last 50 years of newspapers regarding the Middle East.

Ichmad Hamid's story begins with the loss of his sister, a side casualty to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Hamid and his family continue to suffer losses, both in terms of family members and their personal circumstances, but a hope for the future continues to burn. In brief, the novel describes Hamid's quest to improve his personal lot and through that, his family's, while the continued Arab vs. Jew conflict around them inflicts further losses upon the clan. (Of course, as a mathematician, I was definitely a fan of our protagonist, who used his skills in that field to achieve his greatest triumphs or WERE they his greatest ones??) I don't believe I can comment on the various characters of this book without delving into the realm of spoiler alerts - as such, I will avoid the temptation to discuss them. I'd like to address who lives / who dies, who 'sees the light' / who 'descends deeper into hate and despair, etc. BUT I will hold that discourse until we gather up a group who have actually read the book.)

It is not possible to read or review this book without dealing with the ongoing issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians; it is their conflict upon which this book is based. Many years ago, I read in a book about the Mossad that the agents working closest with the Palestinians usually became sympathetic to their plight and conditions not so severely as to sabotage their jobs and careers, but sufficiently to see that there was another vantage point to be noted. This book demonstrates that it is not just intelligence agents who undertake such a conversion. And that nice people sometimes don't see another side to this conflict, either.

Ms. Corasanti freely admits in her (untitled) preface that her time in Israel planted the seeds for this book. It should not be considered a spoiler to state that one of the overriding messages of this book is that cooperation and understanding between two groups of people will resolve what shouted rhetoric will not. Further, that this cooperation will need to be undertaken at the individual level, because leadership of both sides have too much at stake to be conciliatory towards the other. However, I thought that the government / power is bad message was a bit heavy-handed throughout the book, and its black-and-white nature could and should have been nuanced with various shades of gray.

This book should be required reading for anyone wishing to understand the conflict in the Middle East, and I give it high recommendations. 4 stars, and I'd go 4 ½ except most rating systems don't allow fractions.


The Almond Tree, by Michelle Cohen Corasanti, is published by Garnet Publishing Limited of Reading, UK.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in return for the promise of an honest and prompt relative term (and publicly posted) review.


Alpha Flight, Vol 1: You Gotta Be Kiddin' Me
Alpha Flight, Vol 1: You Gotta Be Kiddin' Me
Author: Scott Lobdell, Clayton Henry
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/29/2015


The new X-Men were formed when one member of the original team escaped capture and gathered a new group of heroes to rescue his mates. This new team went on to incredible popularity (and incredible sales). Perhaps The Powers That Be wanted to replicate this success when they sent Walt "Sasquatch" Langkowski across Canada to recruit members to a new Alpha Flight. Or they may have been paying homage to Claremont's and Cockrum's story in X-Men #94. OR maybe the Marvel Universe has gotten so big and its history so complex that no one drew the parallel between the stories.

Still, "Alpha Flight: You Gotta Be Kiddin' Me!" was a successful collection of 6 comics that showed the potential for this new team (team of heroes, and the team of its creators as well). The interplay demonstrated between the new (and borrowed) characters for this new team is well done and bodes well for future stories. I especially enjoyed watching the characters and the narrator flirt with the 4th wall they may not talk to the reader directly, but they are certainly aware that they are in a comic book, with its storytelling strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies.

The thing I didn't like about the story were the characters names and often, their origins. Yukotujakzurjimozoata?? (shortened to "Yukon Jack") From a secret civilization in Canada's west? C'mon, how many such things can exist in the Marvel Universe, especially in someplace like Canada? "Womangirl?" Seriously? And her "superhero father" background seems to dovetail too closely with the new Major Mapleleaf's "superhero father" backstory.

Despite its imperfections, I think this series has some potential and I look forward to future stories.

RATING: 3 1/2 stars, rounded up to 4 stars where 1/2 stars are not permitted.


An Alphabet of Celebrities
An Alphabet of Celebrities
Author: Oliver Herford
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 4/9/2015


In An Alphabet of Celebrities, writer and artist Oliver Herford attempts a more sophisticated look at the traditional alphabet book. Aimed at a literate adult rather than the more traditional pre-schooler, this alphabet incorporates famed individuals real and fictitious from art, literature, science, politics with a cut-off point of 1900. The short poems are whimsical, selecting from an entire thesaurus of words while still retaining a recognizable rhythm, and the accompanying drawings are also quite well done.

Further, the author (a) included an index in which each participant in the 26 poems are listed with the poem in which they are featured, their hand-drawn image, and a brief 2 or 3 short sentences biography. There is also a short glossary, just in case anyone has problems with the words that Mr. Herford selected for this volume.

On the other hand

There were plenty of little annoyances with this book. To begin with, I did NOT know who many of the individuals were, and was constantly flipping to and from the index in order to find out. (Few if any are identified by anything other tha first name OR last name OR title.) I would have preferred that this feature accompany the text rather than be inserted after it. (Conversely, the poem itself is reprinted in the Index but using a font size far too small for this reader to make out without a magnifying glass. There was plenty of white space don't skimp on the ink next time!)

I appreciate the author codifying a set of rules for the characters included in his rhymes. I wish he had actually included a prologue listing those criteria, rather than having the publisher add it to the back cover blurb. Further, I wish the author would have added one additional rule be consistent with the selection by LAST NAME (unless the individual had none, or was commonly known ONLY by first name). O IS for Oliver, but why did you not include him under C for Cromwell? And TITLES?? C'mon, Kaiser? Queen? You could have opted for different celebrities in those cases. (Admittedly, Q would be tough - Quisling didn't come into play until World War II, while Dan Quayle and the Quaid brothers are even more current, but how about Quasimodo? I think the book would have been a bit more of a challenge BUT more rewarding in the end had the author maintained a bit higher guiding writing principle.

In the end, it's just an entertaining piece of fluff, but we all need something like that from time to time.

RATING: 4 stars.

DISCLOSURE: This book was provided free of charge by the publisher without obligation although I'm sure they and the author will appreciate an unbiased posted review, and will be grateful (or perhaps relieved) that it is largely positive.


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Author: Michael Chabon
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 419
Review Date: 7/9/2016
Helpful Score: 1


Don Maclean's "American Pie" told the story of rock, from its roots in the mid-50s until the end of the 1960s. A lot happened in that 15 years, it took longer than the usual pop song to describe it all.

Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" tells the story of the early days of the comic books, from the early days of World War II (before the US got directly involved) until the mid 1950s. A lot happened in that 15 years, it took longer than the usual novel to describe it all. (Over 600 pages of text 26 hours when performed on audio book). Except it's not JUST about comic books. It's about an artist who dabbled in parlor magic and escapes and was able to use that training to escape Czechoslovakia during the Nazi's reign. It's about a would-be artist who finds his true calling in writing. AND ... it's about the legendary Golem, even if the beast's appearance is brief never lose sight of the fact his shadow falls on much of the action in this book.

I definitely enjoyed the aspects of the book that involved comic book history, (enjoying the cameos by some of the field's greats of those days) and the lives of the creators. I thought that time tale of the two's lives during the US involvement in World War II was a bit, um, out there. It just didn't seem to add to the story, and served as a lengthy diversion. (Yes, it affected the two but it just felt awkward to me.)

Overall, this was an incredible investment of my time but one which I found to be an investment, rather than a waste. Good job, Mr. Chabon.

RATING: 5 stars.


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