Kayote B. (kayote) - Reviews

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1066: The Year of the Conquest
1066: The Year of the Conquest
Author: David Howarth
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 20
Review Date: 4/5/2010


A description of the year England fell to the William the Norman Conqueror. He brings the life in England and in Normandy to life very well. At the end he does a nice job of describing how something that had been steady for generations was suddenly changed. I was impressed at his ability to draw in references (and do so clearly) without disrupting the flow of the narrative. I like knowing where the details are coming from, what's author's conjecture, but I also like it well interwoven. Howarth manages that well.

I was not that familiar with English history and I had no problem following along. The Viking raid I had never heard of and it was nice to have it be more than a footnote. My main complaint with the book is knowing how it ended and having it end that way. Were it fiction it would never end that way!


The 20-Minute Gardener : The Garden of Your Dreams Without Giving up Your Life, Your Job, or Your Sanity
Review Date: 4/18/2009


Ha! Who knew a gardening book could be interesting and highly entertaining? Even if you don't garden, if you have any interest in green things that grow (even if you aren't so much into growing them), I recommend this book.

This was a very entertaining book that preached being realistic in gardening. 20 minutes is enough. Pick things that can be done in 20 minutes, have a healthy sense of what you want to do (do that) what you don't (then don't) and define gardening so it fits in 20 minutes and you enjoy it.

They split yard work and gardening. They do have some hints for making yardwork less work, but it isn't the focus of the book. (Hire a teen, make sure you don't have to back up to mow the lawn--if you do, move whatever it is or plant something else so you don't).

I was interested in their discussion of weeds, though I still am not going to eat mine. It was useful to be reminded the main problem with weeds is the soil is always disturbed. If it wasn't, then eventually non-weeds would take over.

They had quite a few 20 minute projects. I'm not convinced yet by the tubs. If I have to dig/store plants over winter I'm not doing it. On the other hand, the evening garden is fascinating and I might do that. I can put a trellis out back.

The author's play off each other. One is a horticulturist, the other is a city-transplant. I'm more on the city-transplant attitude (You want me to do what?! No, I'm not watering every day if it means hauling four hoses out every time. Why designs, can't we just plant something?)

I giggled through the book, learned some stuff, gained some motivation, and am now looking for two more books. Another copy of this one for my father-in-law, and a copy of their composting book because I think it would also be a hoot to read!


The 20-Minute Gardener : The Garden of Your Dreams Without Giving up Your Life, Your Job, or Your Sanity
Review Date: 4/18/2009
Helpful Score: 1


Ha! Who knew a gardening book could be interesting and highly entertaining? Even if you don't garden, if you have any interest in green things that grow (even if you aren't so much into growing them), I recommend this book.

This was a very entertaining book that preached being realistic in gardening. 20 minutes is enough. Pick things that can be done in 20 minutes, have a healthy sense of what you want to do (do that) what you don't (then don't) and define gardening so it fits in 20 minutes and you enjoy it.

They split yard work and gardening. They do have some hints for making yardwork less work, but it isn't the focus of the book. (Hire a teen, make sure you don't have to back up to mow the lawn--if you do, move whatever it is or plant something else so you don't).

I was interested in their discussion of weeds, though I still am not going to eat mine. It was useful to be reminded the main problem with weeds is the soil is always disturbed. If it wasn't, then eventually non-weeds would take over.

They had quite a few 20 minute projects. I'm not convinced yet by the tubs. If I have to dig/store plants over winter I'm not doing it. On the other hand, the evening garden is fascinating and I might do that. I can put a trellis out back.

The author's play off each other. One is a horticulturist, the other is a city-transplant. I'm more on the city-transplant attitude (You want me to do what?! No, I'm not watering every day if it means hauling four hoses out every time. Why designs, can't we just plant something?)

I giggled through the book, learned some stuff, gained some motivation, and am now looking for two more books. Another copy of this one for my father-in-law, and a copy of their composting book because I think it would also be a hoot to read!


The 80 Proof Cookbook: An Introduction to Cooking With High Spirits
Review Date: 12/6/2009


Sounded really good. After several recipes, not so impressed. The Tequila Chicken was good, once we put it in a burrito. Served as directed it was simply Tequila--the chicken kinda got lost. Same thing with the whiskey and the squash. I was looking for recipes where the spirit complimented the rest of the dish, not dishes that tasted like the spirit with different textures. We tried three or four dishes and liked one of them (and one I modified into being decent leftovers). The ones we didn't like we really didn't like.


The A.B.C. Murders (Hercule Poirot, Bk 12) (aka The Alphabet Murders)
The A.B.C. Murders (Hercule Poirot, Bk 12) (aka The Alphabet Murders)
Author: Agatha Christie
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 86
Review Date: 1/4/2006


As usual, Christie presents a fascinating puzzle, where the obvious answer isn't, but the obvious clue which tells you it isn't isn't recognized as such. I don't like the narrator--I prefer Poirot stories without his dear friend and chronicler partially because I prefer 3rd person and partially because I am not fond of this narrator's side comments. The narrator wasn't too intrusive in this book, though, and the mystery was quite enjoyable overall.


The Adventure of  Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother
The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother
Author: Gilbert Pearlman
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 1.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 4/6/2010


I missed the fact this was a novelization (novelleaation?) of a movie script; for some reason I thought it went the other way despite being based on the screenplay right on the cover. Ah well!

It was..somewhat amusing. I'm not all that sure I'd enjoy the movie either. The humor was there, but so over the top as to fall flat for me. It was at least short, so it's amusing parts were close together.

I suspect if you enjoy the over-the-top not-quite-slapstick-but-close humor, you'll enjoy this. It's verbal as well as slapstick, but just not my thing.


After the Funeral: The Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses
After the Funeral: The Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses
Author: Edwin Murphy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 11/1/2008
Helpful Score: 2


*laugh* There are so many books I received before this one, but I couldn't resist starting this one. And I couldn't stop, I had to keep reading. I really intended to put it aside and finish it later, but it kept calling to me.

This was a fascinating, sometimes horrifying (in the "oh my word, they did WHAT?" way), often amusing book. It journals the trials and travels of famous corpses, and corpse bits. Heads, hearts, ashes, as well as the entire body are traced through all sorts of odd and strange events.

The reasoning behind the corpse-stealing, the head-hunting, etc is fascinating. Sometimes the enemies stole the body. Sometimes the friends did. Sometimes random guards did. A peaceful burial is not guarnteed!

The writing style was smooth and easy to read, giving enough information to keep it interesting, but not so much the stories bogged down. I do wish the author hadn't felt the need to italize "after the funeral" every time he used it, but that's a minor point. And he just couldn't resist a pun here and there, but there were not too many....just enough that when you let your guard down, another appeared!


Aku-Aku
Aku-Aku
Author: Thor Heyerdahl
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 11/2/2005


This was an account of the author's archeological expedition to Easter Island, and mentions of trips to a couple other nearby islands.

Unfortunately, unlike Kon-Tiki (the author's other book), this is basically a flat telling of what occurred. It would have been better if he'd actually stuck to chronological order. In a couple places he doubled back in time ("while the last week and a half of lots of things described was going on there was also this REALLY BIG thing I haven't mentioned at all....") so the reader has to try to fit the pieces into order. I didn't see any reason the night visits and such couldn't have been interwoven with the rest of the story, or that the coming of the ship (and delays and such) couldn't have been put in their place alongside the statue. I think it would have read not only clearer, but would have lent a bit more interest to the reading of the tale.

I have to agree with the author's Aku-Aku who accuses him of sticking to nothing but facts and not thinking. The book seems to be heavy on the facts and antidotes of random islanders, but it doesn't leave me feeling as if I've really learned that much. Kon-Tiki was a fascinating account of life on a raft with historical information as well. I would think they learned more from the archeological dig, but rarely gave any historical context or helped the reader feel as amazed as they were as it was dug up. I was never pulled into the story.

The visit to one of the other islands (I'm not clear why they were tacked onto the end of the book, but I did like the one), where the women worked because the men had been told all paid workers went on strike, so they went on strike, was fun. I do wonder why he HAD to call them vahines instead of women. I am sure it's an island term, but I'm sure there are other island terms he translated. :P

It wasn't a bad book, but Kon-Tiki was much much better. I do feel like I know more about Easter Island, and the statues they dug up I've never heard of, so that was interesting. Lots more is known about that island than I remember learning.


Ale & Beer
Ale & Beer
Author: Alan D. Butcher
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 12/12/2008
Helpful Score: 2


An interesting, but inconsistent book. The beginning was good, the last part was good, the middle was long. His discussions of the origins of beer (who knows?) seemed solid, and his tracing of Temperance, if a bit biased (c'mon, it's about beer) had some really good points and brought in both Canadian and United States Prohibition and the ways around it. Temperance in England was also detailed, and the problems temperance caused itself by being a code-name for prohibition, rather than actual restraint.

The middle, though, was not very memorable. I think he repeated himself on the drinking vessels, and contradicted himself on Queen Victoria's opinion on the strength of her drink. I didn't go back to double check. He did get better with the side-comments as the book went on. Early on they came out of nowhere and were jarring in the flow of the book. By the end he had more deftly woven history and opinion together to make them read smoothly.

If you are interested in ale & beer & history, you'll probably enjoy the book. If you are interested in history, you'll probably find it a bit long, but still interesting.


All About April: Our Little Girl Grows Up!: A For Better or For Worse Special Edition (For Better Or for Worse)
Review Date: 1/26/2009


This is one of the weaker For Better or For Worse books.

I really liked Remembering Farley, another FBoFW special edition, and I had hoped for similar from this one.

However, I found the author's commentary to only mildly add to the book this time (there were comments about things that didn't make it into the strip--one thing I do like about FBoFW is the artist knows what is going on even when the strip can only show one window into it). This was more "And now she's 6. 6 is great. Better than 5" rather than pulling me more into the story. It was nice to realize her interest in animals started so early--a constant in the character that varied over time.

Admittedly, April has never been my favorite character (I don't dislike her, but didn't connect with her either, unlike the other leads & many supporting). Seeing her story all in one book didn't help this--it was too much. Especially since it ended when she turned 10--I was very disappointed, though it was already long. It wasn't until after that I grew to enjoy the character more.

It's FBoFW so I enjoyed the book, but not as much as I usually do. I think April is better enjoyed throughout the strips and after she gets a bit older. Not a good choice for a special edition.


America on Six Rubles a Day  or  How to Become a Capitalist Pig
America on Six Rubles a Day or How to Become a Capitalist Pig
Author: Yakov Smirnoff
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 8/2/2006
Helpful Score: 1


Amusing. I liked his commentary on America. His jokes on Russia were repetative.


American Wildflowers-1992 Calendar
Review Date: 2/13/2006


Beautiful color pictures of wildflowers.


America's last wild horses
America's last wild horses
Author: Hope Ryden
Book Type: Unknown Binding
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 5/11/2006


From the back: "This is the dramatic, moving, and little-known story of the wild horse in America beginning with his escape from the Conquistadors to his persecuted life today."


And if You Play Golf, You're My Friend: Further Reflections of a Grown Caddie
Review Date: 2/13/2009


I skimmed parts of the book, since I don't know (or care) about the intricacies of golf swings. Admittedly, the author thinks most pros overly complicate them as well.

However, even saying that, I enjoyed the book. This surprised me, since it was about golf. The authors have a good tone--I felt often like I was sitting at a dinner table swapping stories. Good enough story teller to make them interesting even when the apparent subject matter (golf) was not. He has a good sense of humor as well.

Much of what he talks about is life more than golf. The problems with golf are often found outside the swing--be they from poor teachers, mental blocks, practice requirements, behavior, etc.

I really liked the point he made that if you don't play as well as the rest of your group--just play. As long as you aren't holding everyone else up, the rest won't mind you aren't as good. Don't yell and scream and complain, just play.

Whether you are interested in golf or not, it's a nice light book. If you like golf you would probably enjoy it even more.


And If You Play Golf, You're My Friend: Furthur Reflections of a Grown Caddie
Review Date: 2/13/2009
Helpful Score: 1


(this review is for the hardback version, I am making the assumption they are the same). I skimmed parts of the book, since I don't know (or care) about the intricacies of golf swings. Admittedly, the author thinks most pros overly complicate them as well.

However, even saying that, I enjoyed the book. This surprised me, since it was about golf. The authors have a good tone--I felt often like I was sitting at a dinner table swapping stories. Good enough story teller to make them interesting even when the apparent subject matter (golf) was not. He has a good sense of humor as well.

Much of what he talks about is life more than golf. The problems with golf are often found outside the swing--be they from poor teachers, mental blocks, practice requirements, behavior, etc.

I really liked the point he made that if you don't play as well as the rest of your group--just play. As long as you aren't holding everyone else up, the rest won't mind you aren't as good. Don't yell and scream and complain, just play.

Whether you are interested in golf or not, it's a nice light book. If you like golf you would probably enjoy it even more.


Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, Bk 1)
Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, Bk 1)
Author: Dan Brown
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 3674
Review Date: 9/19/2010


Overall my reaction is "eh, so it goes". The book seemed to just follow the sleuth as he gets drug around rather than him actually being an active involvement. Look, here's a symbol. Look, here's a body. Look, look, here's a great big pointer! The red herring was reasonably well done (though overdone a bit, as well. I like having things stacked against the wrong character, I don't like having them so shoved at me and the real bad guys hidden quite so well--the point it bothered me was the actions of some of the guards), and I didn't figure out who the bad guy was until late. On the other hand, the hero basically had to have the bad guy handed to him before he figured it out either.

I know it isn't a mystery, it's a thriller, but I still felt the story took place in spite of the main character, which made it harder to be drawn in. He needs more active involvement and less "Oh! Look! I will solve a generations old mystery! In five minutes despite working on it for years!"

Not bad, not great. I also didn't really like the ending with the female lead after looking at the description of The Da Vinci Code and finding it has a different female lead. Not that I'm surprised, but I find it unneeded and irrelevant to the story.


Another Weird Year : Bizarre News Stories from Around the World
Another Weird Year : Bizarre News Stories from Around the World
Author: Huw Davies
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 11/12/2006


Very weird! (and funny.)


Anxiety
Anxiety
Author: Bonnie Timmons
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 11/17/2010


A collection of cartoons all related to anxiety and various causes of anxiety. Kinda cute, fast read, but I don't see it as something I'd reread.


Apollo: An Outer Space Economic Adventure
Apollo: An Outer Space Economic Adventure
Author: Barry Asmus
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 1/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 4/17/2011


This is an economics lesson thinly disguised in a children's book. It does a passable job at the disguise.

I am, however, left in a quandary as to what to do with my copy. I have a degree in economics. Some of his simplifications make perfect sense in order to make it clear and easy for kids.

Some, however, are just flat out dangerous and I have real issues with giving this book to a kid to read out of concern they will adopt them. (I also believe they are part of the reason the book was written--to push them onto kids).

1) That private property can be delineated that clearly. It does not make sense for one to be able to do ANYTHING with their own private property. Say a river runs through my land and into yours. Can I dump my poison in "my" river even though it then goes into yours? Can I pull all the fish out of "my" river? Can I dam it up and make everyone else's land barren due to lack of water?

It's all nice to say you can do anything "as long as it doesn't impinge on someone else's private property" but the emphasis is on the former and the latter is not nearly as clear cut as the book implies.

2) If everyone participates in the free market everything works out fine.

Even Adam Smith, who is credited with the "invisible hand" and laissie fair economics, didn't think that two business owners should be allowed in a room without a worker present to watch them.

Their "guide" wouldn't be available to guide them around if this had been pre-child-labor laws on Earth. When the corporation is large it holds all the power in labor negotiations.

Similarly, while creative destruction IS good, and we shouldn't try to hang on to obsolete industry, will banks pay for individual training? Not usually--so what do the displaced workers do? What do their kids do if there is no public eduction (here we start the cycle of poverty).

While I agree health insurance and care in this country is insane, the simplistic way he deals with them in the book annoys me. I noted the (paraphrased) "Most of our money went to pay for my health care" comment. Well,that could have kept them from returning home. What if she'd had an ongoing problem?

It's very nice the entire community came together at the end, but I am not convinced in general that would happen. Especially for ongoing problems.

Also, governments are very needed for public goods. There are tolls for the roads (that's fine), but who keeps the trees from all being cut down? (Private property again, but they serve a use for keeping the air clean for everybody). There is apparently no conflict on Mises, so no police are needed. Apparently everyone can afford to educate their kids (Thoug no kids appear to be in school..hmm?)--nice utopia. Public goods ARE the reason for government in most economics, and he ignores them completely and attempts to dismiss all of government.
---
Passable kid's story. Dangerous attempt at a indoctrinating a particular view of economics with some really invalid aspects.


At Home: A Short History of Private Life
At Home: A Short History of Private Life
Author: Bill Bryson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 9/21/2017


It wasn't really a history and it was very loosely tied to the house he was supposedly using to trace history. It was also very dense. The first third was mostly about Victorian England the next chunk about the Gilded Age in the US and then bounced around for the rest. It didn't so much trace the history of anything as jump to a single slice in time and use it to (sometimes with the barest of connections) jump off into some historical side that didn't always relate to the room or anything in it well. I had expected more of the history of things in the room or the room itself, not a single-snapshot of something about the room and then an unrelated history lesson. Very dense, very weighty, but not really what it describes itself as and lacking cohesion. I don't regret reading it, but I can't really recommend it either--and certainly not to anyone who wants what is described on the back!


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