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Review Date: 7/15/2012
Helpful Score: 1
I stopped reading about half-way through, just to be able to say I gave it a fair shake. It was pretty much the same stuff over and over. It read like a biography with some gore added to make it paranormal fiction. My bottom line is that if I want to read a biography of Abe Lincoln, I'll get a real biography where I can be fairly sure that the events chronicled probably happened; and if I want to read a vampire story I'll read something other than this book.
Review Date: 7/10/2016
I don't usually read cozy mysteries so i don't know how good this is considered for a cozy. I gave it a 3.5 out of 5 primarily because it held my interest and I finished it. It was cute, the first Agatha Raisin murder mystery I've ever read so I didn't know what to expect. I expect that Agatha is the kind of character that really grows on you over time so I'll probably read another one. I think there are at least 22 of them. She is an amateur detective in a small English village, near London, I think. She has assisted the police solve murders before. She seems to have a knack for figuring things out and more often than not gets herself into some serious predicaments. In this case, a beloved curate is murdered in the village. It becomes clear to Agatha, though, that the curate was not as great as everyone, particularly the women he fleeced out of their money, seemed to think. As the investigation progresses and Agatha uncovers more ugly secrets, the bodies begin to pile up. Agatha nearly joins the pile but all's well that ends well.
Review Date: 10/1/2017
Reference to the words Alas Babylon can be found in The King James Bible, Revelations chapter 18, verses 9 & 10: as follows: 9)And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, 10) Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
Alas, Babylon tells a riveting story of a massive nuclear attack and how a small community of people in Florida survives when millions of others perish. What makes this book chilling is that it was written in 1959 at the height of the former Cold War. In the book, the Russians are the perpetrators of this apocalyptic event and, oh, gee, it is the Russians who are currently alleged to be behind serious hacking charges and meddling in America. Randy Bragg is a young man living on the family estate in Fort Repose, FL. His older brother, Mark, is an officer high up in the US government and privvy to information indicating that a nuclear attack is imment. He sends his wife, Helen, and kids from Nebraska to live with Randy, along with money and instructions to prepare as best he can in the short time left to them. Randy takes the warning seriously and stocks up on nonperishable food and other goods that will not be available from that point on. On the morning of "The Day" the Braggs, along with several close community members/friends, witness the end of their way of life for the foreseeable future in the form of several nuclear mushroom clouds indicating the obliteration of various military bases around Florida. The community of Fort Repose is cut off from the rest of the world as radio goes permanently off the air, electricity, running water and essentially modern civilization dies. Although this story is set in the late 50s, it shows that no matter the era, in a catastrophe, people behave according to their gifts and natures, from giving all to save family/mankind to becoming absolutely degenerate monsters.
As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. What I enjoy most about this book is the ingenuity demonstrated as people learn or rediscover ways and means of survival. I read these kinds of stories, not to scare myself (which does happen when I see where the world political picture is heading presently) but to learn things I may not know that will help me survive a catastrophe.
Review Date: 1/4/2014
Helpful Score: 1
I was disappointed with the choices made by the author in the ending. I just didn't see it coming.
Review Date: 9/19/2013
I started to read it and found that I am more squeamish than I expected. What I did read was very good and if I could have made it through the details of decaying corpses and anatomy, I think I would have enjoyed the story. As it is, I am happy to pass it on to a surgeon friend of mine.
Review Date: 3/23/2016
In reading this book from a 2016 point of reference, one has to keep in mind at all times that this novel was written in 1949....before television but during radio. Social mores were far different 60+ years ago, technology vastly different. So I tried to read it from a 1949 point of view with a blind eye toward more modern ideas. My attention was immediately captured by a Biblical quote on the title page, "Men go and come, but earth abides." (Ecclesiastes 1:4). This really sums up the book. Earth Abides tells the story of the fall of civilization from deadly disease and mankind's struggle to rebuild. Whole populations are wiped out. With such a severe shortage of highly educated, highly skilled people, will man be able to rebuild what he had before? Without the care and nurturing of man, how will his near-total absence affect the animals/natural world he controlled? The author wants us to consider that survival is not necessarily of the fittest and civilization may or not be rebuilt based on the skill sets of the people who survived. Will man move forward toward a technological civilization or backward in time to the hunter-gatherer society of ancestors? These are pretty hefty ideas to chew on, moreso because of being written in the late 40s. When you read it, don't get hung up on the l940's language. Go beyond that to the underlying message that, as above, "Men go and come, but earth abides."
Overall, I enjoyed this book, which I had read before about 30 years ago. I can overlook a lot of differences because it was written so long ago, but one thing that bothered me was.....where did all the dead people go? If almost everyone is wiped out, there should be piles and piles of dead bodies. Ish (the main character) does encounter areas where there are dead people but not in the numbers that a plague would necessarily leave behind. Other than that, I recommend Earth Abides to anyone who appreciates post-apocolyptic fiction with a slightly archaic flavor.
Review Date: 1/29/2016
I certainly had my eyes opened! I mean, who doesn't know that while sublimely satisfying eating a triple cheeseburger, salty fries and a mocha frappe is not healthful eating? But do you really know why, beyond the obvious? From one point of view reading this book made me feel that there is a huge conspiracy afoot to make becoming overweight inevitable. The author explains how our brains can be trained or "conditioned" to want to eat certain types of foods containing fat, sugar and salt....insatiable cravings for MORE. The disturbing part is where the manufacturers seem to be well aware of the consequences of creating a nation of overeaters....and they continue to look for more ways of hooking the consumer. We are bombarded every minute with cues and temptations to have foods such as a burger, fry and shake (fat, salt and sugar.) Americans are as conditioned to overeat as Pavlov's dogs. I understand why there are 12-step groups focused on overeating because food CAN be addictive, in fact, it is designed to be. Shouldn't that be a crime? To deliberately, knowingly lure people into an addiction? For money. We put drug dealers behind bars for the very same thing!
To quote the author, "Chronic exposure to highly palatable foods changes our brains, conditioning us to seek continued stimulation. Over time a powerful drive for sugar, fat and salt competes with our conscious capacity to say no" He advocates "Food Rehab." Mr. Kessler maintains that the cycle of food addiction can be broken following these steps:
1. Figure out your cues. Food cues, situational cues, all of them.
2. Refuse everything you can't control.
3. Create an alternate plan with a specific behaviour to adopt in place of what normally would be conditioned hypereating.
4. Limit your exposure.
5. Remember the stakes. When faced with a situation that may involve conditioned overeating ensure that your visualization takes you all the way through to the inevitable end of the eating episode where you acknowledge that following momentary pleasure may come the pain of guilt or depression or the simple fact of it being counterproductive to your health.
6. Reframe things in terms of you vs. them. Kessler calls this active resistance. Recognize that Big Food is out to get you and try to see food in those terms.
7. Thought stopping. Try to stop your food related thoughts dead in their tracks.
8. Add negative associations to your normal cues.
9. Talk down the urge. Approach it with rationale thoughts. "Eating this will only satisfy me momentarily", "If I eat this I'll demonstrate that I can't break free".
Bottom line, though, is that even though "Big Food" created and sustains the problem, it is ultimately our own responsibility to stop it, or at least control our own addiction.
Review Date: 11/19/2010
Helpful Score: 2
Well, its better than listening to ESPN in the car...
Review Date: 7/6/2016
Helpful Score: 1
I actually saw the movie several years before I read the book. This is one of those classics, a book one acquires extra copies of to share as meaningful gifts. Within the first few pages the author had a firm grip on my heartstrings and kept tugging throughout the story until my heart absolutely broke.
In pre-WW2 England, hundreds of children were evacuated from London and re-distributed throughout the English countryside in an effort to keep them safe from German bombing. Willie Beech, an abused 9-year-old boy, finds himself in the charge of Tom Oakley in Little Weirwold. Tom, a gruff old widower, has been grieving the death of his young wife and infant son for 40 years. He is doing his national duty,' though, by accepting Willie into his house, which is near a church. The proximity of the church is a particular stipulation of his mother, who is a religious fanatic as well as being mentally unstable. When Willie arrives in Little Weirwold he is weak and timorous, sporting bodily evidence of ferocious beatings with the brown leather strap which is included in his knapsack. His mother regularly beats Willie because he is an inherently "bad boy." The strap, viewed with repugnance by Tom, is, to Willie's amazement, swiftly disposed of and never seen again. Tom cares for Willie as he recovers his health, teaching the boy what it means to be a happy healthy child. This experience serves the double purpose of healing Mr. Tom's emotional wounds as well. The two form a bond that runs very deep.
Six months later, Willie's mom sends for him to return to London and the separation from not only Tom but the entire village of Little Weirwold is heart-rending. Time passes and Tom receives no response to letters he has sent Willie in London to keep in touch. Instinctively, Tom knows that all is not well, and indeed something is dreadfully wrong. With his amazing dog Sammy, Tom makes the long journey to London arriving in the midst of much confusion and bombing by German planes. Tom and Sammy do find Willie, and in the nick of time it would seem.
His mother has disappeared, having completely lost her mind, leaving Willie chained inside a tiny closet in the squalid apartment. He has been there for days with no food or water, clutching the body of his baby sister who died of starvation while Willie held her. Willie is covered with bruises and sores, emotionally shocked beyond reason. Tom gently brings him out of the closet and stays by his side as medical help arrives. As Tom is not a relative and therefore without rights as far as Willie's care is concerned, he must resort to kidnapping to rescue the boy from admittance to an institutional Children's Home. Tom whisks Willie home to Little Weirwold and slowly, so slowly, brings him back from the horror-filled depths to which he has sunk.
Although a classic children's story, Good Night, Mr. Tom has much to offer readers of any age: lessons in life, love, loss, death and above all the horrors of child abuse. It is a worthwhile glimpse into pre-WW2 England, country and city, and what the miracle of love can achieve.
Review Date: 6/29/2016
I really enjoyed this book. It felt like two books in one: a romance novel and an adventure story. Neither theme depended on the other yet the romance and adventure blended to make a very readable book. The author tells the story of Tarzan we are all familiar with but from Jane's viewpoint.
This book is the ONLY Tarzan book ever approved for publication by the Edgar Rice Burroughs' estate. In the course of looking up some background info, I learned there is a list of rules, called the Tarzan Universe', criteria a manuscript must meet. Rule 17 states that Tarzan could not engage in premarital sex. Maxwell successfully defended the tasteful inclusion of material that was essential to the romance aspect.
The story was written in a style reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs, keeping in mind that it takes place in 1912 so there is an expectation of a certain style of language. From the first, Jane Porter is portrayed as a highly intelligent and independent woman, her father's partner in the search for Darwin's Missing Link.' There is a villain, of course, Ral Conrath, who organizes the Porters' expedition to Africa. Conrath's true colors are eventually revealed necessitating Jane's rescue by Tarzan. This is the point where the story really takes off. Jane discovers Tarzan's wonderful jungle home, a whole new world, a tremendously freeing experience. Jane is introduced to Tarzan's adoptive jungle family, which turns out to be Darwin's missing link. I won't spoil the story by describing what happens but both the romance and the adventure rachet upward to a satisfying conclusion.
Review Date: 5/23/2015
I didn't dislike the book but I didn't really "like" it either, sort of a 5 out of 10. I could read it but just as easily put it down. Clay didn't grab my interest. Kat was more interesting to me as a character. I was able to marginally follow the tech talk as that sort of thing is of interest to me. The technical aspect was one reason I swapped the book rather than keep it as I knew for certain that my technology-challenged significant other would not enjoy the book at all. And perhaps the most shallow detail of all......the thing I enjoyed most was the glow-in-the dark dust jacket! Cool!
Review Date: 5/29/2016
Author Sam Keith has taken thoughts and photos from Richard Proenneke's daily journals and woven them all together in a veritable wealth of reflection. Mr. Proenneke was flown into a remote Alaskan wilderness where he lived off the land in a wilderness setting in near total self sufficiency. He built his log cabin and many other useful articles from materials he prepared himself; he fed himself from nature's pantry with supplemental supplies periodically flown in. His journals provide a glimpse of a reflective, secure individual completely at ease in the wilderness. If you are looking for thrills and adventure this is not the book for you. If, however, you relish quiet glimpses into the daily musings of a wilderness DIY expert, then you will enjoy this book.
Review Date: 10/8/2012
Helpful Score: 2
I enjoyed reading this book. I found myself comparing it to other post-apocalyptic stories such as Alas, Babylon (c1959) and Dies the Fire (2004?), both of which I found to be better written and have more depth. However, when I started thinking in terms of "made for TV movie" as opposed to "feature film" the author achieved an entertaining yet thought-provoking story. It is a quick read and just scary enough to stick in your mind awhile.
Review Date: 10/26/2015
Twenty-four years ago, every parent's nightmare comes true----a young girl is abducted and murdered. The man convicted of the crime uncovers new evidence that secures his release from a life sentence in prison. The District Attorney, however, is not convinced by this new evidence. He persuades Mickey Haller, well-known defense attorney, to cross the aisle' and accept the challenge of retrying the killer. The addition of Haller's half-brother, Detective Harry Bosch of the LAPD, to the prosecution team brings two of Michael Connolly's greatest characters together in the fight against an evil killer as he attempts to make fools of them all.
Throughout, I enjoyed the courtroom drama that unfolds as defense and prosecution lawyers argue their cases. Tension and a sense of urgency builds as it becomes clear to Detective Bosch that Jason Jessup, probably a serial predator, is planning something nefarious that could have serious repercussions. Bosch's tenaciousness in not relaxing his vigilance in his search for the truth contributes the crucial deductive element that ultimately brings it all together at the end.
Review Date: 4/20/2016
I enjoyed this historical murder mystery which takes place in 1750s London. The main character is Agnes Meadowes, head cook in the household of a well-to-do silversmith. As if planning and preparing multiple-course meals from scratch weren't enough, Agnes is also an amateur sleuth. She puts her keen mind to work tracking down thieves who not only stole a very expensive silver wine cooler from her employer but murdered a young apprentice as well. Not long after, one of the kitchen maids disappears only to be discovered murdered, She needs to dig deep to find out who took the wine cooler. Is this crime connected to Rose's murder? Is she herself in danger? There is a sense of urgency added when her young son Peter is kidnapped by person(s) unknown and Agnes must bring all her deductive skills to bear if she wants to save his life and her own.
I like this period of English history. Gleeson made an effort to reinforce the authenticity of her story in describing 18th century everyday life, cooking practices, foods and recipes. I didn't find it hard to follow nor exceptionally horrific. A nice read for those who enjoy historical mystery of a lighter nature.
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