Tatjana V. (tatjana) - Reviews

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100 Malicious Little Mysteries
Review Date: 6/27/2010
Helpful Score: 2


Another entry into the 100 little stories series.
This one was not the best one. Many of the stories suffered from editor fatigue or maybe editing intern fatigue. Most of the stories didn't allow the short-story format to shine. Roughly 10 of the stories made the foray into this anthology worthwhile, though not exactly satisfying. Mystery, the most popular genre after romance, becomes formulaic at the twitch of a corpse's finger. If you are a student of short-stories, or of writing, you may find this book an interesting exercise to figure out who may have started the formula for a given style of story (Christie, Doyle, Chandler, etc), or perhaps how to create a more satisfying version of the story that was presented. Either way, enjoy!


100 Vicious Little Vampire Stories
Review Date: 10/10/2009
Helpful Score: 3


I am savouring this book.
The short stories, for the most part, are delicious. The stories seem to have a limit of 1000 words. Anyone who appreciates the short story can imagine what a challenge it is to write something interesting with that kind of limit. When done well, stories like this can exhibit the best of talent. Like good film shorts or an excellent plate of tapas, short stories can leave you feeling full and satisfied.
These stories are like that.
They are especially scrumptious in this period of literature when a vampire is injected into any plot to make a book sell. Released 15 years ago, this book has stories from largely unknown authors. The stories range from clever to hysterically funny, but never range into sparkly, romantic or ho-hum vampires. They are witty and even relatively complex.

I hate to say it, but this is a keeper to devour repeatedly.

If you like sparkly vampires or books that rely on telling you what brand of shoe the heroine is wearing, you will absolutely hate this book. If you hate sparkly vampires, you will probably love this book.


Abject Terrors: Surveying the Modern And Postmodern Horror Film
Abject Terrors: Surveying the Modern And Postmodern Horror Film
Author: Tony Magistrale
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 1/21/2009
Helpful Score: 2


When I was in film school, Jungian, Marxist and Feminist theory were the thing. No one deconstructed *anything* using anything else. I was hoping, as time went by and people discovered Asian philosophy and, well, something else... that maybe there would be more to talk about.
Nope.
Still, Magistrale is smart and is academic without being incredible obscure or dry. I didn't always agree with him, but he has some interesting jumping off points for discussions. I would not pay $29.95 for this book, but then, I don't have to pay for some professor's bid for tenure.
Check it out at the library. Chew on it. Make up something new.


The Accidental Techie: Supporting, Managing, And Maximizing Your Nonprofit's Technology
Review Date: 1/25/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This book is for those of us who found ourselves, through our love/understanding of computers, as our small organization's de facto IT department. It gives one step-by-step information and resources about being effective in that role.

As one who entered and found myself floundering around because I had no idea where to begin in an organization that had no foundation for technology services. This was a miracle... even if you do not believe in miracles. I received this book in an interlibrary loan programme after doing a desperate keyword search on Amazon. No joke. I was completely overwhelmed. I thought, why the hell not? It was exactly what the doctor ordered. Everyone who is working for a smallish nonprofit needs this book. If only to realize you are not alone, you need this book.

The corresponding websites and forums alone are worth the price of the book. In spite of the age of the tome (2005), the information is not outdated. From advice as basic as, "Take an inventory of all of your machines with all of the software etc on them and keep a copy of it off site" to "Get involved with a local group of nonprofit techies who deal with CMSes and here's how to find one". There's a bit of information valuable to every level of experience.

It's rather like the precursor to a wiki. Indeed there is a wiki now that reflects the book itself.

Cheers, techie.


The Backyard Homestead: Produce All The Food You Need On Just A Quarter Acre!
Review Date: 10/3/2010
Helpful Score: 15


So often I find myself wondering, "But how do you get to this point?" while reading a book.

A good example is: Once, when reading instructions in a cookbook, I was told to zest a lemon. That stopped me cold. What in the world does that mean? Granted I grew up in the 70s and in a family where "haute cuisine" meant the chemicals in the boxes had more syllables than usual. Thank goodness I could turn to "the Joy of Cooking" for answers in those dark days before the internet had such common knowledge!

My frustration level gets pretty high with most gardening books. My parents didn't garden and everyone I know are struggling with gardens and incomplete information. Going to my local garden center, chances are high that they neither have the time nor thing information themselves. If you can get the local extension agent to give you a call/shoot you an email, my hat is off to you. I wish authors would stop recommending the latter option. I don't even think such a thing exists! Heck, I couldn't get a local Gardening Club to give me information!

Authors generally make assumptions that you know basics. Perhaps you have hung around enough homesteaders but you certainly you have enough vocabulary to have picked up *their* awesome book. Ms. Madigan does not make those assumptions. She merely assumes that you are smart enough to be interested in the urban/suburban/homesteading/microfarm movements but not that you have the vocabulary or access to people to teach that vocabulary to you without exorbitant fees.

Most of us didn't grow up on farms and most of us interested in this movement are trying to find a way to not be forced to buy so-called organic produce that is twice as expensive but just as tasteless as the regular produce (for example). As such, Ms. Madigan's succinct, accessible writing style fill in many of those basic skill gaps to give us a more informed jumping off point. A decent appendix includes a good number of resources to get more focused information in areas that interest you a bit more!


Barnyard in Your Backyard : A Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, and Cows
Review Date: 8/18/2014


This book is definitely a rank beginner's guide to raising livestock. As such you will find yourself growing out of it very quickly- as in soon after you start with your animals. I recommend adding other books like Storey's guides. I've found those more helpful. Some of the resources in the back are good, though you can probably check the book out from the library if you decide you want the book just for those.


Bend-the-Rules Sewing: The Essential Guide to a Whole New Way to Sew
Bend-the-Rules Sewing: The Essential Guide to a Whole New Way to Sew
Author: Amy Karol
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 14
Review Date: 2/1/2009
Helpful Score: 13


This book is great.

I had to edit my former review. I hate doing that, but I was a little... ok a lot off. I apologize. I'm upping the stars after actually trying three of the patterns.

I'm ignoring the baby stuff. There is a section of baby stuff in the back, but I'm just going to blithely never get to it... and possible get over myself, unless a friend has a kid I can't resist... Or I want to make a squirrel and cat puppet theatre for my dogs. By now, I'd actually considering it.

The non-baby crap is pretty spiffy. It has some great tips and shortcuts and some terrific way to think about making stuff that I'd not experienced before. That's not particularly difficult since I'm a novice sewing enthusiast. She comes from the point of view of an person who doesn't equate growing older with giving into lame mall products... and the wisdom of someone who really loves to make stuff with fabric and thread. It's an excellent addition to the trend of reclaiming craft and injecting it with a sense of freedom to make it subversive. Avoiding the mall has always been subversive.

Don't laugh, but I made cafe curtains, a round pillow, and a dog collar. By the time I got to the dog collar, I was actually improving upon the original design to suit my enormous, furry children. The illustrations and directions are very clear if you look at them. The writing is snappy and Amy has a great sense of humour.

I'll be keeping this one for a while
Sew on!


Review Date: 4/25/2009
Helpful Score: 2


Oh man, this book is lousy.

There was *no* editing. There is grammar you would not believe and appalling punctuation errors. Those errors loom like a shadow over each story. I take it back: it may have been edited by marmosets.

It gives the clear indication that the publishing group/marmosets in charge of this project only heard the registers at Barnes & Noble opening and closing repeatedly. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Frankly, the only stories worth reading are Harris and Davidson's and they were good enough to earn the two stars for the whole book. The other stories were a little like porn: really weak plots strung along with semi-graphic, not very imaginative sex. If you like that sort of thing, this phoned-in book is for you. I don't ask for much: a plot that suspends my disbelief a little and maybe a well-crafted phrase here and there. With that much complaint laid out, I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy Davidson's story. I'm not a fan of her longer work; however, this author's story won some respect for her writing chops. It's not utter genius, but it was enjoyable.

By contrast, the first story was so poorly written, I gave up part way through. Did I mention that there was no editor within miles of this book? Unless you really like those bodice-ripping, hair-grabbing affairs, skip this book in favor of one cared about enough to be looked at before being lobbed at the public.


Daughters of Madness: Growing Up and Older with a Mentally Ill Mother (Women's Psychology)
Review Date: 10/10/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This book, on first glimmer, seems academic.
In fact, I got it from a University library in an inter-library loan programme. I saw the very crisp, very white pages, footnotes, extensive bibliography and shuddered. It would take me a month to pour through it.
I was fooled.
Though the book is not written as a pop-psych classic usually is, it is a pleasant read. Susan Nathaniel, while clearly an educated counselor, is a lyrical writer. Within one chapter I was mesmerized, but not in that overly emotional, 12-step way. I was mesmerized by the stories of women who are very similar to me... they were my stories too.
Without the feeling of victimization, a sense of outrage or feeling sorry for one's self, this book offers a refreshing sense of kinship with others. I felt I was not alone but I didn't feel the heavy heart that usually makes me stop reading a pop-psych book half-way in. I don't want to know how Jillian's mom locked her in the closet and now she has multiple personalities that she brought together by fasting and using coffee enemas... or whatever.
I wanted to continue to feel ok that I got a crappy hand. That LOTS of people get a crappy hand, but I didn't want to feel as though I should have been sitting in my closet crying over it. If you aren't a victim and you want a factual, documentary-style (okay, it's slanted towards the daughters, but maintains pretty darned good balance!) book that makes you feel like you aren't a complete freak, this is a great book for you.


The Deportees: and Other Stories
The Deportees: and Other Stories
Author: Roddy Doyle
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 1/27/2010
Helpful Score: 1


This book was based on a project wherein Mr. Doyle wrote the sections of each story in 800-word monthly installments "for a multicultural newspaper, Metro Eireann, published in Dublin by two Nigerian journalists". Mind you, Ireland used to produce immigrants, not recruit them. I've heard the Irish referred to by Continental Europeans in the same manner you might here an Texan speak about Mexicans. Mr. Doyle, in his brilliant dialogue that slices through to the truth of the vignette, allows the reader to experience the confusions and partial understanding of the characters. His stories are about relationships or the lack of them, while the setting is left for you to fill in with your own crayons. If you like the shorter, more expressionist style, this book is for you. If you prefer full floral description of details, you will hate this book. It was one of the best books I read last year.


Disease Prevention and Treatment
Disease Prevention and Treatment
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/3/2010
Helpful Score: 3


Our library received this book as a donation. In the spirit of full-disclosure, I have auto-immune issues and am both leery and curious about such books. Anything with Life Extension Foundation sounds to me like scientology meets naturopathy in an accident. Honestly I expected a good laugh at circulation and was instantly surprised to confronted with academic language, citations and context for alternative treatments, not to mention the chemistry and biology of the different diseases or several theories being researched. Now, they did also push their products... but only in the section summaries.

More curious, I checked out the book and spent a few days reading about my illnesses and others. Cross-referencing the recommendations and warnings, I made a list of supplements that could do no wrong (B vitamins, C Vitamins, etc) and plunked down the cash for them. I felt a difference within a couple of days.

No one could be as surprised as I was.

Now, I can't say that I'll throw down my cane and go clubbing (I don't always use a cane and the only clubbing I do is defensive.), but I feel better. So I'd love to get my hands on a copy of this beast, and if you are interested in alternative treatments and just generally getting a handle on your disease etiology you should get one too. It probably won't cure you, but it just might make you feel a little better. For a lot of us, that is almost as good. Enjoy.


The Dog Whisperer: A Compassionate, Nonviolent Approach to Training
Review Date: 7/19/2010
Helpful Score: 2


Paul Owens is terrific.
Sure, Cesar Milan is flashy and great on TV, but Paul Owens can teach you to help your dog succeed in a monkey world in the first 5 minutes of reading... or watching one of his DVDs. I've been working with my dogs for years (successfully), but this is the first time I have seen methods work in minutes.
I just moved overseas and started having trouble with one of my dogs who was suddenly very insecure (understandably!). Paul Owens' books were in the library rather than Cesar Milan's. I'm not dissing Cesar; I have used the same methods.
My dog immediately improved. I have to be diligent, but she's getting better every day!I have to say, I haven't use the clicker yet. Lots of people believe in it and Owens recommends it, but I just haven't found one here yet.
:P


Extreme Paranoia: Nobody Knows the Trouble I'Ve Shot!
Extreme Paranoia: Nobody Knows the Trouble I'Ve Shot!
Author: Ken Rolston
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 10/10/2009


This book is about as serious as the Ice Pirates was as a film.
Written for those people who have played the game, Extreme Paranoia, this book (and I believe several others) rely on a tongue-in-cheek, ultra campy style. It draws upon the genre of westerns, science fiction, spy-novels, stereotypes and the stories of completely malevolent wall-street brokers of the 1980s. Strangely, time has come around to make both the game and the stories a relevant again.

Need a good, deranged, darkly funny romp? You may well enjoy this. It's also clean reading for young adults.
Remember:
Stay Alert!
Trust No One!
Keep Your Laser Handy!


Review Date: 2/22/2009
Helpful Score: 4


I meet so many other women (I have yet to meet a man) with CFS/CFID/Fibromyalgia... usually compounded with other things like Lupus or Auto-Immune Arthritis... it was beginning to get a little uncanny. I live just outside Austin and know about 11 women with CFS/Fibromyalgia.
It's a huge percentage of the people I know out here... more than 10% certainly. I've started calling it the "Slow-the-hell-down" disease. The book doesn't address this, however... so I'm digressing.

The library in which I am employed got this book as a donation and I encouraged the acquisitions God to add it to the collection for the reasons I gave above. Naturally I was the first to check it out.

The man who wrote it comes from the interesting perspective of being a doctor *and* having CFS/Fibromyalgia. He basically sifts through each batch of symptoms and talks about some habits sufferers can cultivate to help themselves. He talks about the commonly prescribed drugs and how these drugs end up being piled one atop the other to treat side effects. He has an extensive and entertaining set of appendices that help you find businesses willing to ship you products that may be difficult to find in your area.

He talks about homeopathy and phyto-pharmacology (using plants). Some of it is a little outdated now, but anyone keeping even remotely up to date on scientific findings will know immediately what the scoop is.

The downside: His pronouncements of getting shots of vitamins (for example) among other things, completely ignore the very existence of resistant doctors... or doctors who are limited by insurance. The assumption is that we will create an unlimited budget to feel better. Getting acupuncture three times a week can cost almost $300 in my area. Who has $1200 a month hanging around for just that purpose? He doesn't address the very basic questions like: how to find someone who still gives vitamin injections. Another considerable downside is that Teitelbaum has taken advantage of a vaccuum in the market to create his own vitamin blends and proceeds to actively push them throughout the text. This is not done in an obnoxious manner, to be sure, but it definitely got a rolling of the eyes from my quadrant.

The skinny is: check it out from the library. There are some great habits to cultivate and some great resources to explore. Ditch the rest. Then call me and we'll go have a glass of wine and kvetsch.


The Golden Notebook
The Golden Notebook
Author: Doris M. Lessing
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 21
Review Date: 2/3/2010
Helpful Score: 1


I avoided trying to read this book for years. You may be horrified to discover that I find much of the literature by people who have won awards to be stifling. I read to learn and I read to escape. I despise pomposity.

This book is not pompous. This books is not arrogant. From the first paragraph, I was hooked. The only way I can describe it is: a womanly book for people who don't much care for chick-lit. I don't see films marketed to women and I don't read books that do the same. This book feels more like a 1960s British indie film. I watched as I read, captivated.

The dialogue is snappy and the characters are damaged, but very interesting. The whole time I kept thinking, "Wow, I see how this changed everything. I get the hype." Indeed, for perhaps the third time, I understand and appreciate the hype.

Pick up this book, now.


The Golden Notebook
The Golden Notebook
Author: Doris May Lessing
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 2/3/2010
Helpful Score: 2


I avoided trying to read this book for years. You may be horrified to discover that I find much of the literature by people who have won awards to be stifling. I read to learn and I read to escape. I despise pomposity.

This book is not pompous. This books is not arrogant. From the first paragraph, I was hooked. The only way I can describe it is: a womanly book for people who don't much care for chick-lit. I don't see films marketed to women and I don't read books that do the same. This book feels more like a 1960s British indie film. I watched as I read, captivated.

The dialogue is snappy and the characters are damaged, but very interesting. The whole time I kept thinking, "Wow, I see how this changed everything. I get the hype." Indeed, for perhaps the third time, I understand and appreciate the hype.

Pick up this book, now.


The Golden Notebook
The Golden Notebook
Author: Doris May Lessing
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/3/2010


I avoided trying to read this book for years. You may be horrified to discover that I find much of the literature by people who have won awards to be stifling. I read to learn and I read to escape. I despise pomposity.

This book is not pompous. This books is not arrogant. From the first paragraph, I was hooked. The only way I can describe it is: a womanly book for people who don't much care for chick-lit. I don't see films marketed to women and I don't read books that do the same. This book feels more like a 1960s British indie film. I watched as I read, captivated.

The dialogue is snappy and the characters are damaged, but very interesting. The whole time I kept thinking, "Wow, I see how this changed everything. I get the hype." Indeed, for perhaps the third time, I understand and appreciate the hype.

Pick up this book, now.


How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend : A Training Manual for Dog Owners
Review Date: 1/25/2009
Helpful Score: 3


Dear Reader,
These gentlemen and their female counterparts that make both cheesecakes and dog beds, were espousing the Millan method before Millan. Our family has read and used the monks' methods of dog training with great success. Both our own Bouviers (a breed known for dominance issues as well as aloofness) and rescues have benefitted from the wisdom of the New Skete method.

Don't worry, it doesn't involve going to chapel and praying over your dog. What it does require, like Cesar's methods, is a commitment to the living being you are bringing into your family. The commitment involves time and an understanding of pack structure and a willingness to create soothing repetition and structure within your own life. Believe me when I tell you that it is as good for your spirit as it is for the dog's.

You can't go wrong with this method. If you are considering a puppy, I recommend "The Art of Raising a Puppy" by the same group. Trust me. It works like a charm. There is nothing like taking enormous dogs in public whenever the whim strikes us because we have trained them in a method that really works.


Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies) (Interactive Technologies)
Review Date: 4/12/2009


I picked up this book at the library.
Finally a book to help me explain to my content writers why no one is reading their dissertations.

The book is put together rather like a text book... and it has significant heft!

You would be better off reading one of the myriad copywriting books out there... I tried for 2 weeks to get through this book and I got through the first chapter. I realized if I couldn't read the copy, I was trying to learn from the wrong teacher.

Here's the thing, this book is terrific if you need that sort of text-book format. Everything is extremely organized and well thought-out... I just couldn't dig it.


The McDonaldization of Society: An Investigation into the Changing Character of Contemporary Social Life
Review Date: 9/19/2009
Helpful Score: 3


When this book came out, my uncle gave me a copy. He is a professor of Sociology and an avid reader. He said, "This is stuff you need to think about".

It changed the way I saw the world. I grew up with a very materialistic mom who would buy anything as long as it was on sale. This book gave me a inkling into the way such a behaviour came to exist. It also validated the idea I had that just buying stuff was dumb. I was 20 and didn't really know how to phrase my intuitive feelings and Ritzer's book gave me context.

Nearly 20 years later, many people have built on the foundation of this slim volume. There are definitely books that are more detailed, complex and also very well written. I can liken it to Silent Spring: there are definitely better books on the environmental challenges we face, but as a book that concisely put together ideas in a way that non-academics can digest and incorporate in their lives, the book changed the world.
This little, simple book can pack a serious punch to a young person without looking like another textbook to read. It's a classic for those who are interested in the mechanics of our insane consumer-culture.


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