Thursday, December 16, 2010

grigorian.com do you want my money or not?

Perhaps if one is trying to sell someone a product they should make sure that their shopping cart actually works instead of deleting items when you navigate away.  This is not a browser or cookie issue because it fails to work in FF, IE and even on my iphone.  I used their contact form but it's been 72 hours still no reply.  Pathetic.

Goodbye Stargate Universe

It's official. Not that I'm surprised or for that matter particularly care. It was telling how little John Scalzi would talk about it. Considering he does like himself some self promotion.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nelson's spy by A. J. Scott

Nelson's spy by A. J. Scott a rather curious reprint. This is the biography of Nelson's chaplain written by his children. The modern addition slaps on a controversial title and an introduction which does its best to make mounds out of molehills. Scott by his own admission in letters and diary entries included the text describes translating documents, interrogating witnesses and performing activities with friends of England. He seems to have been much closer to a intelligence officer than anything else.

Recommended only for the Trafalgar obsessive.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Man in the White Suit: The Stig, Le Mans, the Fast Lane and Me by Ben Collins

The Man in the White Suit: The Stig, Le Mans, the Fast Lane and Me by Ben Collins let me put it to you like this. There are few books I read that could be longer and I would enjoy them. This could be 5 times longer and I would. Collins gives a lot of dirt on Top Gear. Clarkson is that much of a jerk, Hammond is that crazy and yes May is that boring. Interspersed throughout the show stories are vignettes about his military service, racing career and private life. This is simply a must have for any Top Gear fan.

Highly recommended!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What do you mean I still have a blog?

Ok, ok, ok I know it's been pretty dead around here. I'm not going to make any grandiose predictions about how it'll be in the future but I will try to do a little better. In the spirit of that and because I need more page views Emma Watson's legs.

303 Squadron: The Legendary Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron by Arkady Fiedler

303 Squadron: The Legendary Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron by Arkady Fiedler this is a new translation of a book first published during WWII. It covers the experiences of a squadron of Polish fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain. It tells a few accounts of combat as well as chapters describing the bravery of the other personnel. Apparently the book is taught in schools back in Poland and I can understand why. This new edition contains new photos, appendices and explanatory notes from the translator. Not exactly a book you would want to use in a scholarly paper but a good read.

Recommended.

Note:This book was provided through Librarything's early reviewer Program.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What?

Apparently two 24 year olds and a 28 year old is considered kiddie porn.  We're through the looking glass here people....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chuck

Looks like they're going to try to increase the ratings through T and A [Yvonne Strahovski's legs in particular not that I'm complaining] and campy humor [the entire store as a CIA hideout, the graphics].  The upcoming Stacy Keibler guest shot will be epic.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Anyone remember the hysteria about high voltage power lines?

Parents have fit over Wi-Fi in school.

PEARL and OpenBook 9.0?

Has anyone used the new PEARL camera with OpenBook 9.0?  If so how well does it actually work compared with a flatbed scanner.  As far as the number of errors is concerned?  I keep finding the same information about how wonderful it is but nothing remotely independent.  Curiously with all of these camera designs I keep thinking they're missing something.  How exactly do you hold the book open?  Only the most abused hardcovers I have will actually stay open by themselves.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Inheritance by Simon Tolkien

The Inheritance by Simon Tolkien this is a courtroom drama combined with a search for part of the true Cross. First the good, the writing is excellent . This is occasionally bordering on literature. Unfortunately the characters are all unlikable. By the end of the book I was hoping that they would all be punished somehow. Even the characters I was supposed to feel sorry for I really didn't. There seems to have been a lot of work done as far as making things technically accurate particularly with the trial. The problem is the ending doesn't really work. It's as if the trial, which was the center of most of the narrative was an afterthought in the conclusion.

Not recommended.

Note:This book was provided through Librarything's early reviewer Program.

Friday, July 09, 2010

SFWA does something right

I've been pretty hard on SFWA over the years so I might as well point out when they do something right. Night Shade Books on year probation.

Harlan Ellison runs screaming from the Internet

Over this?  Seriously?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belport by Edith Wharton

Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belport by Edith Wharton  this is a collection of magazine articles the author wrote during the first world war. It covers several trips she took to the French sector of the front lines. There is little here to interest a military historian though perhaps a social historian may find more here. The writing is occasionally beautiful. I'm going to track down some of her novels. This edition has a modern forward as well as a short biography. There are endnotes but it is unclear if they are new or originated in the text. This isn't the amount of apparatus that say Penguin would give but it's better than most of the publishers of public domain texts.

Recommended for the literary craft displayed.

Note:This book was provided through Librarything's early reviewer Program.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

To hell with it

I don't give up on books. There are ones sitting in my "currently reading collection" that have been there for years. In the last month I completed a book I had been working on for 4 years. That being said I'm giving up on Why the Allies Won by Richard Overy. I knew it was bad. I tried reading it for the argument. Then I tried reading it for the humor value but I can't. I don't know if it gets better after page 63 and I don't care.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The great reorganization

For awhile now I've known that I will be running out of bookshelves.  The good news in about 14 months that will be fixed.  I can't really discuss why but you can probably guess.  In the meanwhile I have to figure out what to do.  I've had to start stacking books inside the shelves.  I didn't want to do this because it makes it difficult to figure out just what is there.  I've started going through shelves looking for books I haven't read and stacking the ones I have.  Not ideal but maybe it will get me to the finish line.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hello

I think this is the longest I haven't posted anything ever....

Friday, May 28, 2010

Exit Blue by Ivan G. Goldman

Exit Blue by Ivan G. Goldman this is a satire of American Society. The red states and blue states have separated. The narrator gets himself entangled in red state politics, ending up in bed with the president and her sister. Basically the red states are described like a MSNBC announcers nightmare. I'll admit some of it is funny but it's just a little too overwhelming. This is crammed full with references. If you haven't been keeping track of the news since 2000 you may be confused. There were a couple things I had to think about before getting the joke. If you're a blue stater with a sense of humor you'll enjoy this.

Recommended.

Note: this was provided for review by a PR outfit.

Quotation [occasional]

“The only thing memorable about Sex and the City 2 is the number two part, which describes it totally, if you get my drift. Everything else in this deadly, brainless exercise in pointless tedium is dedicated to the screeching audacity of delusional self-importance that convinces these people the whole world is waiting desperately to watch two hours and 25 minutes of platform heels, fake orgasms and preposterous clothes. It is to movies what fried dough is to nutrition.” — Rex Reed, The New York Observer

Friday, May 14, 2010

Knock it off you perverts...

I've noticed something over the last few days.  My traffic has increased about fivefold I wasn't really sure why until realizing that almost all the hits go to the same page.  I had made a few sarcastic comments that was more search engine baiting than anything else.  Now I know why everyone and his dog was searching on that.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Changes by Jim Butcher

Changes by Jim Butcher this book is called changes and it really doesn't disappoint. I have to give Butcher credit when he decides to burn it to the ground he really does. Harry has a daughter that he didn't know about which drives this novel. This also ends the major story arc that has been taking up the series so far. I can't wait until the next book. The ending is a cliffhanger but unlike much of the commentary online I don't really mind it. It makes sense.

Highly recommended.

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher An enemy from Harry's past needs his help. Naturally he gets it. Or else let's face it there wouldn't be much of a plot. One of the white Council wizards has been murdered. Harry must figure out who did it and why. There's lots of political intrigue here. This is a far cry from the beginning of the series which was for the most part mystery based.

Recommended.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Small Favor by Jim Butcher

Small Favor by Jim Butcher I thought I had reviewed this. Apparently not. This is the 10th book in the mystery fantasy series. Unlike the other novels which have reveled in the heat of the summer this takes place in winter.  A new force is trying to move in on illegal activities in Chicago. Harry must deal with this as well as a group of psychotic billy goats.  It's been a while since I read this. I don't remember much about it come to think of it.  I do remember this was good though.

Recommended.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Top Gear America

Finally got off the ground.  Although considering it's on a commercial network I doubt that they will be able to go after the car companies as much as the British series does.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tales of the Seven Seas: The Escapades of Captain Dynamite Johnny O'Brien by Dennis M. Powers

Tales of the Seven Seas: The Escapades of Captain Dynamite Johnny O'Brien by Dennis M. Powers this is a biography of the sailor most famous for giving Jack London the inspiration for the novel See-Wolf.  O'Brien's career is colorfully described by Powers.  According to the acknowledgements much of the material is based upon O'Brien's own writings.  It's unclear just how much verification has taken place.  There is a short bibliography but no citations.  I'd recommend this if you're looking for a good story but I wouldn't necessarily consider it to be the best of sources.  Many of the stories have the ring of tall tales about them.

Recommended with caveats.

Note:This book was provided through Librarything's early reviewer Program.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Long road it's been

I'm always looking for material on the Winter War.  Back in 07 I came across info on Amazon for a title TANKS IN THE WINTER WAR: 1939 - 1940 by Maxim Komolyets.  I tried ordering it using a coupon.  The publication passed without any sign of the book.  Then the description changed and eventually listed the book is being unavailable.  Over the years I came across references to it on Ebay but they were always expensive around $50 Canadian.  Recently I came across one nearly at list price.  So I purchased it.  Much to my chagrin it arrived yesterday.  I have to say I'm disappointed so far looking through it.  Looks like it's more pictures then text.  Will comment more when I actually get a chance to read through it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New blog

My friend has started up a new political blog check it out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Legacy of a False Promise: A Daughter's Reckoning by Margaret Fuchs Singer

Legacy of a False Promise: A Daughter's Reckoning by Margaret Fuchs Singer this is a memoir of the 1950s. The authors father was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee. He decided to name names. The narrative is two threads, first of these, the authors experiences growing up. The second the research she did later on both archival and interviews. I was perhaps not surprisingly to frequent viewers of this blog more interested in the research side of things. I'm not really sure what her boyfriend trying to fondle her addes to the narrative quite frankly.

Her father's decision to name names destroyed his career. He was fired from his position as a law professor. He found work inside the US government [thanks to the help of the committee], which was an interesting piece of irony. Nicely demonstrating that it really doesn't work to encourage people to come forward if they are confessing to things that will make them shunned by wider society. There's no incentive. The research uses up to date secondary sources and the FBI files and intelligence intercepts.

Recommended.

Note: this was provided for review by a PR outfit.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Historically accurate T&A

Considering all the grumbling about historical inaccuracy in films I found this a positive sign. It's also rather funny to. No silicone in period films.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Clarification on that fire

Wasn't actually as bad as originally made out to be.

Incompetent book design

I was reading a recent book that had laughable book design.  The index was actually one column per page I've never seen that before anywhere.  There was also strange shading on the chapter titles.  I was already to blast them as an incompetent self-publisher when I searched on the publisher name.  Shockingly they aren't in fact they've been in business for nearly 30 years.  Disgraceful simply disgraceful.  Looking at their other titles I'd consider purchasing them but I'm terrified what the final product will look like.

A Hundred Feet Over Hell: Flying With the Men of the 220th Recon Airplane Company Over I Corps and the DMZ, Vietnam 1968-1969 by Jim Hooper

A Hundred Feet Over Hell: Flying With the Men of the 220th Recon Airplane Company Over I Corps and the DMZ, Vietnam 1968-1969 by Jim Hooper  a collection of remembrances from Bird Dog pilots.  These lightly equipped aircraft acted as forward air controllers.  The often highly dangerous and difficult missions are described as well as attempts to blow off steam back at base.  The narrative is occasionally difficult to follow because Hooper has pulled extracts from his primary sources.  Each is labeled with the name of the witness.  Frequently they overlap giving a different view of the same event [which I like].  The book is very jargon heavy.  A glossary is provided there are explanations in the text as well. 

I can't recommend this for the casual reader but if you have an interest in an unusual facet of the Vietnam War give it a look.

This was provided for review by a PR outfit.

Monday, March 15, 2010

White Night by Jim Butcher

White Night by Jim Butcher book 9 in the series. A serial killer is killing off practitioners. Naturally this ties into the larger war with the vampires. Just once I'd like one to be standalone but I guess that's too much to ask. New dynamics Harry is trying to teach an apprentice. He says he's not like yoda then he proceeds to act like yoda. More back story is cleaned up along the way. Reading these books compressed in such a short time means that they are starting to blur together. The writing has improved since the beginning of the series.

Highly recommended!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Star Warped by Adam Roberts

Star Warped by Adam Roberts no points for guessing what this is a parody of.  Yes there are named based puns but much of the humor is situational.  For instance the Darth Vader equivalent is fearful that he doesn't have a sense of humor.  Which involves him testing it out on terrified underlings.  The book also has the final section first much like the films.  Roberts does create a plot out of this not that it's terribly important.  I did laugh out loud several times so it did its job.  The ending is so bizarre I don't think it worked but I give him credit for trying something completely out of left field.

Recommended.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The ultimate excuse

Chief exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth says Devil is in the Vatican. Apparently being catholic never means you have to deal with reality.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon

Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon never before in human history has a fictional character gone to the bathroom so much...  An old woman Ofelia refuses to leave when a colony is removed.  She survives by herself until meeting up with local aliens.  An academic team is sent to find out what happened to another colony that the aliens destroyed.  The plot is basically cranky elderly woman in space.  Ofelia's memorable and enjoyable even if she does have to go to the bathroom a lot.  Unfortunately all other human characters are incredibly stupid and insulting. Ofelia seems barely educated which I just don't buy for an advanced space culture.  I'm going to try something else by Moon because I think there's some potential here.  The alien culture in particular was nicely done.

Not recommended!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A few notes to used booksellers

If you can't sell hardcovers you're charging too much.  I've picked up a lot of stuff that I never would have bought before because it was only a few bucks.  Then it's off your shelves.  It's all well and good to only want titles that quickly move but it limits the possibility for large sales.  If I'm interested in the genre I already have some of the key texts.  However if I just found a new author I want everything not just their major award winning books.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Always nice to see

My most recent review was linked over on Early Modern History which appears to be an aggregator.  Check it out if you're interested in the era.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

English Civil War Fortifications 1642-51 by Peter Harrington

English Civil War Fortifications 1642-51 by Peter Harrington acknowledges that this is a difficult topic to cover. Fortifications built during the conflict were generally based on European continental designs but at the same time not uniform. Makes dealing with them in this short format difficult. So high points get mentioned as well as background and construction. Fortunately there's a bibliography. I'll be looking for some of the sources mentioned in it.

Mildly recommended.

Looking stupid

President's Choice really needs to take down that commercial bragging about feeding the alpine team.

Monday, February 22, 2010

He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back: The True Story of the Year the King, Jaws, Earnhardt, and the Rest of NASCAR's Feudin', Fightin' Good Ol' Boys Put Stock Car Racing on the Map by by Mark Bechtel

He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back: The True Story of the Year the King, Jaws, Earnhardt, and the Rest of NASCAR's Feudin', Fightin' Good Ol' Boys Put Stock Car Racing on the Map by Mark Bechtel that certainly is quite the title isn't it? It's actually somewhat of a misnomer. Most of the text is taken up with the Daytona 500 "fight". That's probably the most widely played and famous 10 second clip in North American auto racing. The major players are given biographies that are occasionally rather witty. Current fans will find many familiar names including most of the current TV commentators. There is an attempt to link the season with wider cultural themes. I thought this didn't work as well. The snowstorm and relationship with Ronald Reagan have been repeated ad nauseam enough. When the book discusses racing it is extremely good.

Recommended!

Note:This book was provided through Librarything's early reviewer Program.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Luge accident and F1

Was wondering when Jackie Stewart was going to say something.  Mildly surprised to see Mosley quoted....  It is the Times I suppose.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quotation [occasional]

"Any driver who says he loved the 'Ring was either lying, or not driving quickly enough."
Jackie Stewart

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Interesting analysis

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One) thoughts on the box office potential. I agree that the boycott aspect although vocal online won't amount to much in the end.

Ticonderoga 1758: Montcalm's victory against all odds by Rene Chartrand

Ticonderoga 1758: Montcalm's victory against all odds by Rene Chartrand it's an Osprey. Describes the British attempt to seize New France. Plenty of British incompetence on display. As far as it goes this is fine but perhaps one of the weaker campaign titles. There isn't the same level of detail as in others.

Not recommended.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher book 8 in the fantasy mystery series. Don't worry I just have one more to do then back to military history. I promise. In this one black magic is being carried out amongst the backdrop of a horror convention. Harry has to figure out who's doing it and why. This fills in some major gaps in back story and explains the motivation of several characters. It is surprisingly emotionally effective in places. I've occasionally called the series fluff and that's still true but becoming less so. I find myself caring about these characters.

Highly recommended!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher this is the seventh book in the series. It's pretty difficult to summarize things so I'll just say zombies! For most of the book Harry is actually pretty smart which is a nice change from the others. There's also much less about his "rescuing women in peril" thing. I'm reading these one after another it's hard to say whether they would be accessible if you started here.

Recommended.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Late Show spot and Super Bowl commercials

Very nice spot with Dave, Jay and Oprah. So far the commercials have been pretty lackluster except for the fiddle playing beaver.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher the sixth book in the Dresden Files series. More vampires in this one as Harry has to deal with some particularly nasty customers. There's background about his family. The family reveal was a little too cute for my taste. There were more action sequences and doing in this book which was nice. Harry has less time to second guess things. This may be my favorite one of the books so far.

Highly recommended!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Death Masks by Jim Butcher

Death Masks by Jim Butcher this is the fifth book in the mystery and fantasy series. In this one. Harry must recover the Shroud of Turin which has been stolen as well as survive a dual with a vampire. Harry can be very dense at times which allows the plot to go forward but occasionally leaves me scratching my head.  Much like Homer Simpson his intelligence seems to go up and down with the necessities of the plot. I'm surprised the actual name of the artifact was used. I would have figured a stand in would be less controversial. Or maybe that was the point to create a little controversy.

Recommended.  

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Tudor Knight by Christopher Gravett

Tudor Knight by Christopher Gravett this covers the weapons, tactics and cultural background of knights in the 1500s in England. Typical for titles from this publisher there are lots of pictures and illustrations. Strikes me that they had some trouble getting the right length. There's info on changes in military recruitment and deployment as well as the usual stuff on tournaments and campaigns. There is a bibliography and glossary of terms.

Recommended.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher this is the fourth fantasy, mystery in the series. Events are linked to the outcome of the third book. Enough background is explained that you could pick up this one straight away but it would probably be best to go back and start at the beginning. The winter and summer ferries are about to go to war, Harry is the only one who can figure out why. Characterization is getting a little better if lacking subtlety. Action sequences are as always well done.

Recommended.

Monday, February 01, 2010

The House of the Stag by Kage Baker

The House of the Stag by Kage Baker  is a fantasy novel.  Baker passed away yesterday so I pushed this to the top of the to be the red pile.  It's a dual narrative the first track follows the life of Gard who rebels against an invading force.  The rest of his people refuse agreeing with A spiritual leader.  He tries to escape is captured by slavers and survives various adventures.  The other thread follows The Saint the offspring of the spiritual leader.  Her attempts to educate her own people and yet follow or her own way.  Characters are three dimensional.  The plot is excellent.  There are funny bits.  In particular when Gard becomes an actor.  This was a prequel to an earlier novel.  I'll be picking it up.

Highly recommended!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys

Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys this is a delightful novel from the Canadian actor and dramatist. Absolute a British soldier gets himself entangled in the American Revolution. Spies, conspiracies and love quickly developed. Historical accuracy is decent but I actually didn't mind when inaccuracies popped up. The main character is so over-the-top and fun. Think Flashman only without the cowardice. I broke my cardinal rule with a series I went out and purchased the other two books right away.

Highly recommended!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Smoke on the Water by Brian Daley

Smoke on the Water by Brian Daley this is the 1st novel in the Gammalaw military science fiction series. It was published after the author's death although according to his web site he did have much to do with it. Unfortunately the book is just terrible. Characters speak in info dumps. Descriptions are spotty with concentration on clothing. Dialogue is artificial going for cute one liners over substance. The plot such as I was able to make out is a group of soldiers lose a war as part of their surrender their shipped off to fight somewhere else. Way too many subplots here. According to reviews the second book is much better but I don't think I'll be trying it any time soon.

Not recommended.

The Perseids and Other Stories by Robert Charles Wilson

The Perseids and Other Stories by Robert Charles Wilson an afterward describes the short stories in this collection as being "loosely connected". They are in fact so loosely connected I didn't figure this out for myself until I had read 3/4 of the book. I was starting to get annoyed it seemed like the book kept repeating the same plot devices. Now, knowing that's part of the idea I feel a little more charitable towards it. Characters are occasionally weird for weirdness sake. Descriptions are memorable. Some of the events are a little too close to horror for my taste.

Mildly recommended.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Grant and Lee: A Study in Personality and Generalship by J. F. C. Fuller

Grant and Lee: A Study in Personality and Generalship by J. F. C. Fuller was part of the great reassessment of U. S.Grant The book is a joint biography of Grant and Lee describing their abilities and faults. There's an outline of the war in general to put things into context. It's hard to review something like this. So much of what's here is now part of the accepted narrative of the conflict. There are a few novel ideas. The discussion on tactics and logistics for instance.

Recommended.

Funny article on offline book piracy

Offline Book "Lending" Costs U.S. Publishers Nearly $1 Trillion

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

World Enough and Time a Romantic Novel by Robert Penn Warren

World Enough and Time a Romantic Novel by Robert Penn Warren this is the last book I was supposed to read for the Southern reading challenge but I didn't actually finish it. Well not until now anyway. It's historical fiction that describes the lead up to a murder. Why did it take me so long? The narrator a historian wanders his way through discussions of all sorts of things that aren't really germane to the plot. Long historical asides that go on and on. The characters themselves, although interesting are infuriating. Particularly the female lead who is unable or unwilling to just explain what she wants. The male lead interprets her warnings to go away by deciding he needs to revenge her on a former friend of his who did the woman wrong. What I was expecting was a morality tale but that collapses in the last hundred pages where instead of going to the gallows he is rescued.

Not recommended.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Live by the sword, die by the sword

Nancy Grace Must Appear on Camera for Depo

Canon canada's crappy sales team

It is embarrassing that Canon canada's purchase form would not allow me to set my billing address as a Po Box.  Then when I complained they had the gall to whine about security.  Funny the bank didn't mind mailing a new credit card to a Po Box last week.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thought on late night TV

Kari Byron cleans up good.....

Quotation [occasional]

I don't want to live in a world where Scott Brown's daughters are available but affordable healthcare isn't.
-- Andy Borowitz, on Twitter

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ancient Goddesses The Myths and the Evidence by Lucy Goodison

Ancient Goddesses The Myths and the Evidence by Lucy Goodison this is made up of a collection of essays. As the title suggests, it discusses the archaeological evidence for the "mother Goddess". This was the idea that various societies at one time worshiped a goddess to the exclusion of male deities. Supposedly the societies was peaceloving and ruled by women. The essays showed no culture actually had this in practice. The essays discuss areas including the Fertile Crescent, Egypt and Western Europe. Each of the authors is a self proclaimed feminist. Which nicely takes away an argument against the book. Sections concludes with a further reading list. Lots of illustrations of the different artifacts.

Highly recommended!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who Owns the World: The Surprising Truth About Every Piece of Land on the Planet by Kevin Cahill

Who Owns the World: The Surprising Truth About Every Piece of Land on the Planet by Kevin Cahill this book through an extensive list attempts to describe who owns what, how much it's worth, what it's used for and what if any legal protections exist for keeping it. Naturally this takes a lot of tables and numbers. The data is framed in a rather odd way. He argues that land ownership is a human right. As his own data demonstrates however, not that many countries throughout history have agreed with him. There's also a tendency to get hung up on technical accuracy as opposed to reality. For instance, the queen does own all of Canada's land but, as a property lawyer explained to me the only time the Crown takes advantage of this is if you don't pay your taxes. I can't speak to the accuracy of the numbers. He does point out where numbers conflict. There is no bibliography or notes as such but he does describe where he gets the data. I think you could look most of it up online if you wanted to.

Recommended for the wealth of information on almost every country in the world.

Note:This book was provided through Librarything's early reviewer Program.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Amazon reviews useless

Now they're getting 1 star if there's no Kindle.

The Android's Dream by John Scalzi

The Android's Dream by John Scalzi an alien ambassador is murdered. Complicating things is that the aliens require a gift from Earth. This is a genetically modified sheep. Which isn't going to be that simple. The book is inventive with a devastating wit. The first chapter, for instance, is a fart joke. Diplomats, lawyers and religion get skewered along the way. Did I mention that a religion worships sheep?. A great read for a long winters evening.

Highly recommended!

Monday, January 18, 2010

With suppliers like this who needs enemies?

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed with Secret "Jesus" Bible Codes.

The Danger Tree: Memory, War and the Search for a Family's Past by David Macfarlane

The Danger Tree: Memory, War and the Search for a Family's Past by David Macfarlane this is a history of one Newfoundland's family's experiences during and after WWI. Three of the brothers had been killed in the fighting. The book has a lot of literary flourishes. I'm usually not impressed with this sort of thing in a nominally historical work. Just what's been embellished? I'm going to let it slide in this case maybe because it's done so well. It's actually more of a character study of the three brothers as well as the author then of the conflict itself.

Recommended.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Military Revolution?: Military Change and European Society, 1550-1800 by Jeremy Black

A Military Revolution?: Military Change and European Society, 1550-1800 by Jeremy Black  this is a rather short booklet that tries to argue whether there was a revolution in military affairs or not. Black attempts to make the case that the major changes in tactics were actually from later in the 18th century instead of the 17th. That instead of being created by the absolutist state they were a benefit of the changes in government. Their are lots of citations and a further reading section. There are some illustrations.

Recommended.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Deadly Force: Firearms and American Law Enforcement, from the Wild West to the Streets of Today by Chris McNab

Deadly Force: Firearms and American Law Enforcement, from the Wild West to the Streets of Today by Chris McNab describes the history of the use of guns by police throughout American history.  This is published by Osprey.  Before this my experience with them was solely based on the various short heavily illustrated titles on different military topics.  This is 300 pages with only 2 photo inserts and not a 3D computer generated map in sight.  McNab argues convincingly that throughout time there's been increasing professionalism and militarization of police use of force.  The development of swat teams in the 1960s and 1970s specifically.  He sometimes gets bogged down in describing events.  In the introduction he claims that he's just going to give the facts without moral judgments.  Unfortunately he repeatedly does exactly that.  Defending police use of force by pointing out that they were scared.  Strangely he doesn't consider that this also extends to the other individual involved.  This is certainly not the last word on the topic but it is an interesting place to start.

Recommended.

Note:This book was provided through Librarything's early reviewer Program.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo by Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins

The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo by Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins this is a rather strange book. It's an introductory history of the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic wars. No knowledge is assumed at all. Terms like "striking the colors" are defined in the text. On the other hand it's an amazing 560 pages long which would be rather daunting for the newcomer. The authors are looking for colorful scenes as opposed to scholarly analysis. It's a decent narrative history although some of the snap judgments can be annoying. There's a brief further reading section. Contains notes and a bibliography.

Mildly recommended.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Thought for the day

I've been weeding my RSS reader today.  Came to the realization that one blog author was pretentious and full of it.  Unfortunately it took me about a year to come to this conclusion.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Quotation [occasional]

"Democracy and Parliament are not being sidestepped — they are only being suspended"
Brent Rathgeber, Conservative MP

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher this is the third book in the Dresden Files series of fantasy mysteries. This one involves vampires, an angry fairy godmother and enemies from Dresden's past. His repeated escapes by using legalistic loopholes as opposed to skill is a little frustrating. The conclusion changes things between Dresden and his love interest. Which will be interesting going forward. I'll pick up the fourth book.

Recommended.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Battle: A New History of Waterloo by Alessandro Barbero

The Battle: A New History of Waterloo by Alessandro Barbero a few new insights backed up with the latest in scholarship makes this an excellent history of Napoleon's final defeat. Nice coverage of the Prussians movements during the day including the skirmishes that slowed them down. The introduction and conclusion seem a little rushed. If you're not an expert on the time you may be a bit confused. The different phases of the battle are described in a clear way. It helped me get a few things straight that I hadn't considered before.

Highly recommended!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Deniable Agent: Undercover in Afghanistan by Colin Berry

The Deniable Agent: Undercover in Afghanistan by Colin Berry I'm never really sure how to review these things.  This is a biography however there are certain things that are obscured for security reasons.  So not exactly that good as a source but a very good read.  This describes the authors time in Afghanistan recovering weapons that were given to the Afghans by the west in their war with the Soviet union.  Berry is double crossed and finds himself in prison in 2002-03.  Considering the detainees controversy in Canada the torture this westerner experienced is chilling. Berry writes with wit and sarcasm that had me chuckling a few times.

Highly recommended!

The Liri Valley: Canada's World War II Breakthrough to Rome by Mark Zuehlke

The Liri Valley: Canada's World War II Breakthrough to Rome by Mark Zuehlke this is a detailed soldier's eye view account of the breaking of the German defensive system in Italy by the Canadiens.  Zuehlke has written several books on Canadian campaigns in WWII.  He is to be commended for finding witnesses and bringing to light sources that have never been used.  The only weakness here is that the account of the strategic background is confused at times.

Recommended.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole, 1999-2001 by Sue Townsend

The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole, 1999-2001 by Sue Townsend this is the collection of journal entries that originally appeared in the Guardian newspaper.  It is seventh in the series.  Unfortunately it comes off as a sort of best hits collection.  The characters are static at this point which doesn't surprise or bother me that much.  I did find it frustrating that Adrian navigates his way through the same events.  He falls in love with his therapist, is in a dysfunctional relationship, writes angry correspondence, his parents fall back into love and there's even a debate over school dress code.  The wider social commentary is muted.  I'm not sure if that was a space concern.  The last 10 pages are very good they deal with the characters reactions to 9/11.  I only wish there was more.

Recommended only for those familiar with the series.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher this is the second in the Dresden Files fantasy mystery series. Like the first book this is fluff. Werewolves are terrorizing Chicago. There are various permutations and conflicts making for a fast pace plot with lots of twists and turns. With an extensive series like this the main thing is whether not to continue. I've already purchased the third book so this held my interest enough to make the next sale.

Recommended.

Revolution and Intervention: The French Government and the Russian Civil War, 1917-1919 by Michael Carley

Revolution and Intervention: The French Government and the Russian Civil War, 1917-1919 by Michael Carley a little light reading over the holidays.  OK maybe not.  Scholarly book on French policy towards the Russian revolution and civil war.  It was pretty incoherent between economic interests who wanted to back the Whites and the politicians for the most part who wanted to cut deals with the Reds.  There's extensive use of archival sources and papers of the relevant officials.  It would help to have a working knowledge of the conflict and Czech legion before starting out.

Recommended.

Best of the year 2009

Following my usual tendencies this post is a little late.  Last year I read 196 books.  About half of those have been reviewed on the blog.  I'll probably turn out a few more in the upcoming days.  Of those books I read and reviewed here are the best.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

May it be better than the last.