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Title:  A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it's Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen
Author: 
Publisher: Travelers' Tales
Publushed in: 2008

Author Gary Buslik and his wife have been married twenty years. In that time they have traveled to the Caribbean many times for vacations, Add in Buslik's time as a travel writer and he has spent quite a bit of time visiting the Islands that dot this area that many consider paradise. The author considers himself a rotten person, easily turned grumpy, which affects how he sees these islands and the culture clash that occurs between his Midwestern American lifestyle and that lived in the warmer Island climates.

 This book is a collection of travel stories that were originally published elsewhere. So at times there feels a bit of repetition that may have been  avoided by chnging the order of the stories presented. I enjoyed the stories inside. They were written with a black humor and sometimes homesick feeling. The author presents some near brushes with celebrities both unwanted (such as the time he accidently insulted Idi Amin) and wanted (trying to meet Princess Di only to encounter her security and the confusion of a local man who just wanted to get home through a blocked off route). There are stories of crazy and wildly smart Rastifarians, pokes at both the British and the French, as well as musings on how progress is changing island lifestyle.

The author can come across as brusk and a bit of a jerk at times. He is a self proclaimed Republican and Jewish agnostic who is married to a more liberal leaning woman, and who teaches in a very liberal university setting. He loves to weave in observations about growing up in Skokie, IL and his current home in Mundelien, IL and compare them to the islands he has visited.  However you really get a feeling of his appreciation of the islands and the people who host he and his wife during their times staying there. I don't know if this travelogue is for everyone. but I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially his stories about visiting Cuba and visiting Hemingway's home.
nimrodiel: (book-ish)



Title: The Kagonesti
Author: Douglas Niles
Publisher: Random House
Publish Date: 1995  

I have a love of the Dragonlance saga. However some of the books are written much better than others. Because I have been disappointed in this series before I have picked up and set down this copy several times without getting past the prologue. I am very glad that I continued with it this time around. The Lost Histories series is a group of books set in the Dragonlance world which probe the historical roots and records the struggles (sometimes epic) of some of the lesser known races of Krynn. This book looks at the Kagonesti - the wild elves. It starts with their founding as a separate people from the more civilized "house" elves. The wild elves with their black hair aand dusky skin still live in the wilderness as the Silvestri led by Silvanos are retreating from the wilderness to live in their crystal cities. Kagonos and his people are beloved of the silver dragon Dalannar who gifts Kaganos with a mystical rams horn which can call his "people" to help them if they are able.

The book is written in three parts. The first shows Kagonos as the first pathfinder and wielder of the mystic horn at the end of the First Dragon War, As he and his people withdraw from the other Elves to retreat deep in the forest of Ashalon.

The second story follows Ashaway as he leads his people during the third dragon war (During the time of Huma). Ashaway has the role of Pathfinder thrust upon himself suddenly when the previous Pathfinder is killed in a raid by the bakali, lizardmen who serve the dragon queen. Ashaway has to find safety for his people while helping the Knights of the Rose travel through the deep forests and mountains to the Dragon Queen's stronghold of Sanction. Even as helping the humans goes against the traditions of the Kagonesti, Ashaway is urged to help the Solamnic knights by the current silver dragon who carries the match to the hown he carries.

The third and final story of the Kagonesti elves takes us to the years before the cataclysm. We see the struggles of young warrior Iydahoe as he witnesses the destruction of the four tribes of the Kagonesti. He and his father struggle to keep their small band of survivors hidden and alive as the Humans from the city of Ishtar and the Silvenesti build a massive road through the forest homes of the Kagonesti tribe. Iydahoe seeks vengeance upon the men who killed his people. A raid on a caravan leads the capture of himself and a young warrior under his care. They are in the caravan wagon of a cleric of Mishakal when the cleric is pulled away by magic - a signal that the thirteen days before the end of the world is to arrive. Iydahoe and his tribesman escape with the help of a priestess Vanisia and return to his tribe. They are led to go up into the mountains by the mystic Grandfather Ram and are saved from the water that rushes in and destroys Ishtar and created the Newsea as the Cataclysm breaks the world of Ansalon.

I really enjoyed how this fills in some of the history to events before the cataclysm.

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Because of this box of older science fiction I was introduced to author John Boyd. I have had the chance to read several of his books now. I like his writing style. It's a little pulpy, sometimes a little silly, and he portrays some very interesting issues using satire and comparison through the sci-fi setting.

Rear cover synopsis:
"John Adams and Kevin O'Hara are graduates of North Dakota's great Mandan Space Academy. Both trained to be conquistadors of space, explorers in the age of interstellar imperialism, Adams and O'Hara are as different as any two space scouts could possibly be. Now, together, they are sent to explore a distant world called Harlech. The Harlechians are unclassified aliens; relations with their women are strictly forbidden by the Interplanetary Colonial Authority. Adams is willing to play by the rules--but whoever made those rules hadn't counted on the lusty Red O'Hara, rakehell of heaven ... From the Adams-O'Hara probe, only John Adams returns."

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This book wasn't one of his better ones. The premise is that two humans are sent into space and make first contact with an alien culture. However, when Red O'Hara and John Adams land on a planet that has a society based on academic learning and pleasure without war, crime, or poverty. The citizens of Harlech live underground to escape the terrible static electricity storms that occasionally cover the surface. Their society is made up of "Universities" rather than cities. After making contact O'Hara and Adams learn the native tongue and request to teach about Earth customs and religions during the academic terms of the University that they have landed near.

The Space Exploration team has a series of rules that are supposed to guide their conduct, We see both men slipping loose from these constraints and becoming more and more familiar with the local Halrachians, most noticeably the women.

I feel like this book didn't age well, and compared to the other books I have read by this author it is much more abstract than the two books that precede it (it is the third in a space exploration trilogy). However, John Boyd's prose is as ever enjoyable and almost lyrical to read.
nimrodiel: (book-ish)
cover The Tale of One Bad Rat
Title: The Tale of One Bad Rat
Author: Bryan Talbot
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Publication date: 1995

Helen Potter is a runaway following the steps of Beatrix Potter whom she holds an affinity to because of sharing both first and surnames. Her troubles with being touched by males and her sexuality combined with the mental stigma and shame she feels as a survivor of incest has her constantly on the move and leery of trusting anyone.

Her traveling companion starts off as a pet rat saved from a school biology lab. As she travels north her reliance on the rat as a companion becomes more prevalent after a tragedy drives her to continue North. Helen finds her way to the Lake Land District, home of Beatrix Potters house Hill Top. Helen finds friends in the owners of the Herdwick Arms pub who help her after she collapses in the rear of the building, and who offer her safety in a job, a place to sleep, and eventually in support in facing her parents.

This is a tough story to read. The subject material is uncomfortable, and you can see the research and the pain and suffering that the author conveys in the subject. He quotes Miriam Saphira from The Sexual Abuse of Children "The first step towards prevention and to provision of supportive services for the girls who've been abused is bringing abuse into the open... Incest is not taboo. It seems that talking about incest is the real taboo."

This was such a moving little story about finding the strength to stand up to the person abusing you and finding your strength as a person despite the mental stigmas that plague your thoughts and opinions of who you are. The artwork in this book is absolutely stunning. I don't know that I would have picked this up on my own, though it is the story driven type of graphic novel I adore. This was shared with me by bookcrosser HI77 I'm sad I wasn't able to fit it into my manga and graphic novel book box. I'll have to think on a place to share this book with the world.
nimrodiel: (book-ish)
Drawing a Blank: Or How I tried to Solve a Mystery, End a Feud, and Land the Girl of My Dreams by : Daniel Ehrenhaft, Illustrated by Trevor Ristow
review )
nimrodiel: (book-ish)
This is the review I am working on for the firstlook program.

In her First Book, The Madonnas of Leningrad, Debra Dean brings us a magical story. The main charecter, Marina serves as a bridge between the modern day and war torn Leningrad during World War II. The modern day Marina, is old. She lives in America, has raised a family, and is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimers. She has numerous problems with her short term memory. She keeps forgetting who her children and their families are, and comparing the things that she sees now to how she lived during the war. She is slowly retreating into her memories and becoming her younger self in thought. The younger Marina is a museum tour guide, is in love, lives through much hardship, and finds herself struggling to keep herself, her aunt and uncle and her unborn child alive during a time of very little food.

As an artist and a former art history student I was blown away by the descriptions of the Hermitage Museum, and of the paintings that are described as Marina builds herself a memory palace of the museum so it does not get lost after the war ends. This was a sweet and moving story of love and hardship both during World War II, and in the present day as Marina's husband and children struggle to cope with her moving away from them into the past.

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Not sure if I am done with it yet though.
nimrodiel: (book-ish)
I recently finishd reading an advanced reade copy of I am not Myself These days for the Harper Collins Firstlook reader review program. Below is the review I sent in to the publishing company.

review )

The neat thing is the author commented on the thread I shared the review on. See it here
nimrodiel: (book-ish)
My firstlook review for this book

In the Space between us, Thrity Umrigar introduces us to Bhima and Sera Dubash. These are two women from vastly differing lifestyles whose lives become intertwined.

Bhima is a poor Hindu woman who is struggling to support herself and her granddaughter Maya. Maya has recently become pregnant while unwed, and will not admit to whom the father is. Because of this she is forced to drop out of collage which was the hope of her grandmother and her getting out of the slums.

Sera Dubash is an upper middle class Parsi widow. Her life seems perfect. She lives in a flat owned by her husband’s family; she has a beautiful and intelligent daughter. She can afford to hire Bhima as her house servant, to do cleaning around the house and to get things from the market for her. However, she is extremely unhappy. a state of being which has plagued her since her marriage to her late husband Feroz.

Despite their differences, Sera and Bhima develop a friendship of sorts over the twenty years that Bhima has been working for the Dubash household. Bhima brings her mistress‘ life a little bit of pleasure as she deals with her husbands uncontrollable rages. She becomes a surrogate mother to Sera’s daughter Dinaz, and brings cheerfulness into the household. Sera on the other hand finds in Bhima some one she can trust to soothe the bruises and hurt feelings, she treats Bhima’s granddaughter with kindness when she was brought to live with her grandmother in Bombay after being orphaned in Delhi. Over the years, Sera helps out Bhima when she can, she pays for Maya’s college tuition when it turns out how bright of a child she is.

Through the years, Bhima and Sera share heartbreaks, and joy, and love of a sort. Their world gets turned upside down when it is discovered that Maya has become pregnant.

Thrity Umrigar brings her readers to witness contemporary Bombay life with a fantastically crafted story. She uses her masterful writing style to bring us the readers into a world where life is a struggle. I was transported to a world that was very unfamiliar to me, and while the story is a sad one it ended leaving me with a haunting sense of longing to know more about the future of these two women. I was blown away by the depth of the characters and the descriptiveness of her phrasing. I haven’t read a book set in India that has grabbed hold of me and transported me across the globe like this one did, since I read A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry a few years back.
nimrodiel: (book-ish)
Book review for the Harper Collins firstlook program (reader review program)

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In his graphic novel Road to Perdition author Max Allen Collins introduces us to the charecter Michael O'Sullivan. The son of a mobster who's life changes when the mob turns on his family. In it's written sequal, Road to Purgatory we meet Michael again, now known as Michael Satariano. who is a young man, recently returned from WWII, and taking his flegling steps into becoming a part of the Chicago mob. Road to Paradise is the third and final book in the Road to series that Max Collins has written. He once again masterfully brings us back into the life of Michael Satariano, this time not with images drawn, but images shared through descriptive writing.

In Road to Paradise, we are introduced once again to Michael, now middle aged, with his killing days far behind him. Michael runs a casino for the mob, and has a family he is raising in a small town near the California Nevada border. He is comfortable in his life, until exiled godfather Sam Giancana asks Michael to help him regain power in CHicago by commiting a hit on one of the members of the Chicago mob. Michael refuses the job. The hit is done anyways, and Michael finds himself running from the mob with his family after being framed for the murder.

Max Collins crafts a suspensful story following the Satariano family as they are moved around the country in the newly formed Federal Witness Protection Program. The book has on the edge of your seat action and exitment as we follow Michael as he tries to keep his family safe, prove that he was framed, and battle the "family" that has been such a huge impact on his life and lifestyle since he was a small boy in the 1930's. If you have not read either of the books prior to this one, you won't find yourself lost in the story. Collins gives the reader access to ocurances and past history from the other chapters in Michael O'Sullivan's life without bogging down the story of the present happenings to Michael.

I have been waiting for this conclusion to Max Collin's "Road" series as I fell in love with the story with the graphic novel Road to Perdition, every book since has made the story more and more real feeling. I really enjoyed this conclusion. It was a satisfy closing chapter in the life of Michael O'Sullivan (Satariano).
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