Thoughts on: The Technologists by Matthew Pearl
4 Stars , Fiction , Historical Fiction , Latest Posts / February 29, 2012

Article first published as Book Review: The Technologists by Matthew Pearl on Blogcritics. About: The Technologists by Matthew Pearl is a fictional book about the early days of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The story takes place in the years after the American Civil War during a very fragile time in our history. The pub­lisher is giv­ing away one copy of this book— enter at the end of the post. 496 pages Publisher: Random House ISBN: 1400066573 My rating for The Technologists – 4 Great price on this book in paper or electronic for­mat through the Man of la Book Affil­i­ate Account More books by Matthew Pearl Thoughts: The Technologists by Matthew Pearl (website) is an entertaining read with wonderful historical detail and a bunch of nerdiness thrown in for good measure. While I wasn’t sucked into the book as much as I would have liked, I found the characters captivating and the plot line interesting. The author does a great job interweaving reality and fiction as well as the dialog which was spoken in that time period. The harsh social norms of the time are presented in the form of a lone MIT female student who is forced to study in isolation. There were…

Thoughts on: Out of the Classroom Lessons in Success by Cynthia Kocialski
5 Stars , Business , Latest Posts , Non-Fiction / February 28, 2012

About: Out of the Classroom Lessons in Success: How to Prosper Without Being at the Top of The Class by Cynthia Kocialski is a non-fiction business book in which the author talks gives some advice and observations about success. This is a short book, written in personal and informal style. The pub­lisher is giv­ing away one copy of this book— enter at the end of the post. 112 pages Publisher: CreateSpace ISBN: 1466404787 My rating for Out of the Classroom Lessons in Success –5 Great price on this book in paper for­mat through the Man of la Book Affil­i­ate Account More books by Cynthia Kocialski Thoughts: In Out of the Classroom Lessons in Success: How to Prosper Without Being at the Top of The Class author Cynthia Kocialski (web­site |blog) provides entertaining and useful advice to parents and their children. What I like about Ms. Kocialski’s books (I read two so far) is that she writes from experience, in a very knowledgeable, authoritative yet understandable voice. While one could consider Out of the Classroom Lessons in Success a business book, it is no written as such and the author reflects on her success at the end of each chapter. If the book has a theme…

Book Review: Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin
5 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / February 27, 2012

About: “Baking Cakes in Kigali” by Gaile Parkin is a fictional story is about a woman named Angel Tungaraza, who herself is Tanzanian but is living in an International apartment complex in Rwanda due to her husband’s job. Angel and her husband are raising their five grandchildren after the lose of their children and are two people who are putting on a hopeful front for their sake. 336 pages Publisher: Bantam ISBN: 0385343442 My rating for Baking Cakes in Kigali – 5 Great price on this book in paper or elec­tronic for­mat through the Man of la Book Affil­i­ate Account Thoughts: Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin (website) was charming as well as easy to read. The stories are interesting, the humanity amazing and, best of all, I really liked the character of Angel Tungaraza. As many other people I know, the sum of my knowledge about Rwanda was the genocide a few years ago, I was expecting a distressing, if not upsetting novel and I got a triumphant and wonderful book. These everyday stories are amazing, even though they are told in a very relaxed manner (while order cakes for a celebration) they don’t sugar coat the horrible reality that many people in Africa live day-to-day. Not only the genocide, but also poverty, AIDS and other issues make an appearance. Yet, the hopeful theme stays. Synopsis: Angel bakes elaborate cakes in…

Book Review: The 100-Year-Old Who Climbed Out Through the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
5 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / February 26, 2012

Allan Karlsson’s health is good, so good that to his dismay he is facing the horrors of putting up appearances for this 100th birthday. Leaving the mayor, the press, his friends and the bane of his existence – the nurse – behind, he escapes moments before the big celebration. When a young man asks Allan to keep an eye on his suitcase at the train station, the centenarian steals it and sets the ball rolling on a month long chase involving the police, the underworld and a handful of accomplices.

Thoughts on: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – Book 1 Part 3
Classics , Latest Posts / February 25, 2012

About: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is a fictional book first published in 1869. The work is regarded as one of the most important works of world literature. The copy I read was translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude. 1350 pages Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; New edition ISBN: 0199232768 Great price on this book in paper or elec­tronic for­mat through the Man of la Book Affil­i­ate Account More books by Leo Tolstoy Thoughts: What stood out in Book 1 Part 3 is the characterization which Tolstoy employs. The physical attraction Pierre feels for the busty Hélène is extremely convincing and Hélène’s descriptions of being a sexual siren are fabulous. One of the techniques that Tolstoy employs in his characterization is not only writing about the “what” and the “how” – but also about the “why”. For example, we know Pierre lacks will or confidence which makes Hélène’s advances at him uncomfortable, but also understandable to how easily Pierre has succumbed to the charms of a woman whose family he considers to be appalling. Tolstoy also creates scenes of uncomfortable comedic brilliance, ones that you cringe when you read as if you were an unwanted fly on the wall….

Fun Facts Friday: Wilhelm Grimm
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / February 24, 2012

Wilhelm Karl Grimm, or the Grimm Brothers, was born today in 1786.  The brothers are famous to this day and their name is practically synonymous with folk tales and fairytales. Books by Wilhelm Grimm 1 )      Wilhelm Grimm was the younger of the two brothers. 2 )      Wilhelm studied law and married Henriette Dorothea Wild (Dotchen), a pharmacist’s daughter. 3 )      Visitors to the house, which Wilhelm and Jacob’s families shared, described his as an excellent storyteller and an “uncommonly animated, jovial fellow”. 4 )      The Grimm Brothers collected folk lyrics and published the collection as Children’s and Household Tales, later known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales. 5 )      Grimm’s Fairy Tales was published over a decade between 1812 and 1822 in several volumes. 6 )      The focus of the brothers was to reproduce oral tales as faithfully as they could, taking into consideration the techniques storytellers used. 7 )      The methods the brothers came up with were used to establish a scientific approach to documenting folklore. 8 )      Wilhelm Grimm continued to study German folklore and published a new edition of ancient tales. 9 )      King Frederick William IV of Prussia personally bestowed  upon the brothers a membership of the…

Black History Month Videos and Books
Latest Posts / February 23, 2012

Black History Month: The Storytelling Tradition Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alice Walker, Virginia Hamilton, and others speaking about the importance of storytelling in African American history: Muhammad Ali: The Man Behind the Myth: A look at Muhammad Ali (“the man behind the myth”) in a video interview with George Foreman, daughter Hana Ali, and biographer Thomas Hauser. Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy: Authors Remember the Civil Rights Movement Alice Walker and other authors speaking about their involvement in the Civil Rights movement Henry Louis Gates, Jr., on William Styron’s Controversial Novel: Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on one of the twentieth century’s most jarring literary events.

Thoughts on: Late for Tea at the Deer Palace by Tamara Chalabi
5 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts , Non-Fiction / February 22, 2012

About: Late for Tea at the Deer Palace : The Lost Dreams of My Iraqi Family by Tamara Chalabi is a book which was hard to classify. Part history, part cultural, part fictional and non-fictional family saga and all about a bygone era. The pub­lisher is giv­ing away one copy of this book— enter at the end of the post. 448 pages Publisher: Harper (January 18, 2011) Language: English ISBN-10: 0061240397 My rating for Late for Tea at the Deer Palace – 5 Great price on this book in paper format through the Man of la Book Affil­i­ate Account More books by Tamara Chalabi Thoughts: I believe that Late for Tea at the Deer Palace by Tamara Chalabi is the first book I read because I have heard of the author’s father. I recognize Ahmad Chalabi’s name from years of living in the Middle East as well as his temporary high profile during The Gulf War where he was accused of many things, including being a triple agent giving faulty intelligence. However, the story of Ahmad Chalabis rise and fall is the least interesting part in this fascinating book. The first feeling that struck me while reading this book is jealousy. If ever I’d write a…

Thoughts on: The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
5 Stars , Latest Posts , Non-Fiction / February 20, 2012

Article first published as Book Review: The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard on Blogcritics. About: The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard is a non-fiction book detailing the President’s travels in Brazil. This fascinating account is a must read for fans of the President or adventurers who travel the region. 432 pages Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition ISBN: 0385507968 My rating for The River of Doubt – 5 Great price on this book in paper or elec­tronic for­mat through the Man of la Book Affil­i­ate Account More books by Candice Millard Thoughts: The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard (website) tells of the extraordinary expedition led by Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon and his co-commander, ex-President Theodore Roosevelt, down the unexplored tributaries of the Amazon in 1914. The rigorous 400 mile trip down Rio da Duvida (River of Doubt) tested the stamina, intellect, courage and sense of adventure of all of those in the party. Even though Roosevelt and most everyone in the party were experience in the tribulations of exploring parts of the unknown world, they were unprepared for this trip. From the beginning they had problems, the boats were too big, the river too shallow, the food,…

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