Thoughts on: War & Peace: Book 3 Part 1
Latest Posts / September 29, 2012

The novel starts off with a section in which Tolstoy writes his thoughts about the nature of historic action. At first this annoyed me (as I continued reading I discovered that this was not unique to this section) because it seems to bring the story to a grinding halt. At firs this type of meditations annoyed me, but the more I read the more I realized that Tolstoy was keeping to the theme of War & Peace, the human condition. Only instead of pontificating on the subject of human condition while telling the story of a bunch of disgusting and somewhat less disgusting people, Tolstoy turns the table on the readers and discusses the subject on a much bigger scale.

Fun Facts Friday: Superman
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / September 28, 2012

Yesterday I reviewed Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero by Larry Tye, a wonderful book and even a big Superman fan like myself learned a few things. While all of the facts below might not be in the book (many are), I do hope you’ll read it and let me know what you thought. 1 ) Superman’s original artist,  Joe Shus­ter, stylized the Man of Steel on Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.  Comic movies star Harold Lloyd influenced the look of Clark Kent. 2 ) Superman is the first superhero whose alter ego is a man. 3 ) Lois Lane was modeled after Joanne Carter. Joanne later married  Jerry Siegel – Superman’s writer. 4 ) It took Siegel and Shuster six years to find a publisher. 5 ) Superman’s earth parents, known today as Jonathan and Martha Kent, had numerous name changes. They were:  “passing motorists” in Action Comics #1 (1938),  “Mary Kent” in Superman #1 (1939) “Eben and Sarah Kent” in The Adventures of Superman (a 1942 novel by George Lowther) and in the Adventures of Superman TV series “John and Mary Kent” in Superman #53 (1948) Mr. Kent is given the first name of Jonathan in Adventure Comics #149 Mrs….

Tightwad Tuesday — Free or Affordable eBooks — The American Civil War
4 Stars , Latest Posts , Tightwad Tuesday / September 25, 2012

There was a time when i was absolutely fascinated by the American Civil War. I read every book (reviews to come) I could get my hands on, scoured websites, went on battleground field trips and talked to other aficionados.  To this day I still have a big interest in that time period, even though not as enthusiastic. At the time of this post, the books below were free or $0.99 — please check before downloading. Authors: If you’d like  your book to be fea­tured on Tight­wad Tues­days please email me. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: The Struggle for Round Top (Illustrated) by Evander M. Law *Illustrated with maps and pictures of the battle and its important generals *Includes Table of Contents Without question, the most famous battle of the Civil War took place outside of the small town of Gettysburg from July 1-3, 1863. Over those three days, nearly 8,000 would die, over 30,000 would be casualties, and the most famous attack of the war, Pickett’s Charge, would fail Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The South would go on to lose the war, and when it did, the importance of Gettysburg as one of the “high tide”…

Guest Review of the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Fiction , Guest Posts , Latest Posts / September 24, 2012

If you do not know the plot of the Hunger Games by now, then where have you been living? Under a rock? Well, it goes something like this: in a future time, the world is divided into twelve areas and controlled by the Capitol. The evil leader, President Snow, makes each area give tributes, one teenage boy and one teenage girl, to the Hunger Games- a fight to the death in a natural arena. Much like the Roman tradition of pitting gladiators against animals and each other, these battles resulted in only one victor. Buy The Hunger Games Trilogy in a boxed set or electronic format* After the big movie release, reviews of the Hunger Games series probably came out of the woodwork. Truthfully, I had no interest in reading the books until after I watched the movies. My friends kept telling me how great they were and how I should go read them now, but I did not see the appeal. After all, aren’t they just another young adult series? That plus the idea of kids fighting to the death kind of put me off to the whole thing. Eventually, however I caved in enough to rent the movie…

Book Review: Vlad by Carlos Fuentes
4 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / September 24, 2012

Article first published as Book Review: Vlad by Carlos Fuentes on Blogcritics. About: Vlad by Carlos Fuentes is a short novel taking place in Mexico City, Mexico. The story was part of the 2004 collection “Inquieta Compañía” and recently came out as its own book translated by  Alejandro Branger and Ethan Shaskan Bumas. 112 pages Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; Tra edition Language: English ISBN-10: 1564787796 My rating for Vlad – 4 Buy this book in paper format from* Thoughts: Vlad by Carols Fuentes takes on an interesting premise, what if Dracula still lived and settled inMexico City. As one might expect, there is a lot of dark humor in this book, starting with the strange requests the client is making of the real estate agent (“remote”, “easy to defend”) to the client’s look which consists of a silly wig and glued on mustache. What I found to be different in this book is that the reader knows a lot more than the narrator. This style of storytelling invigorates the dark comedy and brings a sense of ominous foreboding to banal and meaningless lines said by the famous Count. In this rendition of the story, Fuentes marries vampire and lawyers – both server as vessels for…

Guest Review: Star Wars: Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn
Guest Posts , Latest Posts / September 22, 2012

Welcome to another installment of  “Thoughts from the Ran­cor Pit” in which Andrew and David from the fab­u­lous blog “Ran­cors Love to Read” will review books tak­ing place in the Star Wars uni­verse. This time they are reviewing Dark Force Risingthe second installment in The Thrawn Trilogy which popularized the Star Wars books. Buy this Star Wars Book in paper or electronic copy* Andrew: Originally published at 5/5 Rancors – Timothy Zahn continues the incredible story of the New Republic’s efforts to repel the attacks of the formidable Grand Admiral Thrawn in Dark Force Rising, the second volume of a trilogy. Set five years after Return of the Jedi, this book is an excellent continuation of one of the most interesting storylines in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Since the trilogy was written in the early 1990’s, some details have been contradicted by the prequel films and the immense growth of the saga, but the overall impact of the story is undiminished and things fit together remarkably well. The book opens with Thrawn’s assault upon smuggler Talon Karrde’s base of operations on the planet Myrkr. Karrde is struggling to maintain his profitable neutrality in this conflict, but the open attack by the Empire starts him down a path that…

Book Review: Michael Douglas by Mark Eliot

Article first published as Book Review: Michael Douglas: A Biography by Marc Eliot on Blogcritics About: Michael Douglas by Marc Eliot is a biography of the famous actor/producer. Mr. Douglas is an award winning actor and producer who had his share of ups and downs yet always managed to capture attention. 352 pages Publisher: Crown Archetype (September 18, 2012) Language: English ISBN-10: 0307952363 My rating for Michael Douglas: A Biography – 4 Buy this book in paper or electronic format* More Books by Mark Eliot Thoughts: Michael Douglas by Marc Eliot (website) highlights the accomplishments in Mr. Douglas’ professional and personal career as well as what influenced and drove the man to achieve such levels of height and fame.  Mr. Eliot concentrates on Douglas’ competitive nature as well as his relationship with his parents, especially his famous father. The relationship between Michael and Kirk Douglas is the cornerstone of this book. The author even encompasses a mini-biography of Kirk Douglas, from his defining childhood as a son to Jewish Russian immigrants and his success as a movie star to his recent stroke. Once the reader understands Kirk, we can understand Michael and the love/hate relationship which defined much of young…

Guest Review: The Enlightened Heart, ed. Stephen Mitchell
Guest Posts , Latest Posts / September 19, 2012

Life has been frightening and cataclysmic lately, so I needed some reading material that would reconnect me with a sense of the spiritual. I also haven’t had a lot of time to read, I’ve been writing so much. So the book I just finished was unlike my usual favorites: nonfiction books about history or colorful, literary adventure novels. I decided to pick up a book I’d had on my shelf for a long time, The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, edited by Stephen Mitchell. Buy this book in paper or electronic format  This remarkable volume serves as a history of world religion, as well as a collection of beautiful poetry. In fact, we might not even have considered many of these works “poetry” the way we normally think of it. Many of the world’s great religious classics, (and indeed most highbrow literature before a few hundred years ago) were written in verse rather than prose, as the divinity they were meant to express can only be captured, even in part, by the beauty of a poetic treatment. In order, The Enlightened Heart contains selections from: the Upanishads, the Book of Psalms, the Tao Te Ching, the Bhagavad Gita,…

Book Review: Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip
2 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / September 19, 2012

About: Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip is a novel taking place in China’s underworldduring the beginning of the Century. The majority of the novel takes place in Shanghai’s criminal element, bars and clubs. 352 pages Publisher: Kensington (May 29, 2012) Language: English ISBN-10: 0758273533 My rating for Skeleton Women – 2 Buy this book in paper or electronic format More Books by Mingmei Yip Thoughts: Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip (website | Facebook |@mingmeiyip) is a well written novel about a Chinese woman who is part of the Flying Dragon gang, however she is actually spying undercover for a rival gang. Many seem to think this novel takes place in the 1930s, however I could not find any reference to that time period in the book. I was looking forward to reading this book and the beginning was promising, I could immediately tell that it was written with a certain flair. The setup of the protagonist, Camilla, was enticing but the outcome did not fulfill the promise of the tease. I felt as if I walking down the street and following my nose to a small bakery where a fresh loaf of bread was just taken out of the oven….

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