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kravmonkey

kravmonkey

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Take Down
James Swain
Leading an Inspired Life
Jim Rohn
Shadow Of The Titanic
Andrew Wilson
The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft
H.P. Lovecraft, Leslie S. Klinger, Alan Moore
The Emperor's Blades
Brian Staveley
Grave Peril
Jim Butcher
Words of Radiance
Brandon Sanderson
11/22/63
Stephen King
Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil
Tom Mueller
You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself
David McRaney

Hannibal

Hannibal - Thomas Harris No. Just no.

The Hobbit

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien What more can be said about the Hobbit that hasn't already been said? A classic intro to the Lord of the Rings trilogy that introduces readers to Gandalf the wizard and Bilbo Baggins the hobbit. Much more of a straight-forward adventure story for kids than the LoTR series which I'd put in the "grown up fantasy" category.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life - Alice Schroeder This book started out so promising. I thought I was hooked early on but in the end I could only make it only a fraction of the way through the nearly 1,000 page behemoth.

Although the initial pace of the book starts fairly brisk it quickly became mired in so many aimless, insignificant, and boring details that it was a chore to continue. I didn't see the need to get into all the pointless minutiae of his early, rebellious "life of crime" or his short-lived horse racing obsession as a young teen. These are the kinds of meanderings that made the book a bit like jogging through a tar pit wearing ten pound ankle weights for me. It was therefore with a sort of dull disappointment that I punched the eject button on the CD at the beginning of Chapter 14.

Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)

Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) - Tom Vanderbilt I really wanted to like this book. I have long held a fascination with traffic -- probably because of all hours I've spent stuck in it wondering why it behaves the way it does. I remember having weird traffic discussions with co-workers about traffic like: pretend you left the office to go home at 5:00 and it took you 1 hour to arrive in your driveway. Leaving at 5:30 on the other hand, because of the lighter traffic, you would roll into your driveway in only half an hour. If you and your housemate left at these times is it possible that you'd arrive at home at the same instant, despite having left work a half hour apart. Yes, a clinically strange thing to talk about on coffee break but, like I said, traffic fascinates me.

When I saw this book, and especially when I started to read it, I thought I was in Heaven. A book that spoke to this bizarre side of me that I never knew was shared by anyone else. As I made my way through the book a lot of that hope and promise vanished however.

Aside from the fact that about a third of the book is taken up with acknowledgments and references (seriously!) I never really felt that it used all that research all that effectively. The conclusions that were drawn never really clicked with me. For example, the author goes on at length about why it's a good idea to be a "late merger" on the highway when there's an upcoming lane drop. He prattles on about late mergers just being economical about the road -- using as much as there is instead of choking up another lane by merging early. I never really understood that and the argument fell short of being convincing. Another example was that the courtesy wave -- letting someone pass, turn ahead of you, or merge into the lane -- was some evolutionary carryover from caveman days that has roots in being nice to people for reasons of not wanting to be wonked over the head with a club. In other words, it's an instinct that bears no relevance in today's world but is merely an echo of a time and has no bearing on present situations like, you know, just being nice or something. These are merely two examples in pretty long line of unconvincing and poorly supported conclusions.

By the end my worst fears about the book were realized when I had to admit that it was really not much more than an extended magazine article. Like the immortal Ambrose Bierce said: "The covers of this book are too far apart".

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harold and the Purple Crayon - Crockett Johnson This is a fantastic bedtime book for children between the ages of 3 and 7. The story tells the importance of creativity and imagination and is filled with simple but great drawings. I have read this book countless times to my daughter and she loved it every time.

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch - Eileen Spinelli, Paul Yalowitz I read this to my daughter every Valentine's Day. A very touching story about how you only get back what you give in the first place.

The Crooked Letter

The Crooked Letter - Sean Williams This uninspired first installment of the Books of Cataclysm series is a jumbled paint-by-numbers type of fantasy novel. The writer had several books under his belt before churning this one out (mostly Star Wars books) but despite the literary "warmup" he still manages to come across as a first-time writer.

The book's early reviews were very positive, which was ultimately what led me to the purchase. Despite really, really trying I ended up giving up on it halfway through. The story feels so bloody derivative, cobbled together from many different places without much soul of its own. Lazy character development, weak story, and often trying too hard to feel like a book for grown-ups, this book fails to deliver the goods.

The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker - Tim Gallagher This book's mission is to make you believe that the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, thought to be extinct since late last century, is in fact still flapping its way around in the swamps of southeastern U.S.A.

A team from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology made the short, blurry film of a large bird flying in a remote swamp and caused a rare controversy in the birding community. What followed the release of the film clip was a flurry of activity in that part of the country where hopeful birders "flocked" for a chance to see a true lazarus species (a species that is mistakenly thought to be be extinct only to be "rediscovered" again). No one claimed success and it's fair to say that this claim is without any merit.

The book tries to build a case for the Ivory Bill's continued existence by first laying out all the reasons why you should in fact be skeptical. Next, after laying that foundation, the book shifts gears and attempts to elicit sympathy from the reader by explaining how Ivory Bill populists are widely dismissed, ostracized by the birding community as wackos, and should given more of a chance.

The book is ultimately unconvincing but you have to admire the passion and dedication the author and his team bring to the party. I don't personally think there will ever be definitive proof that Ivory Bills still exist. Based on the available evidence I am firmly in the camp that believes that this magnificent bird is no longer among us. Tragic as it is, sometimes you just have to let go.

300

300 - Lynn Varley, Frank Miller This ambitious graphic fails to deliver anything of substance and is hardly up to Frank Miller's usual high standards. The dialogue is horrid, the historical accuracy non-existent, and the story is just plain boring. I suppose it served as a pre-made story board for the movie adaptation that followed several years later.

Scarne's Guide to Modern Poker

Scarne's Guide to Modern Poker - John Scarne Scarne can be a bit of a blowhard and seems to think he originated most card games and techniques. Despite this fault his books tend to be fairly educational. This guide to poker is pretty good for the novice player, though not the best on the market. Intermediate and advanced players may find it wanting.

What Einstein Told His Cook 2: The Sequel: Further Adventures in Kitchen Science (v. 2)

What Einstein Told His Cook 2: The Sequel: Further Adventures in Kitchen Science (v. 2) - Robert L. Wolke, Marlene Parrish A modestly entertaining pop science book. I am naturally drawn to science books, mostly preferring "real ones" over pop science which often tend to dumb things down way too much. This book and its predecessor however are exceptions to that rule in that they keep things reasonably "science-y" but still quite readable and breezy. Recommended.

Red Dog

Red Dog - Bill Wallace, Cowdrey Since my young daughter enjoyed Bill Wallace's other books she and I read this together and were stunned at the amount of violence it contained. Definitely not suitable for pre-teen girls and not anything like any of his other books we've shared.

How Dogs Think: What the World Looks Like to Them and Why They Act the Way They Do

How Dogs Think: What the World Looks Like to Them and Why They Act the Way They Do - Stanley Coren A very interesting book with some fascinating anecdotes. This book is a lively, enjoyable, fast paced guide to what goes on between your furry little friend's floppy ears.

Wizard's First Rule

Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind I know it's been said many times before but allow me to reiterate -- this book is sure similar to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books. I won't get into any of the detailed comparisons as there are whole websites dedicated to this accusation. Suffice it to say that there are some pretty striking similarities between both of the series.

As for the writing I found it to be very middle-of-the-road. Not bad necessarily but extremely bland. I also expected the pace to pick up but was never rewarded. I stuck with the series for the first three books before abandoning them altogether. Too much repetition and not much in the way of story development.

Wacky Packages

Wacky Packages - Art Spiegelman;The Topps Company;Jay Lynch I love Wacky Packages. In fact, I still have my collection from when I was a kid preserved in a special binder. This book is a collection of the stickers from series 1 - 7. Nice for a stroll down memory lane.

Suggestion for future editions: to really complete the experience they should have a scratch-n-sniff page scented as that powdered sheet rock bubble gum that would crack into shards as you began to chew it.

The Victory Garden Cookbook

The Victory Garden Cookbook - Marian Morash My family joined a local CSA so we were looking for ways to prepare the massive amounts of fresh produce we'd bring home every week this past season. This book, though fairly old, has held up pretty well and has some creative and healthy recipes for all kinds of garden vegetables.