mldavis starts again in 2014

Forum75 Books Challenge for 2014

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mldavis starts again in 2014

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Jan. 1, 2014, 8:25am

No idea yet what the book of the month will be for my library book discussion group, but that will be the first entry. Here's wishing everyone a healthy and happy New Year ! See y'all around online.

Jan. 1, 2014, 10:11am

Welcome back, and happy 2014!

Jan. 1, 2014, 6:21pm

Happy New Year, Mike!

Jan. 1, 2014, 7:56pm

Happy 2014, Mike!

Jan. 2, 2014, 8:18am

Thanks, everyone. Back at ya!

Jan. 28, 2014, 4:51pm

Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts is a work of historical biographies of the women of consequence behind the men who founded the U.S. in the days of the Constitution and early presidencies. The book is well written and researched, but much of the information comes, of necessity, from the writings of the men. Few of the women left their own writings and some were destroyed for various reasons. The biographies tend to fall out of chronological order as there is considerable and surprising overlap among the characters. Nevertheless, this is a book that had to be written, and it is a good read for any fan of history.

Feb. 5, 2014, 5:46am

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall: The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Vaughn Entwistle is a worthy addition to a large genre of Sherlock Holmes related pastiches. With Doyle as the protagonist with his friend Oscar Wilde, the pair engage some unusual paranormal murder in an old English manor. Although I am not a big fan of paranormal works, the writing quality, literary metaphors and plot combine to make an enjoyable read, and the otherworldly activities of the characters didn't serve to diminish the enjoyment of a good mystery for me.

Feb. 13, 2014, 3:54pm

Three Souls by Janie Chang is the author's first novel. Based loosely on family members, the protagonist is a deceased woman who converses with her three souls as she tries to find a way to alter upcoming events. A loose mixture of history, biography, politics, mystery, paranormal and fictionl, I found it a very interesting novel well worth reading. 4-stars

Feb. 19, 2014, 9:51pm

The Weight of Blood: A Novel by Laura McHugh is a first effort. McHugh is a Missouri author living in Columbia, MO and writes of a generational murder mystery in rural Ozarks. Using various character perspectives and some chronological shifts, the novel reveals a dependent relationship that is all too possible in isolated rural communities. This is a good first effort and I suspect McHugh will be appearing again in the near future as her following increases.

Feb. 26, 2014, 9:44am

Complete Chess Strategy 1: Planning the Pieces by Ludek Pachman is the first of a 3 volume set first published in 1975 but still a classic resource today. Only interesting to chess players.

Mrz. 4, 2014, 10:03pm

A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger is a novel written by a professor of medieval literature. The protagonist is John Gower, a poet and friend of Geoffrey Chaucer in 1385 London. Based on a mysterious book predicting the death of King Richard and involving women of the streets, the narrative is at times bawdy as readers of Chaucer will appreciate, and sprinkled with old English terminology. It is very well written and what begins as a simple enough book ends with increasing complexity and becomes a page turner at the end.

Mrz. 7, 2014, 6:26pm

Inside Marine One by Ray L'Heureux is a bit of a niche book and although a good read, I found it a bit disappointing. The title suggests more information on the aircraft itself. It turned out to be more of a memoir on the author's time reaching command of the elite MHX-1 squadron and his special relationship with former President George W. Bush. 3-stars on balance. It's a good, patriotic, duty-first account by a fine Marine Colonel.

Mrz. 7, 2014, 9:48pm

You got me with The Weight of Blood. My library has it on order, so I'm now on the wait list!

Mrz. 8, 2014, 7:58am

I think it's good to support local talent. That was an ARC if I recall and a pretty good read. I think we'll see more of her.

Mrz. 19, 2014, 4:28pm

Adios, Hemingway by Leonardo Padura Fuentes is an interesting mix of fiction, biography and mystery that does an excellent job of bringing the later years of the great writer to life. The idea is that a fictional murder was committed on Hemingway's property and a body was found 40 years later. Ex-cop and pseudo writer Conde sets out to solve the murder and tracks Hemingway's last days in the process.

Mrz. 25, 2014, 10:05pm

Enduring Courage by John F. Ross is a re-examination of the biography of WWI ace Eddie Rickenbacker. The book is exhaustively researched and referenced, and portrays Rickenbacker as an unpolished but effective hero of his day. Recommended for history buffs and hero worshipers alike.

Apr. 5, 2014, 4:44pm

Above by Isla Morley is a tension-filled novel of a young girl kidnapped and held in an abandoned missile silo for seventeen years. The reader is kept under suspense throughout as one situation leads to another equally challenging and in search of a solution. The first-person narrative is not warm and fuzzy for the most part, but ends with a well-written philosophical view of the intervening years. I found it a good page-turner and somewhat unique. We'll see more of Morley, I'm sure.

Apr. 10, 2014, 8:22am

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi W. Durrow.

Winner of the Belwether Prize for fiction in 2010, this is a nicely executed novel of the no-man's (or woman's) land between racial definitions. The protagonist is a young woman born of a "white" mother and "black" father, a survivor of a family suicide, who struggles to find herself in an environment that seems unfavorable. Using alternate narrators and some chronology shifting, the book is an easy read with some not so easy revelations.

Apr. 11, 2014, 2:02pm

Complete Chess Strategy 2: Principles of Pawn Play and the Center by Ludek Pachman is the second in a 3-volume set. Self-explanatory. Uses descriptive English notation.

Apr. 15, 2014, 9:08am

No Good Men Among the Living by Anand Gopal is is a sobering account by the author, a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, The New Republic, Harper's and others, of the dysfunction and chaos in Afghanistan following Russian and American involvement in Afghan politics and their lack of understanding of the culture. It documents atrocities by American troops and gives a look at the corruption that springs from foreign involvement. Most revealing, it gives perspectives from three Afghan civilians caught up in the conflict. I don't know how accurate the accounts are - they seem to be well documented and the author lived there for 3 years gaining the confidence of those interviewed - but if there is any semblance of truth in what he writes, this should be required reading for all U.S. politicians, military and persons in positions of foreign policy trust. It is not an anti-administration or anti-political account as much as anti-military intelligence, and CIA; and foreign policy ignorance. How fitting following the current Afghan elections ...

Mai 5, 2014, 2:45pm

The Ways of the Dead by Neely Tucker is a well written mystery by an experienced journalist that surrounds the Washington D.C. area and the legal community. A good mystery with little wasted space and the requisite number of red herrings and misdirections.

Mai 7, 2014, 8:42am

I like how your reviews get right to the point! Went to give you a thumbs up on the last one, but the link goes to a completely different title and completely different author. Now that's an odd touchstone!

Mai 7, 2014, 11:23am

Skunk Works by Ben R. Rich is a must-read for anyone even remotely interested in the SR-71 Blackbird, the F-117A Stealth fighter, the political and military issues surrounding the cold war, the incredible aircraft designed and built by the famed Skunk Works arm of Lockheed, and the biographies of geniuses Ben Rich and Kelly Johnson as they built aircraft that were decades ahead of their time during the cold war. I gave it five stars, but admittedly I am both an aviation buff and a scientist so it scores with me. It is also a sad testimony to the efficiency of a time gone by which has been lost in today's dysfunctional political and military bureaucracy. Highly recommended if you have any interest whatsoever in the topic.

Mai 8, 2014, 10:29am

Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett is a short novel set in Tasmania and revolves around three boys, their abusive father and the resulting relationships. The author's love of surfing and the sea sets an appropriate backdrop to the narrative which is relatively simple with short sentences and stream of thought phrasing at times. A quick and easy read.

Mai 18, 2014, 7:19pm

The Quick by Lauren Owen is a first novel and a lengthy vampire work that I found quite well written. It is somewhat lengthy but despite a slow opening section, moves along with page-turning efficiency. I must admit to being at a disadvantage in never having read a vampire novel other than Dracula by Bram Stoker so I can't evaluate the originality of the lore against common superstitional knowledge. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read, though outside of my normal genre channels.

Mai 21, 2014, 7:38am

Blueprint for Theocracy: The Christian Right's Vision for America by James C. Sanford, a retired history professor at Mt. Holyoke College, is an extensive and thoroughly documented and footnoted analysis of the current movement of the Christian Right's confrontational stance against government, media, public schools, science and social responsibility in the name of biblical Christianity. It documents the origins of the movement from John Calvin through Kuyper, Van Til, Rushdoony and others to the current ideology of anti-modernist, anti-rational, authoritarian and theocratic ideals, and its current implementation.

Those sympathetic to the agenda should read the book to better understand the historical context and modern intent of the movement. Those who view the encroachment of the Christian Right into secular areas as a temporary win by a small fringe element should read the book to better understand the ideology and intent of the movement that is growing in evangelical fundamentalist Christian circles.

It is a book unlike any other and is long overdue as a wake up call to both sides.

Mai 27, 2014, 5:44pm

Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew by Bart D. Ehrman is an historical study of the origins of biblical literature and the struggles that brought today's modern, distilled version of Christianity, a struggle that is still going on as evidence by the proliferation of Christian denominations and independents. It is strictly historical in nature, not theological, and Ehrman does not take a stand on Christian belief.

Empirical evidence is presented based on a comparison of current scripture and the generally accepted canon with its own internal inconsistencies, and with other more recently found ancient texts from sources such as the Dead Sea scrolls, Nag Hammadi and other sources.

I would recommend it to anyone with an open mind who is interested in learning the historical origins of the bible. I would not recommend it for fundamentalists who believe they know the "truth" and are not open minded enough to learn what historians and theologians really know about ancient texts.

Jun. 10, 2014, 8:23pm

Eddie's Bastard by William Kowalski is a good novel about a young man, his father a deceased war hero and abandoned by his mother at birth, raised by an alcoholic grandfather, who nevertheless deals with the cards life deals him. It is well written, contains a few nuggets of philosophy, and is just unique enough to hold your attention. A good read.

Jun. 23, 2014, 7:42am

Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament by Bart D. Ehrman is a representative collection of non-canonical writings from the time of the Christ event (50-300 C.E.) many of which have been recently found in graves, the Nag Hammadi library, and other sources. Ehrman gives only the basic introductory notes leaving the bulk of the book to actual translations so I would consider it a sequel to his book (see post 27 above) Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scriptures and the Faiths We Never Knew. I would recommend it for anyone who is open minded and interested in what is not included in the current canon. It is a book of fact, not of faith, which is left to the reader. I would not recommend it to those who are uncomfortable being challenged outside of their own bible.

Jun. 25, 2014, 5:47pm

Getting Schooled: The Reeducation of an American Teacher by Garret Keizer is a book that should be on the reading list of anyone who has spent time in the classroom as a teacher. Keizer takes a hard look at the changes and challenges of modern education and writes with a mixture of frustration, anger, philosophy and Bill Bryson-like humor, pulling no punches. Recommended to anyone with an open mind who has taught, but with reservations to those of hard right conservative ideologies.

Jun. 29, 2014, 8:39am

The Pyramid by Henning Mankell is a group of five short cases that serve to fill in some of the early years of Chief Inspector Wallander after the character has earned a significant following. None of the cases are outstanding, but overall the quality is there as fans have come to expect. It would be a must for completists and Mankell fans. I thought the stories were a bit short and ended rather abruptly for my tastes. Very good but not great.

Jul. 2, 2014, 7:33am

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell is second in his expanding Inspector Wallander series and is a representative sample of the success of this Swedish mystery author. The translation is a bit simple at times but it's a good read and refreshingly different from many mysteries.

Jul. 2, 2014, 1:38pm

>30 mldavis2: Ouchouchouch the book bullets are a-flyin' gotta get outta here

Jul. 3, 2014, 7:42am

>33 richardderus: Not sure what you're dodging, RD. I found it a good book and quite similar to my own experience, but the author gets a bit edgy and OT regarding some of the political policies that he sees as obstructive and counter-productive in the field of education. Although I like to divorce myself from the hard core trash in the ditches on both sides of the political road, these days I find myself on the British side of the dotted line more often than not while trying to straddle the middle and keep my eyes moving.

I didn't mean to aim at the far right, just fire a volley across the bow as a warning that some of the comments in the later chapters might cause alarm to those who already know the answers and who are not open minded or self-confident enough to trust their preconceived opinions. I never try to change anyone's mind regarding religion or politics as those are often irrationally determined and rather permanent, and no amount of fact with distort the "truth."

Jul. 3, 2014, 11:27am

Since I am a Green with Socialist leanings, I think shots aimed towards the right should be aimed at the waterline with the intent to sink. I am part of the modern political problem: I don't want compromise, I want the utter and abject defeat and humiliation of my political enemies.

We saw how well that worked in 1919...still, there I am, screaming "GUILLOTINE! GUILLOTINE!!" at the passing limos.

Jul. 4, 2014, 7:19am

>35 richardderus: I do my damnedest to be independent and objective, but I'm left of center most of the time these days. As a scientist (retired), I cannot possibly align with a party that denies science and empirical evidence. Modern conservatism, as Paul Krugman wrote, has become sort of a cult, very much given to conspiracy theorizing when confronted with inconvenient facts.

I'm not happy with some of the things that the Present has been unable to do while in office, but I do sympathize with him on many issues. He wanted to transcend partisanship, only to have Mitch McConnell vow at the Senate podium in front of the entire nation that he shall fail and that they will do everything to make sure he is a one-term President. There is a 1936 speech in which FDR described struggling with "the old enemies of peace -- business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering."

Social welfare has been present since the invention of fire and is witnessed in many animals. It's almost the definition of civilization, yet it is anathema to the far right.

Beliefs are a complicated blend of facts, lies and faith, and as such usually exist beyond the realm of the rational. The problem is that it takes too long for unvetted ignorance to destroy itself and it takes everyone down with the ship. Never underestimate the power of ignorant people in large numbers. A political party dedicated to dumbing down its base and the entire country for political gain is the height of unAmericanism.

And you think you have it tough, RD. I live in the heart of the Bible Belt. Sorry for the soapbox. It's refreshing to find a kindred soul in the surrounding waters.

Jul. 5, 2014, 5:51pm

The White Lioness by Henning Mankell is the third in his series of Inspector Wallander mysteries. Woven around the apartheid theme from South Africa, the mystery contains several familiar themes and a good deal of suspense. It's a must for Mankell fans, and a good if lengthy introduction to the fascination with Swedish authors.

Jul. 5, 2014, 8:04pm

>36 mldavis2: I left Texas for a reason...I am simply not able to exist in a place that has what I perceive as hate at its core. Same reason I can't be religious. All that sanctified hatred makes me bilious.

Jul. 6, 2014, 6:07pm

38> Bible thumpers aside (and I have a family full of them), my dislike of Texas also stems from experience with a dysfunctional law enforcement system and the arrogance that seems to go with that ineptitude. I'm sure there are good officers and investigators there who do good work, but in my 20 years in criminal investigation, crime scene forensics and one family tragedy at the hands of complete idiots (a book that should be written but never will), I never interacted with any of the good ones. I would never live there amid that self-righteous swagger and hypocrisy. (Quickly ducking our Texan friends...)

Jul. 6, 2014, 6:16pm

Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander is a book loaned to me by a friend and retired preacher who thought I might enjoy it. The author was a neurosurgeon so his credentials are excellent. The book details his bout with infectious bacterial meningitis and a near death experience in which he claims to have passed into an alternate spiritual reality. He then attempts to bridge the gap by explaining how medical knowledge "proves" that his experience could not have been generated by his comatose brain and therefore is proof of the existence of heaven and a Creator. It is instructive to note that the author no longer practices medicine and makes his living on the lecture circuit, and has written nothing in respected peer reviewed journals regarding his "proof." I saw it as a religious testimonial by a man recently converted as a believer.

Jul. 7, 2014, 12:40am

>39 mldavis2: Why won't it be written? Hmmm? If it needs to be written, it should be. *significant stare*

>40 mldavis2: Ugh.

Jul. 7, 2014, 12:27pm

>41 richardderus: Well, RD, I don't have time, and I'm not a writer. It was a false accusation made by a young female student against my brother-in-law who was the school principal. In short, there was never an investigation, never an interview or statement, the indictment by grand jury was one of 94 that day so obviously they never read the case at all or the (lack of) evidence. The small town rent-a-cop who made the arrest was incompetent, untrained and never engaged the county sheriff's department. Then of course the lawyers strung it out and took thousands of dollars to "defend" a non-crime. It dragged on for two years until the female was arrested on an unrelated drug charge and a search of her house turned up a diary detailing the whole scam. My brother-in-law's criminal record was completely removed from the databases but he lost his $40,000 bond money and the state of Texas still will not reinstate his teaching license. Lots more details and people involved but that's the gist of it.

That's just one example of the Texas mentality of "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out." The Texas rangers I've worked with on interstate cases think those @#!% hats are crowns and they want everyone to sit on the floor at their feet during an investigation. Yes, a stereotype based on inadequate sample.

Jul. 7, 2014, 12:30pm

It accords well with my own experiences. All the way down the line. Loathsome place in many ways.

Jul. 8, 2014, 6:51am

>40 mldavis2: I second Richard's Ugh; my mom gave me this one a while ago, saying that I just *have* to read it - I haven't yet and likely won't.

Jul. 8, 2014, 7:25am

>44 scaifea: I read it because I respect the friend who gave it to me, and because the author, a neurosurgeon who should know more about brain function than anyone, had impressive credentials. Additionally, I try to remain open minded. Refusal to read something that challenges my own beliefs and understanding is one of the main criticisms I have against those who refuse to accept empirical evidence when it conflicts their own agenda, both religious and political. As a scientist, I try to remain open-minded and flexible in the face of evidence, and never afraid to change my mind or admit I'm wrong.

The author argues that his comatized trip into a spiritual world had to be real, because under his medical condition, his brain functions could not generate the equivalent of a "dream" state or retain memory and therefore what he encountered was "real." I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to refute that argument (he goes into some detail regarding the various brain areas and related functions).

So I did not challenge his theory for that reason. I did find it telling that his father was a highly religious man, the author was an Episcopalian prior to and following the illness, that he went through post-ICU irrational thought (a common occurrence), he never went back to medical practice (he says because he wanted to share his experience with others), he makes his living on the lecture circuit, and he never wrote any rigorous account of his experience in any legitimate peer reviewed journals.

Overall, the book is a challenge to scientists (not insurmountable), and an effective personal testimonial for those who are pre-wired in that direction. I remain skeptical.

Jul. 28, 2014, 5:59pm

Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle was a book I picked up on impulse because I used to enjoy Pournelle's column in the old '70's editions of BYTE Magazine. Niven is, of course, a well known sci-fi writer who uses scientific knowledge to create his scenarios and alien characters. No aliens here, however. A huge comet hits earth and the few survivors struggle in the aftermath.

The book is long but maintains tension and interest to the end. A good read if this is your genre. There are no obvious seams of collaboration and the books reads as one.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 29, 2014, 4:14pm

Back home again at last. Away from the over-priced, ethanol contaminated gasoline, east coast traffic jams, left lane hoggers who lack rear view mirrors, variable speed yo-yos who don't know how to set the cruise control, and semis battling side-by-side for miles in both lanes, neither winning while everyone else loses time.

The Ethiopian waited patiently for my return and is that much better after the scorched mega-batch Folgers kept me from my morning cup. I roasted a nice batch of Columbian Narino Buesaco just now which is resting for a day or two to de-gas and mellow. Coffee can be SO good when it's handled properly and with respect.

Finishing up A Year of Biblical Womanhood which isn't quite what the title implies. Short review upon completion. Ah, my own bed. :-)

Jul. 29, 2014, 4:38pm

Oh yeah, own-bed joy is the best ever. Happy homecoming!

I've reviewed a really well-made word-book, Authorisms: Words Wrought by Writers, over in my #201.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 30, 2014, 7:25am

>48 richardderus: Yes, there is nothing I enjoy quite like a good wordsmith. I'll put "Authorisms" on my to-read list, although I've been lucky lately with Early Review copies from LT and need to cull those ASAP.

Jul. 31, 2014, 2:35pm

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans was on my list as a recommendation from friends. The author picked each month of one year to attempt to follow biblical directions and guidelines for women as dictated or outlined by scripture. I give her high marks for an original idea and excellent implementation, both respectful and flexible.

Overall, it is apparent that there is a large discrepancy between the dictates of the Jewish Old Testament and the New Testament instructions of Paul as contrasted with the teachings, actions and relationships of Jesus. Evans does a nice job here of maintaining interest and managed to keep my attention despite the fact that this is not my genre.

Aug. 10, 2014, 7:38am

Peace and quiet. The grandkids have left for VA after a good week here, my wife is off to see her 92 year old father to take away his car and keys (traumatic) to keep him from getting lost or killing someone with it. I, on the other hand, put the house back together and sit here, sipping a lovely cup of Kenya Kirinyaga Kii AB (no, that's not mistyped), and wondering if I'll be able to finish 1Q84 in time for the book discussion group a week from Thursday -- all 920 small-print pages of it. Good book so far.

Aug. 10, 2014, 6:55pm

That kitten-squisher wasn't really my cuppa, but I can see the appeal.

Aug. 11, 2014, 8:25am

Not my genre, either, although I'm not sure what category I'll end up with. One reason I like book discussion groups is because it forces me to read things I wouldn't otherwise pick up.

Ah, the Kenya is ready and the book awaits.

Aug. 11, 2014, 12:40pm

Something that puzzles me...people coo and oooh and aaah over Murakami's writing. How do they know? It's a translation. The translator, even if he/she is working with the author, is the one whose writing you're reading. Not to take away from the original author's talents, but isn't it a bit, I don't know, dishonest to give fulsome praise for something that isn't entirely the praise object's doing?

Aug. 12, 2014, 7:36am

Sip ... ahh... but I digress ...

I'm halfway through 1Q84 and I'm impressed with the translation, which is excellent. The narrative rocks back and forth mainly between two characters who, by now, are apparently destined to meet. Interest remains high and it has held my attention so far despite the long time periods holding this cat cruncher (wish I had it on my Kindle). Maruakmi seems to be a bit over-preoccupied with sexual content at times which so far hasn't manifested itself into a relevant aspect of the story, but I withhold judgement until the bitter end.

The translation reads as though it had been written in English, with no occasionally awkward words or sentence structure, and contains a number of surprising idiomatic expressions and specific references which pop up as curiosly un-Asian, but then we are an international society within the literary world, aren't we?

The basic structure and story line is good, the writing is good, and there are no grammatical flaws, so obviously the translators have done a masterful job. To what degree they have altered the text, no one but another translator can judge.

Sip ... ahh ... Kenyan...

Aug. 12, 2014, 10:09am

I am never coming back here ever again! Tormenting me with coffee appreciation when I drink warm brown caffeine water. Cruel! Cruel is what you are.

Aug. 13, 2014, 7:51am

Yeah, well the 'net is fine for torture but it doesn't work worth a damn for transporting liquids - yet. I have a few more cups of the Kenyan remaining, then it's on to another Ethiopian, roasted yesterday and quietly resting in my vacuum canister to develop the fruity, complex goodness, exploding from the beans as they are ground to perfection and covered with 195°F filtered water to release the essence of flavor and character. But that's another day or so, and I wouldn't put anyone through such descriptive torture prior to the revelation. I'd love to share a cup, RD, but technology lags.

Aug. 13, 2014, 2:25pm

This past weekend, I roasted up a Jamaica Blue Mountain to a nice Full City. After a few days, it's juuuuust right. Got some Hawaiian queued up next. :)

Aug. 13, 2014, 3:58pm

>57 mldavis2:, >58 drneutron: *glares at cruel tormentors*

*flounces out*

Aug. 14, 2014, 7:01am

>58 drneutron: Ah! Another cognoscenti to the other side of the burned bean. I was beginning to think all of RD's followers were FFs (Folger's Fans) or CAs (Charbucks Addicts).

But Jamaica Blue Mountain and Hawaii - that's livin' high on the tree, price wise. Never roasted JBM myself but some of the Hawaiian is great. Had a bit of the Geisha from 2012 that was worth dreaming about.

Books - Uncommon Grounds by Sandra Balzo is worth reading.

Aug. 14, 2014, 9:16am

>60 mldavis2: Yeah, the JBM was a bit of an experiment for me. I usually get something South American, but a buddy and I decided to split a pound along with my usual order. I've done Hawaiian before, not the really expensive Kona, but a Maui that's pretty reasonably priced and really does up well at a C+ or FC. My usual source is Burman's. What's yours?

Aug. 15, 2014, 7:52am

>61 drneutron: I buy almost all of my green from Sweet Maria's. I like their web site and all their forums and information. I've also used Roastmaster where I bought my first little iRoast2, and I occasionally pick up green beans when I'm in Kansas City at The Roasterie but you have to go downtown to their warehouse and roaster to get unroasted beans. SM's has a big stock and selection and they are quick, fair and helpful if you need it. Currently using a Behmor and have the new panel enroute to upgrade it to the 1600 Plus model.

Another book I have is Home Coffee Roasting by Kenneth Davids. Haven't read that in a long time.

Aug. 20, 2014, 4:09pm

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami was a whole 925 pages of genre-teasing fiction, very well translated from the Japanese, to the point of losing what might have been some Japanese flavor. Overall, it contained elements of dystopia, paranormal, crime, romance and perhaps other genres.

I found it interesting to the point that I never felt I wanted to pitch it at the cat (which would have killed it if I had one), but it could have been written in half the space. The book has very few characters and strings the boy-girl separation along for the entire narrative. I'm not sure what all the excitement is, except to be able to say you read the whole thing. 3 stars for effort. It was a library reading assignment or I might never have considered it.

Aug. 24, 2014, 10:54am

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is a disconcerting but very important look at injustice in the legal system in the U.S. but most specifically in the south and Alabama. The author was a new lawyer when he began pro-Bono work to free innocent death-row inmates. His struggle led to formation of Equal Justice Initiative and has spread to criminal injustice of all manner for those unable to afford a lawyer. It is not a fun read, but should be read by anyone even remotely interested in the high rate of incarceration in the U.S. As Stevenson points out so clearly, we are not as bad as the worst thing we've ever done. I think we'll hear a lot from this book in the future as it has strong ties to the mess in Ferguson, Missouri. Recommended if you can handle it.

Aug. 24, 2014, 3:04pm

>63 mldavis2: Heh. I feel vindicated.

>64 mldavis2: I'm afraid this would merely be confirmation bias reading for me. Appalling to me the horrors we perpetrate on our own.

Aug. 24, 2014, 3:22pm

>65 richardderus: Yes, confirmation, but the way in which some of his cases were mishandled by law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and juries puts them into the criminal category. Unfortunately, law enforcement and the court system has encased itself in a cocoon of immunity to legal redress, and the idiot voters continue to elect and re-elect these criminals because they support local bias against minorities and the poor. It is a powerful book in its indictment of public figures.

Aug. 29, 2014, 4:08pm

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman is a fictional biography of a 70 year old opinionated Jewish immigrant who was abandoned by her parents at age 10 in NYC. A rags to riches story, it contains a number of con-schemes woven around her entrepreneurial spirit and ego. I found it an interesting read and worth some time. Gilman is an experienced writer, and her ability to maintain the Jewish character of her protagonist is admirable.

Sept. 2, 2014, 5:33pm

The Bible's Cutting Room Floor: The Holy Scriptures Missing From Your Bible by Joel M. Hoffman is a study of the scriptural origins of our modern bible. Hoffman, a PhD linguist, concentrates mostly on the Old Testament and the wealth of new information and insights into the origins of what we have come to accept as the canon.

Hoffman includes a look at translational errors (linguistics, in which he is an expert), the Dead Sea scrolls, the Septuagint, the appropriate writings of the historian Josephus, and the Book of Enoch. As an amateur student of the study of the origins of biblical scripture, I found this book well representative of some of the more important insights gleaned from modern studies and understanding. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest outside of the covers of the modern bible. As with many recent scholarly works, it will make those who insist on biblical inerrancy to be most uncomfortable.

Sept. 2, 2014, 8:46pm

>68 mldavis2: Provocative title! I'm glad such books are being made. Fascinating topic, given the book's centrality to Murrikin kulcher.

Sept. 3, 2014, 8:08am

>69 richardderus: A lot of what we call "culture" (or kulcher as you say) is habit and the passing down of misunderstanding, both intentional and ignorant, of stories and viewpoints and opinions that originated with those who failed to vet their sources, or who ignored sources when they didn't support the agenda. While the ultimate aim of so many religions is "righteousness," apparently that doesn't encompass truth and honesty when empirical evidence is at odds or challenges other goals. Few fundamentalists dare venture outside of the covers of their own scripture, which results in fanaticism without logic as we are seeing with terrorists.

Yes, it is a fascinating topic, unfortunately ignored by the majority. Like Faux Noose claims, "we report, you decide," except that so many are choosing what someone else tells them and so few are deciding from what is being honestly reported. The search for facts continues...

I hope your search is going well, RD.

Sept. 3, 2014, 9:27am

>70 mldavis2: Yes indeed. And so do I hope my search is going well.

Sept. 7, 2014, 7:02am

Just ground a fresh batch of Brazil Yellow Bourbon (no alcohol, it's coffee) that I roasted day before yesterday, and what a change from the Ethiopian Michiti I just finished. Beans smell like peanut butter but it brews into a lovely coffee-like flavor with hints of root beer and maybe apple with a touch of acidity. It sure as heck ain't Folgers.

With no deadlines at hand, I'm re-reading Flight of Passage by Rinker Buck, a memoir of sorts of two teen-age kids who flew a Piper Cub across the country in the 60's. I might have to fire up the flight simulator and fly that route again with them. I love aviation books, and perhaps the best is Fate is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann, one of the great aviation pioneers of yesteryear. Must dig that one out as well.

The Yellow Bourbon is cooling and changing flavor a bit, so back to the taste testing.

Sept. 18, 2014, 3:55pm

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather is a turn of the century classic that describes life in Nebraska for homesteaders. I found it well written, with some great descriptive paragraphs of scenery and the land as seen by the settlers. On the other hand, I found it a bit simple in terms of plot. But it's a quick and easy read and should be on anyone's classic list.

Sept. 26, 2014, 8:20am

The Invisible Soldiers: How America Outsourced Our Security by Ann Hagedorn is a sobering look into the growing trend of hiring Private Military Contractors (PMCs) in place of using U.S. soldiers. A highly respected author, Hagedorn uncovers the errors, misdeeds, blunders and expense of this disturbing facet of war, and the tremendous costs of doing it. While the U.S. should be concerned with peace and stability, these mercenaries (as they don't like to be called) thrive and profit egregiously from just the opposite.

Sept. 30, 2014, 4:29pm

Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder by Kent Nerburn is a touching account of American Indian history as told by one who lived it. Laced with pathos, humor and regret, Nerburn spins a great tale that helps the white man understand how Indians feel about their condition.

Okt. 12, 2014, 5:19pm

Complete Chess Strategy 3: Play on the Wings by Ludek Pachman is the third in a 3 book set written in 1978. Of classical value to collectors, this 2012 translation is also still relevant in today modern chess world as a tutorial on middle game play. Unfortunately, it retained the English descriptive notation rather than the current algebraic or symbolic notation.

Okt. 25, 2014, 4:37pm

The Case Against the Supreme Court by Erwin Chemerinsky is an academic look back at some of the landmark cases of the Supreme Court, its influence and failings, its shortcomings and biases. Chemerinsky, a noted law professor who has argued many cases before the court, outlines the problems and offers non-partisan solutions to improve the stability and objectivity of the court in today's polarized political climate. Though the author writes from a slightly liberal perspective, the arguments and suggestions are persuasive for any open-minded persons.

This is an excellent book for those with the time and patience to read it. It was an ARC, received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Dez. 17, 2014, 2:42pm

Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields is an interesting book. Lee only published one book in her lifetime and was somewhat of a recluse. Shields put together a biography from files and interviews with people who knew her to with whom she had come into contact, and he was never able to interview her directly.

Much of the narrative concerns Lee's association and collaboration with Truman Capote on his book In Cold Blood much of which Lee was apparently responsible for. It is an interesting look into an author that we know so little about.

Dez. 23, 2014, 8:26pm

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a classic of racial and judicial bias set in the south. The courtroom scene is a good one and the narrative maintains the reader's attention throughout. Should be on everone's list of "to read" books. It's a shame Ms. Lee never completed a second novel.

Dez. 24, 2014, 9:22am

You're making me want to schedule a Harper Lee re-read...

Happy Holidays, Mike!

Dez. 27, 2014, 10:58am

Winter greetings, Mike! Looking forward to following along with your eclectic reading list in 2015.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 29, 2014, 6:45am

Yes, scaifea and countrylife, that's a book that most people read in high school senior English class or perhaps in college English. It wasn't on my list decades ago, but it has been on my to-read list for several years. My library book discussion group read the Shields biography (above in #78) which forced me to read Lee afterwards. Great book, especially considering the date of publication.

And, of course holiday cheer to both of you!

Bearbeitet: Jan. 3, 2015, 2:27pm

Well, I don't know how to link 2014 to my 2015 page. The "link" button does nothing that I can see. Maybe this will do it.