Deirdre

A Very Brief History of Eternity - Carlos Eire

Beautiful writing! And a wealth of ideas -- I am delighted to report that Eire's books with footnotes are just as much fun to read as his books without them. Snappy prose on a weighty subject -- highly recommended!

 

I could go on about how the structure of the book mirrors its topic, how amazing it is that Eire covers such a wealth of philosophical, religious, and scientific ideas in such a small number of pages -- but I hardly know where to start. Really, it's amazing! Eire covers (seemingly) everything and everybody with any impact on Western civilization -- Gilgamesh, the Zoroastrians, Dante, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, the scholastics, Darwin, Meister Eckhart, Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, Pope John Paul II, Richard Dawkins -- it's absolutely astounding!

 

Of course, Eire writes from a Roman Catholic perspective -- some will find his work unsatisfactory for that reason alone. Which I think is unjust. Professor Eire lays out his premises very clearly, states what he is going to do, and then does it with grace and expertise. I couldn't ask for more from a book -- I loved it!

 

That said, it is not the book to read if you want (for instance) an in depth discussion of Zen Buddhist concepts of time. That would be a fascinating book -- but it is not this one. This book is about the history of the idea of eternity in Western civilization, and if that idea -- or professor Eire's vivid, snappy prose -- holds any attraction for you, you should read it, because you will definitely enjoy it.

The Charwoman's Shadow

The Charwoman's Shadow - Lord Dunsany

Definitely an odd book -- but I am glad I read it! Absolutely gorgeous writing -- which, however, swings between the highly evocative and the deliberately absurd. The quote about dog-scientists is quite well known, I believe, but consider this one, too:

 

And there was a repast all ready cooked and spread, waiting for Ramon Alonzo. By        what arts those meats were kept smoking upon that table ready for any stranger that should come in from the wood, ....I tell not to this age, for it is far too well acquainted already with the preservation of meat. (p. 20)

 

The plot is -- perhaps -- a tad predictable, but in a very satisfactory way. The book ended just as I wished it would -- as every good fairy tale should.I found it much easier to get involved in this story than in The King of Elfland's Daughter, which is equally beautifully written, but much more static.I would recommend it to anyone who likes art fairy tales, such as those by George MacDonald, and who enjoys perfectly crafted, but weighty, and sometimes odd, prose.

Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 Volume 2 (Star Trek/Doctor Who)

Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 Volume 2 - David Tipton, J.K. Woodward, Scott Tipton, Gordon Purcell Not completely logical -- there is (at least ) one MAJOR glitch in the plot (IMO), but a lot of fun! The ending is (of course) quite predictable, but the drawing & coloring are quite good. Quite enjoyable, on the whole.

The Near Witch

The Near Witch - Victoria Schwab I had a hard time getting into the book, for some reason. But it eventually became quite good, and I do think it is original and well-executed.I believe that Victoria Schwab makes the character of Cole, in particular, very nebulous. I believe that this is quite deliberate, and very cleverly done. But it did make his character a lot harder to relate to -- at least to me. Oddly, I found Lexi, the heroine, rather nebulous in places, too.(And I do get tired of the everlasting first person present tense....)Some of Victoria Schwab's imagery is really arresting, and beautifully done. This book was almost a 3 for me, but not quite -- though it did get much better as it went on, and the ending was original and satisfying.

The Mantis and the Moon: A Story From Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales

The Mantis and the Moon: A Story From Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales - Nelson Mandela, NB Publishers Proprietary, Forest Whitaker Just have to mention -- good story (in a rather Aesop-like way), and good narration, but Forest Whitaker tends to drop his voice at the ends of phrases. He has great expression -- but you may want to save this one to listen to at home (or in a quiet locale, at any rate). If you listen in the car, or anywhere else with loud and/ or sudden background noises, you will not be able to hear key words or passages.

Fesito Goes to Market: A Story From Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales

Fesito Goes to Market: A Story From Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales - Nelson Mandela,  NB Publishers Proprietary,  Don Cheadle Another charming, well-told story from a wonderful anthology. I suppose some might say it is "predictable"-- the small, weak boy whom the protagonist doesn't want to help initially is the one who saves him from the local bullies. But it's very heart warming, well constructed, and believable! Plus the music is great, throughout the whole anthology.

Mpipidi and the Motlopi Tree: A Story From Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales

Mpipidi and the Motlopi Tree: A Story From Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales - Nelson Mandela,  NB Publishers Proprietary,  Matt Damon,  Vusi Mahlasela A very sweet story for any child who wants -- or loves -- a little brother or sister. Beautiful narration, too.

House of Many Ways

House of Many Ways - Diana Wynne Jones, Jenny Sterlin I really enjoyed this book! Diana Wynne Jones is a master story teller, and Jenny Sterlin does a wonderful job with the narration.A question for goodreads -- why is the description in Russian (?) when the book is in English? This makes no manner of sense to me!But anyway....Charmain, our heroine, is not an immediately likeable character. But she is still a sympathetic viewpoint character. And the house itself is fascinating -- as is the castle, and really, the whole country.I think my favorite character is probably Calcifer -- Ms. Sterlin does an amazing voice for him. The omnipresent, though completely absent, old uncle is also pretty good. And Howl is preposterous, aggravating, and completely great! My final "favorite"character is Waif, who doesn't' say a word -- but there's a lot more to her than meets the eye.Definitely a lot of fun! I think readers who like "Harry Potter"should give this series a look -- & I might well read/ listen to this one again.

Letters to Children

Letters to Children - C.S. Lewis, Douglas H. Gresham, Lyle W. Dorsett, Marjorie Lamp Mead Thoroughly enjoyable -- though not, perhaps, very illuminating for people who have already thought about the Narnia books a lot. Still, definitely very worthwhile!It would have been even better (IMO) if it had been possible to include the children's letters to Lewis. You still got a great sense of dialogue -- but the actual letters would have made the book even more interesting.I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to all fans of C.S. Lewis

The Crown of Embers

The Crown of Embers - Rae Carson Better than the first -- and better written, too. There is still the occasional infelicity in the writing -- but it's still a really fun read, and a good story. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Rose Under Fire

Rose Under Fire - Elizabeth Wein I absolutely loved this book -- I don't want to write a full review yet, because I think I would not be able to make one spoiler-free. However, I will say just a few things:1. I liked this one even better than Code Name Verity. (My personal opinion -- you don't have to agree!)2. One of the reasons I like it so much? Not just the amazing plot and characters, but the poetry and music.3. Did I mention the characters? Here's something I would love to ask [a:Elizabeth Wein|52320|Elizabeth Wein|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1206789548p2/52320.jpg] -- is there a deliberate allusion to [b:The Empty Kingdom|1669217|The Empty Kingdom (The Lion Hunters, #5)|Elizabeth Wein|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347777811s/1669217.jpg|1664163] in this story? How much I loved Athena in that book -- and she has a sister in this one (IMO), though not a twin.I have read some reviews that claim this book lacks suspense, because you know from the start that the narrator will survive. I disagree -- I found it incredibly suspenseful.For those who have yet to read either this book or Code Name Verity, and who want to read both, you should definitely read Code Name Verity first. This book stands alone quite well, but there are spoilers for Code Name Verity.Longer review later -- and thank you, Elizabeth Wein, for writing such marvelous books!PS Yes, you need a handkerchief. Or two.

Asmodeus and the Bottler of Djinns: A Story From Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales

Asmodeus and the Bottler of Djinns: A Story From Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales - Nelson Mandela, NB Publishers Proprietary, Whoopi Goldberg A very entertaining story, with a twisty protagonist, a twisty plot, and a classic ending. I'll never look at lobster the same way again! & Ms. Goldberg is quite a good narrator.

The Ring of the King: A Story From Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales

The Ring of the King: A Story From Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales - Nelson Mandela, NB Publishers Proprietary, Alan Rickman This is one of the more memorable stories in this audio collection. Alan Rickman is the narrator par excellence (I think I would pay to listen to him read the phone book), and the story itself is very witty and charming -- loved it!

The Ear of the Heart: An Actress' Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows

The Ear of the Heart: An Actress' Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows - Dolores Hart, Richard DeNeut I really enjoyed this book. I agree with the reviewer who said the writing was a little odd -- it's basically a record of a conversation. But Mother Dolores is a fascinating person, and some of her anecdotes will really stay with you.There are few non fiction accounts of modern life in an enclosed abbey -- off the top of my head, I can only think of Nancy Klein Maguire's [b:An Infinity of Little Hours: The Trial of Faith of Five Young Men in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order|6590147|An Infinity of Little Hours The Trial of Faith of Five Young Men in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order|Nancy Klein Maguire|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1328327422s/6590147.jpg|1107714]. (Which is also a fun read , BTW. A kind of monastic mystery, where you know from the outset that the author ends up marrying one of the young men. But I digress). For anyone who enjoys the genre at all, I definitely recommend it.Will it answer your questions about religious vocation? Probably not. But it is an engrossing read, nonetheless. Mother Dolores leaves you with a few questions -- but that, I think, is what a book of this nature should do. She paints a vivid and engaging picture of her life, her choices, and her abbey. Anyone with an interest in religious life in general, or Mother Dolores in particular, will certainly enjoy this book.

Emil and the Detectives

Emil and the Detectives - Erich Kästner, Walter Trier, J.D. Stahl, Maurice Sendak Just wanted to say a few words in favor of the new translation -- I thought it was great, actually -- much more colloquial and fluid, and I didn't at all mind the "americanization" of the proper names. I also thought that the translator's note, and the intro by [a:Maurice Sendak|4489|Maurice Sendak|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1201028880p2/4489.jpg]were really nice touches.This was one of my favorites when I was a child, and I'm glad I revisited it. I think modern children would like it, too!

What a Year (26 Fairmount Avenue Series)

26 Fairmount Avenue: What a Year! (Audio) - Tomie dePaola The series continues as enjoyable as ever! Who knew that [a:Tomie dePaola|8725|Tomie dePaola|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1200682227p2/8725.jpg] was as talented an actor/reader as an author/illustrator? Delightful!

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