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Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Modern Scholar: Understanding the Holocaust
by David Engel | Book Review

This audiobook was really hard to listen to, because of its incomprehensible facts, but I'm glad I did. You can't feel good while listening to this but you can learn many things about the Holocaust which is why I set out listening to this dreary audiobook.

It all started when I watched the movie Shindler's List, a well-made movie that affected me deeply. I just didn't understand how such atrocities could have occurred. Sure Hitler may have believed that all Jews needed to be exterminated but how did a national army get the point where they were carrying out mass murder on a level unseen by history? I wanted to understand, so I downloaded this audiobook. I now have much more of an understanding of how everything went down, but it is still baffling and depressing to me to think on The Holocaust.

The author and narrator of the lectures which make up this audiobook is extremely knowledgeable and speaks superbly. The audio quality is top notch and even though I think he's reading from a script, simply because he doesn't have a bunch of ums and ahs in there, it really seems like he's just drawing from the massive amounts of knowledge he has in his brain. It really sounds like you're sitting in on one amazing lecture after another.

If you've ever wanted to understand the Holocaust, this audiobook lives up to its title. It won't be an easy listen, but it will answer many questions I'm sure you have, and maybe even some you didn't realize you had.

What books have you read on The Holocaust that have been meaningful or insightful to you? I'm planning on reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl soon. I've owned the paperback for years. I think it's time to read it. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Strange Case of Lord Byron's Lover
(The Prometheus Saga) by Parker Francis | Book Review

This was a really enjoyable story through the viewpoint of Mary Shelley the author of the famous novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. Most of this story takes place during that famous summer where she spent time in the company of Lord Byron, John William Palidori, and Clair Clairmont near Genevea Switzerland. This is where she came up with the idea for her novel Frankenstein. I remember reading that novel when I was in college and it blew me away. I couldn't believe how great it was and how young she was when she wrote it. So I knew about this summer where Lord Byron invited his guests to write a ghost story. Getting to read a story that brings you into that time was pretty special. Though this is a fictional story, which includes an alien being disguised as a human to live among them and learn how they live, everything else in the story is based on what really happened that summer. It was really cool to be a part of that time in this famous author's life as a reader. One of my favorite things about reading is when I'm transported into the story and feel like I'm really there going on the adventure with the characters. This book did a great job doing that and it was really fun to read.

This book is part of The Prometheus Saga, which is a bunch of short stories all written about an alien probe being who is sent to Earth to observe. This being can shape shift and so many times it plays the roles of more than one character in the story. It's a really cool idea and all the stories, including this one, have been great so far. One thing that was different about this book that I appreciated was how light hearted it was. It was told in first person from Mary Shelly's point of view as she's writing in her diary. It was an earnest story and did have times of deep emotion, but on the whole it was not taking itself so seriously which made for a light enjoyable read. The pages turned with ease.

Pick this one up and dive into a creative world of authors gathered for a summer of creativity and a bit of mystery as they interact with each other and unknowingly The Prometheus.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 22
Crystal Night (The Prometheus Saga) by Charles A Cornell

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In this 22nd episode I review Crystal Night by Charles A Cornell. Listen to hear why I really enjoyed this take on a story during WWII in Germany with a splash of science fiction thrown in.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Written & Narrated by: David Engle

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Manteo (The Prometheus Saga) by Elle Andrews Patt
Book Review

This was a great story. It brought out a lot of emotion in me as I read it. I found myself feeling terrible for one of the main characters Manteo. He's a Native American man who finds himself in a difficult position with his own tribe and the modern English people. He is with the English as a sort of guide. He has been to their land, wears their clothes, and speaks their language. All he wants is to bring the new modern things he's found to his people but this proves to be quite difficult.

There are some gut wrenching scenes in this book where characters come into conflict. That's all I'll say because I don't want to spoil anything. This story reads very much as a historical fiction piece. I felt like I was back in the world of the Americas being new to the English. It reminded me of Dances with Wolves but in this case the Indian is on the white man's side in a way.

This was a great dip into a time early in our nation's history and the fact that the story has a Science Fiction element makes it that much cooler. Watching how the Prometheus character, named Samuel in this story, went into hiding to then come back out as a different person was cool to read about. 

I enjoyed reading this story and appreciated how well it was written to reflect a time now long gone. A world I'm not familiar with. Most stories I read are in the far flung future or a fantasy setting like our distant past. This was a fun setting to slip into for this brief but satisfying story.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Great Big War by Bob Nick Shields | Book Review

This was a cute little story that reminded me of playing war when I was a kid. My brothers and I would often play war with our neighbor. It took me a while to get into it though. At first it kind of seemed like a bunch of random events. There was no real story. Once the play war starts the story starts and I was interested from that point on and really enjoyed it.

The kids in this book really commit to their play war. It was fun to read about kids taking their play so seriously because that's how I remember playing too. I loved how the different parts of the playground and neighborhood were described as the different sections of the battlefield. It was just like something you would hear a child say if they were playing. I also enjoyed the main character's insights into the social politics of the neighborhood he lived in.

The author has managed to capture the voice of a child really well in this story and it's a fun treat to read and or listen to. I listened to the audiobook narrated by David Winograd and he brought his own quirky spin to it. By the end of the book I was enjoying his take on this story and loved the way he voiced the main character.

All in all a fun read. The main reason I enjoyed it is that it reminded me of playing war when I was a kid and any story that reminds me of being a kid is a good one in my book.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton | Book Review

I'm glad it's been so long since I had seen the movie as I started this book, and that I've only seen it once. Many things were forgotten and therefore were awesome surprises when I read them. It was a fantastic story and the dinosaurs were terrifying.

I liked the slow build as we see little glimpses of dinosaur attacks before everyone gets to the island and then once they're all there everything is fine and amazing for a while. Even then there still seems to be a looming tension, a sense of foreboding where you're just waiting for something to go wrong. When you finally do get to a scene where a character confronts a dinosaur stuff gets really pretty quick. These animals are amazingly powerful and having a confrontation with one most likely means death. The deaths are gruesome in this book and each one that happens makes you that much more afraid for the characters you're growing to love. I loved how Crichton wrote the dinosaurs. There are no illusions that they are extremely dangerous creatures that must be treated accordingly.

Every time a character had to face a dinosaur in this book it seemed like they were going to die, and many times they do. It makes for a lot of really exciting and tense scenes. Some where everything is loud and they're running or driving away for their lives. Other scenes were more of a quiet intensity, where one wrong move could reveal the character to the dinosaurs and then it would be all over.

This was my first book by Michael Crichton but it won't be the last. I look forward to reading more of his work. I can't wait to see what's in store for his characters in his other books.

Have you read Jurassic Park? What did you think? What other Michael Crichton books are awesome? Which one should I read next? Thanks for stopping by!