davgol  Malcolm_GladwellBoy with menacing shadowAnother great book by Gladwell!  In this title he explores how our wounds our struggles can be the source of our strengths.  Interesting pieces that I learned: apparently Goliath was suffering from acromegaly (due to pituitary tumor) that caused him visual difficulties (thus he had another person guide him to the battle field) in addition to his giantism; Marching Day in England is where the Protestant march and celebrate their victory over the local Catholics! imagine if the Northerners came down to the South and celebrated the South’s loss in the Civil war!   He talks about the advantages that come from being a big fish in a small pond.  For example, the same percentage of Science majors switch over to Humanities in a Top School as compared to a medium school, despite the fact that the ATC test scores of students at the top school are generally way above those at medium schools (unless all these schools are grading on a curve, which wasn’t clearly discussed).

When the impressionists were shunned from the high art society in France, they created their own art show. And their art became more popular.  The most interesting take-away message is, if you’re going to fight the big and powerful, you don’t play by their rules.  You change the game.

 

Negatives: Though Gladwell holds up Jay Freireich’s cure of childhood leukemia as admirable, Freireich violated the physicians oath – do NO harm

25. July 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, NonFiction, Sports

Tiger, Meet My Sister by Rick Reilly, read by Brian, on 07/24/2014

reillyRick Reilly is a sports writer who is very funny.  His writings are so good, people who hate sports loves his books.  Tiger, Meet My Sister, Reilly compiles his best writings from ESPN for past five years.  I enjoy Rick because he doesn’t hold back.  He even has list of the nasty people he has interviewed.  Enjoyable read.

 

I really enjoy this series by Vicky Alvear Shecter. The Anubis one was certainly entertaining and this Hades follow-up is just as fun. Hades takes us on a personal tour of the Land of the Dead. He is sarcastic and funny and very informative. In between tales of how his younger brother Zeus causes him no end of misery, he imparts all kinds of historical stories from Greek and Roman times. There is a lot of humor mixed in with all the historical information. I think kids will appreciate the fact that they are being entertained and educated at the same time. I can’t wait to see who comes next in this series. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

Everyone knows the story of the doomed Romanov family. How they were all murdered during the Bolshevik Revolution. How there were claims that Anastasia or Alexei still lived. How once the tsar fell the country became communist under Lenin and Stalin. What you might not have known were the events leading up to the revolution and the murders. Or how truly oblivious Tsar Nicholas was to what was happening around him. Candace Fleming does a wonderful job telling this story. She gives us insight into the imperial family through historical details and primary sources. She gives us details about what the common people were going through both before and during WWI. She also shows the politics behind the revolution and the rise of Lenin. What surprised me most about this book was how doomed the Romanov’s seemed from the beginning. Nicholas and Alexandra were so wrapped up in themselves and their children and Rasputin that they really had no idea what was happening in their country or how their actions set them on the path of destruction.

21. July 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Humor, Tammy · Tags:

I am Pusheen the Cat by Claire Belton, read by Tammy, on 07/08/2014

pusheenHumorous collection of drawings of Pusheen the cat and pointers on day to day activities in the life of a cat. I first saw Pusheen on Facebook as an a collection of emoticon art you can add to private messages then saw the book.

21. July 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, NonFiction · Tags:

Year of the Storms: The Destructive Kansas Weather of 1990 by Howard Inglish, read by Brian, on 07/20/2014

stormsBack in 1990 the state of Kansas experience some of the most destructive weather ever recorded in the state.  Inglish brings these storms back to life and tells the tales of the people who survived them.

 

17. July 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: History, Inspirational, Kira, NonFiction

Unitarian Universalism: a Narrative History by David E. Bumbaugh, read by Kira, on 07/14/2014

rainbowchalice index       I read this for a class I took at my church this summer [we called it Summinary :) ].  It gives a history of liberal religion and the quest for tolerance for religious freedom.  I was amazed at how often, religious change came about due to other power struggles.  The Germans were chafing under Roman authority.  So when Luther  made his religious objections, the powers of state used the theological dispute to their advantage.

A repeatmichael-servetuseEmersond theme was reformers in one decade turning into the old guard against whom the newer thinkers rebelled in the next generation.  I was Ariussurprised at how enriching I found thisHosea_Ballou read.francisdavid

The Triple Nickles were the first black paratroopers in the American military. During WWII many Blacks joined the military; unfortunately, they were mostly relegated to labor positions and not allowed to fight for their country. This gradually changed as an all-Black tank unit and infantry units were established. Soon Blacks were being trained as pilots at Tuskegee. It wasn’t until 1944 that the Triple Nickles were established. They trained throughout the end of the war always ready to be called up to fight. However, military brass wasn’t quite as ready to integrate as the president was. The Triple Nickles never saw combat during WWII. While the white soldiers were fighting and dying they were sent to the Northwest to be the some of the first smokejumpers. It wasn’t until they were integrated into another paratrooper unit that these brave men would see combat. 

This is an important story to tell. It is amazing to me how we treated people in all walks of life just because the color of their skin was different from our own. This racism is still there today even if it might not always be targeted at Blacks. It took a lot of perseverance and courage on the part of these Black soldiers to break through the racial intolerance of the military leaders. They should be applauded.

15. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, NonFiction · Tags:

Nightmares in the Sky: Gargoyles and Grotesques by Stephen King and f-stop Fitzgerald, read by Brian, on 07/10/2014

nightThis book, Nightmares in the Sky, is a fascinating look at the gargoyles looking over us every day keeping the evil out of our buildings.  It’s amazing their beauty and mystique.

 

14. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Boundaries: How the Mason-Dixon Line Settled a Family Feud and Divided a Nation by Sally M. Walker, read by Angie, on 07/13/2014

Sure everyone has heard of the Mason Dixon line. A lot of people may know that it was used to divide the country into slave and nonslave states. Few people might know that it all started because of a boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland. I had some vague knowledge about the Mason Dixon line before reading this book, but I really had no idea about its true origins. Mason and Dixon were hired to survey the true boundaries between Pennsylvania and Maryland because no one really knew what they were. It took them years to do the survey, but the border lines are still those used today. 

Obviously the information in this book was really interesting and I am a big fan of Sally Walker; however, I felt the execution of this book fell short. The first big issue is the side bars. Children’s nonfiction always has sidebar information which is usually little tidbits about different aspects of the subject discussed. I love them and wholeheartedly think they should be in children’s nonfiction. They generally add a depth to the information that was missing. However, the sidebars in this book are terrible. Instead of being nicely separated by a box or off in the margins they are just big block paragraphs in italics. To make things even worse they are always placed in the middle of text; sometimes in the middle of a paragraph that splits between pages. It was horribly distracting and a terrible way to set up a book. 

The second issue was how technical this book got which made it boring! I really enjoy history and this was a story I wasn’t aware of. The bits about William Penn and George Calvert and why they founded their colonies was interesting. The story of Mason and Dixon was interesting. The long paragraphs about how you measure by the stars and what the instruments did was boring. It got so technical that my eyes glazed over. I found myself skimming long paragraphs of technical crap until the story picked up again. If I can’t take it then I am sure the intended audience of kids won’t be able to either. 

I had high hopes for this book and was soundly disappointed. Thankfully I did learn something from it.

12. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, NonFiction

Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure by Don Kladstrup, Petie Kladstrup, read by Angie, on 07/10/2014

I, like many people, have a fascination for the horrible things the Nazis did in Europe during WWII. I am especially fascinated by their large-scale looting operations. I knew about the looting of art throughout Europe but had no idea just how far their pillaging went. This book looks at how the wine makers of France were subject to just as much Nazi attention as the art collections of Europe. Millions of bottles of wine were sent to Germany. The vignerons and négociants throughout France had to either sacrifice their wine to the Germans or find ways to hide it and fool the Nazis. Many buried their wines behind false walls in their caves or truly buried it under gardens and ponds. Others hid the good stuff in plain site by mislabeling it and labeling the crap as the good stuff. This book was full of fascinating information about the wine industry in France both before and during the war and the major players on both the French and German sides of the struggle. I admit to getting a bit lost in all the French names, but didn’t let that detract from my enjoyment of the story. I think my favorite part came at the end when the French and American armies were liberating France. The French Army made sure to send the Americans through secondary vineyards so that the prime ones would not be destroyed. The French Army went slow and carefully forward making sure to preserve their heritage whereas the American army simply went through the vines. I thought it said a lot about a culture that prized wine so much it was sent to the soldiers on the front and the lack of it and its destruction helped bring the French Resistance to power. Very powerful story that I would recommend to any history lovers out there.

08. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, read by Angie, on 07/07/2014

The KKK was set up after the Civil War by white Southerners who felt they needed to protect their way of life from the Northern Reconstructionists and the uppity Blacks. They used intimidation, fear, beatings and murder to try and get what they wanted, which was for blacks to go back to being subservient to whites. Bartoletti takes a hard look at how the KKK was started, what precipitated its creation, how they grew to include so many members and what those members did. She also details the reaction to the KKK by Southern Blacks, Northern Whites and the governments of both the North and the South. President Grant was successful in disbanding the KKK, but he was not successful in creating equality in the South. It is sad that the same practices of the KKK during Reconstruction existed for many up until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The KKK was truly a terrorist group and it is pretty scary that some people today don’t see them that way. 

08. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

The World Made New: Why the Age of Exploration Happened and How It Changed the World by Marc Aronson, John W. Glenn, read by Angie, on 07/07/2014

The Age of Exploration began with Columbus “discovering” America in 1492. After his trip many other explorers set out to discover the riches America had to offer. Their expeditions brought many things to Europe: the potato and tomato, spices, gold and silver and new ways of life. These explorers changed the world in both good and bad ways. They opened up trade routes and new lands for exploration, but the native peoples suffered greatly as their way of life came to an end. The explorers were generally not friendly to the natives. They saw them as savages to be tamed with riches to be taken. They brought death and disease and destruction to the natives. This book provides a good overview of why these explorations took place, what they found and the consequences of their discoveries. 

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, NonFiction, Self Help · Tags:

Grieving the Death of a Mother by Harold Ivan Smith, read by Brian, on 07/07/2014

motherAnyone who has to deal with the death of their mother knows you never get over just deal with it a positive manner. Smith’s book is written in an honest and kind way.  I thought I was prepared for my mother’s passing but after she died I was fill with so many emotions my mind became a jumbled mess.  This book helped me realize my jumbled mess is normal and showed me how deal with the sorrow.

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present by John W. O'Malley S.J., read by Angie, on 07/04/2014

This book covers the history of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) from its inception to the present day pope. The history of the Jesuits is an interesting and controversial one. They were disbanded by the Catholic Church at one time and made many enemies throughout history. They also did a lot of good as their missions spread throughout the world and they opened thousands of schools and universities. The book is written by a Jesuit priest and his bias does show through. The Jesuits are never shown in anything but a positive light and their controversies are always glossed over. The book was interesting but I think a more unbiased look at the Jesuits would have been just as interesting if not more so. 

I received this book from Netgalley.

This is an excellent overview of the history of women serving in Congress. It begins with Jeannette Rankin in 1917 and goes through the present day roster of women in the House and the Senate. It’s interesting that the majority of the women who broke ground in Congress came into their positions through a husband or father dying. The congressman died and the women were able to fill the seat. I like the fact that the book also give the political and social background of what was happening at the time of each woman entering Congress. This book is very readable and entertaining. There is not a lot of information on the different congresswomen, but it is a good starting point. 

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Graphic Book, NonFiction, Tracy

The Fifth Beatle by Vivek Tiwary, Philip Simon (Editor), Andrew C. Robinson (Illustrations), Kyle Baker (Illustrations), read by Tracy, on 06/14/2014

The Fifth Beatle is the untold true story of Brian Epstein, the visionary manager who discovered and guided The Beatles from their gigs in a tiny cellar in Liverpool to unprecedented international stardom. Yet more than merely the story of “The Man Who Made The Beatles,” The Fifth Beatle is an uplifting, tragic, and ultimately inspirational human story about the struggle to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Brian himself died painfully lonely at the young age of thirty-two, having helped The Beatles prove through “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” that pop music could be an inspirational art form. He was homosexual when it was a felony to be so in the United Kingdom, Jewish at a time of anti-Semitism, and from Liverpool when it was considered just a dingy port town.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Kristy, NonFiction, Self Help

The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman, read by Kristy, on 06/05/2014

The world’s most trusted expert on money matters answers a generation’s cry for help-and gives advice on

- Credit card debt
- Student loans
- Credit scores
- The first real job
- Buying a first home
- Insurance facts: auto, home, renters, health
- Financial issues of the self-employed

And much more advice that fits the realities of “Generation Broke.”

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Pure Grit: How WWII Nurses in the Pacific Survived Combat and Prison Camp by Mary Cronk Farrell, read by Angie, on 07/02/2014

Pure Grit tells the story of the American nurses in the Philippines during WWII. These nurses join the Army and the Navy because there were a lot of opportunities, but they never expected to actually be part of the war. We are taught a lot about WWII and the battles that took place in Europe. Unfortunately, a lot of history books minimize the war in the Pacific, which was just as deadly as the European front. I had no idea that hours after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor they attacked the Philippines. I had no idea that American forces were forced to surrender and became prisoners of war. The nurses that were on the island were also forced to surrender and be placed in internment camps. The nurses continued to care for their patients both before and after the surrender with dwindling supplies of both medication and food. They agonized over leaving gravely injured patients to the mercies of the Japanese. Once the war was over the nurses received little to no recognition for their efforts and suffered life-long physical and mental disabilities. It wasn’t until recent years that their history has come to light and they have been recognized for their heroics. This was a very readable book, in fact it was hard to put down. The story is gripping and because it is true very moving. I would definitely recommend it. 

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, NonFiction, Science

Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World by Marlene Zuk, read by Angie, on 07/01/2014

Sex on Six Legs is a fascinating look at the world of insects. This book covers not only their reproduction but also communication, social systems and much more. Insects are the most numerous animals on the planet and their variety testifies to that fact. Zuk is obviously a big fan of the insect world and has a lot of knowledge about the studies that have taken place regarding insects. I found this book a lot more interesting than I thought I would. It is a great read, educational and entertaining.