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Preview: alun's books from LibraryThing

alun's books from LibraryThing



Recent books from alun's LibraryThing library



 



Rip It Up by Richard Wiseman

Sun, 08 Sep 2013 06:24:10 -0400

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Sacred Games by Gary Corby

Fri, 24 May 2013 13:26:51 -0400

(image) alun's review: "In 460 BC Athens and Sparta are on the verge of war. At the Olympic Games Arakos the Spartan and Timodemus the Athenian are expected to fight for victory in the Pankration. Yet before the fight can take place, Arakos is killed. Timodemus is the suspect and hawks in both cities prepare to fight for honour. This is Gary Corby's third book following his murder investigator Nicolaos. Following the Ionia Sanction the book is more of a husband and wife team investigating murders. The whole thing becomes a mix of the historically accurate and the anachronistic. That sounds like a mess, but what Gary Corby does is keep to history, unless it interferes with the story. For example, we have some very chatty Spartans, who could hardly be described as laconic. However, having the Spartan characters so open means the story can move on at a fair lick instead of filling the narrative with supposition. The impression of speed is necessary as the whole affair has to be concluded in a few days. In terms of absolute historical errors, I'd wager 20 drachmae that Greek days - like Jewish days - start at sunset. However, many professional ancient historians wouldn't spot that, and Corby's spot on with the actual sacrifices happening in the morning. Rigid accuracy would kill the series. So much would need explaining, and the book is at its weakest when there are raw info-dumps of detail to explain historical limits on what could be done. Fortunately the chunks are pretty small. The book, like its hero, is very likeable. I hope this will continue in the next book of the series."



New Mexico Space Trail (Images of America Series) by Joseph T. Page II

Sat, 11 May 2013 06:27:34 -0400

(image) alun's review: "It's a photo book. It's in the Images of America series, so it should be no surprise that it's a photo book, full of photos. A lot of these are interesting historical photos, more than the sites today. This is kind of a drawback because it looks like this is a book of sites you won't see in the same way. There's no indication of how to get to some of the sites, The lack of current photos for some of them means you might not know when you are there that you are there. It's where you can find more information about some of these sites. It's all a bit of a tease. If what you want are historic images of America, like the series title suggests, then this is excellent. If you want more information about the New Mexico Space Trail, this isn't it."






Traces by Stephen Baxter

Sun, 05 May 2013 17:43:15 -0400

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The Science of Discworld IV: Judgement Day: It's Wizards vs Priests in a Battle for the Future of Roundworld by Terry Pratchett

Thu, 11 Apr 2013 07:58:07 -0400

(image) alun's review: "This trip to Discworld covers epistemology, how do we know what we know? The previous Discworld books have alternated chapters with a story chapter and then a chapter discussing the elements of the story in the previous or upcoming chapter. This time round the connections between story and discussion seem weaker. The discussion chapters cover interesting ground, but in previous books the story organised the discussion chapters. Here the story is just as likely to gets in the way as it is to provide context. Where the book works best is when it calls back to earlier Science of Discworld books. The first was written in 1998 and the state of knowledge has changed since then. They authors don't simply claim that the first but was right, but that there's a more nuanced understanding. Instead they emphasis the provisional nature of scientific knowledge. They also discuss the nature of religious belief. I suspect this will sit in a middle ground that will be to critical of religion to be accepted by some readers and not negative enough to satisfy Dawkins fans. To some extent it's no help that there's already an excellent Discworld book on religious belief, Small Gods. All in all it'll please fans of the previous books, but I doubt it'll win over new readers."



Mathematics and Sex by Clio Cresswell

Tue, 09 Apr 2013 17:23:26 -0400

(image) alun's review: "Ok, but lacked a spark for me. There were some interesting problems, though once or twice it threatened to veer into Cliff Arnall territory. It plainly wasn't like that in later chapters, but there it felt like the aim was to write about certain mathematical topics, like game theory or matching and the sex part was bolted on as an example. The writing is very approachable and I'd certainly read another book by her, so I'm puzzled why I don't feel it's a four or more. It's one of the mysteries of the heart."






Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron

Sat, 06 Apr 2013 11:21:52 -0400

(image) alun's review: "5 stars, with a reservation. You can't say that science tells us what a good story is. Instead examples are cherry picked from neuroscience, psychology and Jonah Lehrer to make points. But they are good points. They're sometimes points that are very similar to Ben Bova's guide on writing scifi, but they're points well made. I'll need to re-read it, but I think it could help immensely with storytelling."



Star Wars and History by Lucasfilm

Thu, 28 Mar 2013 17:45:55 -0400

(image) alun's review: "A mixed bag. Tony Keen's chapter comparing the rise of Augustus with Napoleon, Hitler and Palpatine is sane as modern leaders have often explicitly presented themselves as the heirs to Rome, and Star Wars clearly has Roman influences. Crucially, because this isn't nailing a wafer thin metaphor to a historical idea, he's able to contrast as well as compare Star Wars to history. There are some other good chapters Kevin S. Decker is also able to usefully find ancient parallels and differences. Lori Maguire compares the Death Star to modern thoughts about nuclear weapons and the influence of the film on ideas about the USA's SDI "Star Wars" defence. Some chapters are ok and some are poor. Often Star Wars is used as a starting point for whatever the authors really wanted to talk about. One chapter, by Paul Horvath and Mark Higbee is surely a Sokal-style send-up of the idea. Their chapter includes the sentence: "In A New Hope, the Rebels destroy the enemy's most powerful weapon, the Death Star; in the Civil War, emancipation destroyed the Confederates' reason for war, as well as the foundation of their economic system." The idea that two people would sit down and sincerely say: "In many ways freeing the slaves of the Confederacy is just like blowing up a Death Star," is absolutely terrifying. On the whole, the book seems to be pitched as a history book for people who don't really like history, but like Star Wars. If this sounds like you, I'd go for a Star Wars book instead"






Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Thu, 28 Mar 2013 17:45:05 -0400

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Touching From a Distance by Deborah Curtis

Thu, 28 Mar 2013 17:44:39 -0400

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Eric Morecambe: Lost and Found by Gary Morecambe

Thu, 28 Mar 2013 17:44:14 -0400

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Bro on the Go by Barney Stinson

Thu, 28 Mar 2013 17:42:08 -0400

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