Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C. S. Forester

Filed under:Fiction,History,Series — posted by Randolph on October 23, 2022 @ 2:08 pm

This is the first book in the Horatio Hornblower saga, being written as a prequel. It is a series of short stories telling his tale from arriving at his first post through his promotion to Lieutenant.

The author shows his knowledge of tall ships in its handling, manning and in damage. I found it useful to keep a nautical dictionary at hand, but the details are not needed for a full appreciation of the stories.

I found the stories interesting, well-paced, well-told and hard to put down.

The Cat Who Saw Red by Lillian Jackson Braun

Filed under:Mystery — posted by Randolph on September 28, 2022 @ 5:39 pm

The Quark and the Jaguar by Murray Gell-Mann, PhD.

Filed under:Science — posted by Randolph on September 16, 2022 @ 5:32 pm

Plein Air Painting with Oils by Haiidee-Jo Summers

Filed under:Art — posted by Randolph on September 5, 2022 @ 5:29 pm

Daemons are Forever by Simon R. Green

Filed under:Fantasy — posted by Randolph on August 15, 2022 @ 5:26 pm

Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft by Brooks Landon

Filed under:Writing — posted by Randolph on August 1, 2022 @ 5:22 pm

This is a Great Courses video series on crafting sentences. It walks its audience through different sentence types and goes into the rhythm of a sentence, discussing the value of longer and shorter sentences and why. There are a lot of examples, it wanders into ideas from antiquity and touches on the bad ideas and why they are bad.

Overall, it provides a wealth of information and will enhance the audience appreciation of a well-written sentence.

Supersymmetry: Unveiling the Ultimate Laws of Nature by Gordon Kane

Filed under:Science — posted by Randolph on July 25, 2022 @ 11:27 am

This is a light-weight book on particle physics with no math, touching on elements of quantum chromodynamics. It starts with basics of quantum mechanics and a basic introduction to Feynman diagrams. It discusses basic mechanics of the standard model, why it needs extensions and how we can get there. Dr. Kane goes into the capabilities of different colliders and their different technologies, then dives into supersymmetry particles, the search for the Higgs particle and string theory.

In spite of the topic, it is a fairly easy read, written well and is interesting, written at a good level for anyone interested in the material but not extremely versed in the science itself.

Dr. Kane is a professor at the U. of Michigan, director emeritus at the Leinweber Institute for Theoretical Physics and is a leader in string theory.

Drawing and Painting Trees in the Landscape by Claudia Nice

Filed under:Art — posted by Randolph on July 22, 2022 @ 3:47 pm

I’ve always liked Claudia Nice’s books, her art is good, her instructions clear and to the point. This book’s focus is on trees, tackling many different types of trees in different seasons. She uses step-by-step examples to walk the reader through the painting process showing the palette and easy-to-follow steps with examples at each stage of the painting. There are examples in a variety of media, including pen and ink, pastel, oil, acrylic and watercolor.

Anansi Boys by Neal Gaiman

Filed under:Fantasy — posted by Randolph on July 14, 2022 @ 3:47 pm

This book is billed as a sequel to American Gods but bears little resemblance to the former other than the theme that gods walk on Earth among men.

This is the story of Charlie Nancy, Fat Charlie, who dislikes his father whom he regards as extravagant and irresponsible. Nancy is getting married, his fiancé wants him to invite his father to the wedding. This precipitates a road of discovery into his own past and his family, including an unknown brother.

Charlie’s and his brother have an unusual relationship, uncomfortable, maybe untrusting, but grows as they are thrust together.

Charlie is a rather weak character, both literary and his personal character. Not particularly likable, but his growth through the book changes him greatly.

The writing is above average and is engaging. And the book is funny. There are only a few primary characters, interesting and mysterious, and Charlie meets a number of peculiar characters in his journey.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the French* (But were Afraid to Ask) by Gaspard Chevallier

Filed under:Nonfiction — posted by Randolph on July 8, 2022 @ 2:26 pm

The book discusses the French culture by providing a brief introduction to numerous topics and then supporting anecdotes. The topics are grouped by chapter discussing subject including love, fashion and art, cusine, wine, nationalism, sports and international relationships among others.

It starts with a series of weakly-related anecdotes that left me dry, suspecting the book wasn’t going to deliver much of value. But after getting into the book, the character seemed to change and became much more interesting.

It could have used some editing, most of it was pretty good but there were a few typos-into-other-words that tend to get missed by spellcheckers and perhaps less aware editors. For instance, on page 20 the text indicates that Jaques-Yves Cousteau redacted a treaty for protecting Antarctica, if so, he should be ashamed! The problems are few and sometimes amusing.

The book is informative and amusing, a fun and fairly quick read.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace