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The Third Reich Trilogy by Richard J. Evans

Monday, April 12th, 2010 by Ben

The Coming of the Third ReichThe Third Reich in PowerThe Third Reich at WarIt almost feels like a disservice trying to summarize these three books in a few paragraphs because of the detail covering everything from daily life of individuals, to the movement of military units, to the grand plans of the Nazi leadership.  This includes diaries and reports from everyone, soldiers, Jews, civilians, doctors, and many from the SS.  It deals with differing scales of information quite deftly, starting from journals of individuals, to internal reports about the state of society and politics, and all the way up to the quantity of armaments produced in Germany and by the Allies.

The first book, 'The Coming of the Third Reich,' discusses the history and social climate of Germany in the lead up to the Nazi Party taking power.  There are some very interesting highlights, including the amount of anti-semitism already in existence in Europe, the degree to with German politics invaded daily life, and the amount of unrest after World War I.  It follows Hitler and the Nazi party as they attempt to grab power in Germany.  Overall, it seems to achieve the goal of producing an understanding of exactly how Germany started down the path of National Socialism.

The second book, 'The Third Reich in Power,' is a well laid out, in-depth analysis of the Nazi party at work.  Richard J. Evans pieces together a great variety of information into an all encompassing view of the Nazi government.  Which is a feat, considering how scattered and competitive all the separate pieces of the government were.  It definitely breaks any mythology that the Nazi party was a unified block with a set goal.  They seemed to be constantly at odds, with Hitler being the tie breaker.  It becomes more clear how Adolf Hitler became all but a god in the Nazi German state, and realized the brutal 'Final Solution' he had been promising from the beginning.

The third book, 'The Third Reich at War,' brutally illustrates the atrocities committed by the Nazis and their reasoning behind their actions.  All the books cover the increasing brutality of German society, but in the years during the war it truly reaches a peak of cruelty and mass extermination.  There was always a need for forced labor, and eventually the plan was ghettoization of Jews, communists, and anyone who became an enemy of the Nazi party, but as the war seemed more desperate, the propaganda machine of the Nazi party grew louder and more brutal.

The whole series is incredibly comprehensive and easy to read.  It follows a fairly clear time line, and usually starts from the point of view of various individuals to an overall view of the German state.  Anyone who is interested in World War II would probably enjoy it.  But it is necessary to point out that the series revolves around Germany completely, and although the Allies are mentioned it is only when necessary in relation to the state or activities of Germany itself.

As a side note, I just finished reading Cormack McCarthy's 'The Road' directly before reading the last book in this series.  The effect of that sequence was profound, especially given that one of reviews of 'The Road,' and not the only one revealing similar sentiments, described it as 'emotionally abusive.'  However, in the context of 'The Third Reich at War' the violence and inhumanity in 'The Road' pales in comparison.  The death toll is higher, but the sheer inhumane cruelty described in vivid accounts in 'The Third Reich at War' is unbelievable.  Even the suicide rate amongst SS officers shows that even the most committed Nazis had severe difficulty in carrying out orders to murder infants by starvation or beating them to death.  Everything that happens in 'The Road' happened in Nazi Germany tens, if not thousands, or times over.  It is a stark comparison, I think any author would be hard pressed to write something as unbelievably horrible as the history of the Nazi party.




The Road by Cormack McCarthy

Monday, April 12th, 2010 by Ben

The Road The Road is a detailed account of the struggles a father and son endure while trying to survive a world wide catastrophe.  The book, like most of McCarthy's books, has enough descriptive detail to make every description vivid, but not overbearing and boring. 

It also deftly handles the running themes in McCarthy's books of death, determinism, fate and hope.  Usually that hope is crushed by one of former themes, and I may be mistaken in calling it fate, in my subjective opinion, all his books revolve around a hard determinism that pulls the characters in inevitable directions, yet is not fatalistic.

Overall, it almost deserve two readings.  The first time for the plot, which is fairly short, but there is enough drama and action to push the story forward in a way that outpaces the descriptive elements.  So, it is almost worth a second reading just to fully absorb McCarthy's ability to beautifully illustrate a scene, even a terrible one, with great skill.




I Saw Mama Chewing Santa Claus

Sunday, November 8th, 2009 by Miss Laura

Yesterday, I woke up from dreams about zombie pick up lines (“You’re dead sexy”, “Baby, I’m after more than just your brainnns”). I have no idea what precipitated this dream. I also have no idea why there’s so many zombie books out of late either. Vampires I can understand … Whatever the reason – I like it!

So here are the fun zombie books I’ve seen out recently (besides the Pride Prejudice & Zombies which I’ve heard great things and all – but everyone knows about that one. Right?):

1. beginningtolookalotlikezombies.jpg It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies: A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols

Oh yes! It’s a book that takes classic Christmas carols from a zombies point of view. Obviously, not a Jewish Zombie.

“Tiny tot’s eyes are no longer aglow, they’re in a bowl. Good King Wenceslas Tastes Great and we Deck The Halls With Parts Of Wally.”

Personally, I can’t wait to bust out a little “We Three Spleens” this holiday season!

2. neverslowdance.jpg Never Slow Dance With A Zombie by E. Van Lowe.
“Principal Taft’s 3 Simple Rules for Surviving a Zombie Uprising:
Rule #1: While in the halls, walk slowly and wear a vacant expression on your face. Zombies won’t attack other zombies.

Rule #2: Never travel alone. Move in packs. Follow the crowd. Zombies detest blatant displays of individuality.

Rule #3: If a zombie should attack, do not run. Instead, throw raw steak at to him. Zombies love raw meat. This display of kindness will go a long way.”

Sounds like Zombie High is kind of almost exactly the same as regular high school. Especially the part about wearing a vacant expression on your face.

3. zombies4zombies.jpg Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead

Well, being bitten is inevitable so you might as well get the modern day Emily Post guide for your new lifestyle. It includes advice on:

– How to dress for your new lifestyle Handy recipes for brains
– Fitness ideas for keeping you somewhat energetic
– New skin-care techniques to help ward off “rotting flesh syndrome”
– How to overcome that darned zombie social stigma
– Dance steps for the motor-impaired

I kind of need that last one as I am now.

4. creepycutecrochet.jpg Creepy Cute Crochet: Zombies, Ninjas, Robots, and More!

Zombies need arts & crafts time too!

Although, I confess that  if I see a Zombie shambling around carrying a knitting needle in one hand and a tiny top hat in his other disintegrating hand my first thought will most likely not be, “Aw, what adorable little creation is this Zombo about to make?”

5. mamasayszombies.jpg My Mama Says There Aren’t Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins, Or Other Things.

Your mama lies, son. Your mama lies.




Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar

Saturday, October 11th, 2008 by Miss Laura

“When a pair of fugitive Scottish thistle fairies end up transplanted to Manhattan by mistake, both the Big Apple and the Little People have a lot of adjusting to do. Heather and Morag just want to start the first radical fairy punk rock band, but first they’ll have make a match between two highly unlikely sweethearts, start a street brawl between rival gangs of Italian, Chinese, and African fairies, help the ghost of a dead rocker track down his lost guitar, reclaim a rare triple-bloomed Welsh poppy from a bag lady with delusions of grandeur, disrupt a local community performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ and somehow manage to stay sober enough to save all of New York from an invasion of evil Cornish fairies.”

I read this one earlier this year, but I guess I forgot to write it about it on this blog which is a shame. This is a hilarious completely irreverent story that I adored. Thanks to Sean for recommending it to me (or at least mentioning it where I could overhear it which is about the same as recommending a book to me.)




Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

Saturday, October 11th, 2008 by Miss Laura
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for girlwithdragontattoo.jpg

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #13

“Lisbeth Salander — the girl with the dragon tattoo — is a truly original character. Salander’s computer hacking skills, and her amoral disregard of both laws and individuals, are critical in resolving the case of modern corporate fraud and the disappearance of a young girl 40 years earlier. A European bestseller, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo deserves every bit as much success here.” — from Indie Bound’s Indie Next List   October, 2008

This is a total guilty pleasure read – and it’s fun. Larsson described the brutal Swedish winter so well that I almost found myself turning the pages while wearing gloves. I don’t normally like mysteries, but I love playing mystery computer games. And this novel with its vivid imagery and quick paced storyline was more like playing a game than reading a novel. It grabbed me right off (I’m considering pressing charges) and then lulled but by page 80 I was hooked again. I wasn’t thrilled by the ending but there probably wasn’t a better alternative.

The main character really isn’t the one in the title – it’s financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist who has just been sentenced a jail term for libeling an underhanded business man. He is offered a job in a remote island under the pretense of writing a chronicle of a well known industrialist’s family. However, his secret assignment is to find out what happened to the industrialist’s teenage great niece forty years ago when she mysteriously disappeared to never be seen again. It’s an assignment he would usually never agree to but due to the public humiliation of the libel charge and the promise of evidence that will ruin the underhanded business man he was accused of libeling he goes.

It does have a number of sexually graphic (and abusive) scenes so I probably wouldn’t whole-heartedly recommend across the board to just anyone. Nor, is it exactly higher literature or really edifying in its message or story line. However, if you just want an entertaining story that seems to be a quick read even though it’s over 500 pages – this is a good choice.




Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 by Miss Laura

“Here’s one example I tend to deploy on second dates, and it’s rewarded with an endearing guffaw at least 90 percent of the time: I ask the woman what religion she is. Inevitably, she will say something like, ‘Oh, I’m sort of Catholic, but I’m pretty lapsed in my participation,’ or ‘Oh, I’m kind of Jewish, but I don’t really practice anymore.’ Virtually everyone under the age of thirty will answer that question in this manner. I then respond by saying, “Yeah it seems like everybody I meet describes themselves as ‘sort of Catholic’ or ‘sort of Jewish’ or ‘sort of Methodist.’ Do you think all religions have this problem? I mean, do you think there are twenty-five-year-old Amish people who say, ‘Well, I’m sort of Amish. I currently work as a computer programmer, but I still believe pants with metal zippers are the work of Satan.'”
— Chuck Klosterman “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs”

That quote is from Klosterman’s essay on pop culture. The book I just finished is a novel about a small town in North Dakota.  The ending of this book molested my emotional sense of well being.  Other than that, I quite liked it.

This and books like “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” are going to be the death of me.

Anyone else read it who I can commiserate with? Also, I cross-posted this on my personal website as well in hopes that someone, anyone, would be out there to talk about this book with. And by “talk about” I mean “whine about”




The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Sunday, May 25th, 2008 by Miss Laura

In my regular blog, I detailed how due to Stephenie Meyer and “Twilight” series is gracing the top of all the best seller lists, I had bought myself a dream journal.

On her website she tells how she came up with the plot for the story from an intense dream she had one night. In fact, chapter 13 of her first book is basically a transcript of that dream. I’m fairly sure I’m among a large segment of the population who forgets their dreams within moments of waking up. So, what best sellers have I been missing out on? I mean SERIOUSLY. Coming up with story ideas is my biggest problem. Do you realize how hard it is to write without having a plot or an original story idea? I know, I know – Nicholas Sparks makes it look easy but still.

So I went and bought myself a dream journal. When I told Ben about it, he thought I mean like a “goal” journal where I would write down life ambitions and such. He has made fun of me for it so much. In fact, now if I dare to complain or ask for a favor he just replies, “Why don’t you go tell that to your Dream Journal.”

Now, the Host was not based off of a dream. It was based off of a story Meyer was telling herself to keep herself entertained on a long road trip while driving through Arizona to Salt Lake City. I’ve made that trip, but I didn’t tell stories to myself to keep myself awake. Of course, I was driving in the summer in a car that didn’t have air conditioning so any stores I would have told myself would take place in Antarctica. “Penguins, lovely.”

And unlike the dream journal, I don’t think I’m going to start taking long road trips in the desert just so I can try to come up with a good story too. This one was good. I don’t think that it has as compelling characters as Twilight (which has caused a lot of the adults to overlook some of the writing), but if you like Meyer’s other books and you’re willing to make it through the first several chapters (which are a real snoozefest) it gets pretty good. Halfway through I found myself caught up enough in the characters that I had trouble stopping until I was finished. I’m not saying it’s classic literature or that Meyer’s pen is obviously guided by angels. But it made me happy reading it.

I do love Stephenie Meyer – not just as an author but as a friend. She’s really awesome and has always been incredibly fantastic to her fans. I’ve had so many teenage girls who have written her and been astounded when she wrote back. She can’t keep up with that now, but she has always been so kind to all her fans. That’s what makes me love an author – almost as much as what and how they write. Because I love my customers and so it makes me happy when an author loves them too. Thus, I will always defend her and her books – sparkling vampires or not.

Also, if you’re still reading this – I’m having a Breaking Dawn midnight release party and it’s going to be seriously awesome. You should totally come.




Author Death Match: Melissa Marr versus Cassandra Clare

Sunday, May 25th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Versus

Shortly after I read Marr’s first book a friend commented about what a shame it was that one was getting all the shelf space in large bookstores and so lauded when Cassandra Clare’s City of Ashes series was being overlooked. My first chapter into Clare’s work and I immediately agreed with my friend. It’s a fantastic story with compelling characters who are funny (so funny at times) and without the forced “I’m cool! Teenagers please love me!” feel that Marr (and Holly Black’s) books give off.

However, by the very end I was beginning to waver because of a huge plot turn (that I can’t even allude to without spoiling it) which is also explored more in the second book. And let me tell you it’s a big EW factor. It actually left me feeling pretty disgusted by the end of the first book, but since I was able to immediately read the second (the third hasn’t been published yet) those feelings were assuaged slightly. I think it’s going to turn out be a big hoax but still EW.

But even with the Ew factor, Clare’s books are still much better. Victory is to Clare – Knockout!




Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008 by Miss Laura

Due to being covered in hives, I’ve been trying every which way to escape from real life. So far my best bet has been urban fantasy in the young adult section.

Tithe = OK

Wicked Lovely = Pretty good!

Vampire Kisses series (I read the first three out of the four) = SO BAD. So bad it’s not even good!

I liked Sedia so much that I’ve ordered two other titles by her but they haven’t come in yet. I also have a couple of Charles De Lint titles on order as well. I’m pacing as I wait and welcome any suggestions for light reading in that genre. It doesn’t necessarily have to be young adult oriented.




Personal Finance For Dummies by Tyson

Sunday, March 16th, 2008 by Miss Laura

personalfinance.jpg I don’t think I blogged about Dave Ramsey’s ‘Total Money Makeover’. Perhaps, I did. It certainly seems to be many people’s personal finance bible and contains good advice – especially for those mired in debt. However, it made me twitchy. I had all these questions and felt slightly uncomfortable with some of Ramsey’s instructions so I turned to this book which seems more complete in it’s information. It’s less of an personal instruction to finance and more informational, although it certainly offers some advice. I found it incredibly helpful and really liked it. I’ve already made a couple of changes that should have been obvious to me that I hadn’t thought of (example: I switched the emergency fund to a high interest savings account.)

Plus it is a really good overview of things I always hear about but I don’t know exactly what they are. You know annuities and whatnots. I keep trying to get Ben to read this one too because I think it has a lot of information that *all* adults should know — whether they’re ready to implement them or not.





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