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Welcome! The ultimate luxury for me is curling up with a good book and a warm blanket. The next best thing is reviewing books and sharing them with others.

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22 12, 2016

Review: Being British by Chris Parish

By | December 22nd, 2016|Categories: Human Geography, Nonfiction, Politics & Government, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , , |3 Comments

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being british book coverReviewed by Poppy Johnson

Where to start, where to begin? I will say at the outset that I did not “bond” with the author of Being British. The book is neither witty, nor funny, but rather a probably accurate statement on what it is really like to be British, and that is, I admit, the entire point of the book, isn’t it?

The book reviews British culture and has 14 chapters that cover the history of Britain, downsides of British culture and its current evolution, perceptions of the British Empire and its supposed decline, national identity and patriotism, British people’s love of nature as well as the future of Britain. 

21 11, 2016

Review: Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil

By | November 21st, 2016|Categories: Business & Investing, Computers & Technology, Nonfiction, Politics & Government, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

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weapons of math destruction book coverReviewed by Alexander Morrison

How do we decide how long a person stays in jail? Which teachers get fired and which get to keep their job? How is our credit rating linked to the ads we see online and the amount of money we pay for car insurance? There’s one answer for all these questions: Algorithms. There are thousands of mathematical models built that track each and every one of us, putting us in neat little boxes for purposes of safety, advertising, and a dozen other broad causes. But are those algorithms always fair, or even coherent? Cathy O’Neil is here to argue that many of the algorithms running invisibly in the background of our day-to-day lives are ‘weapons of math destruction’, vicious computer codes that can destroy lives as a byproduct of completely failing to measure the thing they were created to measure.

23 09, 2016

Review: Moscow Nights by Nigel Cliff

By | September 23rd, 2016|Categories: Arts & Literature, Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction, Politics & Government|Tags: , , , , |2 Comments

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moscow nights book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Let’s mash-up Once Upon a Time from the fairy tales of yore, and the iconic TV show of the mid-50s You are There hosted by the avuncular Walter Cronkite, and see what happens. One answer, and possibly the best one would be Moscow Nights by the excellent and elegant writer, Nigel Cliff. He tells the story of Van Cliburn, who was for a while, quite easily the most recognized face in the world! But not just the surface view – no, he really digs deep for a terrific and very comprehensive look at one of the wonders of the 20th Century!

Cliburn was born in July, 1934, and was inspired as a youngster by a photograph of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow – as who wouldn’t be, especially if said child had already been exposed to the music of Russian’s many famous Romantic-era composers? An only child, Van – real name: Harvey Lavan –  was always simply known as Van, thanks to his mother Rildia Bee O’Bryan Cliburn. As a piano teacher in Shreveport, Louisiana, she had once been part of the welcoming committee for an appearance there of the Russian master – Sergei Rachmaninoff.

26 05, 2016

Review: Raif Badawi, The Voice of Freedom by Ensaf Haidar

By | May 26th, 2016|Categories: Biographies, Memoirs, Nonfiction, Politics & Government|Tags: , , |2 Comments

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voice of freedom book coverReviewed by Meredith Kelly

Raif Badawai, The Voice of Freedom is a beautifully written memoir that tells the story of how the author, Ensaf Haidar, and her husband, Raif, met and came to be married, and of their subsequent struggles to preserve their family and their lives. Despite strict opposition from their families, Ensaf and Raif were determined to be together and refused to give up. After eighteen months of harassment, Ensaf’s family allowed her to sign the marriage contract.

The newlywed couple was able to settle into the traditional marriage arrangement quickly. In Saudi Arabia, men felt it was their duty to make all the decisions and to ensure the material well-being of the family. At first, Raif rarely consulted Ensaf with anything. Making new friends and reading more progressive books, Raif soon started an internet forum for Saudi liberals. As a result, he started granting Ensaf more

17 05, 2016

Review: The Hundred-Year Walk by Dawn Anahid MacKeen

By | May 17th, 2016|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Politics & Government, Travel|Tags: , , , , , |2 Comments

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hundred-year walk book coverReviewed by Vera Pereskokova

Every year, on April 24th, Armenians around the world commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Between 1915 and 1917, the government of the Ottoman Empire (present day Turkey) ordered the systematic deportation and extermination of hundreds of thousands of its Armenian residents, as well as other Christian ethnic groups. Although Turkey still denies that the events of those years constitute genocide, estimates suggest that as many as 1.5 million people perished as a result of death marches or outright massacres.

I am half-Armenian from my mother’s side and while I’ve always been aware of the Armenian Genocide, I knew little of the facts. So when an email describing The Hundred-Year Walk by Dawn Anahid MacKeen popped up in my inbox, I jumped at the chance to read it.

The Hundred-Year Walk is a true account

17 05, 2016

Review: Accountability Citizenship by Stephen P. Tryon

By | May 17th, 2016|Categories: Nonfiction, Politics & Government|Tags: |1 Comment

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accountability citizenship book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

In a presidential election year, tensions run high as people divide once again over who will be the next leader of the United States. Should it be the Republican candidate or the Democrat or maybe one of the Independent choices? The evening news becomes a spectator sport and ever increasing feelings of helplessness creep in as the realization hits that you are very likely out of good choices. How do we get to this place where the election feels like a bad coin toss? How do we wind up with no good candidates who actually represent the desires of the people?

In his book, Accountability Citizenship, Stephen P. Tryon takes a proactive approach to responsibilities of every citizen in the process of electing leaders at all levels and having a voice in the process. He starts

11 05, 2016

Review: The Billion Dollar Spy by David E. Hoffman

By | May 11th, 2016|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Politics & Government, True Accounts|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

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billion dollar spy book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

The Billion Dollar Spy takes readers deep undercover to tell the true story of Soviet spy activity on behalf of the United States in the late 1970s and early 80s. Relying on eyewitness accounts and valuable declassified  documents, author David E. Hoffman unravels a true story of one Russian engineer who worked with Soviet military intelligence and the layers of deception he perpetrated to obtain revenge on the Soviet government for the wrongs they had exacted.

On a cold winter night in February 1978, a man approached the car belonging to the CIA director of the Moscow outpost. Through a crack in the window, he passed an envelope filled with classified Soviet military information. This began a relationship that lasted for years. To most people who knew Adolf Tolkachev, he was a quiet, unassuming

20 02, 2015

Review: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

By | February 20th, 2015|Categories: Memoirs, Nonfiction, Politics & Government|Tags: , , , |4 Comments

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just mercy book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

In the land of the free and the home of the brave, we often assume that there is liberty and justice for all. In a place where a civil war was fought to achieve freedom and civil rights were fought over for equality, it’s easy to forget that intentions do not necessarily equal reality.

Initially, when Bryan Stevenson decided to pursue law school, he struggled to find his purpose. But after his internship with the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee, he found his calling in the legal profession. In his book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Stevenson shares the compelling stories of people sentenced to death row and his work on their behalf. What were their names? How did they get there? What were their crimes? Was justice truly done? These are the questions

21 11, 2014

Review: Gaza by Jean-Pierre Filiu

By | November 21st, 2014|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Politics & Government|Tags: , |4 Comments

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gaza by filiu book coverReviewed by Nikhil Sharma

For many people, Yasser Arafat was the one who single handedly lead the war for liberation of Palestine and after his death nobody of his stature ever came up in the region to replace him. Such myths have crept in the common psyche because of ignorance on our part and selective propagandized hoopla the media creates around personalities and events. The Lebanon War of 2006, waged against Hezbollah by Israel, is what got me interested in history of the region.

Several commendable books on this subject have been written by historians and journalists. Avi Shlaim’s Iron Wall is an excellent book on Israeli-Palestinian conflict; The Great War for Civilisation by Robert Fisk is a thriller with first-hand accounts of war-reporting; while Holy Land, Unholy War by Anton La Guardia unearths personal histories of many displaced Palestinians.

7 02, 2014

Review: American Savage by Dan Savage

By | February 7th, 2014|Categories: Memoirs, Nonfiction, Politics & Government, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

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AMERICAN-SAVAGEReviewed by Jax Kepple

Dan Savage expertly switched off between hilarious (maybe I’m easily amused but the Introduction had me laughing hysterically) and the serious (his sorrow at the loss of his religious identity) in his latest collection of essays in American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics. Each essay is a different chapter, annotated with amusing asides and more support for that particular topic. This was my first taste of Savage’s writing in bulk – I had previously read some of his stand-alone articles – and felt that his writing was sharp, well-researched and contrite, when it needed to be.

This latest collection of essays focus mainly on equal rights for LGBT individuals, but Obamacare and gun violence are also tackled. He explains the reasoning behind starting up his charity, It Gets Better and how he