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Miss Happiness and Miss Flower

Rumer Godden’s Miss Happiness and Miss Flower introduces young readers to Japanese culture. The short novel focuses on Nona, a British girl who was born in India and whose father has sent her to live with relatives and get an education. Living with her aunt, uncle and three cousins, Nona feels lonely and out of place as a newcomer. The traffic, school, her natural introversion and her bratty cousin Belinda make life tough. It’s not till the children receive a package from an old aunt in America that things look bright for Nona. Her aunt has sent the children two Japanese dolls. This gift sets Nona on a quest to create a Japanese doll house. Her endeavor leads to friendship, creativity, and purpose.

The author provides clear explanations of Japanese culture and defines words young readers probably don’t know. The style is old fashioned. I was surprised that it was written in 1961. The narrator’s tone is like a kind, old aunt or grandmother.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2021 in Children's Lit

 

The Library Bus

Bantam Rahman’s The Library Bus tells the simple story of Pari, an Afghan girl who’s about 5 years old. Pari’s mother drives a bookmobile to villages and refugee camps where girls have no schools.

It’s a cute story to introduce children to Afghanistan, but I’d like more character development. Even small children have distinct personalities.

The story with its charming illustrations is worth a read.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2021 in Children's Lit, fiction

 

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Atlas Shrugged

I never read Ayn Rand, but she’s well known and I feel I’ve heard so much about her so I should check out Atlas Shrugged.

I’ve got a long TBR list so it won’t be right away. Till then I’ll watch Michael Knowles and Eric Daniels.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2021 in fiction

 

False Alarm!

In False Alarm! How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor and Fails to Fix the Planet, Bjørn Lomborg describes the problems and misinformation surrounding many of the climate change strategies, such as the Green New Deal. Throughout the book Lomborg used solid data from the UN, 

From the start Lomborg states that the climate is changing. We do have a problem, however he proceeds to explain the problem we face and how it’s likely to change in time while persuasively debunking the alarmist predictions such as how the world will end in less than 12 years. One of his most convincing arguments is how humans are good at adaptation and predictions that don’t take that into account. Moreover, time and time again the predictions are way off base and don’t pan out. (See: https://medium.com/discourse/a-brief-history-of-incorrect-climate-change-predictions-3664e4054ee6.) 

The book includes several graphs that clearly present Lomborg’s points illustrating how various remedies impact the poor and how effective a particular initiative is likely to be. 

Lomborg describes how Third Generation Nuclear power is a good, safe source of energy 

We absolutely must address climate change, but we should do so rationally in a way that makes sense. Washington tends to like to throw money around on programs that are costly and don’t do what they promised. Whether it’s a scam or not, the world needs results not waste. 

Innovations on the horizon include improving storing wind and sun energy and air capture, i.e. machinery that sucks excessive COfrom the air. Note: CO2 is mainly good and has increased the amount of plants on earth. Air capture is more efficient than planting more trees, which is a consequence of increased CO2.

I recommend False Alarm to anyone who wants to round out his view of the climate change issue. You might want to read it twice and then find more books from all sides of the issue. 

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2021 in non-fiction

 

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Poem of the Week

A poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, whose birthday is today.

No Fixed Plans

The Windhover

By Gerard Manley Hopkins, whose birthday is today

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
   dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air,   
   and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a  
   wimpling wing
In his ecstacy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the  
   hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of 
   the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, 
   plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a 
   billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my 
   chevalier!
No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down 
   sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

Here’s a guide with insights into this poem.

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Posted by on July 28, 2021 in fiction

 

Screwtape Letters

I read and reviewed The Screwtape Letters a while back and loved it. Here’s a lively discussion of C.S. Lewis’ classic. Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2021 in Book club, YouTube

 

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Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle

Dervla Murphy

After reading The Waiting Land I became a Dervla Murphy fan. I’ve followed that with Ukimwi Road and Eight Feet in the Andes.  Thus when it was my turn to pick a book club book, I decided on her first book Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle (1965). 

When she was 10, intrepid travel writer Dervla Murphy received an atlas and bicycle for her birthday. Talk about an inspirational gift. Dervla’s Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle chronicles her trip across Europe to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Murphy focuses on her travels through Western and Central Asia. Murphy doesn’t hold back. She shares the good and the bad. Whether sleeping on dirt floors or a palace in Pakistan, whether riding along a smooth road the Russians built in Afghanistan or trudging up a rocky mountain in Pakistan, whether enjoying a good meal at a missionaries home or eating dry crackers washed down with salted tea for the seventh straight day, Murphy shoots straight.

She includes her views on modernization, politics and aid. She definitely believes we’ve lost the art of leisurely, quiet conversation since we’ve opened our homes to TV sets. (I wonder what she things of the multiplication of screens of every size. I bet I can guess.) 

The more I see of unmechanized places and people the more convinced I become that machines have done incalculable damage by unbalancing the relationship between Man and Nature. The mere fact that we think and talk as we do about Nature is symptomatic. For us to refer to Nature as a separate entity–something we admire or avoid or study or paint–shows how far we’ve removed ourselves from it.

Dervla Murphy

I was surprised that she brought a pistol with her, but it did come in handy to ward off men with bad intentions in the middle of the night. So that was a wise move. 

She has her share of tough times from bureaucratic hassles, to horrible roadways, if you can call them roadways, to smelly roommates and bouts of dysentery. Her travel travails would have made me run to the nearest airport, but reading about them was fascinating. 

I found her commentary on Russian vs. US aid in Afghanistan insightful. In 1960 she opined that the Russians were smarter in how they gave aid. Their aid was mainly small local projects so Afghanis knew that’s the bridge or school, etc. the Russians gave us. In contrast the US’ aid was in the form of huge projects that didn’t register with the Afghanis. I’m not sure how things have or haven’t changed since the 60’s, but I’d like to know. 

The subtitle says “with” not “on” a bicycle because there are often times when she can’t ride. Once in Afghanistan the officials force her to ride on a truck because the route is has become violent. Another time she leaves Roz, her bike, in a town as she takes a horse up into the mountains where the terrain is iffy and the roads narrow with no shoulder to speak of.

If you like strong, opinionated women exploring places you’ve never heard of, give Full Tilt a try. 

N.B. I’ll warn you there are a couple phrases she used that aren’t PC. They bothered me, but I doubt she’d use the same language today. 

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2021 in fiction

 

Is Kindle’s New Zella Worth It?

I was curious about how Zella, a new digital platform for selling episodic writing, worked. I also wondered if it was worth jumping into.

The video above answered my questions and helped me decide not to use it. That saved me hours of fiddling with the system.

I didn’t like that you can’t publish elsewhere and that Amazon, Kindle’s owner, took 50% of the revenue and that you didn’t earn anything for the first few chapters. I can see giving readers one free chapter, but not three free ones.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2021 in writing

 

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Poem of the Week

I’ve discovered a new favorite poet.

No Fixed Plans

Money

By Dana Gioia

Money, the long green,
cash, stash, rhino, jack
or just plain dough.

Chock it up, fork it over, 
shell it out. Watch it 
burn holes through pockets.

To be made of it! To have it 
to burn! Greenbacks, double eagles, 
megabucks and Ginnie Maes. 

It greases the palm, feathers a nest,
holds heads above water,
makes both ends meet.

Money breeds money.
Gathering interest, compounding daily.
Always in circulation.

Money. You don’t know where it’s been,
but you put it where your mouth is.
And it talks.

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Posted by on May 31, 2021 in fiction

 

Vella anyone???

Hi gang. Craig with you today and there’s something new on the self publishing horizon. It’s officially called Kindle Vella. I’m kind of interested …

Vella anyone???
 
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Posted by on May 14, 2021 in fiction

 

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