Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book Review Blog Carnival #55: Halloween Edition 2010

Welcome to the 55th edition of the Book Review Blog Carnival.  We're calling it a "Halloween Edition" in deference to the holiday being celebrated today, although there are not any entries that are particularly ghoulish, ghostly, or even impish.

We could as easily have called it the "Reformation Sunday Edition," but there don't seem to be any entries about religion -- nor do the number of posts submitted by book review bloggers add up to the equivalent of 95 theses.

Still, today's date is noteworthy for literary reasons:  it's the birthday of poet John Keats, novelists Dick Francis and Kinky Friedman, Russian writer Irina Denezhkina, and TV journalist Dan Rather.

So, with all that in mind, let's move forward and check out what book reviewers around the blogosphere have been writing about for the past couple of weeks.


Clark Bjorke presents American Insurgents American Patriots posted at I'll Never Forget the Day I Read a Book!, saying, "No, it's not about the Tea Party movement."  T.H. Breen's book, subtitled "The Revolution of the People," turns out, instead, Bjorke writes, "to be the story of ordinary Americans in the years 1774-1775, when what came to be called the coercive acts were imposed on the colony of Massachusetts following the Boston Tea Party. An obvious connection could be drawn to today's Tea Party, one which Breen never mentions. The question sits behind his narrative, If then why not now?"

Zohar presents Book Review: John Quincy Adams by Paul C. Nagel posted at Man of la Book. Zohar explains that John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life "is a biography of the sixth president of these United States. JQA, as he referred to himself to be distinguished from his prominent father, was a melancholy politician who would have rather been a man of letters, than the lawyer / diplomat / politician he turned out to be. The book is based mostly on JQA’s diary which spanned an amazing seven decades – arguably the 'most valuable historical and personal journal kept by any prominent American.'"

Michael Newton presents The Path to Tyranny, by Michael E. Newton posted at Conservative Monitor, saying, "I kept thinking that this book is irrefutable. I can't imagine academic or politician arguing intelligently with Newton's assertions or his conclusions."

Calling The Path to Tyranny a "seminal work," reviewer W.J. Rayment writes that "we are treated to historical examples of what happens when a society allows rampant, uncontrolled democracy to subvert constitutional balance within a government. Newton begins with ancient Western Civilization where in both Greek and Roman society broke down because the mass of people figured out they could violate property rights through the government. When this happened, productivity was discouraged by ever rising taxation. The declining availability of goods and services caused the frustration of the under-classes (because that an exploited economy could not support their demands). Thus, they would resort to a demagogic dictator who would ring society dry for the support of the masses in the aggrandizement of his own wealth and power."


Heather presents Review: Scent of the Missing posted at Proud Book Nerd.  This review of Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog by Susannah Charleson notes that "this story was heart-warming and amazing. The capabilities of these dogs is just fascinating, and makes me want to learn more about these animals and handlers and what all they can do. I would love to be able to witness one of these searches – well, maybe not one of the actual searches (given the circumstances usually requiring such searches), but perhaps a training search. It would be so neat to see these dogs in action first-hand."

Zohar presents Book Review: Directing Animation by David Levy posted at Man of la Book. Zohar explains that "'Directing Animation' by David Levy is a non-fiction book in which the author talks about …directing animated movies. As a teacher and veteran director of episodes on Adult Swim, Assy McGee, Blue’s Clues and more Mr. Levy shares many stories of his personal experience from working as an animator to running the whole show."

Zohar also gives us Book Review: The Soprano State by Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure posted at Man of la Book. Zohar explains that "'The Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption' by ace political reporters Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure is a non-fiction book which examines New Jersey‘s love / hate relationship with the corrupt political class. You don’t have to live in New Jersey to read this book, I’m sure these shenanigans go on in other states, just not as flagrant or as often."

June Tree presents Generation Earn: A Guide To Spending, Investing and Giving Back (Book Review) posted at The Digerati Life, explaining that Generation Earn "is divided into three main areas: the first focuses on the SELF, which shares stories and advice on goal setting, budgeting, spending and investing; the second focuses on the HOME, and discusses the issues surrounding feathering our nest, the finances that fuel our personal relationships and raising a family; the third section talks about the big picture, and how we can make a positive impact on our WORLD."

June Tree also reviews a new book by Jeremy J. Siegel in Own Stocks For The Long Run posted at The Digerati Life, explaining that "In 'Stocks for the Long Run', Dr. Siegel studied the United States market going back to 1802, using data from several sources. Over that period, he found that the stock market outperformed every other asset class. In stretches of as long as 20 years — including the last 10 and 20 years — long-term government bonds have sometimes outperformed stocks. But as holding periods lengthened, he found that the stock market has almost always pulled ahead. Other studies have found similar results here and in other countries."

Evelyn Hunter presents Book Review: Incredibly Easy Chicken « The Writing Sprite posted at Writesprite's Blog, saying, "Since I love this cookbook so much and have enjoyed its content, the only thing I could think of to return the favor was to review it!" This exuberant review of Incredibly Easy Chicken adds: "If you’re tired of thinking of something to do with that bag of chicken pieces you bought and stuffed in the freezer, or if you think that chicken has just gotten too boring, this book will definitely help you out and change your mind about the wonderful uses of chicken. It will also introduce you to new ingredients that your grocery store has had all along but you either never heard of them, or just never knew they were there."

David Gross presents An Existentialist Ethics posted at The Picket Line.  He reviews Hazel Barnes’s 1967 book An Existentialist Ethics, saying that "Barnes wrestles with the question of whether an ethics can be derived from humanistic, atheistic existentialism or whether instead such an existentialism is ethically agnostic or nihilistic, as its critics have often claimed. She argues that there is an existentialist ethics that can be derived from the commandment not to be 'in bad faith' combined with some of the philosophical assumptions or conclusions of the existentialist worldview."

Khaleef @ KNS Financial presents The Secret to a Successful Budget: Book Review posted at Faithful With A Few, saying, "Recently Craig Ford of Money Help For Christians released a book about creating a budget called, "The Secret to a Successful Budget". This is one of the most helpful, comprehensive, and understandable guides to creating a budget around!" The review goes on to say that "whether you are looking for a resource to approach a budget for the first time, have failed at budgeting many times before, or are an experienced budgeter looking for a fresh perspective, this book is certain to provide you with a wealth of information. Craig provides organized and varied approaches to budgeting to compliment any lifestyle."

Danette M. Schott presents Aspergirls: Some Kind of Girl Hero? posted at Help! S-O-S for Parents.  "Aspergirls" is a term for women with Asperger's Syndrome.  Schott writes that Aspergirls: Empowering Females With Asperger Syndrome, by Rudy Simone, "looks at everything from school, puberty, friendships, sex, marriage, and more, and also includes the thoughts of 35 women with AS or high-functioning autism (HFA), as well as thoughts from their significant others and parents. Rudy ends each chapter with some advice to parents and some advice to Aspergirls.

Kara Williams offers Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought One Family Home posted at The Vacation Gals - Family travel, girlfriend getaways, romantic getaways, destinations, things to do, travel tips, writing: "I heartily recommend [Halfway to Each Other, by Susan Pohlman] to anyone contemplating a long-term move to Italy, with or without children. I think it’s also enlightening for anyone who might be able to relate to a marriage gone stale, who might be in a union that needs some shaking up in order to ultimately last in the long run. With mouthwatering descriptions of vine-ripened tomatoes, savory focaccia and creamy gelato, Halfway to Each Other will, if anything, tantalize your taste buds and inspire you to book a flight to the source of some amazing food — and museums and villages and a slow-paced way of life — in Italy."

Ben Harack addresses the dangers of news media speed posted at Vision Of Earth, saying, "Book: "No Time to Think" Journalism is making mistakes, shortening our attention spans, presenting opinion as news, and trivializing our political debates. The only reliable cure is media literacy, and we all need to learn it. Fast."  Harack writes that Howard Rosenberg and Charles S. Feldman's book, No Time to Think, is an "eloquent, intense, and humorous commentary on the dangers of media speed in our modern world. It is a highly recommended read for people interested in the flow of information in today’s society. Rosenberg and Feldman demonstrated how many areas of life are affected markedly by this increase in media speed."


Zohar presents Book Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins posted at Man of la Book. Zohar explains that The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins was first "published as a newspaper serial in 1859. In 1860 a collected edition of the chapters was published in book form. The fictional story is considered to be one of the first mystery novels, as well as one of the finest."

Missy Frye presents Book Review: The God Hater by Bill Myers posted at Incurable Disease of Writing, saying, "Just a few thoughts on the Christian suspense novel The God Hater by Bill Myers." Frye explains that The God Hater is "the story of Nicholas Mackenzie, professor of philosophy and raging atheist. He adamantly believes philosophy is 'the study of real truth.' His brother and a team have created a computer generated world filled with artificially intelligent beings who possess human consciousness. He enlists Nicholas’ help to create a philosophy for the inhabitants that leaves their free-will intact and enables them to survive."

KerrieS offers Review: THE NIGHT OF THE MI'RAJ, Zoe Ferraris posted at MYSTERIES in PARADISE, saying, "It is not often that crime fiction readers get the chance to get right inside the skin of another society, but this is what I feel Zoe Ferraris does for us in THE NIGHT OF THE MI'RAJ."  Rating the book "4.8," Kerrie continues, "The characters of Nayir and Katya are so well drawn. Nayir is a Palestinian often mistaken for a Bedouin. He has been employed by the family in the past as a desert guide, and this time to find out the truth about Nouf's disappearance. So he is not a policeman, not even a detective. Katya on the other hand is well qualified in forensic medicine but is a woman, trying to be "modern" in an Islamic world. The picture of each of them trying to bide by convention, Nayir because he wants to, Katya because she must, is carefully drawn."

KerrieS also presents Review: THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST BRITISH CRIME 2010, edited by Maxim Jakubowski posted at MYSTERIES in PARADISE, saying, "38 short stories: This looks like a who's who of British crime fiction - a real treat. I have read full books by most of these authors, and for the most part enjoyed re-acquaintance through these tasters."  With a rating of 4.3, the reviewer writes: "Overall, there was the usual problem you have with a collection of short stories: some are excellent, while others just didn't seem worthy of the space. It is quite a long book," as one might expect from something called The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime.

In addition, KerrieS gives us Review: NECESSARY AS BLOOD, Deborah Crombie posted at MYSTERIES in PARADISE, saying, "A good solid crime fiction series in the British tradition, albeit from an American author." Of this volume, KerrieS explains, "The action in NECESSARY AS BLOOD plays out against a very rich background that includes not just the disappearance of a young mother, and then the death of her husband three months later, but also the ongoing stories in the lives of Scotland Yard detectives Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid, their families and friends, as well as those they work with."


Read Aloud ... Dad presents Today's read aloud: Little pea posted at Read Aloud ... Dad, saying, "Children's book reviews and read aloud impressions from a Dad and his twins. We are reviewing what we read aloud and recommending whether you should Buy, Loan or Pass on the books." The review notes that "some would call [Little Pea, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal] a smashing attempt at reverse psychology, I think it is plain hillarious. And most importantly my kids loved it ever since Little Pea entered our house almost a year ago.

Jim Murdoch presents Dreaming in Black and White by Reinhardt Jung posted at The Truth About Lies, saying, "A most unusual YA novel, written by German author Reinhardt Jung in which a young disabled boy dreams he was living when the Nazis were in power. We all know about Hitler’s persecution of the Jews but not so much is known about how the physically and mentally disabled were treated by the Third Reich. What is especially shocking is what the schools taught children."

Murdoch writes and reminisces: "Dreaming in Black and White is a children’s book. There’s nothing to suggest this from the cover but a recommendation from Michael Morpurgo on the back is enough to tell you this is not intended for grownups. The content, however, is quite grownup. Frankly I can’t imagine being handed a book like this when I was a kid. I don’t honestly think World War II was mentioned at school until I was fourteen. I remember we covered the Greeks, the Romans and British (as opposed to Scottish) histories but that’s all I can remember; history has never excited me. Maybe the teachers simply thought that a war that had only ended twenty-odd years earlier was too recent to count as history."

Jeanne reviews Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk posted at Necromancy Never Pays, about David Sedaris' new book of humorous essays, subtitled "A Modest Bestiary," of which she says, "The volume itself looks like the kind of book you would give to a child as a present--small, printed on thick stock, and attractively illustrated by Ian Falconer. I do hope that the kind of parents and grandparents who don't usually read what they give to children purchase this book and give it away this holiday season, because that would really spread some joy, along with a little eye-widening."


Zohar presents Book Review: Panopticon by David Bajo posted at Man of la Book. The review explains: "'Panopticon' by David Bajo is a fictional book which tells the story of three journalists who are sent to cover one final story before their newspaper closes. The setting is on the California / Mexico border and takes place the near future where every move you make is being recorded by public cameras."

B_G gives us grapes and wrath posted at the B_G talkies, saying, "my experience of the saga by steinbeck," adding in the review that the ending of The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck's novel about Okies traveling from the Dust Bowl to California "was a bit jarring, and a very provocative image, but it was a not tying-up-all-threads kind of an ending. people call it 'postmodern'. i looked up the net to read about what others made of the ending, and there was a lot of talk of about how it depicts giving, and sorrow, and humanity's struggle, and other such vague things."

Rebecca Glenn presents The Book Frog: JAMES LEE BURKE posted at The Book Frog, saying, "An appreciation of James Lee Burke, and a review of his novel Pegasus Descending."  Glenn writes of how she found Burke's Pegasus Descending irresistible: "By the end of the paragraph I was hooked. 'Low-rider gangbangers, the broken mufflers of their gas-guzzlers throbbing against the asphalt, smashed liquor bottles on the sidewalks and no one said a word.' A beastly hot, polluted, crime-ridden community of bad luck and no hope drawn in seven amazing sentences."


April Davis presents The Top 51 Twilight Blogs posted at Accredited Degree Online, saying, "Twilight. Only a few years ago this word was only known as the time between dusk and night. Now it’s a worldwide phenomenon that is growing by the minute."  Of course, as anyone who doesn't live under a rock knows, the Twilight series of books by Stephenie Meyer has spawned an equally -- or perhaps more -- successful series of movies, as well.

Lindsay Samuels presents The 50 Most Hated Characters in Literary History posted at Library Science Degree, saying, "Characters of both the purely hated and “love to hate” variety make appearances here to encourage improvised games of comparison and contrast. Pretty much every literary character will have his or her defenders – particularly popular romantic leads – though a hefty proportion of them seem to inspire as much disgust as delight."  The list includes characters ranging from Iago in Shakespeare's Othello to Tom Buchanan in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby to Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

Erin Lenderts presents Top 50 Fashion Books of All Time posted at Learn-gasm.  Among the books cited (and briefly described) are Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style, The Little Black Book of Style, A Cultural History of Fashion in the Twentieth Century: From the Catwalk to the Sidewalk, Christian Dior: The Biography, Edith Wharton and the Making of Fashion, and The Devil Wears Prada.

chris presents Steven Erikson’s Notes on a Crisis Part IX: Back to the Craft of Writing posted at Life As A Human, saying, "Not a review but a review of the writing process from a world famous author and a huge selling series"


Your host for this blog carnival recently interviewed several authors about their new books. The interviews have been published on

Colin Dueck is associate professor of public and international policy at George Mason University. He spoke to me about his new book, Hard Line:  The Republican Party and Foreign Policy Since World War II, on October 28 at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

In a two-part interview published on October 7 and 8, South African author Greg Mills discussed his forthcoming book, Why Africa Is Poor and What Africans Can Do About It. In the first part he answers the question, why is Africa poor? In the second part, he explains what Africans can do about poverty.  The interview was conducted after a book launch at the Cato Institute in Washington.

A bit earlier, the young editor of Human Events, Jason Mattera, spoke to me about his recently published book, Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation, at a bloggers conference held in Arlington, Virginia.

During that same conference, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) gave me an interview about his new book (co-authored with Matt Kibbe), Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto. That interview is published in two parts.

That concludes this edition. I hope you enjoyed it.  Comments are always welcome.

For those who are interested, the 54th edition is still available to read at Proud Book Nerd.  Submit reviews from your blogs to the 56th edition of the Book Review Blog Carnival using our carnival submission form.  Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

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Jeanne said...

What good work you've done with this carnival--I love the links and the brief teasers to get us interested!

Unknown said...

WOnderful job and a very attractive setup.

Anonymous said...

Lots of books in this carnival. Great job.

Janna said...

I agree with the others. Well done! Great formatting and comments.

Kerrie said...

Thanks for hosting the carnival Rick

Khaleef @ KNS Financial said...

Thanks for hosting and including my review of the Secret to a Successful Budget!

Read Aloud Dad said...

Thanks for the comprehensive overview of book reviews in this Halloween carnival!

Unknown said...

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