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Interviews | April 8, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Gabrielle Zevin: The Powells.com Interview

Gabrielle ZevinThe American Booksellers Association collects nominations from bookstores all over the country for favorite forthcoming titles. The Storied Life of... Continue »
  1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

    Gabrielle Zevin 9781616203214


Customer Comments

Edward Hahn has commented on (97) products.

Deception Pass (Thomas Black Mysteries) by Earl W Emerson
Deception Pass (Thomas Black Mysteries)

Edward Hahn, February 19, 2014

One of the nice things about reading Earl Emerson's books is that they take place in the Northwest, Washington State specifically. This volume is one of a series featuring protagonist, P.I. Thomas Black. He's a bit of a smart aleck which I like. His quirky look at things does diminish the noir-ish atmosphere that Emerson may be after.

Black takes on a client, who years ago was a pretty wild teen-ager and may have witnessed a Manson type massacre near Deception Pass. Since then she has become a contributor to worthy causes and a well thought of almost saintly do-gooder. The alleged killer, who Lainie had briefly hooked up with had been arrested and executed years ago.

Unfortunately, someone is blackmailing Lainie but Lainie won't come clean about what she's being blackmailed about or who is doing it. The questions for Black are how far will she go to protect her past and how far will the blackmailer go to protect his or her income stream.

The plot unfolds quickly and logically and the reader is left with a satisfying conclusion. A good if not great story.
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Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder
Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy

Edward Hahn, February 17, 2014

An attempt to explain philosophy in the format of a novel. It didn't work for me as well as it evidently has for millions of others.

It took me quite a while to wade through the book as it was focused more on explaining philosophical concepts than telling a story. The idea behind the book is creative and good. Perhaps my problem is I have always had a hard time understanding many philosophical concepts. This book didn't change that, admirable effort that it is.

I found "Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar...: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes" by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein more accessible and a lot more fun.

I cannot unreservedly recommend this book but I can suggest it might be a great introduction to philosophy for you.
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Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar...: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar...: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

Edward Hahn, February 17, 2014

What great fun! I have in the past tried to study philosophy seriously and either don't have the ability to focus or the intelligence to understand; but I sure do have a sense of humor. I may not have gotten all the concepts in this book but I'm pretty sure I got all the jokes.

I came away with at least an introductory understanding of the major philosophical schools. Now when I tell people I'm an existentialist, I can at least explain what it is without getting all tangled up in complicated theory.

The only book that comes close to this one is "Sophie's World", a novel in which Sophie learns Philosophy through a series of anonymous letters. However, for me, this book was more helpful and I do love a corny joke.

Try it you might like it.
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Gone for Soldiers by Jeff Shaara
Gone for Soldiers

Edward Hahn, February 15, 2014

This very well done historical novel presents a rare detailed look at the Mexican-American War. It covers the period from the arrival of the U.S. expeditionary force off the Mexican Coast at Vera Cruz to the signing of the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and the return of the troops to the U.S.

Shaara's technique is somewhat unique. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific U.S. combatant mostly Robert E. Lee, at that time a 40 year old engineer and Winfield Scott, Commander-in-chief of the U.S.Army and the expeditionary force as well as Santa Ana, the dictator of Mexico. Shaara imagines what these guys would be thinking as they pursue the invasion and defense of Mexico. This war was a training ground for many of the key combatants in the U.S. Civil War, Lee, Grant, Jackson, Johnston, Beauregard, etc.

The description of the battle scenes are very detailed and compelling. Shaara does a good job of relating how these soldiers reacted to the carnage and bloodshed of war. There is also quite a bit of time spent exploring the various relationships among the generals and other officers, unfortunately, sometimes too detailed. There is also quite a bit of time spent on the political situation especially between Scott and President Polk. The story drags in places.

There were many illuminating disclosures having to do with the way that Lee and others viewed their relationship with God. I had read in other books how Lee, in particular, felt he had a special relationship with God and was operating according to God's plan. Shaara underlines and reinforces that continuously almost to the point where it became hard to believe that anyone could be so devout.

While the story does drag in places, the last 100 pages or so are hard to put down. I recommend this book to anyone interested in either the war itself or looking for insight into the combatants.
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The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell
The Burning Land

Edward Hahn, February 10, 2014

This, Book #5 in the Saxon Series, is one of the best as Cornwell continues to follow the exploits of Lord Uhtred, a pagan raised by the Vikings but a Saxon by birth.

Uhtred continues to serve King Alfred, now a sickly man close to death who pays far too much attention to what his priestly advisers say. When Uhtred's dead wife Gisele is insulted by a priest, Uhtred dispatches the offender and escapes North to join his Danish blood brother Ragnar and plans to regain his ancestral home of Bebbenburg.

However, true to an oath made to Alfred and because of his love for Alfred's daughter, Aethelflaed, Uhtred turns back to battle the sorceress Skade and her followers while working to help Alfred's heir, Edward, become the king he must be.

The story moves on from there. It is, as are most of Cornwell's books, full of exciting conflicts, described in the detail that Cornwell is so good at. This part of Uhtred's story ends on a high note leaving the reader anxiously waiting for the next volume in the series, which will hopefully get Uhtred closer to regaining his birthright.

I've read just about every book Cornwell has written and have very rarely been disappointed. This offering is one of the best, combining action and historical context, and in the process making England of the 9th century come alive.

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