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The Awful End of Prince William the Silent: The First Assassination of a Head of State with a Handgun by Lisa Jardine
The Awful End of Prince William the Silent: The First Assassination of a Head of State with a Handgun

Gold Gato, February 28, 2015

Prince William of the House of Orange was a man with a price on his head, thanks to Philip II's public proclamation and reward bounty. It was inevitable that he would not live to be an old man, but the way he was killed is the main focus of this very short book on the protagonist who miffed off both the Catholics of Spain and the squabbling Protestants of the Netherlands.

As the title makes clear, this is not a full bio of William of Orange but I still wanted a bit more. Elizabeth I plays a prominent role here although the most fascinating part was the murder of the French Duke of Guise whose murder by handgun led to the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572. Really the overall message is that religion has played a deadly part in world affairs, up to and including the Twin Towers. Oh, and she also slips in a reference to Tupac Shakur, which makes for a rather different read.

Book Season = Autumn (there's something in the air)
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Of Ice and Men

Gold Gato, February 27, 2015

The book opens with the story of the doomed Franklin Expedition, a tale which never fails to amaze me. It continues with other explorers who risked their lives to become the first to conquer the North Pole or to find the Northwest Passage. Umberto Nobile and the famous "red tent". Andrée's balloon. The stories of the great risk-takers are all here and it's all fascinating. Ironically enough, as climate change hits, the Arctic Ocean is more of a true ocean now, with less of the deadly ice. Those daring men in their daring air machines and sea ships would have had a much easier time of it. But then, we wouldn't have these memorable stories of courage and bizarre risk-taking.

Book Season = Winter (don't eat the polar bear)
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Cary Grant: The Lonely Heart

Gold Gato, February 15, 2015

The stories here weren't really juicy, and I felt there was always a personal agenda at play throughout the book. Having worked in the film industry, I know that one can leave the lot to walk across the street and upon returning five minutes later can find wild fabricated stories that have nothing to do with reality. Was Cary Grant really a spy for the Yanks and Brits? Did he really hear the screams of the Manson murders? Get realsies.

Anyway, it's a true summer read. Some of it might be true, some of it might not, but it's a mass market paperback so if it falls into the pool by accident, life will go on.

Book Season = Summer (seasons in the sun)
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Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem Signed Edition by Mac Barnett
Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem Signed Edition

Gold Gato, February 8, 2015

Okay don't take responsibility for your actions? A blue whale will be delivered to your doorstep. You'll have to take that whale to school, you'll have to clean that whale, and you'll have to figure out how to move that whale around the neighborhood. Of course, the warning here is being accountable for the largest being ever to grace the planet. Not so easy to do.

This was a pleasant story and I especially loved the Adam Rex artwork (the consistent 'whatever' look on the blue whale is a trip). Author Mac Barnett opened up the funky convenience store for time travelers in Los Angeles, and that quirkiness is there throughout this book.

Book Season = Spring (tidepooling ponies)
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Limeys by David I Harvie

Gold Gato, February 7, 2015

Upon completing this book, I squeezed some lemons and started downing the juice. There would be no scurvy for me! Although the title states that it's the story of one man against the establishment, it is the overall story of a very nasty disease that is the main subject. Scurvy was already well-known in ancient times, but it took centuries before James Lind came along and discovered that citrus could help with the cure. Still, there were issues. Lind's recommendations were not really listened to, as he didn't have the political clout of fellow physicians, who were really hucksters. So the horrible disease continued to bring death until, in 1932, scientific studies confirmed what Lind had already defined almost two hundred years earlier.

This was a very eye-opening book, but I had a bit of a problem with the layout and writing. It seemed as though I was re-reading what had just been stated in an earlier chapter, so the tightness of history was not there. The lengthy notes section shows the research was done, however. I certainly learned quite a bit and my dietary habits changed. For although we live in an 'enlightened' era, our fast-paced and artificial lives do not provide the foods we should be eating, which is why scurvy symptoms can be seen very quickly. You'll see it on your tongue first, then find the gums start to bleed.

Lessons, lessons.

Book Season = Spring (put the lime in the coconut)
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