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kas has commented on (20) products.

Mecca Pimp: A Novel of Love and Human Trafficking by Bernard Radfar
Mecca Pimp: A Novel of Love and Human Trafficking

kas, February 26, 2014

Mecca Pimp really surprised me. It challenged me, angered me, stimulated me, and I think it deserves another read -- which is a high compliment for a book IMHO. It has a definite point of view, and I was worried author Bernard Radfar would use some gimmicks to draw attention to his ideas. There are no cheap gimmicks here -- just food for thought that may or may not agree with your palate. It definitely earned my respect as a reader.

I accessed this truly unique text through gracious permission of the publisher on NetGalley.
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Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine by Steve Parker
Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine

kas, October 26, 2013

***Excellent Introduction to History of Medicine--Inspired Interest to Learn More!***

A friend who is very interested in the subject matter of the material of *Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine* perhaps summed it up best when he described this book, upon a lengthy perusal, as kind of a coffee table book, which just makes other, actual coffee table books look bad. This is a smart and thorough layman's survey of the history of medicine. I really enjoyed reading this book! It made me interested to seek out more in-depth historical sources on several subjects covered.

One thing I especially appreciated about author Steve Parker's approach to his introduction to medicine's history was his notable attention to several underacknowledged groups' contributions to medicine. I speak specifically of non-Western cultures and women in medicine.

In sum, I highly recommend this book. Thank you for reading my thoughts--I hope they are helpful.

Note: I received an Advance Reader's Copy of this book through a GoodReads Giveaway.
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Parent's Playbook for Learning by Jen Lilienstein
Parent's Playbook for Learning

kas, October 26, 2013

***Practical Tips for the Individualized Needs of Children - Useful!***

There is a lot to like about Jen Lilienstein's book. First of all, it's based on the foundational idea that all children are different learners. Insights into the child's personality, whatever typology is used to describe differences as far as they are explored, would seem to be a source of valuable insight into how to maximize that child's learning. A Parent's Playbook for Learning does a great job of mining the gold of that concept for the reader. Lilienstein gives practical advice about a variety of aspects of a child's learning -- consisting substantially of actual concrete strategies and tips parents and educators can try themselves, as well as in the form of more general insights about particular approaches for children with particular traits. I read the book with a certain child in mind and while I had trouble on fixing on which "type" was the best fit, there were definitely traits in a few types I keyed into based on their accuracy. For those traits, I could see that her insights and her suggested approaches seemed smart and well-tailored to the child I had in mind at least.

Perhaps obviously, the usefulness of this book is grounded in its discussion of educationally relevant aspects of personality that are furthermore common enough that I could recognize most (perhaps all, I just don't remember whether there were any exceptions) by thinking of people I've known. Moreover, I think Lilienstein did a very good job of articulating what each trait looked like, so you could spot it in children effectively. Certainly, the book would be useless if was not consistently successful in this respect.

There was one part of the book that really stuck in my craw, as it were. This would be the fairly extensive discussion of group learning and relevant strategies. I personally think that group learning is best used to teach team collaboration and not traditional academic content. Even assuming a neutral or positive stance on group learning as a pedagogical method among readers generally, Lilienstein's lengthy discussion of related strategies seems to demonstrate her valuation of the method more than it provides tools that every child will frequently draw upon. I may be wrong about that, I admit. If nothing else, it seems weird to give this pedagogy primacy in a book that stresses the needs of children as unique individual learners who need different approaches and not a one-size-fits-all sort of educational approach. Group learning is not fairly described that way altogether, but it doesn't allow for much tailoring to children's needs by informed adults relative to other styles of teaching.

I hope this review is helpful somewhat in deciding whether to read this book. Thank you for reading my thoughts.

Please be advised I received a free electronic edition from NetGalley by permission of the publisher.
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The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
The Sense of an Ending

kas, October 26, 2013

***Profoundly Impressive, Unforgettable Read***

Personally, The Sense of an Ending is a novel that I expect will prove unforgettable. That is, it made some very strong emotional and intellectual impressions on me that I expect will come to mind in situational contexts and mental frames -- regardless of consistency of the memory content -- longer and more often than most novels I've read.

Part of the reason for this effect is that I simply loved this book! The most compelling books stick out more in the mind for the reasons they were compelling in the first place, right? Also, my reading inspired a deep admiration for Julian Barnes as an artist, so I will remember it as part of my exploration contemporary literary fiction. But, my expectations of how important this book will be in my future thoughts cannot be accounted for by these reasons alone. In discussing why this novel feels so sticky, as it were, I hope to give better sense of whether you'd also find this work compelling or valuable:

1) The Sense of an Ending deals with a few themes very specifically, directly and consistently through it's brief duration (approximately 163 pages). For me, the ideas in this novel were very emotionally resonant, and the issues raised engaged some strongly-rooted values as well as pre-existing philosophical questions I had about how and why to live.

Some thematic descriptors that come to my mind are:
--the differences between an event and what any given person will perceive about the event;
--the differences between perception and memory;
--the variability in depth as well as content in personal memory over the course of life;
--self-concept - how does it develop and change?
--Is there any absolute truth that can be known about oneself or another person?
--our level of responsibility for the consequences of our actions when knowledge is incomplete
--the dangers of recriminating emotional injuries by purposeful infliction of a seemingly lesser or equivalent injury ("eye for an eye")
--what we feel guilty about and ruminate about remorsefully vs. other potentially questionable things people do that we just let slide, as it were, in our psychology
--Narrator's deep-seated discomfort with as well as acceptance of "complacency" as a way of life in adulthood.
--Good reasons to live or die vs. bad ones, the unquantifiably damaging nature of human experience, you know -- that stuff. ;)

2) All this is done through a first person stream-of-consciousness narration of events and his reflections. The threads of his tale ultimately come together in a truly dramatic story of life, love and death. I, for one, was surprised and always interested by the twists of the plot.

Thanks for reading this. I hope this provides someone with a better idea of what this book is.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)



Custer's Last Battle: Red Hawk's Account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn by Paul Goble
Custer's Last Battle: Red Hawk's Account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

kas, October 26, 2013

***Unusual Artifact***

Well, this thing sure is an interesting artifact. I was intrigued by the description of the book, so I entered a GoodReads Giveaway for a copy and was lucky enough to win.

This is structured as a children's book -- short, straightforward text with each 2-page layout dominated by stimulating imagery with comparatively less verbal content. It is not a very detailed story, and there's nothing I would call truly original about its actual content according to my own perspective and experience with related history and adult historical fiction.

However, the story is not an oversimplified or facile one. The reader gets a historically informed fictional account from an underrepresented perspective. And, this perspective speaks directly about big picture issues -- how events were shaped and interpreted by the narrator and his community. These interpretations, implicitly if not explicitly, are clearly depicted as being rooted in particular culture and history.

Make what you will of that. It's not like most books, I don't think, and nothing like my typical reading.
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